It’s easy to get lost in the daydream of potential pet-ownership. Those long walks in nature, evenings spent cuddling up on the couch, and the rest. it’s not hard to see the appeal. However, having a dog or cat as part of your family is not all a bed of roses.
They’re a life-long commitment. And as such, you need to be sure that you’re fully prepared to deal with all that they bring before agreeing to bring one into your life.
To help you make the decision, we’ve put together fourteen useful considerations you’ll want to mull over before making the commitment. All going well, the answers will lead you towards becoming a responsible pet-owner.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE GETTING A PET
What’s the Motivation?
First thing’s first: what is your motivation for wanting a pet? It’s not enough to have the right emotional mindset for going through the process. You need to think about why you’re feeling this way.
If you’re considering going through the process because your children won’t shut up about how much they want a dog, then do not get a dog. We repeat: do not get a dog! Their minds will change pretty quickly. Then you’ll be left having to care for an animal that you didn’t really want yourself.
If you can weigh up what might be behind the quest, and it still makes sense after you’ve done some analysis, then it’s probably the right way to go.
Different Types of Pet
Of course, some animals are more hard work than others. You might be leaning towards getting a dog over a cat. But if you’re one of those people who can’t commit too many hours to long walks, or live in an area that’s not quite right for dogs, then a cat would be the better option.
Not that you have to necessarily stop there. Hamsters, fish, and ferrets all make great pets, and require significantly less work than the bigger options available to you.
Breaking it Down Further
But let’s say that you do have your heart set on a dog. Your decision-making won’t be done yet! This is because there are many different breeds of dogs. Small dogs, large dogs, active dogs, lap dogs, you name it. As such, it’s worth thinking about the type of lifestyle you have, and find a breed that fits in with that lifestyle.
Getting a dog that is less active would not be suitable if you have children who have bundles of energy. The poor guy won’t be able to keep up. Instead of focusing on whatever you think is the cutest creature, research what’s going on beneath the surface. It’ll serve you well in the long run.
You won’t be able to take proper care of your pet if you’re in a transitional phase and are unable to take care of yourself. As such, it’s best to postpone getting a pet until you’re settled down, and know that you’re going to be for the foreseeable future. There are exceptions to this rule, of course.
Just because you might be switching jobs/homes in the near future, that doesn’t automatically mean that a pet is a no-go. But if you’ve never had a pet before and are not entirely sure what to expect, then wait until you’re in a position to give it your undivided attention.
The Cost Factor
Even if you’re adopting from a shelter, you’ll have to pay a fee for your pet. But this is only the first of many expenses connected to your animal. First, there’s the matter of the obvious expense – pet food. Which can cost a fair amount. Then there are things like vaccinations, toys, check-ups at the vet, and so on.
While it’s hard to say exactly how much a pet can cost each year, it’s important that you set aside around $500-1000. Depending on the type and size of the animal. This number doesn’t include any emergency/unexpected expenditures, either.
How They’ll Affect the Home
When you invite another creature to live in your home, you should expect that a few things can change. And this is of course true when you bring in a dog, or, to a lesser extent, a cat.
First of all, there’s the smell. Dogs can have a pretty strong scent. And you’ll need to be willing to keep them clean and deep scrub your home more than you’re currently doing. You’ll also need to think about the others you may inadvertently invite into your home, too.
Dog food that’s left out can attract other animals. So you might need to have the details of a rat removal professional if you want to ensure your home is free of pests. They may also be responsible for bringing in fleas, ticks, and other annoying insects.
RELATED: KEEPING PESTS OUT OF YOUR HOME
If you’re currently working twelve hour days and seem to have no time to spend with your friends and family, then forget it. Now is not the right time to get a pet, especially a dog!
They’ll need to be taken out at least twice a day. And, really, for them to be happy and fulfilled, it’s got to be more than just a walk around the block. Even if you have other relatives who are happy to look after your dog while you’re at work, it’s not fair to bring a creature into your life and then keep your distance.
The Art of Patience
To have a pet is a bit like having a baby. They’re going to cry, they’re going to whine for food, they’re going to damage things. They don’t know any better! If you’re not a naturally patient person, then maybe work on this side of your personality before agreeing to get a pet. You’re going to return home from a long day at work to an animal that wants attention.
Even if you just want to lie down for an hour, you’ll have to dig deep and give the attention. Essentially, it’s not smart for a person with a short fuse to commit to teaching an animal how to behave in the home.
Have You Tried a Plant?
From the heading, you might think that we’re suggesting buying a plant instead of a dog or a cat. Don’t worry, we’re not. However, we are suggesting that you consider getting a plant before you commit to a live animal.
They say if you’re able to look after a plant for more than a year, then you’re likely able to make bigger commitments. So sure, the plant you have in the corner of your living room won’t give too much love. It’s not going to retrieve any of the balls you throw for it (or at least we hope not).
But it will teach you some useful lessons about care and responsibility. If you pass that test, then start browsing animal adoption centers.
You can never predict what’s going to happen in life. If your life can be flipped upside down, then so can your pets! And when things get complicated, it’ll be you that has to deal with the problem. Are you in a position to deal with these problems?
It’s not just about having money to hand (though this is also important). It’s also about having the time and flexibility to drive to the vets. Ability to call on other people – such as friends and family members – to help look after the animal when you have to go out of town, and so on.
A New Family Member
You can’t be a closed clan when there’s a pet involved! To adopt a cat or a dog is to incorporate a new member into your family. Make sure everyone, especially small children are on board. And your family can grow in productive, positive ways.
Can You Give a Good Life?
You don’t want to get a pet for selfish reasons. It’s not about what you want. It’s about what you can give to the animal. If you’re in a position to provide your potential pet with a good life, then all the other issues might dissolve pretty quickly.
RELATED: HOW TO HELP YOUR DOG BECOME HAPPY
In for the Long Haul
What are your plans for one, five, ten, or more years down the line? You won’t have all the answers, and any that you do will be liable to change. But in any case, it’s worth thinking about how your pet would fit into that period of your life.
If there’s no space for them in the ideas that you have, then, alas, it might not be appropriate to get a pet. It’s imperative that you think about the long-term implications of committing to pet-ownership before making the decision.
Ultimately, everyone’s circumstances are different. Just because there are some false starts on the questions above doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t have a pet. It may be possible! The key thing is that you’re taking the time to think about all the present and future aspects that might crop up.