Your First Pet

Your First Pet Is a Big Decision That Can Change Your Life

 If you’ve never had a pet before but are in the market for a furry friend, you’re in for a treat. Not only will a pet enhance your life, but according to UC Berkeley, having a dog or cat may extend it. But you can’t just waltz your way into the pet store and pick the first pair of paws that run up to you. You need to put some thought into your decision.

What breed do you need?

There are almost as many types of dog as there are human personalities and lifestyles. Labrador retrievers, for instance, are known for their patience and high energy levels, making them the perfect pet for families with young children. If you’re not the type that likes to get outdoors or you have a small yard, consider a beagle or French bulldog. You can find Purina’s entire list of best indoor dog breeds here. When allergies are a concern or you simply don’t want to vacuum every single day, your search should include poodles and terriers, which tend to shed less than other breeds.

 

Pick a shelter pet

 

When you start your search for your new companion, don’t overlook local animal shelters. These dogs and cats are often at a high risk of euthanasia but come with some surprising benefits of their own. Shelter pets are often owner surrenders who are already house trained and have already grown into their personality traits.

Preparing your home

Your first priority before adopting your new family member is to let everyone else know their responsibilities. If you have children, you might want to delegate those tasks that encourage bonding, such as feeding, walking, or training, depending on their age. Spend an afternoon gathering your new pet’s belongings. BarkPost says this will include a bed, leash and collar, treats, food, toys, and bowls. If you’re bringing home a cat or kitten, you will also need a litter box. Your shelter pet may be accustomed to a certain type of food or have a favorite toy. Don’t change their diet too quickly and ask their foster family if you can keep familiar items to ease the transition; this is especially helpful for nervous dogs who may be fearful of change.

Bonding

Once your new pet has arrived and had an opportunity to check out his new digs, you can begin to get to know one another. Spending those first few days together will help you create a bond. Keep in mind that dogs tend to bond with their owners faster and in more obvious ways than cats. This is likely due in part to the fact that dogs have been living harmoniously with humans for at least 100,000 years. Psychology Today calls the human dog relationship a “mutual domestication.”

A friend for life

Dogs and cats can lower stress, reduce your chances of heart disease, and fill an emotional void. DrugRehab.org claims that companion animals may even play a role in helping you recover from addiction. Having a pet can help you stick to a schedule and will always be available to provide affection without hesitation when you’re feeling sad or hopeless. Perhaps most importantly, your pets will provide socialization opportunities and help keep you active.

The type of pet you choose to bring into your home is completely up to you. Your choice should be based largely on your lifestyle and the amount of care you want to provide. Cats are often more independent, whereas a dog will stay by your side day and night. No matter which you ultimately determine is right for you, your pet will soon become a part of your family that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without