Choosing The Right Pet: A Guide For First-Time Pet Owners

By Guest Blogger, Jessica Brody

Pets can be a wonderful addition to your family; they provide companionship, comfort, and unconditional love, as well as protection in some situations. However, it’s important to choose the right pet for you, and there are several considerations to make. If you don’t have a large backyard, a big dog probably won’t be the way to go. It’s also important to make sure no one in your family has allergies to animal hair or dander; many people are allergic to cats and find they have itchy, watery eyes and trouble breathing when they’re around them.

Once you’ve chosen the right animal, do some research on the breed to find out what their personalities are like, especially if you have children. Get familiar with what they eat (and how much), how much exercise they need, and what health issues they are prone to, if any.

Here are some of the best ways to prepare for a new pet.

Do some homework

Pets are lovable and fun, but they can also be a lot of work. If you live a busy lifestyle, have young children, or don’t have the patience to work with a dog who needs a bit of training, those are factors that should be taken into consideration before you choose a pet. Do some research on breeds and which ones work best with kids, or which animals do well when left on their own. Cats are great pets for busy people because they can pretty much take care of themselves and don’t mind spending time alone. Dogs, however, need lots of attention and need someone to be around to let them outside.

If you’re considering a rescue animal, it’s best to know what their background is before adopting. Ask the knowledgeable trainers at the shelter about any medical or behavioral issues so you can be fully prepared when you bring him home.

Get your house ready

Once you’ve chosen a pet, get your home ready for his arrival by walking around to check for possible hazards--such as loose cords or wires that might attract his attention, throw rugs that might cause a fall, and poisonous plants--and buying everything he’ll need to be safe and comfortable. Bowls, food and treats, toys, bedding, a leash and collar, a scratching post, a kennel, and any toilet-related items are a good start. Once you bring him home, put him on a leash or carry him around to each room and let him explore in a safe way.

If you decide to choose a rescue animal, talk to your vet about the best ways to keep him safe and happy. Some rescue dogs prefer to sleep in a kennel because they feel more comfortable, while others will be scared of small spaces. They may be frightened of loud noises or new people, so be cognizant of that when asking people over to meet your new pet. Try to stay patient, especially if there are accidents, because rescue animals need a little more love and attention than other pets.

Find the right vet

It may take a little while to find the right veterinarian for you and your animal; try not to get discouraged. You need to find someone who is fairly close to where you live in case your pet has an emergency, but they should be kind, patient, and knowledgeable as well. Let your pet meet the vet you choose and allow them to bond a little before any procedures are done--especially if your pet was rescued--so that they can build up trust. It will also be helpful to know what your animal’s needs are beforehand.

For more information on how to choose the right veterinarian for you, take a look at this helpful guide.

Bond with your pet

If you have a busy schedule, sometimes life gets in the way of what you really want to do. However, it’s important to remember that having a pet is similar to having a small child. They need lots of care and attention, especially at first, when you’re getting to know one another. Make a point to spend time with your pet as much as possible; cuddle, go for long walks, have playtime in the yard, or play with their toys. Show your pet that he can trust you and you’ll be able to build a bond that lasts a lifetime.

Remember that having a pet is a family responsibility, so if you have kids, help them learn the best ways to take care of your animal and keep him safe and happy. Once you decide that you are ready to bring a new furry member into your family, check out adoptable pets at your local shelter, New Hampshire Humane Society. You’ll soon wonder how you ever lived without them in the first place!