Picking Perfect Pets: Advice for First-Time Pawrents

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Choosing a pet is choosing a member of your family.  How do you pick when there are so many adorable furry, feathered, and scaly options out there?  Here’s practical advice for making a great selection, and how to transition your new friend into your home.  

Household features and factors

It’s important to bear in mind the various factors which can weigh in on how happy you are with your pet, as well as how happy your pet is with you.  Your lifestyle, family members, and environment matter.  You should think about how much time you can dedicate to pet care and what you can afford to spend on your new companion.  Consider whether other people in your home will help tend your pet and if allergies are a worry.  How much space can you offer Fido, Fifi or Igor?  How long you can expect your new addition to live, and can you commit for the entire life of your pet?  Bear in mind there is a lot of variance in lifespans, even within species.  For instance, pet birds can live anywhere from 5 to 75 years.  

Set up for your pet

Once you determine your perfect selection, you’ll want to get equipped before bringing home your new friend.  In addition to the basics, such as food, bowls, leashes and bedding, think about things that will make life better for you and your pet.  For instance, an electronic dog door is a comfort and convenience, permitting Fido to take care of “business” while you’re at work, and it keeps your home secure.  Along those same lines, an automatic feeder is a boon, keeping your pet’s meals on a schedule even when your own routine is disrupted. 

Smooth transitions  

Of course you’ll be full of anticipation and excited to enjoy your new family member, but bear in mind your pet will likely need some time and space at first.  This can be especially true of rescue pets, as they often need time to come out of their shells.  To help your pet with the transition, establish a steady routine right away.  The structure will help your friend feel secure and understand expectations.  Also avoid giving your new pet the run of the entire house right off the bat.  Try setting his things up in one room, and make introductions to other spaces slowly.  Make sure your pet has access to the things he needs, such as bowls, a crate and toys, and that he can see his belongings.  

Housekeeping concerns  

Whatever pet you choose, there are cleaning and housekeeping issues involved.  If your selection sheds or is messy, you will be more comfortable with a quality vacuum.  Many options are designed especially for pet owners.  Learn what’s available and read reviews to help you find the right one for you and your new friend.  If your pet has accidents, Family Handyman points out there are bio-enzymatic cleaners for carpeting, which break down odors and stains at their roots.  To avoid a funky pet odor in your home, you can deodorize with essential oils or with sprays comprised of vinegar and water.

Training and consistency

Whatever rules you intend for the future, plan to enforce them from the start so your pet isn’t confused.  For instance, if furniture is off-limits, don’t sit on the couch with your new pet the first day and then change the rules later.  Consistency is the key to ensuring your pet understands boundaries and will be obedient.  You also might want to brush up on basic obedience commands so you can reinforce desired behavior appropriately.  There might be some mistakes at first, so keep in mind your friend needs time to figure things out, but with time and gentle correction, all will come together for you both.

Thinking through your lifestyle and environment can help you find your perfect companion.  Prepare your household properly so your new pet can relax and settle in comfortably.  Before you know it, you’ll be welcoming home your new furever friend!