Getting Your First Pet: Expectation V.S. Reality

Many first-time homeowners are first-time pet owners, too. Finally, there’s no more landlord to tell you that pets aren’t welcome!

While getting your first dog or cat is an exciting prospect, being a good pet owner isn’t all fun and games. In this infographic, we explore some hard truths about pet ownership to help you better prepare for it.

Dogs are certainly cute, but they won’t stay that way if you skimp on their grooming. Brush their coat for about 5-10 minutes each day to control shedding, and bathe them at least once a month (or whenever their coat becomes too dirty or smelly). As for nail trimming, once every three weeks should suffice.

From the moment you get your pet, practice leaving him alone in a room for a few minutes each day. Resist the urge to barge in when he cries–wait until he calms down and reward him with a treat. Your pet should also have plenty of toys to occupy himself, which helps discourage destructive behavior like chewing on shoes or scratching on furniture.

Dogs are best socialized between 3-12 weeks of age, when they are most receptive to new information and experiences. Bring them to parks and pet stores so they get used to seeing other people and animals. When introducing your dog to new people, ask them to squat or sit in front of him–canines view this stance as passive and non-threatening.

As a responsible pet owner, budget for vaccines, spaying or neutering, and yearly checkups to keep your pet healthy and happy. Be sure to set aside money for emergency care as well.

When it comes to food, what’s good enough for you isn’t necessarily good enough for your pet. For instance, common ingredients like onion and garlic contain compounds that are poisonous to cats and dogs, while bones can be choking hazards. Remember that pets have different nutritional requirements than humans, so it’s best to give them food especially made for them.

If your cat keeps relieving himself in a certain room, try placing his food and water bowl in that room–cats have an instinct to avoid doing their business near their food. It might also help to place multiple litter boxes around the house to coax your cat into using it.


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