Owning a pet is one of life’s great pleasures, the sort of thing that can bring a family together and genuinely help to make a home feel even more homely. It is not easy however, and every responsible pet owner will tell you that the experience of bringing home a new family pet can be very challenging.
That said, it is also hugely rewarding and does not necessarily have to be stressful. Here are some hints and tips for making the experience as stress-free as possible.
The right pet for the right home
You might love big cuddly dogs, but is that really going to be practical if you live in a small one-bedroom flat? Make sure you think about the requirements of the animal, rather than just what you want. Likewise, if you and your family have never had pets before, maybe start with something like fish which are a lot less labour-intensive than cats and dogs. You might also want to look into allergies that you or your children could have. Thinking carefully about the space you have in your home, and indeed your life, will save a lot of stress and heartache further down the road.
Make yourself a detailed and comprehensive checklist of everything you need to get ready before the pet arrives so they can settle in and start to adapt themselves as quickly and smoothly as possible. Do your research and be honest with yourself so you know exactly how much time and money you are going to need to spend; this way you can prepare yourself mentally as well as logistically. Think about appointments with the vet for immunisations, flea-tablets, dog worming treatment and other procedures, what equipment you are going to need and whether you have other pets which are going to have to adapt to a new animal in their territory
The attitude here should be about adapting your lifestyle permanently and not just managing a one-off event. Get the whole family involved in writing up a care rota so everyone is clear about their own responsibilities from now on. Kids generally love the idea of getting a new pet, but a few months later when they have to get up early and go out in the cold to take the dog for a walk, they might not be so keen. They are more likely to live up to their responsibilities if their expectations have been carefully managed in this way.
Getting a pet of any kind should not be a spur-of-the-moment decision or one that is entered into lightly. That said, the rewards for doing so are huge, and few families ever regret it. Having an animal in the home is in many ways like having another family member, and the psychological and emotional benefits can be felt by everyone. So go into it with your eyes open, get yourself organised and be prepared for a whole new kind of family life.