Cooper - Adopted from Colorado's Golden Rescue Group


5 Must-Have Tips for First-Time Pet Owners by Jessica Brody

Getting a new pet can make you feel a bit anxious. If you’re a first-time pet owner, you may be feeling even more confused about the process, but you don’t have to be. From finding your first pet to keeping your pet healthy, there’s a lot to learn when it comes to taking care of an animal. Here are a few of the basics you’ll want to know before you bring your new pet home.

Getting Your Home Ready

Ever seen friends prepare their home for a new baby? Well, you may be surprised to know you need to prep your home for a pet as well. Pets, especially puppies and younger animals, get into everything and are naturally curious. You’ll want to keep any breakables, prized possessions, or dangerous items out of the reach of clumsy paws and curious noses. Pets create more mess in your home, whether they mean to or not, so be prepared to clean up fur, food, urine, and more. Prepare yourself by having the right cleaning materials on hand: stain removers, disinfectant sprays, a high-quality mop, and a high-quality vacuum. If you need to upgrade your current vacuum, remember that not all models were built to handle pet hair, especially on carpets. Narrow your search to vacuums known for their carpet-cleaning performance, then scour reviews to find the one best suited for your home and needs.

Picking Up Supplies

Once you have your home ready, make sure you have the right supplies for a pet. If you’re looking to get a dog, you’ll definitely want to put a bed, a collar and a leash on that list. Pick up some bowls for water and food as well. If you live in a sunny or hot climate, or in an area that gets a lot of snow, you’ll have other supplies to consider as well. For example, dogs are just as sensitive to sunlight and weather as humans are, and they often need protection. Grab some paw protection to prevent burns from heat and salt, and think about getting something to help protect those sensitive eyes from the sun as well. When the weather turns cold, consider bundling up your pup in a dog coat or a cozy sweater.

Finding Your First Pet    

By now, you’ve likely already figured out what kind of pet you’d like. Your home, health, and lifestyle should all be part of that decision. For example, if you live in a smaller apartment and don’t have time to get out and play, a larger, younger dog may not be the best option. If you have allergies, try to stick with pets that don’t shed as much or are hypoallergenic to prevent problems. Some breed and ages are also better for certain lifestyles, so keep this in mind as well. If you love relaxing inside, then an older dog may fit for you. Senior dogs have so much love to give and are worth considering.

Helping Your Pet Feel Comfortable

Change is hard for everyone, but it can be especially tricky for animals. It takes time for pets to settle into their new homes. They’ll want to explore and sniff around before they think about getting comfy. If you choose a rescue animal, this may take even more time, since they could be recovering from past issues with abuse and neglect. Practice positivity and patience with your new pet. Give them the attention they need but be sure to set boundaries. This will allow your pet to feel confident in their new home and help you build a strong bond with your pet.

Providing Health and Happiness

Once you’ve bonded with your new buddy, you’ll want to do everything to keep them happy and healthy. This should include regular check-ups with a vet in your area to keep your pet’s vaccinations and preventative care up to date. Take steps every day to keep them healthy as well, like avoiding feeding them certain people foods and taking care of teeth (check out this guide for more tips). Dogs also need to have a good routine established, so make time for short walks every day and try to socialize them with other dogs and people.


Getting your first pet is bound to be exciting, but it can be scary as well. Take that fear out of the equation by following these steps for success. With them in mind, you’re sure to enjoy years of happiness and fun with your new pet!