The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.
by Jessica Brody
Thinking of getting a pet? You’re not alone! Half of all Americans own a dog and nearly a third own a cat. Pets often become our faithful friends, constant companions and four-legged family members. If you’re new to pet ownership, you may feel overwhelmed or uncertain of what to expect. Take a deep breath — we’re here to help. Here are some of our favorite tips and advice for new pet owners:
Choosing the Purrfect Pet
If you’ve never owned a pet before, try to resist the urge to bring home the first cute face you see. There’s a lot that goes owning a pet. Just like humans, each pet has a unique personality and temperament.
Before adopting a pet, you’ll want to do some research to determine the kind of animal and the breed that will be the best fit for you. But if you’ve never owned a pet, how will you know which pet is right for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How large is your home?
- Do you have a yard? Is it fenced?
- Do you have time to regularly walk a dog?
- Does anyone in the family have allergies?
These questions can point you in the right direction when choosing a pet.
Bringing Your Pet Home
Prior to bringing your pet home, you’ll want to prepare. You can start by purchasing the basics such as bedding, food and water bowls and toys. When purchasing items for your new pet, you might also consider how to help your new pet acclimate to your home. For pets that might be nervous or fearful at first, you might buy some natural anxiety remedies or calming and stress-reducing pet care products.
You’ll want to be prepared for cleaning up after your new animal. One option is to invest in a new vacuum to pick up hair and dander. You’ll also want to have a plan for your pet in case of emergency. Make sure your pet is up to date on their vaccinations and has proper identification.
There are many ways to bond with your new pet. For dog owners, one of the best ways to bond is through games like fetch, taking walks together, or obedience training. Lack of obedience training is one of the top mistakes made by pet owners each year. All dog owners should enroll their dogs in obedience training soon after bringing them home because you’ll learn to communicate while building trust and rapport.
Your dog’s food matters more than you might think. When you give your dog healthy foods, you give their body the energy it needs to play and protect you and your family. But you have to feed them the right food. Many store-bought kibbles are made of mostly grain and inert fillers and don’t provide your dog the nutrients he needs. Most veterinarians advocate a diet of lean proteins, vegetables and healthy fats. Your veterinarian can help you determine the right type of food and feeding schedule for your dog.
Dog owners should consider how they will ensure their pet gets enough exercise as it’s crucial for dogs to move throughout the day. Exercise isn’t just good for your dog; it’s also good for those who are trying to lose weight or recovering from addiction. A little fresh air and sunshine can go a long way toward helping you accomplish your goals.
If you have a busy work schedule or work long hours you may consider hiring a dog walker. That way, you’ll get caught up on work while Fido burns off some extra energy, gets some exercise and enjoys some outdoor relief.
Become the Purrfect Pet Parent
Although you might be putting a lot of pressure on yourself to be a “perfect” pet owner, there’s really no such thing. If you’ve taken the steps listed above to find the right pet and prepare your home for pet ownership, you’ll be on the right track. Just prioritize your pet’s health, happiness and needs and you’ll be on your way to a happy and fulfilling relationship with your new pet.