How to Make a Happy Home for Your First Pet
Updated: Jan 17
Welcoming your first pet into the home is an exciting milestone, but it doesn’t come without challenges. It’s important to pick the right type of pet for your lifestyle so you can give your new companion the best life possible. Around the home, you’ll also need to make certain changes so your pet can acclimate well and be safe. Before embarking on the journey of pet ownership, find out what steps you should take below.
Before You Adopt
The most important choice you’ll make is what species and breed of animal to adopt. You’ll want to start by considering your lifestyle. PetPlace highlights how important it is to think about your sleep habits, travel choices, and even your relationship status when picking out a pet. Your work schedule and activity level may play a bigger role than you think when it comes to choosing a companion.
As you probably know, it’s not as simple as deciding on a species. There are countless breeds of dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, and fish, each of which is different. If you’re thinking about a dog or cat, you can use this quiz to determine what specific breed will be best for you. Keep in mind that even small pets like chinchillas, geckos, and parrots have their own unique needs and personalities.
You’ll also need to think about potential allergens you might need to deal with. If you don’t already know your allergies and sensitivities, consider getting tested before you adopt. This can help avoid heartbreak in the future if you find that you are indeed allergic.
Finally, you will want to prep your home for your new friend. The level of pet-proofing you need to do depends on what type of animal you choose. Fish and hamsters leave little impact, but you may need to make extensive changes for any pet that will have free range of your home.
Cats, rabbits, and rodents are especially prone to chewing on electrical cords, which puts their safety at risk. Keep your cat entertained with a variety of toys; you may need to experiment a bit to find a toy they love.
A dog, on the other hand, can wreak havoc on furniture, shoes, kids’ toys, and just about anything else that’s fun to chew on. If you’re not sure how far to take it, keep in mind that dog proofing a home is not unlike baby proofing it, according to Petful. If you’re adopting a dog, you’ll definitely want to think about installing a fence to keep your pup safe and out of the neighbors’ yards. If you’re unsure of your property line, you can hire a surveyor to identify boundaries.
Helping Your Pet Adjust
Once you bring your pet home, he’s going to need time to get acclimated. Some types of animals adjust quickly and can carry on as if nothing has changed. Others are more sensitive to new environments. No matter what breed of pet you adopt, it’s generally a good idea to keep the home quiet to avoid stressing out your new friend.
Cats and dogs have some predictable tendencies. Being independent, cats like to explore their new environment on their own terms. Give them time to scope out a favorite sleeping spot and places to hide out. Dogs generally benefit from a more hands-on approach, which is especially true for rescue or shelter pets who may feel a greater sense of anxiety.
Once You Get Settled
As your pet gets situated, it’s a good idea to establish routines such as feeding times, walks, or other activities. Dogs especially love routine, but even cats benefit from a regular schedule.
You’ll also want to ensure that your pet is covered in case of any health issues or emergencies. Start by finding a good vet who provides the services that you need. Veterinary care can be extremely expensive, but the cost shouldn’t prevent you from seeking medical attention for your companion.
Pet insurance is a great option to help you cover the cost. When choosing a policy, think about the amount of the deductible and whether the plan covers all the services your pet may need.
Pet ownership is an exciting journey, but it’s important to be prepared before you start. By taking the right steps, you can ensure a safe and happy transition for your pet once you make him part of the family.