How to Be a Good Pet Parent

Here are some of the things the best pet parents do that make their pets the happiest and healthiest.  Being the best pet parent starts before you even bring your new puppy or kitten home for the first time and lasts through a lifetime of love and companionship.


Make sure your Pet Has ID.

A 2012 ASPCA study reported that one in every six cats or dogs will become a lost pet within five years. People who have beloved companions escape often. A lost pet can only be returned to its waiting home if those who find your pet can find the owner. Always make sure your pet has a collar that fits them properly and has an ID tag attached along with their rabies tags. Make sure you update the name address and phone number on the dog’s tags if anything changes to the contact information remain up to date. If your pet has also been microchipped, you should also contact the chip provider and update your contact information so it will be easy to scan the embedded microchip and have your phone number there.  A collar with ID and a microchip provides security. Pets with tags and chips are most likely to return home if they ever somehow go rogue.


Choose a Veterinarian

Your vet is the partner in keeping your pet happy and healthy. They provide not only necessary vaccinations and healthcare, including a yearly physical exam, but they can help you make sure you know the answers to your pet care questions. Veterinarians can handle scary emergencies that can occur as a pet owner. They also protect your pets and keep them healthy. They are trained animal medical professionals who love pets so much they are dedicated to providing care for them. You should also be responsible and spay or neuter your pets and need a vet for that. Vets can also treat animal behavioral issues in animals.  Choose your veterinarian when you commit to becoming a pet owner and find the vet you want to work with for your pets best well-being.


Pet-proofing Your Home

Cats and Dogs explore their world by smelling, jumping, scratching and eating. They use these activities to familiarize and explore the places they are curious about. As a responsible pet parent, you are responsible for making sure the new home for your pet is a safe place. Dangerous chemicals, cleaning supplies and things of value like clothes or shoes are put up and out of sight from a new pet who will undoubtedly be curious about them. For puppies and kittens especially, you should consider keeping cabinets locked and keeping countertops, tables and floor cleared off. Hazards like wires and electric cords can easily be used as chew toys by a bored or curious pet so keeping these out of sight or attached to walls protects your pet and property. Make sure your new pet has toys to play with so your shoes aren’t gnawed on instead.


Purchase Cat/Dog Toys and Pet Essentials

Dogs have a natural habit of chewing things. Cats love to climb and scratch. You can protect your stuff and ensure your pet has a stimulating environment that lets them be themselves by providing dog toys for chewing on and cat trees or scratching posts. You also need to stock up on pet essentials like food and water bowls, safety gates for areas you want to not allows a new pet access to, cleaning supplies in case of the accidents you need clean up after, leashes and collars, grooming stuff like brushes and pet shampoo, and for dogs, a crate. A pet bed or two may be ideal too.


Pet-proofing Your Family

You should not only prepare your home for a new pet, but you should also prepare your entire family for the new pet. Children who are young or have no pet experience needs to understand how to be gentle with a new dog or cat. Excessive or unwanted attention from children can create negative or even anxious behavior from the pet so they need to realize it may take the new house resident a bit of time to adjust. Always supervise the first encounters between children and pets and reinforce proper behavior around dogs and cats with children until it is second nature. Let children know the pet needs their own space and the time to find their part of being in your family. A shy pet is not a “bad” pet, it is an unsure pet and as your pet gets used to its new home, it most likely will lose its shyness.


Pet-proofing The Other Pets

This is a lot more challenging than a toddler sometimes. Whenever possible, introduce new pets to your other pets over time. Let them get accustomed to each other’s scent first and then allow the new pet to roam free exploring the house while your other pet is secured. Eventually, introduce your new pet and old pet once they have gotten the scent of each other known or seen each other through the door or safety gate. Supervise all initial pet meetings until you see they can get along and make sure you give your pet that was there first extra affection and praise when they welcome the newcomer. You have to make sure the first arrived pet does not have any reason for jealousy or view the new pet in the household as a threat.


Basic Training Starts Early

Look into local training classes and ask friends and family for pet training recommendations. You want a happy and well-adjusted pet so training starts early. Practicing simple commands like sit, stay, heel, come and down for about five minutes every day is how to begin training dogs from the day they come home. Use affection and positive reinforcement with your dog instead of force or fear. Cats are harder to train than dogs in general, but deterring bad behavior with distracting noises or interruption can often stop a cat from clawing the couch or jumping up on the kitchen table. You might have to potty or litter box train the animal.  Be forgiving, especially with pets that have not had a litter box before or have not been housetrained. Always use praise instead of punishment to encourage good behavior when your cat uses the cat box or the dog goes outside to go to the bathroom. Accidents happen with new pets and proper guidance, training, and reward encourage the desired behaviors.


Provide the Right Pet Food and Playtime Exercise

Your pet needs a complete and balanced diet to be healthy. However, the nutritional needs of a quickly growing puppy or kitten are very different than the needs of an adult dog or cat. Elderly dogs or cats also lead more sedentary lives. Feed your pet an approved high-quality pet food that is designed for every stage of life.  As our pets get older and mature, their nutritional needs change. Your vet can help you find the right type of food for your new pet.  Even the most laid-back dog or cat needs regular exercise with their nutritious diet. Make sure your dog is walked enough each day and try to play fetch to stimulate and engage them in physical activity. Cats will enjoy time chasing a feather teaser toy, playing with a toy mouse or even playing the classic run around the room laser pointer game of “capture the red dot.” Proper diet and exercise will ensure your new pet remains a happy and healthy member of your family for years.



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