Tips and Advice for First-Time Pet Owners who wish to promote a Nonviolent World

By Jessica Brody

There are many rewards to pet ownership. Both children and adults can benefit from the love and acceptance that pets freely offer. However, it is a big responsibility and the best chance for a successful match comes from researching before acquisition. Looking at that cute puppy, kitten, reptile, or rabbit at the humane society, animal shelter, or pet store might encourage you to purchase with little thought as to how the pet will fit into your life. Some factors to consider are whether you have the required space, time, money, energy, and permissions. Many pets are returned or abandoned due to the lack of preplanning, which can be difficult for both animal and owner. Following are some aspects to consider prior to pet ownership:


How Do I Determine the Pet that is Right for Me?


Different types and breeds of animals have varying dispositions, care needs, and maintenance costs. Consider your living arrangements, how much time you spend at home, grooming needs for that particular animal, predispositions to physical issues, training required, and energy level. Matching your energy level with that of the desired pet is crucial. For example, certain breeds of dogs and cats vary in their energy levels.


Knowing what type of activity you wish to do with your pet will also help to determine what type of animal you acquire. Do you want to take your dog to the beach or walk it in the park? Will you allow your caged bird to roam outside of its cage, interacting with other animals in the household? Do you want to take your rabbit to rabbit shows? Keep all of these types of questions in mind when choosing an animal.


Search for free online assessments (for example, dogs or cats) that can recommend a particular animal or breed. Consulting people whose occupation is working with animals is a good idea. Using an online assessment tool would be wise for no other reason than curiosity: it is fun to see what pet might best match your personality!


Preparing Your Home


Certain things should be in place before bringing an animal home. For example, a cat’s supplies include food, a liter pan, scratching post, water bowl, and toys, while a dog’s supplies would include toys, dog chews, pet bed, food and water bowl, and baby gate. You should make sure your house is safe by, for example, putting away poisonous plants and dangling cords. If you acquire a rabbit, bird, or reptile, the supply and safety list would be different. Doing your homework might avoid last minute stress or crisis.


Bonding With Your Pet


New living situations can be stressful for your pet. Early bonding will look differently depending on the animal you acquire and from where, such as a reputable breeder, pet store, or animal shelter.  Cats learn social skills at a young age so if you acquire it later in life, social skills might already be established. For cats, a good start might be restraining it to a smaller room that allows it to get used to sights and sounds of its new home, away from other pets. Keeping a dog leashed when introducing it to new people (safety concerns), providing toys, and establishing routines are good suggestions. 


Hiring Outside Assistance


At times hiring assistance for the care of your animal would be wise.  If you acquire an active dog and you are gone all day, hiring a daytime dog-walker would be wise for both you and the dog so that the dog expends some of that spare energy, and helps it to stay fit. Perhaps the biggest dog-walker benefit is coming home from a long day at work, fixing dinner and relaxing without having to give immediate attention to exercising your dog.


Before acquiring any pet, plan who might feed your animal when you are out of town. There are a variety of pet care establishments that will provide on-site care as well as at-home care. It is important to see a veterinarian that you like and appreciate. To save some time, you can ask your friends and neighbors to share their experiences and recommendations.


Pet ownership can be a pleasurable and rewarding experience. Let the research begin!

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