Approximately 68% of families in the United States have some sort of pet. So you and your family have decided that you're going to become one of those families and are set on getting your first pet. It could be a playful dog, a sneaky cat, or you could even decide to take the route of choosing a rodent such as a cute hamster or guinea pig.
Either way, whatever animal you decide to bring into your family, you'll have to know what you're getting into when it comes to getting your first pet. This isn't just a stuffed animal that you can toss to the side once you get bored with it - it's a living being that requires a lot of your attention! Is your family ready to take on that responsibility?
When you decide to get a pet, you acknowledge that you accept responsibility for the health and overall general well-being of another living being. You can equate it to having a child. You're making a promise to care for the pet for its entire life. If you can't make that promise to the animal, then don't get a pet. Some of the worst pet owners end up getting a pet but then deciding that it's too much of a responsibility for them to handle, and so they either just let them go or try to give them away. This is extremely irresponsible because their decision ends up being a drastic change in the animal's life and could easily affect them for the rest of their lives.
Choosing the Right First Pet for Your Family
Making a decision on what your family's first pet should be can be a difficult one to make, especially if you don't have prior experience when it comes to animals. Much of the decision depends on your family's lifestyle, whether or not you have kids, how often you're home and how much time and attention you're able to provide to your furry family friend.
For example, if your family consists of just you and your spouse, and you both have jobs that require you to be away from home for extended periods of time during the day, a dog probably isn't the right pet for you, as difficult as that may be to hear.
Now, that doesn't mean that you can't get a pet that's right for both of you and your current lifestyle, or that you can't get a dog in the future. In this instance, an animal like a cat might fit your family better. This is because of how independent cats are compared to dogs. Most cats typically enjoy having their alone time and don't have an issue with you being gone for long hours during the day. They also don't require being taken on walks or being taken out to go to the bathroom since they use a litter box, whereas dogs need to be taken on multiple walks a day, as well as taken outside to use the bathroom. This is just one example in which one pet may not be the right first pet for your family, but another is.
Your experience in getting a pet will be the most delightful for you and your family if you take the time necessary to assess your family's lifestyle and make an honest decision on what kind of pet is right for you.
Tips for Preparing Your Home for Your First Pet
Once you've decided on the kind of pet you want to get, you will first have to prepare your home for the addition of your new friend. This involves pet-proofing, which could include possibly getting rid of any plants, foods, or chemicals such as cleaning solutions around your house that could be deemed unsafe for an animal. Whatever an animal could realistically get to by reaching, jumping or knocking over, should be removed or placed in a new area.
Before bringing a new pet home, you must ensure that they have a safe place in which they can rest or sleep that is strictly theirs. This may also include buying a cage and setting it up in an area in the house where they will feel comfortable. This area should include lots of toys, such as balls, chew toys, ropes, etc. that they can play with all day long. Don't forget pet food! Make sure your house is stocked up with your pet's respective food, treats, and other yummy goodies that they can munch on throughout the day.
An important thing to remember as well is where your pet will stay during the day while you may be out of the house or at work. Will they be in a crate or cage, will they be free to roam the house, and if so, what part(s) of the house will they have access to?
Pet Safety Tips for Kids
If you have kids at home and you're looking to get your first pet, there are some things you'll need to teach your children before doing so. Unlike humans, animals cannot speak and are unable to tell you if they're scared, upset, or even hurt, so they show you instead. This can be done by itching, scratching, rubbing up against couches, etc. In order to avoid being bitten or scratched by an animal, make sure your kids follow these important tips:
- Don't bother a pet if it's eating
- Don't tease cats or dogs as doing so will irritate and anger them
- Do not interrupt an animal while it is sleeping
- Wash your hands after petting or playing with an animal
- Avoid touching your eyes or putting your hands in your mouth after touching an animal
- Avoiding sticking your hand in a fish tank
- Avoid a seemingly angry or irritated animal and tell an adult about its condition
- If your pet looks sick, immediately tell an adult
- When first meeting a new dog, allow it to sniff you as it's getting to know you this way