10 Tips for Being a Great Pet Owner
The biggest responsibility we can have, short of raising a human child, is parenting a pet. Owning a pet is a privilege, and the relationship should always be of mutual benefit to you and your furry friend. As a pet owner, you should endeavor to be the best owner you can be.
Here are our 10 tips for being a great pet owner!
- Get a pet to match your lifestyle. If you’re still looking for a pet to take on, read this first! Every breed and species has different needs and behaviors that you should recognize and respect. Huskies, for example, are bred to be endurance sled dogs. That means they need lots of room to run, regular exercise, and cool environments. If you don’t have the ability to fulfill an animal's needs, you should consider another pet that more accurately fits your lifestyle. We recommend extensively researching pets at the AKC and vetStreet.
- Establish a relationship with your Veterinarian. Within the first week of having your pet, you should take them to the local veterinarian. Ensure that they are up on all their shots, and establish a baseline of information with the office. That way, on future visits, they have things to compare to. Vets are the #1 most important resource for pet owners. Don’t skip this!
- Pet-Proof your home. Just like how you might baby-proof a home, you should also pet-proof it! Place medicine and food out of reach, keep the toilet lid closed, tidy up electrical wires, and hide the toys! Many pets, especially cats, can be pretty self-sufficient, but it’s still a good idea to modify some things to ensure they don’t scratch at your furniture. Part of this process is getting a pet door, so they have the ability to go to the bathroom on their time.
- Consider spaying or neutering your pet. One of the first big decisions you should make for your pet is whether to spay/neuter them. Studies show that it reduces behavioral issues in your pet, prevents them from giving you more puppies than you can handle, and is healthier in the long run. You can read more about the pros and cons of spaying and neutering.
- Feed them nutritious food. Feed your pet the highest possible quality of food. Treats are great for training and as an occasional reward, but should not substitute daily nutrition. Consider feeding them only things they’d eat in the wild, such as meat, fish, grains, and oats. We suggest feeding them your Vet’s recommended kibble or wet food.
- Exercise with them. Especially important for dogs, exercise is necessary for your pet’s physical and mental health. We recommend running alongside them instead of casually playing fetch. Seeing you exercise with them will improve their mood and motivation. As a bonus, you get to burn some calories too!
- Training and Socializing. Dogs are naturally inclined to be pack animals, and you’ll want them to interact with other dogs to stay mentally healthy. This goes for humans, too! Introducing them to humans slowly is also a good idea for puppies and kittens, as pets can easily get overwhelmed by large groups of people and new faces. Socializing your pet may take some time, but goes hand in hand with acclimating them to basic potty-training and human interaction.
- Keep your pet safe. Most vets recommend microchipping your pet. This will make it easier to identify them and return them to you if they run away. A collar and name tag with your address is also a great idea. Along with pet-proofing your home, you can keep them safe by enclosing any outdoor area they have access to and keeping them inside during potentially dangerous times like hunting season and the 4th of July.
- Respect your pet’s space. It’s important to respect the space of your pets, especially if they are shelter animals. A common behavior for some pets is guarding or protecting their food. Let them eat in peace without taking it away or bothering them. How would you feel if someone kept trying to take your food away from you to take a Snapchat picture?
- Remember to play! Just like socializing your pet with other animals, it’s imperative that you play with your pet. It establishes trust and love and loyalty. This is the prerequisite to off-leash walking and advanced training. Your pet is a member of your family now, and you should give them the love they deserve!
It’s important to remember that every pet situation is different, and this list could change from household to household. The only thing that we as pet owners can do is give our pets the best lives that we can!
For more resources on pet ownership, check out our other blog posts: