First Time Mistakes



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Common Mistakes of First-Time Pet Owners (and How to Avoid Them)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by StockSnap

When you think of getting a new puppy or kitten, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Sweet puppy kisses? Cuddling your happily purring kitten? The excited look on your child’s face
when you surprise him or her with a new pet? These rewarding experiences are important when
bonding with your pet.

Owning a pet is very rewarding and can even help those with depression or recovering from addiction. The mental health benefits of owning a pet include decreased depression, stress and anxiety. However, it’s also important to consider some pet ownership responsibilities prior to committing to a new pet.

Before adopting your furry bundle of joy, use this handy list to avoid some common mistakes as a first-time pet owner:

Mistake #1 – Lack of Research

Choosing a pet is about more than just “love at first sight.” You might fall in love with a cute face
at the shelter or an adorable breed from your favorite movie, only to discover some unexpected needs and behaviors of that breed. Before adopting any pet, you should choose a type of pet and a specific breed that’s right for you.

Some considerations include:

  • How demanding is your job? Do you have free time to commit to caring for a pet? Can you come home on lunch to walk a dog or puppy?
  • What’s your budget? Can you afford the extra costs of petcare?
  • How healthy are you? Are you physically able to care for a pet at this point in your life? If not, can you afford to hire a professional pet sitter or dog walker to assist you?
  • How large is your home? Do you have a yard that is large enough for your desired breed?
  • Do you (or anyone else in the household) have any allergies or asthma?

By taking the time to ask yourself these questions beforehand, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle, stress, and money. You’ll also help match yourself with a pet that aligns with your lifestyle, guaranteeing a happier situation for both your pet and yourself.

Mistake #2 – A Home That Isn’t “Pet Proof”

Once you’ve decided on a type of pet (such as a cat, dog, or hamster) and a specific breed (such as a pug or golden retriever), you still want to take time to “pet proof” your home prior to bringing your new pet home. This might include safety considerations, such as moving cleaning supplies and other chemicals out of your pet’s reach.

Pet proofing also includes your local area’s legal requirements. For example, some cities require pet owners to
secure their yards with a fence to keep pets from escaping. It is also very common to require pet owners to keep pets on a leash at all times while walking them outside of their own yard. It’s important to check your local laws before adopting a new pet.

Mistake #3 – Overlooking the Little Moments

Don’t get so wrapped up in the responsibilities of pet ownership that you forget to just enjoy those special bonding moments with your new family member. In the first few days and weeks after bringing your pet home, take some time to help your furry friend acclimate to his or her new home. This is especially important for rescue pets that may be nervous or fearful at first. Take some time to bond with your new pet. Teach him new tricks, using treats and cuddles as a
reward. Go for a walk (don’t forget the leash!) or play a game of fetch. Plan some fun activities together.

Also consider how to ensure your pet is properly cared for while you’re at work or on vacation. If you work long hours or will be away from home for an extended amount of time, consider hiring a dog walker or professional pet sitter.

You’re already on the right track…

We adopt pets with the very best of intentions, but nobody’s perfect. If it’s your first time owning
a pet, you’ll inevitably make some well-intentioned mistakes. Luckily, by doing your research
ahead of time, you are already preparing yourself to become an incredible pet parent. By
following the advice listed above, you’ll be setting yourself up for a happy, healthy household for
both you and your new pet.

Bernie is a seven-year-old boxer who created so he’d have something to keep his paws occupied while his pet parents are at work.