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Are you ready to bring an animal into your home? -The 5 things to consider.

Bringing an animal home is an exciting experience! With more of us working from home during these times, the thought of bringing home a new pet has likely crossed our minds. However, bringing an animal into the home is not something one should do on a whim. It should require consideration as to whether or not you are ready for a pet.

Below is a list of 5 items for consideration when in the first stages of getting a pet.


1. Differentiate what you want versus what matches your lifestyle

 Potential pet owners tend to have a difficult time separating what they want in a pet from what best suits their lifestyle. For instance, adults living in a shared apartment that are away 10 hours a day, are looking for a certain large-breed, high-energy-dog. In this example it is made clear they do not have the space or the time for said dog. It is therefore important to identify what animal and what temperament is best suited for the life you lead.


Important questions you should ask yourself:

“Who will take care of my pet if I go on vacation, go to work, or move?

“Is my household loud or quiet?”

“Is it important my pet is affectionate, quiet, playful, independent, good with children, good with other pets (dog or cat), or adaptable to new environments/situations?”

“Am I able to put the time into walking my pet, or giving them the adequate caretaking they need (e.g., grooming)?”

“How long will my animal be home alone?”


2. Time Budget

The amount of time and attention necessary to allocate to your pet (e.g., for feeding, walking, grooming, socializing, and enriching their day), will depend on the animal acquired. The time required for owners to provide care to their pet, is not species specific, but rather animal specific, as some cats will require more daily care than others (e.g., if medication is required, etc.) and some dogs will require more time from owners than others (e.g., puppies demand more than adults, calm dogs with low energy will require less time than others, etc.). It is therefore important to discuss the temperament of the animal with the breeder/rescue prior to deciding on and acquiring a certain pet.


Important questions you should ask yourself:

“Do you consider yourself to lead a busy lifestyle?”

“On average, how long are you away from home during the day?”


3. Financial Resources

On average, annual dog care can cost over $2500 dollars and annual cat care can cost over $1600 – including food, toys, veterinary visits, microchip/license, etc. Similar to the time required to allocate to your pet, the annual cost of having a pet will depend on the animal in question as well as a variety of other factors, including: animal’s age, animal’s health status, presence of special food requirements, whether professional training is required, and whether pet insurance is purchased. Please take careful consideration as to whether or not you are able to financially afford the responsibility of caring for a pet.


Important questions you should ask yourself:

“Do I have savings or some sort of assistance to help me if I cannot afford a certain veterinary procedure or a required resource for my pet?” 

“Will I get pet insurance?”

4. Other animals

Animals typically experience stress when encountering some type of change in their environment and/or in their daily routine. Thus, bringing another animal into the home, either the same or different species, will usually trigger a stress response if the animals are not compatible or if they are not introduced properly.

  

Important questions you should ask yourself:

“How will I separate the animals during their initial phase of introductions?” 

“Does my household allow for both animals to have their own space?”


5. Preparing your home

You will need to acquire a veterinarian, pet supplies, and dog- or cat-proof your home. You should also begin to strategize how you will train your animal – positive reinforcement, puppy classes (for dogs), basic obedience (for dogs), socialize them with family/friends pets, take them to the veterinarian to get them used to the environment, etc. The animal’s car ride to your house is often overlooked as an important step. This is where training should begin – provide a crate and/or blanket for them to be comfortable in to create a more positive beginning with their new family.


In preparing the house, dog- or cat-proofing is a crucial step – in fact, some rescues will not let you bring the animal home unless this step is completed. This step includes removing any potentially dangerous items that can be chewed or swallowed (e.g., electric cords, children’s toys, etc.) from anywhere they can reach and setting up training and enrichment tools, such as their crate (for a dog) or scratching posts/cat trees (for a cat).


It is important to note that these 5 steps will vary depending on the age of the animal. If you are looking to obtain a kitten or a puppy, special considerations are necessary – for instance time and financial demands are higher for a younger animal.

Bringing an animal into the home is a valuable and joyful experience – after all, the happiest moments are found when the animal and owner have their first bonding experience, forging their relationship. Special consideration should, however, be taken prior to acquiring a pet. A rash decision may result in an incompatible living situation, where the animal is either not within a suitable environment and/or the owner is not able to appropriately manage the animal’s needs, whether it is behavioural or medical. Family members or housemates must all be on board with the decision and should all provide input during this process.


If you have any questions or wish to seek advice as to what would be the best choice for you, please seek the appropriate professionals (e.g., adoption agents at local humane societies) and Before You Get a Pet: Future Pet Parent Guide (www.beforeyougetapet.com) is also a great resource!



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