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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Your First Pet

Owning a dog or cat can’t be that much work, right? After all, other than feeding them and taking them to the vet once each year, there’s not much to it. Well, the truth is that owning a pet is a huge responsibility, one that requires plenty of self-reflection before making the decision. From giving up your time to devoting a portion of your paycheck to your pet, there’s a lot to consider. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you bring a new fuzzy family member into your home.

Is There Room for My Dog to Play Outside Unrestricted?

If you get a dog, give it lots of exercise.

If you have your heart set on a hound, take a look around outside. Dogs need plenty of room to run and play, and they shouldn’t be confined to a leash every time they walk out the back door. Small dogs may do okay with an exercise pen, but anything larger than a Chihuahua needs a fenced area

Keep in mind, however, that you can almost always find a dog park, where Spot can roam free. And if you do have trouble finding open-play areas, many dogs do well with playing mentally stimulating games in the hours when you can’t let them loose.

Am I Really Ready to Clean Up After an Animal Every Day?

Pets make messes. Be ready for lots of cleaning in your home.
Pets make messes. Be ready for lots of cleaning in your home.

Your dog or cat is going to leave evidence of their existence in your home every day. This might be muddy footprints, slobber on the couch, or dust and dander lingering in the air. You’ll need to spend some time each day on additional cleaning duties if you don’t want your home to smell like an animal. Invest in a quality vacuum cleaner that can help you manage pet hair and dander. If you don’t have time for everyday cleanings, a robot vacuum can automate the process. Look for a model with a long running time and powerful suction capability. 

Do I Have Time to Devote to My Dog or Cat?

Devote plenty of time to your pets. time watch appointment

If you want to be like the nearly 40 percent of American households that have a dog, you should know that it’s a huge time commitment. Pet Central estimates that it takes approximately one hour each day devoted to training, feeding, cleaning, exercise, and more, though some days will be more hands-on than others. However, the point is that pets require ongoing care, and it’s up to you to provide it. If you travel frequently, work long hours during the day, or have other obligations you deem more important than taking care of your pet, it may be wise to wait until you can fit pet ownership into your daily schedule.

Can I Really Afford It?

Calculate all the costs associated with owning a pet.
Calculate all the costs associated with owning a pet.

Time is not the only thing you have to devote to your cat or dog, and the cost of cleaning isn’t the only added expense. Unless you’re willing to tackle bathtime yourself, grooming can cost around $60-$90 a pop. You also will be obligated to pay for vaccinations, routine health care and screenings, food, toys, and, depending on where you live and who your insurance provider is, additional costs for insurance for having an animal on the property.

Am I Willing to Share My Space and Modify It for a Pet?

Dogs love to sleep in their owner's bed.
Dogs love to sleep in their owner’s bed.

Your dog or cat is going to take up space, and not just where they stand. When you own an animal, you will contend with their bedding, toys, food bowls, scratch posts, and more. You may need to make minor home modifications, such as an entryway specifically for them, or pet-proof places that might be a danger to them. Ask yourself if you’re ready for this and if you’re ready to share the couch, floor, and possibly your bed. Dogs tend to want to be with their people at all times; cats typically come around momentarily and then wander off on their own adventures. If there are spaces in your home that are dangerous for your pup, you can block them off with a sturdy dog gate

Be Honest With Yourself

Ask yourself these questions before you contact your local rescue. Chances are, they’re going to ask you many of the same questions anyway. Be honest with yourself, and don’t be afraid to admit that you may need to wait for the right time.


Are you adding a pet to your household? Tell us in the comments below how you have prepared to bring this furry friend to be a part of your family.


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