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Underdog Blog

What You Need to Know About Adopting a Pet for the First Time

Sabrina Ortiz

By Jessica Brody


Few things are as exciting as getting a pet. Just the thought of owning one, and you can already imagine yourself playing with them on the floor and cuddling with them on the couch. But before you take steps toward adopting a new companion, you need to make sure you are ready for the ups and downs of pet parenting.


Find Your Pet Soul Mate

Choosing a pet that’s best for you is more complicated than picking out the first cute kitten or puppy you come across. You need to find a pet that works best for your lifestyle. This means taking into consideration your available time, physical ability, allergies and location.

If you work long hours and cannot be home regularly to walk a dog, make sure you can hire a dog walker or opt for a cat instead. Maybe you’re looking for a new jogging partner and a Greyhound or Labrador is what you need. Do not forget to take into account your location. Large dog breeds require plenty of space, but small dogs and cats can be happy in apartments.


Pet-Proof Your Home

Once you’ve picked out your perfect pet you can’t bring them home just yet. First, you need to pet-proof your home. PetMD recommends taping up any electrical cords that they may chew on, storing chemicals away and removing any floor plants. Whether you are getting a puppy or an adult dog, it is a smart idea to restrict them to a section of the house while they get acclimated. Set up a baby gate to restrict their movement and minimize hazards during this time. The goal is to reduce any potential harm and accidents. You cannot be there to watch them 24/7.

When you’re preparing for the arrival of your furry bundle of joy, keep in that these little guys and gals aren’t perfect — they’re going to make messes in the house at some point, regardless of how well you plan. In addition to the floors, your pet might leave a mess on your furniture, which can be a little trickier to clean depending on the material. In some instances, you might need to call in a professional to do the job, but make sure you have enough money in the bank for this kind of service. For example, the average price of upholstery and furniture cleaning in Washington, DC, is between $127 and $222. Nobody said owning a pet was cheap.


Acclimating Your Pet to Their New Home

Entering a new home can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming for new pets. Though you want to play with them right away, keep this in mind, especially if they are shy at first.  Be patient with them and give them space to take it all in. Petfinder says not to be surprised if it takes a couple weeks before your pet’s true personality starts to show.

When they first enter your home, let them explore. Supervise them by following closely behind as they go from room to room because training starts on day one. Do not be shy about rewarding them for good behavior and redirecting their attention away from actions you’d rather they not take. Now is also the time to introduce to them their schedule. At first, you want to stick to it strictly so that they can learn what to expect from you in terms of walks, feeding time, and attention.


Pile on the Love

Bonding is incredibly important with a new pet. Rework your schedule to prioritize spending time with them. You want them to learn to be comfortable and trust you. If your pet is shy and timid, don’t be afraid to get down on the floor with them. Try to entice them with treats or show them how to play fetch. Pamper them with tummy rubs and cuddle with them up on the couch. These are great ways to bond that you’ll both enjoy.


The Positive Impact of Pets

Kids perhaps have the most to gain from introducing a pet into the family. You can enlist their help in walking and feeding to teach them responsibility and how to care for another living thing. Pets also have a positive impact on their growth and development according to Psychology Today.

Those recovering from addiction can also greatly benefit from pet ownership. Having a pet can create the same stimulation their addiction caused. Not only that, it helps those recovering from addiction establish new and healthy routines. Companion pets provide loyal support and encourage healthy bonds, which can decrease anxiety and depression.


Welcome Home

Pets quickly become members of the family. They’re a great source of joy but also a lot of work. Before you commit to bringing home a new friend, make sure you can handle the responsibilities. If you can, the rewards of raising a pet are more than worth it.