Adopting your first pet is one of the most exciting life milestones. Many of us want a furry friend to keep us company at home. You might also want to adopt a pet with your partner as a way to bond or to “practice” for taking care of kids. Whatever the reason, this decision is both fun and stressful.
There are a lot of steps you need to take before adopting a pet! It might seem easy to go to the shelter and pick up the first animal you see. However, that's not the best way to go about it. Choosing the perfect pet for you and your family takes a lot of research and consideration.
The pet's personality, your budget, and the size of your home are just some of the things you need to consider. Once you decide on a pet, getting yourself and your home ready for it takes even more work. Believe me, it will all be worth it to bring home your new best friend! Follow my tips, and you and your new family member will feel happy, comfortable, and ready to take on the world together.
1. Do Some Research
Choosing the right pet for you shouldn't be a hasty decision. It takes time and research to ensure that you adopt a pet that fits your lifestyle, budget, schedule, and space. You want to be sure both you and your new family member are as happy and healthy as possible! The first thing you need to consider is the size of your home. Large dogs typically need room to run, so a small apartment with no yard probably wouldn't be the best environment for them. Even if your house is large, too many pets can make it feel cramped.
Here's a truth bomb.
If you don't have a lot of space or live with other people, consider adopting a bird or small animal like a hamster. Next, think about what you want out of your new friend. Do you want a guard dog? A snuggle buddy? A hiking companion? A playmate for your kids? Use this information when researching the type and breed of pet that you want. Different animals and breeds have different personalities and abilities. Similarly, think about how much time you are willing to put into taking care of your new pet.
All animals require attention and care from their owners, but some are lower maintenance than others. For example, fish don't need much more than a daily feeding and occasional aquarium cleaning. Dogs, on the other hand, need lots of love and multiple trips outside each day. How much care your pet needs will even vary, depending on the species and breed.
Finally, check to make sure what sorts of pets you're allowed to have where you live. Many cities, developments, and buildings have rules banning exotic pets like snakes and barnyard animals like chickens. Many apartments and condo buildings have size regulations as well. Check out the laws where you live, so you don't get in trouble! This research is one of the most critical steps you need to take before adopting a pet.
Need some help picking your ideal pet? Check out this video for advice.
2. Make A Budget
Of all the steps you need to take before adopting a pet, looking at your budget is perhaps the most essential. Pets can be expensive, so you want to be sure you can financially support a furry friend. Depending on which pet you choose, you are signing up to care for it for up to 20 years. Keep that in mind when looking through your finances.
First, research how much (on average) different types of pets cost to take care of per month. You should include a bed or cage, food, toys, litter for cats, health care, training classes, a walker or sitter, accessories, and more.
Smaller animals typically require less food and fewer toys, so their care is usually more budget-friendly. On the other hand, exotic pets require specialized food, vet care, and habitats, so they cost more to care for. Don't forget adoption fees and any initial vet bills like shots and spaying/neutering!
Now that you have a rough estimate of care costs take a look at your current budget. Where do you have wiggle room? If you spend a lot of money on entertainment, eating out, or shopping each month, calculate how much of those expenditures you could afford to give up. You might be able to afford a more expensive pet! Just don't over-estimate how much you can cut back.
If most of your money already goes to bills and savings, you should consider a smaller pet or even wait to adopt until you have a little more disposable income. You and your pet will both have a better life if you can genuinely pay to care for them.
3. Take A Course
Knowing how you will approach training is one of the major steps you need to take before adopting a pet. Just like kids, pets don't inherently know how you want them to behave. Training is key to ensuring your pet follows your rules, which will make you love each other even more. If you are adopting from a shelter, training your new pet may be more difficult. Animals that only knew to live in the rescue facility or who came from homes where they weren't cared for properly are more likely to have behavioral problems, but that doesn't mean you can't teach them!
You can always wait to put your new furry friend into a behavior class, but why not prepare ahead of time? Udemy offers a wide array of online courses you can access anytime, anywhere. They have classes on everything from cooking to exercising to meditating, and their Pet Care and Training section is pretty substantial!
Learning about pet training before you bring your furry friend home can help you feel more prepared for the process. Plus, you can start the training right away! One great course option is How to Train a Puppy. This class includes 13 videos, 4 books, and 16 customizable Behavior Blueprints that cover every training topic from leash walking to staying home alone to dealing with aggression. It uses the SIRIUS training method, which goes beyond repetitive obedience drills. This method is as fun for your pup as it is for you, using quick and easy exercises to teach manners and correct behavioral problems. It's a must for any dog owner!
Adopting a feline friend? Check out Dog & Cat Behavior Problems. Of course, this course tackles dog training but also offers insight into issues only cat owners face. You'll learn how to teach your cat to use the litter box, come when called, stop destroying your furniture, and more.
With two downloadable guides and 5.5 hours of video, I'd say this class is pretty thorough. It is also an awesome choice if you adopt a dog and plan on getting a cat later or vice versa. Once you purchase a course, you get access to it forever, so you can come back to it whenever you need it!
4. Get Your Home Pet-Ready
Making sure that your house is ready for your new pet will give you peace of mind and make them feel more comfortable. Like nesting for babies, it's one of the essential steps you need to take before adopting a pet.
Pets all have different personalities, and some may take longer to adjust to your space, especially if they came from an abusive home or a noisy shelter before you adopted them. To make your new family member feel at ease, give them their own special space like a room or corner with their crate, cage, or bed in it. Include some toys and their food and water dishes, too. This area can be their safe space to go when they are scared, and you and your family should respect that boundary.
But that's not all.
Go through your home and move or get rid of any hazards to your new buddy. Think of it the same way as you would prepare for a new baby to visit you. Chargers and wires should be up off the ground or hidden away, shoes and other things you don't want them to chew on should be stashed in your closet, and household chemicals should be securely out of your pet's reach. Getting rid of potential dangers can save you a lot of stress and money on vet bills.
Getting your home pet-ready takes a lot of work but will make the transition easier for both you and your new pet. This is one of the last steps you need to consider before adopting a pet, but an important one indeed!
5. Adjust Your Lifestyle
Just like when you bring home a new baby, getting a pet means changing a lot of aspects of your lifestyle. Pets, especially young ones, will get anxious when they are left alone for long periods. That means you need to come straight home after work and maybe even visiting them over your lunch break. If you can't make this happen, you will need to hire someone to walk, feed, and take them out during the day while you're away.
The same goes for traveling. Don't plan any long trips for right after you adopt your new friend. They need to spend quality time with you if you want to form a bond, so putting them in the kennel or getting someone to check up on them while you're on vacation probably isn't the best choice right away.
You have to think of your pet as your child when it comes to taking care of their needs. That often means waking up at the crack of dawn to take them out. You'll have to take them to the vet for check-ups. Making sure they always have proper food, water, and exercise is a must. Pets are a huge responsibility!
While you're taking your pet out for a walk, why not earn some rewards while you're at it? Download the Walgreens app to incentivize going for long walks with your new best friend. All you need to do is enroll in their free rewards program and start racking up points!
Why do you need to do this, really?
Getting into the right mindset is one of the key steps you need to take before adopting a pet. Though some pets are more high-maintenance than others, they all require a lot of care. If you aren't ready to keep another living thing alive for the next 10+ years, perhaps it's time to reconsider adopting. There will always be pets in need! Waiting until you can give an animal proper care is better than putting yourself and your pet in an undesirable situation.
Did you know about all of these steps you need to take before adopting a pet?
Preparing yourself, your family, and your home for a new pet take some significant planning. You have to decide if you can afford it financially and if you can work your schedule around caring for an animal. All of the time and effort is worth it, though, when you get to bring home your new BFF! Adjusting to having a pet for the first time might catch you off-guard at first. It means changing your wake-up time, adding a ton more stuff to your weekly shopping list, and getting a pet-sitter whenever you'll be away.
There is so much more to being a pet parent than it seems at first! But if you take these five important steps you need to take before adopting a pet, everything should be easy peasy.