What You Need to Know Before Adopting a Pet
1. Ask yourself: Am I sure?
Owning a pet is a huge commitment — he'll need to be cared for daily, and some animals can live longer than 20 years! Before you take the plunge, ask yourself why you want a pet: Is it for companionship? Are you giving in to your child's pleas? Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons and that you've thought through the decision.
2. Find the right fit.
Not sure which pet is right for you? Go to aspca.org for descriptions. Be realistic about your interests and lifestyle. Browse guides explaining the personalities of specific breeds, and visit the Humane Society's Website (hsus.org) to see the pros and cons of adopting from a shelter versus buying from a breeder or a pet shop.
3. Get your family ready.
Before you bring your critter home, sit down with your family and decide what role each person will play in his care. Make sure everyone is committed to participating in little Rocky's life, whether that means refilling his bowl or taking him for a walk. If you have kids, teach them how to behave safely around your pet, for both his sake and theirs.
4. Set ground rules.
You've found your perfect pet. Great! To help him learn good habits, be clear and consistent: Keep his bed in the same place, always feed him at the same time, and repeat commands. And don't spoil him — you wouldn't give your child 10 cookies, so don't give your pup 10 biscuits. What you teach him now sets the tone for years to come.
5. Have fun.
Take time to enjoy your pet: Play with him, watch him explore his new home, and learn how you respond to each other. Spending time together helps acclimate him to your household and helps you embrace your role as his owner. Adopting a pet can feel similar to bringing home a baby — there are joys and frustrations, but before you know it he'll be part of the family.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when adopting a new pet?
Some people adopt a pet without understanding how this responsibility might change their lives. Others adopt when they're going through a transition — maybe they're lonely after a breakup or want to celebrate moving into a new home. But while a period of change is temporary, a pet is permanent. A pet should be a pal for life, not a short-term cure.
What are the most common emotions that people experience as they adopt a new pet?
There's excitement mixed with the realization that there's actualworkinvolved. But the work gets easier as the pet settles into your home. And people fear being a bad "parent." But the beauty of pets is that they love unconditionally — and I think animals can teach us lessons: They live in the moment, get happy in a second, and forgive us always. If you get home at 11 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., they'll still be happily waiting for you.
How can I create a good relationship with my pet?
Solicit advice from other pet owners, read books about your animal, and take it one day at a time. Things may not be perfect at first, but in time a pet brings calm, happiness, and lots of love into your home — and that makes the short period of adaptation incredibly worth it.
Video: Cat Adoption & Rescue: Tips for Adopting a Cat from a Shelter
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