Pets are the best. And now that you’ve moved out you’re looking for a bit of companionship. Someone to welcome you home every night and cuddle up to on the couch. But caring for a pet is a big responsibility. So how do you know if you’re ready for that new puppo or kitten?
1. Finance ready
First things first, can you afford to maintain a pet? There’s a lot more costs involved in being a pet owner than you might have initially anticipated. The breed of dog or cat you choose can greatly affect the price as well as the means of adoption – are you adopting from a shelter, or a pet store, or directly from a breeder?
Beyond the initial costs of adopting your new pet and vaccinations there’s also the ongoing expenses like food, toys, grooming and veterinary care. And not to mention replacing shoes and furniture your new pup has ripped up!
According to the RSPCA Pet Insurance website there were almost $25 million paid out in pet insurance claims in 2016. This means that with pet ownership comes unforeseen expenses. Be ready for expenses anywhere between $200 to $5,000. So along with your regular monthly food and grooming needs, you need to be prepared to cough up cash for unforeseen expenses like:
- Replacing damaged furniture, carpets and clothing
- Backyard fencing to keep you pets from getting out
- Emergency medical care
- Emergency dental care
I’d recommend keeping an emergency fund of a few $1,000 stashed away to prepare yourself for any unexpected costs – that way, you won’t get caught out.
2. House ready
Just like toddlers, young cats and dogs are curious. As a general rule, make sure you don’t leave any food lying around that they might be able to reach (especially chocolate!). The same goes for clothes – new puppies love to rip up your favourite pair of socks!
To prepare your home and make it a fun and safe place for you new four legged friend focus on these few things:
- Keep a list of poisonous plants and make sure they’re aren’t any in your garden.
- Ensure there are no holes in your fences, your gates close securely (including pool fences) and your pet won’t be able to jump over or dig under fences.
- Purchase a comfy bed for your pet to sleep in as well as bowls for food and water.
- Make sure you have plenty of toys to keep them stimulated – bored puppies are the most destructive.
- If you’re adopting a kitten, make sure you have a litter box and scratching post.
The type of house you live in might also impact the size of pet you can get. If you don’t have a yard it’s best not to get a great big Border Collie or Labrador – these types of dogs need plenty of space to run around and stay active.
3. Fitness ready
If you’re not already fit then prepare to get fit, because somebody has to walk that dog everyday. Exercise isn’t just about health. Of course, a fit doggo will be at less chance of health risks like diabetes and heart disease, but keeping your pet active can also significantly affect their behaviour.
Young dogs have a LOT of energy that needs to be released somehow (have you heard of ‘zoomies’?). Often, annoying habits like destructive behaviour and barking are the result of inactivity.
The amount of exercise your pet will need will very much depend on the breed, but in general a leashed walk around the block won’t cut it – your pup will need a good 30 to 60 minutes of exercise every day (basically, enough that he or she starts slowing down by the end of it).
It doesn’t always have to be a walk around the streets either – a game of fetch can go a long way. Dog parks are also an amazing for making sure your pup is getting the exercise they need.
But hey, if you’re not prepared to walk your pet you can always go for a goldfish!
4. Personally ready
So your house is ready, your finances are in order and your fit and ready to go. The last thing you need to ask yourself then is “will a pet fit into my lifestyle?”
Are you a traveller? Travelling won’t be as simple as up and leaving anymore. With a pet to be responsible for you’ll need to find someone to look after them while you’re away and more than likely this is gonna cost you.
What’s your work schedule like? Pets like to get into a routine of when they eat and sleep. If your work schedule is erratic and you’re not home to feed your fur baby at the same time every night, you might come home to some nasty surprises.
If you work long hours you need to think about where your pet will stay – if they’re an inside pet, is there somewhere for them to do their business? If they’re an outside pet, is there enough shelter to protect them from heat and rain?
And finally, are you emotionally ready? In order for a pet to really thrive, they need to make a connection with you. You need to be ready to love and care for your pet no matter what. A good idea is to try dog sitting for a friend for a couple of nights to test whether you truly are ready.
It’s puppo time!
Pets are a huge responsibility but also have the potential to greatly enrich your life with unconditional love and fun. If you’re mentally ticking all these things off in your head then you’re ready to bring that furry friend home!