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Diana L. Guerrero

Diana L. Guerrero

Animal behaviorist and author of Blessing of the Animals...

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Dr. Robyn Jaynes

Pet care expert for PetSmart

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Warren Eckstein

Pet trainer and author of Pet Aerobics

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Top 5 Things to Do

Adopting a pet is a fun and exciting time, but before you head to the kennel or drop into the local pet store to pick up your new best friend, follow these top five suggestions in order to prepare.

1. Research your new pet.

When considering pet adoption, think about your lifestyle, interests and budget. Do you want to watch a fish, play with a bunny, snuggle up with a cat or hike with a dog? After you decide what type of animal is right for you, explore different breeds to determine the best match, but keep an eye on your wallet: Adopting a pet brings a host of costs, including vet visits and food.

2. Buy new pet supplies.

If you have what you need when you arrive home with your new pet, you can just relax and get to know him. Before adopting a pet, you’ll need a carrier for bringing him home and taking him to the vet; a crate, cage or bed for him to sleep in; bowls and food; and, depending on the animal, a litter box or leash. It’s also fun to get toys for your new pet, though you may discover that your bird’s favorite plaything is a plastic bottle cap and your puppy prefers discarded stuffed animals!

3. Pet-proof your home.

Look around and eliminate anything that could endanger your new pet. Get those electrical cords out of the way so they won’t be chewed on. Make sure your house and yard (or cage) are secure, so your pet can’t run away. Teach your children how to behave safely and gently around their new pet—for the sake of both.

4. Send clear signals.

Your first 30 days of adopting a pet will lay the foundation for the rest of your lives together, so help your pet learn good habits by giving him clear and consistent messages. Keep his bed in the same place and feed him at the same time each day. Say his name often, and repeat the same words and commands, so that he learns your routines and expectations.

5. Have fun.

Spend time getting to know your new pet. Watch your fish or turtle to discover his likes and dislikes. Lie on the floor with your cat and teach him to play with his new toys. Run around with your dog in the yard to help him get the exercise he needs to stay healthy and happy. At the end of the day, settle in together on the couch and watch a movie or listen to music. Spending time with your new pet provides him with love and stimulation, and helps him acclimate to your household.

Posted: 1/21/08

These five tips are awesome. I had been wanting a dog and since I had a recent break-up I thought it would be very theraputic. Now I have a twenty month Lab/Boxer. She is alot of work and needs alot of attention but it is something positive I can give my attention to. Today is just her second day with me and while she is chewing on my pillows, socks and anything that is out that she can put in her mouth, I just keep in mind that she herself is in "transition". Together we can begin our lives over. I was kinda scared but reading this article really helped. Thank you!!!