Getting a dog, cat, or any kind of pet is a big responsibility, and not everyone prepares correctly for the experience. However, each animal has different needs, and researching their breeds can reveal useful information. It’s time to discover some of the most common mistakes a pet seeker can make, so you can avoid falling into the same wrong habits.
1. Long Car Rides
As a pet seeker, you’ve probably seen many videos online of people taking their dogs everywhere. Some pets go with their owners on long road trips without an issue. However, those videos don’t show how much you have to prepare for an excursion with a pet. You have to think of animals like young toddlers. They have many needs aside from their basic necessities. Some may even get car sick, so you should be ready for anything.
A long car ride without proper planning is not optimal for a pet. You may get vomit, pee, or poop on your seats. Some dogs and cats get so anxious they tremble the entire time. That’s not fun for them. They may cause problems and start jumping around, distracting you from driving. Some have even been known to jump from windows or break them altogether. The last thing you want is an unexpected visit to auto glass shops during a road trip.
Therefore, pets should never be at the front, and you shouldn’t drive with a dog on your lap, even if they’re tiny. Get someone to sit with them in the back if they need company. Use dog seatbelts or carriers. Take many breaks on the road. They need to feel safe, stretch their legs, sniff around, and more. Never leave your dog in the car, even in cold weather.
2. An Uncomfortable Home
As a pet seeker, you’ll have to prepare your home for your pet. Buying dishes, pet food, a leash, and a bed is not enough. Your animal has to be comfortable and safe in the house. That often means pet-proofing. Imagine how you would baby-proof an area and try to think along those lines for your dog or cat. You also have to decide if your pet will stay inside all the time or if they’ll be outside. Whatever you choose, they need to be in a cozy space.
Dogs and cats can easily feel changing temperatures and suffer consequences like humans. Therefore, you should hire HVAC contractors to check that everything is working correctly with your system, especially if you plan to leave your pets at home while you go to work or run errands. Also, cats will escape from your house because of their natural curiosity, so it’s smart to invest in screens or anything that will prevent that.
Pets also need to walk and run around safely, and some types of flooring are not the best. Carpet is also not ideal because it catches fur and fleas, gets stained, etc. They may also be tempted to pee on them. Don’t buy a house just because it has a huge yard. You have to investigate if your dog is more energetic than others. You may not need the space for the pet at all.
3. Lack of Supervision
A pet seeker may choose a cat over a dog because they’re known for being more independent. However, any animal you pick must be supervised and trained. Cats learn in different ways, but they still need to be taught. Meanwhile, getting a dog you won’t play with or supervise is like leaving a toddler home alone to fend for themselves.
Some pets can easily be alone without issues, but that’s not always true. Don’t give the pet too much freedom. Cats that go outside tend to live shorter lives. They get diseases, fight with other cats, and the weather affects them. Dogs should never be allowed to roam freely because some breeds are hunters. Others are territorial.
You could face major issues if they fight with other dogs or kill the neighbor’s chickens. Being supervised provides them with discipline and comfort around people. You don’t want them to be skittish and hesitant to greet others. At some point, you may have service people over, like a bathroom remodel contractor, and you don’t want your pet to spook them off.
4. Few Vet Visits
Remember, pets are like children, meaning they need proper medical care throughout their lives. Some animals aren’t as high-maintenance as kids but need proper doctor’s visits. A new pet seeker needs to be prepared for an initial round of vet visits, where they’ll give your animal their first vaccines and checkups. That’s a big commitment, so some people are encouraged to get pet insurance.
Over time, your pet will have other issues, like fractures, fleas, vomiting, diarrhea, injuries, etc. You must have a budget for them and be ready to rush to the clinic. Sometimes, pets need dental services, especially if you don’t brush their teeth. Not every owner does. However, some animals accumulate more plaque than others, so they could need teeth cleanings or removals.
You need to stay on top of their yearly vaccines, de-worm them as the vet recommends, and groom them as needed. Animals can be shy or afraid of doctor’s visits. You need to have a proper leash or crate for them. You also have to be ready to help the doctors hold the pet to treat it properly. Being able to carry your pet is a plus, so if you’re not strong, perhaps consider a small dog or cat as a companion.
5. No Socialization
Not socializing your pet is just as bad as not supervising it. As a pet seeker, you need to understand that these creatures can learn what you teach them, although they also have their own personalities. Some cats are skittish and will hide when others visit your house. Some can attack a guest. You don’t want either situation, so it’s best to expose them to people and other animals.
It’s like training your child to see the pediatrician. Eventually, they won’t feel so insecure about strangers and act normally. Dogs are more people-oriented, but some can get overly friendly, and not everyone likes animals. You need to train them with recall commands and show them how to behave in front of others.
See how they react to neighborhood dogs while on leash. If they don’t seem aggressive, you can visit a dog park so they’ll see other puppies and get pets from other people. Once you’re comfortable, you can let them go off-leash in that area. Don’t wait until they’re adults to try this. Just like kids, teaching them early is much better.
6. Lack of Budgeting
A potential new pet seeker needs to understand that animals cost money. You’ll need several vet visits, but dogs, cats, birds, and other creatures need more stuff, including food, leashes, bowls, etc. That’s why having a pet is always compared to having a child. You’ll have to care for their needs, which requires money. However, it’s not as expensive as an engagement ring.
The only way to budget is to break down the expenses of a regular pet, which will depend on the kind of animal you choose and its breed. According to MoneyGeek and data from the ASPCA, a dog can cost between $1,500 and $2,000 in its first year, while a cat is around $1,175. As mentioned earlier, there will be other expenses over the years. Dogs and cats get spontaneous diseases and could require surgeries. Accidents happen, too.
That’s why having a living being in your house is a big commitment. Meanwhile, some people go so overboard with love for their pets that they spend too much on special toys, cute leashes, clothes, etc. The truth is that most animals don’t need that. If you’re on a tight budget, invest in a good leash, decent food bowls, and a good cat litter box. You can buy anything else later.
7. Ignoring Nutrition
As a pet seeker, your main job is to provide the best life possible for these animals. Most owners buy some kibble or the equivalent and don’t worry about it for the next 15 years. However, consider your pet’s nutrition thoroughly. Measure the amount of kibble for each meal because most animals will devour anything you give them without a second thought.
A few will stop eating when full, but that’s unlikely. You don’t want your pet to gain a dangerous amount of weight. Unfortunately, obesity in animals leads to diabetes, cancer, joint and spine issues, etc., just like in humans. You don’t want to take your late pet for cremation sooner than expected.
However, don’t change their diet drastically. You have to introduce new food slowly. Otherwise, the pet or cat could have an upset stomach. Add a bit of the new diet to the old one each day for a week until the dog is comfortable enough to switch completely.
8. Not Animal Proofing the Home
As mentioned, a new pet seeker must prepare their house for a pet just like a child. You may not need child locks on toilets, but you still have to change some things. First, you don’t want your animals to eat or chew anything strange like furniture, clothes, recreational weed, shoes, paper, etc. Examine your home fully and rearrange it so your dog, cat, or bird can’t reach it.
If you’re getting a cat, remember that they like to throw things off shelves, so it’s best not to keep too many valuables on display where they can be destroyed. You must also be careful with dogs who get zoomies in your house. They could get injured with the edge of the coffee table or something similar. Put the proper proofing in place to avoid injuries.
Other pet-proofing tips include adding anti-scratch tape to the sofa, covering all wires and the HVAC vents, moving all heavy equipment, never leaving remote controls lying around, and adding pee pads where needed. You should also put kids’ toys away because pets will take them. Additionally, try not to keep knives out in the kitchen and discourage them from reaching for the oven or stove.
9. Not Using a Leash
You need a leash if you’re getting a dog. First, many cities nationwide have laws against unleashed dogs, so research them as a new pet seeker. Second, an animal without a leash can run away, get scared, attack other animals by instinct, and get into accidents. Even if you hire a fence company and install a decent one at home, it’s always best not to let them roam outside.
If you want an unleashed dog walking or running beside you on the street, you must focus on recalling commands and proper training. Ensure your pet won’t run off as soon as they spot something interesting. On the other hand, being unleashed is risky because other dogs could come to them and attack.
Small dogs are more reactive and tend to pounce on big puppies without a second thought. They could get hurt just because of their size. Bigger dogs may not be as reactive, but they’ll defend themselves if provoked, so it’s best always to keep the leash on.
10. No Exercise
Finally, one of the biggest mistakes a new pet seeker can make is refusing to exercise their new animal. They need attention, and playtime is perfect to get their legs pumping. Fetch is an ideal game for dogs, and cats will love a laser toy. Exercise is also a great way to train your pet. Combine exercise with a proper diet to avoid obesity.
One walk daily helps your pet have a healthy digestive and circulatory system. Their bodies will strengthen, and they’ll learn where to poop and pee, which is perfect for their urinary tract. Exercise also helps with any behavior issues, like chewing on things.
Sometimes, pets get into mischief or bark more than usual because they’re bored or anxious. A little exercise can change everything, so you won’t have to sign your pet up for therapy. Just come up with a routine you can keep up each day. Your dog will get used to exercising at that time and will usually be calmer.
Now that you understand the most common mistakes a new pet seeker makes on a daily basis, you can revise your plan and figure out if a dog, cat, or bird is suitable for your house. If you feel ready, ensure you’re prepared for all their needs, including exercise, food schedule, leash training, and more. You can do this!