New Pet Owners


This article was written for Pet Guardian Angels of America by Jenn Lee
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5 Real-World Tips for New Pet Owners

A lot of people have decided to adopt or foster pets this year. That is great news for pets that have been abandoned at shelters, and for the overwhelmed shelter staff, but it also means there are tons of folks trying to learn how to best care for a new pet. If you are among those who have found a new furry family member, you will undoubtedly hear advice on everything from the best types of food to grooming techniques and supplementation. You should know upfront that not everything will be helpful. In fact, some of what you hear will be downright dangerous for your new pet. You will need to earn your pet’s personality and research their breed-specific tendencies an needs to give them the best care possible, However, there are a few basic tips that can get you started on the right foot.

1. Have a Safe Place for Them To Exercise

Nearly all pets will require physical exercise and stimulation to thrive. For most, that means a safe and protected place for them to play. A fenced yard is a great place for most dogs to run and play. Provide shelter so they can get out of the sun or rain if you are planning to leave them outside for extended periods of time. Keeping your lawn healthy and lush will help them from wallowing in a mud pit all day. Do a quick search for the best lawn care near me to find a pet-friendly lawn maintenance company that knows how to make even a big-dog play area look beautiful for the rest of your family. They can help you keep fleas and ticks down to a minimum, too.

2. Provide Opportunities for Socialization

You may have laughed at the rise in doggy daycare centers, but they exist for a really good reason. Household pets are often herd or pack animals. Dogs, cats and even rodents will all be more comfortable if they are part of a cohesive unit. And, while you may think of them as part of your family, you may not be giving them the appropriate socialization that they crave. Take time to learn what type of socialization your new pet will need before you make a commitment. If you can’t provide that interaction yourself, and daycare is off the table, look into alternatives like dog parks or cafes that encourage pets to visit.

3. Make Fresh Water Available

There are varying opinions on the best feeding schedule for pets, but it is pretty universally agreed that they need access to fresh water all or most of the time. When you are first training a puppy, you may need to restrict water to avoid accidents, but it should still be offered frequently. Give them a large bowl and keep it filled with clean water throughout the day. Discourage your pets from drinking out of toilets. In addition to the possibility of bacterial contamination, they could ingest harmful cleaning products. You don’t even have to use a leave-in tablet or gel for that to happen. The residue left after routine cleaning can linger for days on smooth bathroom surfaces.

4. Use Training to Establish Rules

Every pet can benefit from some level of training. Done correctly, training teaches them what behaviors are expected so they know boundaries and rules. Learn how to train your dog at home using a book or instructional videos found on the internet. Despite common belief, cats can also be trained. Encourage scratching on appropriate surfaces by proving scratching posts and platforms. Use toys and treats to teach expected behaviors.

5. Follow Your Veterinarian’s Advice

Your pet will thrive from proper care and nutrition. That is why it is so important to develop a good relationship with your veterinarian and follow her advice regarding health care schedules, feeding and weight management. Use preventative medications for common parasites like heartworms, fees and ticks to avoid costly illnesses.

Adding a new pet to your household is an exciting time. You don’t need to be overwhelmed by the abundance of suggestions for their care. Instead, follow the advice of your vet, provide adequate shelter, water and opportunities for social and physical stimulation to help them thrive.

Jenn Lee, is a family blogger and proud parent of Reggie the Golden Retriever .