The Best Advice for First-Time Pet Owners

Thank you so much to our guest writer Jessica Brody for this great article!!


Many pet owners feel that their family wasn’t complete until they found their animal. In fact, lots
of people feel that their pet is just another family member and can’t imagine their lives without
him. And while pets can indeed bring lots of joy and fun into our lives, it’s important to
remember that they need lots of care and attention, just as a baby does. Even if the pet isn’t
young and is already trained, it may take him a while to get used to his new home and your
family. Knowing how to handle issues before they come up will help your family welcome a
new pet and keep everyone safe and happy.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that often, pet owners don’t take into
consideration their surroundings before bringing home a new animal. Not only does your home
need to be comfortable for him, it should be safe as well. Exposed cords or wires, small
children’s toys, toxic plants, and food like grapes or chocolate can all be dangerous to an animal
and could even lead to death. Getting your home ready before your pet arrives will help him stay
safe and will give you peace of mind at the same time. Here’s how to get started.

Pet-Proof Your House

Go from room to room to ensure that there is nothing on the floor that could be hazardous to a
pet. Puppies and kittens will find the smallest things hidden in corners and beneath beds, so it’s
important to vacuum well and clean the entire space. Do this before your pet arrives, especially if
he’s a rescue, as the noise could make him nervous. Rescuing animals is always recommended
over buying from a pet store or breeder, as there are so many animals who need a good home.
If your pet is older or has health issues, look for trip hazards and consider putting up a baby-gate
so he can’t access stairs. Some older animals have mobility issues; a ramp will help keep him
safe when it’s time to go outside. For cats, access to the litter box is essential when it becomes
harder for them to move, so look for one that has a large cutout for easier access. For more great
tips on how to care for an older pet, click here.

Introduce Him Slowly

Coming into a new environment can be overwhelming for an animal, especially if there are lots
of new people to meet and things to check out. Start him off slowly by only having immediate
family home the first day, and close off most of the rooms in the house so that the areas he can
visit are limited. This will not only help keep him from getting overwhelmed, it will keep him
safe at the same time. Once he gets used to a few areas, allow him to check out another.

Have Everything He Needs

Some pets need more physical items than others, but you should at least have the basics at home
before he arrives. Bedding, food and dishes, treats, toys, and anything for his bathroom needs
should be ready to go so he can make the adjustment easily. Put his bed in a quiet area of the
home so he’ll have a place to go if he becomes stressed.

Train Him

Even if your dog is a little older and has some training, it’s a good idea to go over basics to
establish a bond and to show him who is in charge. Training your pet will help him learn
bathroom functions, how to behave around visitors, and how to listen and obey.
Many first-time pet owners make the simple mistake of not being prepared, either for the amount
of work that’s involved or for how much time and attention their animal needs. Try to plan for
some days off the first week so you can bond with your pet, and make sure you set aside time for
snuggles, play, and exercise every day. It’s also imperative to spay or neuter your pet to help
keep the population in control.