Man’s Best Friend: it sounds like a match made in Heaven. But for those who have never owned a pet before, the idea of taking care of a new puppy or kitten (or bunny or turtle…) can seem overwhelming at first. Although your new fur baby didn’t come with a training manual, humans have kept domesticated animals as pets since at least 7,000 B.C. With a few time-tested tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to being an incredible pet owner in no time.
Do Your Research
Being a great pet parent starts before you ever bring your pet home. In fact, you should start researching pet ownership long before you even decide what type of pet you want. Different species (and breeds) each have their own unique personalities, needs, and health conditions. Doing your homework beforehand will help guarantee you choose the right type of pet for yourself and/or your family.
Choose an AAHA accredited vet
If you don’t know a good veterinarian in your area, start by asking your friends for recommendations. Once you’ve compiled a list of names, see if any of them are accredited through the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Although not all vets are members, this membership does typically ensure a higher quality of care for your beloved pet.
Preferably, you’ll start saving for a pet long before you ever adopt one. Let’s be honest: pets cost a lot of money. A lot of money. Even if a pet is given to you for “free,” you will discover later down the road that you’ll end up paying for food, water, bedding, toys, veterinary bills, and any unexpected expenses that pop up. Trust me, unexpected expenses will pop up. It’s best to start saving money now...
Consistent dog training should start the moment you bring your new companion home. Although the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” isn’t accurate, the sooner you begin training your dog, the quicker the dog will learn proper “manners” and desired behavior expectations.
Contrary to popular belief, cats do require some training, too - although much less than dogs. You’ll still want to teach your cat where the food and water dishes are and how to use the litter box. Some ambitious cat owners take it a step further and teach their cats to use the toilet or play fetch. There’s really no limitation on the tricks you can teach your new companion if you just have fun with it!
Get Advice From the Pros
Remember, you’re not alone in this adventure. Many, many others have paved the way to pet ownership for millennia. Some of that advice can be learned from friends and family members, and some of it can be learned from professional trainers. If you can’t afford to hire a professional, there are countless books, websites and even YouTube videos that can help you learn more.
You don’t have to be a “perfect” pet owner to be a “purrfect” pet owner. If your heart is in the right place and you’re making sincere efforts, you’re already halfway there. Just follow the steps above and keep taking care of your new friend in the best possible way you know how. You’re doing grrrreat!