Adopting a pet is a big decision. In addition to the fun and love, this new family member will require time, money, space and – most importantly – your energy. Can you afford the vet bills? Will you be home enough to give it proper attention? Do you have the patience to train a puppy? All these are questions to ask before you make this commitment. Here are a few more dos and don'ts to consider – including some eco- and budget-friendly options – before bringing home a four-legged friend.
- Think about the qualities you're looking for. Do you want a dog that can be trained easily or that is good with kids? Maybe you need a hypoallergenic breed because of allergies.
- Be realistic about the time you can devote. If you live alone and work long hours, now may not be the best time to adopt. Any new pet will need your time and attention to acclimate to a new living situation.
- Think about your energy levels. Do you jog every day and want a companion? Investigate energetic breeds that can keep up. More of a snuggle-on-the-couch-with-a-good-book type? A cat might be a better choice for you.
- Consider the costs. Paying for vet visits, spaying or neutering, training, boarding, grooming, a dog walker, food and toys can add up. Make sure your budget can handle the extra expenses.
- Prepare before your pet comes home. Get a leash or crate. Have some food on hand. Figure out where they'll sleep and what they'll do during the day if you're at work.
- Adopt from a shelter or rescue. These organizations exist solely to find homes for loving animals with no other place to go. Avoid breeders that don't take care of the mothers or babies.
- Spend too much. Yes, you want to buy good-quality food, but your furry friend doesn't need gourmet kibble or fancy equipment. Instead, reuse or upcycle what you already have. Try used rags, balls or string for toys, old dishes for food and water, and a worn but warm blanket for a bed.
- Get a pet as a holiday gift. Surprising someone with a pet can often backfire – and could end with the animal going back to a shelter.
- Forget about your other pets. How will your current household members react to a new one – welcoming or jealous? Can you walk all your dogs at the same time? Do you have room for separate litter boxes, if necessary? Also, a new puppy or kitten is awfully cute and can take a lot of your attention, but remember to pay plenty of attention to your other pets, who may feel left out of the love.
Think that Day 1 will be the same as Day 1,000. Whether your first day with your new pet is fun or frustrating, remember that everyone – both humans and animals – will adjust after a while. It will take time for your pet's personality to reveal itself and for everyone to get fall into a new routine.