Choosing to become a pet parent is a big decision that requires serious thought. What you don’t see in the many Facebook videos and memes about becoming one are the responsibilities needed in raising well-socialized and healthy pets. In many ways, you find yourself in the same situation as raising a toddler—with the main difference being that the toddler never really grows up.
There are many reasons (and ways) to become a pet parent. But whatever they may be, it is important to understand that once you become one, your life stops being just about you—and that many things will change, whether you’re ready for them or not.
Routine, routine, routine.
In puppies, good habits lead to good behavior later on. If you don’t want to clean pee and poop in places they shouldn’t be in in the first place, then you’d better get used to keeping a strict routine of eating, going to the bathroom, and playtime. Your little ball of fur won’t understand if you can’t take him out to pee because it’s the last two minutes of the NBA Finals. If it’s time for him to go, he’ll go.
Good nutrition pays dividends.
Making an investment in natural, healthy food early means not having to worry about various diseases later on in your baby’s life. Just like a toddler, the nutritional requirements of your pet changes depending on the stage of his life. Regularly check with your Veterinarian for the best type of food that suits your baby’s needs. “For instance, the nutritional needs of a growing puppy or kitten are much different than the needs of an adult dog or cat that leads a sedentary life. Conversely, as our pets age, their nutritional needs may change again,” according to Dr. Lorie Huston, a veterinarian with 20 years of experience.
Accept the slobber
Having a clear understanding of what is normal for your pet will give you a better understanding of what to expect and how to deal with it. Some shed hair, others howl, and some special breeds like the English Bulldog slobber and fart regularly. Each one requires a specific kind of response so observe and react accordingly.
Positive reinforcement goes a long way.
Unlike humans, dogs (we’re not really sure about cats) aim to please. If they do something that upsets you, like chew on your favorite pair of signature sneakers, it’s usually because they don’t understand that it’s wrong, or they feel anxious about something. Instead of yelling at them, try building good habits where you get to praise them. That way, they choose that action over a negative one.
Mind your environment
Living with a pet means you have to compromise on a lot of things from getting used to all the hair covering everything you own to making sure that poisonous substances like industrial cleaners are kept out of reach. “Most people don’t consider the prep work they’ll need to do before picking out an animal,” according to ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behaviour Team behaviorist Kristen Collins.
In the end, becoming a pet parent is no easy task—it requires dedication, sacrifice, and discipline (not to mention a comfortable budget). But like many things that require effort, what you get in return is so much more—a true friend for life.