Thinking about getting a new pet? There’s almost nothing better. Who could possibly turn down puppy or kitten snuggles while watching Netflix on a Saturday afternoon? But becoming a pet parent is a lot more than just walks in the park and playing with cute toys you grabbed at Petsmart — it’s a lot of work, and if you’re getting a young animal, it’s practically a full-time job getting them acclimated to your house (and the world). But if you’re truly prepared and know what you’re getting into, adding a new pet to your family can be so worth it.
New Pet

Before you head to pick up your new furry BFF, you should probably do some research. If you have other pets or small children in your house, it’s important to find out if the breed of your new dog or cat is one that will get along with kids and other animals, and you also want to make sure you’re able to offer the pet what it needs — for example, if you’re adopting a large dog, you probably want to have a large yard to make sure puppy has a lot of room to run and play.

It’s also important to consider where your pet is coming from; adopting a cat or dog who is homeless or living at a kill shelter rather than purchasing one from a breeder or a pet store is often the best way to go, but you’re the only one who can decide what the best choice is for you.

And of course, being prepared financially is important, too. Even if you manage to get your pet for free or for a low cost at a shelter, there are a lot of expenses associated with having a pet, especially in the first year. According to Petfinder, the annual cost of owning a dog is at least $395 for the first year (and up to $2,455!) with slightly lower costs every year after, and if you end up adopting a pet that winds up having a lot of medical needs or issues, that number can easily grow.

In fact, it might be beneficial to look up if pet health insurance is something you can afford. The startup costs of a new animal are pretty high, too; a dog will need supplies like a bed, food and water bowls, toys, and a leash and collar, while a cat will need a litter box, a bed, a collar, and toys — and that’s just the bare minimum. It’s better to make sure you can cover those costs before you adopt, that way you’ll know exactly what you need without being surprised later on.

Once you’ve adopted your new dog or cat, the hard work truly begins. Fortunately, most kittens understand what a litter box is and how to use it right off the bat (which, really, how amazing is that?!), but you’ll probably also have to teach your new cat not to scratch your furniture. Dog training is definitely more intense, because not only do you have to get your dog used to your environment without chewing all your shoes, but you also get the gift of house training them… which can take months to a year to fully accomplish. According to the American Kennel Club, young dogs don’t have very much bladder control yet, so that can mean having to take your pup out every hour or so (or even more frequently).

Basically, you want to get a pet when you have nothing but free time to dedicate to it — if you have the summer off or are working remotely for an extended period of time. For a while, you’re probably going to have to spend most of your time helping your new pet get used to their new home, and it can be exhausting. But when you’re at the end of your rope and cleaning up dog pee for the 47th time that day, remember that your dog probably already loves the heck out of you, and that will make it all worth it.

Adding a new animal to your family is definitely intimidating. It takes a lot of money and hard work to make it happen because after all, this is a living creature you’re bringing into your home. But potty training doesn’t last forever, and neither does the adjustment period of welcoming your new animal into your home. It can certainly be tough, but it’s also super rewarding: in the end, you’ll have a loyal friend who’s always happy to see you when you get home. And honestly, isn’t that what everyone wants?

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