How to be a Responsible Pet Owner

It is a real privilege to share your home– and life– with a pet. Whether you’re a dog person, a cat person, or have another preference entirely… pets are undoubtedly the most loyal friends a human will ever have.

With that being said, the benefits of pet ownership come with a huge obligation to be responsible.

Some say that caring for a dog is like caring for a child. It is much easier for an (irresponsible) pet owner to suddenly decide “it’s just not working out” and turn a dog over to an adoption agency. When life changes, you wouldn’t give up and hand your own child over… would you?

Responsible Pet Ownership Begins Before You Own a Pet

The decision to own a pet should not be taken lightly, and it should never be impulsive. Give yourself time to think things through rationally.

Not only should you be confident in your ability to give a good home to a cat or a dog, but you should also be confident in the security and stability of that residence. Many of the animals available for adoption were surrendered due to an unexpected relocation to a smaller living space.

As a general rule of thumb, puppies or dogs require much more adjustment than a kittens or cats. A canine will need to be taken out for several walks each day, while a feline can do their business inside.

Those who act on impulse to take in a cute puppy are hardly prepared for the sleepless nights, the stress and stains of house-training, and the other realities of owning a dog. Likewise, cats can also be more of a handful than what you initially expected when those big kitten eyes stole your heart. They bite, scratch, and smother you with attention at the most inopportune times.

So before you decide to buy (or better yet, adopt!) a puppy, kitten, or pet… take some time to think it through and ask the important questions:

What kind of pet is best suited for your home and lifestyle?

Are you ready to commit to the relationship with your pet for the next 20 years? (Approximately.)

If you work outside of the home, or travel, who will care for your pet while you are away?

Can you afford a pet? Not only should you have the money today (to buy the animal or pay adoption fees) but you should have enough security and extra cash flow to cover the cost of food, toys, activities, health, and emergencies.

If you are considering a puppy, are you capable of spending 2 hours every day to give a dog proper exercise and socialization?

If you are considering a kitten, will your cat be kept indoors or allowed outdoors?

Give Some Real Thought to the Reality of Pet Ownership

Outdoor park dog signIt’s not always cuddling with your furry friend during Wheel of Fortune, or having “someone” who will listen to your dirty little secrets and love you anyways. There are inconveniences that you should be absolutely prepared for… whether it’s fleas/ticks or simply walking around the park with a bag of doggie droppings in your hand.

If you can deal with that, great! Continue on…

Consider Pet Adoption

Even if it was a puppy or kitten for sale that initially brought you to consider pet ownership, there are many reasons to consider adoption instead. The short version—it’s the responsible thing to do. View all pets available for adoption.

Spay or Neuter Your Pets!

There is a growing overpopulation in stray/feral animals, and if you’re not part of the solution then you are part of the problem! It goes without saying that any cat that is allowed outside should be spayed or neutered first. New puppies or kittens are often an unexpected (and unwanted) surprise that you can prevent.  Of course, this is another strong reason to consider adoption because your new pet will already be spayed or neutered… saving you money in the long run.

Don’t “Collect” Pets.

For some, it can be tempting.

You’re already doing so well with one dog and two cats… why not take in another puppy too?

Well, there are a number of reasons! First of all, it is not fair to the pets you already own when you decide to bring a new animal into the family. There is less attention to go around for each pet. It also becomes more expensive to care for multiple pets, reducing your ability to be prepared for a medical emergency.

While there is nothing wrong with owning multiple pets, there is something wrong with owning too many pets. Know where the line should be drawn, and don’t cross it!

Know Who Is Responsible for Pet Maintenance.

Another problem that contributes to overpopulated pet adoption centers, related to impulsive decision making, is when a child is given a pet and it turns out they weren’t mature enough to handle the responsibility after all.

Well this can be avoided by being a responsible parent! It is your obligation to teach your child what it means to be a responsible pet owner, leading by example.

As the adult, the responsibilities of pet maintenance will be yours to fulfill, and that’s a strong reason not to give in to a child when you aren’t ready to handle the commitment.

In Summary

You feel ready for a pet when you can commit to 20 years of giving (and receiving) the love, attention, and companionship that come with the mutually beneficial relationship. Yet you won’t know that you’re ready until you’re also capable of accepting the responsibility.

The reality of caring for a pet can be costly and can require more work than you expected. In the long run, the worst thing to do is “give up” on a pet.

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