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Four Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

Pets provide amazing benefits. They give us love, can help us stay active, and encourage socialization. However, it takes more than just the desire for a pet to make a good owner. Here is what you need to know before getting your first pet.

Which Pet is Right for You?

The perfect pet for your current lifestyle may not mean the pet you want the most. You need to consider what is the animal’s best interest before committing to one. How often are you home? How much care can you commit to a pet daily? If you need a low-maintenance animal, consider a fish or even a reptile. If you want a more social animal, but still can’t manage a dog or cat, birds are incredibly loving companions. Do your research before getting one, however, as they need specific care and may outlive you.

If you have plenty of space and will be able to take your new pet out not just for bathroom breaks but for exercise, a dog might be the right pet for you. If you’re looking for something a bit more independent but still cuddly, a cat is the perfect option. While they do love socializing, they don’t need to be taken outside for exercise and using the toilet, and they can generally stand being on their own if you work long hours.

How to Prepare for Your Pet

Before you bring your new friend home, it is important to make sure you are prepared. Is your home safe for your chosen animal? Do you have toxic plants that might be eaten? Make sure any cords are taped down and that there are no chemicals where your pet might accidentally find and ingest them. Don’t just get the basics, like a water bowl and food dispenser, but get everything you are going to need for your new pet. Make sure you have a collar and ID, if applicable. You will need treats as well as regular food, and appropriate enrichment toys for your new companion. Have a home ready for your pet -- a crate, a bed, or a cage. If you’re getting a cat, make sure you have at least two litter boxes and plenty of litter to change it daily.

While you’re getting things set up for your pet’s arrival, consider putting together a preparedness plan that will help you during an emergency. In addition to making a list of pet-friendly hotels (if, for example, you need to stay somewhere overnight), gather some essentials such as litter, food, and toys to put into an emergency kit. Making sure your four-legged friend is cared for in times of crisis will help give you peace of mind.

How to Bond with Your Companion

While fish and reptiles may not give much affection, other animals will. Rescues especially will be nervous or fearful at first, as they are in a new environment with new people and may have had a difficult past. It’s important to help them acclimate to their new home, which in turn will help them bond with you. Animals thrive on repetition and regularity. To keep them happy and calm, feed them at the same times each day. Obedience classes are a way to help them learn the rules of the home while bonding with you. Don’t be lenient with rules when they first arrive, as changing things they are allowed to do a few weeks in might confuse them. Spend quality time with your new pet, where you are focused entirely on them and their needs. Even a few minutes a day of engaged petting and grooming can go a long way to enhancing trust.

Companion Animal in Addiction Recovery

Typically, pets make us feel good. Petting your companion can release feel-good chemicals in your brain, which can combat depression and anxiety. They give us meaning while providing companionship when we need it the most. A pet will never judge you and will rely on you for their own well-being. They may even help to reduce distress and tiredness. These animals can help us overcome our fears in various ways, which may aid us in our journeys to sobriety. They can greatly aid the healing process and prevent relapse from occurring.

There are many reasons to get a pet. They offer love, companionship, and provide meaning to our lives. However, it’s necessary to make sure we get the right pet and treat them with the love they deserve.

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