Few things can bring the same amount of happiness as the experience of bringing home your first pet. Whether it’s an adopted stray or given by a friend, a pet is more than just an animal you get to keep; it’s also a member of your family.
Sadly, a lot of first-time pet owners make crucial mistakes that could negatively affect both them and their pets. Some owners learn to correct these faults, but hundreds of pets still get abandoned or end up at animal shelters every year because of unprepared pet owners. As a first-time pet owner, you should learn to avoid these mistakes early on—here’s seven of them:
Getting a pet on impulse
No matter how cute or cool an animal is, you should never get a pet on impulse. Having a pet means a lot more than appreciating how it looks or acts. It comes with plenty of responsibilities, many of which can catch unprepared pet keepers off guard. Getting a pet that you can’t commit time, love, and resources to is just a tragic pet story in the making, so make sure you and your household are ready for it.
Not house-training your pet
Animals will always fall back on their base instincts and develop certain habits unless you get them used to living in their new home. For example, dogs dig up and chew on stuff, while cats can end up using furniture as scratching posts. Talk to your veterinarian about how soon your new pet can be house-trained and how to set up an effective training routine. The earlier you start, the easier it is to curb out bad habits.
Not setting proper house rules
Part of keeping a pet in line is keeping yourself and other members of your household in line. If you don’t mind your dog sleeping on the couch, and then someone else suddenly punishes it for doing exactly that, it will only end up confusing your pet. Be consistent with your own house rules and it shouldn’t be a problem.
Spoiling your pet
Pet experts know the importance of rewarding pets for good behavior, but too much of it can have an opposite effect on how you train your new pet. Rewards lose their value if handed out willy-nilly, to the point that your pet might no longer care for it in the long run. Limiting rewards to an extent works better since it keeps your pet looking forward to getting a treat.
Isolating your pet
Pets such as dogs and cats need regular interaction so they don’t always freak out when guests or other animals are nearby. In worse cases, they may even display aggressive behavior that can lead to unprovoked attacks. Exposing them to other pets, places, and people early on will help them become more tolerant of others and even be more inclined to making friends.
Not giving certain pets enough exercise
This mostly applies to certain dog breeds but it can also apply to other pets. Different pets require different levels of regular physical activity to stay healthy. If they don’t meet these requirements, they’re more likely to develop illnesses ranging from poor stamina to heart-related problems.
Study your pet’s specific exercise requirements and make sure they stay physically fit. Having a large enough space may be good enough for some pets, while others will have to be taken out for walks on a regular basis.
Physically hitting your pet
When you hit a dog or a cat, they only end up developing fear towards you, and you wouldn’t want your pet living in constant fear. Look for other ways to discourage bad behavior. For example, if you catch your pet in the act, you can stop it with a firm “No!” or “Stop!” Pets don’t usually associate punishment with stuff they did even just a few minutes ago, so it has to be done as soon as possible.
Getting a pet for the first time is an important milestone in anybody’s life. Yet having the right mindset, budget, and approach to keeping a pet is key to a happy relationship between you and your newest family member.