Deciding to bring a pet into your life is a commitment that should never be done lightly, and if you do decide to offer a pet a home, it should be for the pet’s lifetime. Responsible pet ownership means promising to take care of the pet through sickness and health – in good times and bad – for the life of the pet.
What are the commitments involved with adopting a new pet?:
- Lifetime Commitment – When you adopt a new pet you make a commitment to a lifetime of responsible care. Companion animals can live 10, 15 and even 20 or more years. If you are not willing to commit to this animal for his entire life then you should not adopt an animal.
- Time – Having a good relationship with your little friend takes time. You should plan to spend at least 30 minutes per day with each animal giving him companionship and play time and much more than that when they are young.
- Exercise – Dogs need exercise and bathroom breaks. Consider whether you have the time to walk your dog several times per day. Do you have a fenced area where your dog can go outside and be safe? Remember that, for a dog, having a garden or terrace does not take the place of having a relationship with you. Even dogs with big gardens need walks, play time and time with their humans.
- Money – Having a pet requires money. Money is required for food, routine and emergency veterinary expenses, litter, licensing, dog sitters (if needed), toys, cat scratch posts, etc.
- Training – Dogs and, yes, even cats can be trained. In fact, if you want the best relationship possible with your little friend you will need to devote time to training. In this way, you and your animal friend will build a relationship that works for both of you. A dog that learns how to interact with humans and with other dogs will have a more enjoyable life. Just like children, pets enjoy and function best when they know the best way to behave. All training should be done in a compassionate way that is built upon positive reinforcement. Training your pet will take an initial investment of time, patience and possibly money, but it will pay off many times over with a well-behaved and enjoyable pet.
- Adding to your animal family – If you already have companion animals at home and would like to add another to your family, be prepared to devote time and patience to the introductory period. This is a crucial time. If you do it right, you will increase your chances of having a happy, harmonious animal family.
- Responsibility – Adopting a pet means becoming a responsible guardian for that life. These responsibilities include daily food, exercise and love, as well as regular and emergency veterinary care. Spaying and castration are crucial for both the good health of your pet as well as for limiting the pet overpopulation problem which is a particular problem in the Canary Islands.
- Unavoidable problems – Be prepared for unavoidable problems. Expecting the unexpected will make having a pet more enjoyable and less stressful. Expect that puppies will have accidents. Your new puppy may also very well chew up something that you did not want destroyed. Your new cat may not know where it can and cannot scratch in your house. Your cat will probably throw up on your carpet occasionally. Your cat may someday not realize that urinating on your new pillow is not the best way to keep everyone else away from “his” new pillow. Knowing that your new friend does not know that you consider these things “misbehaving” and knowing how to kindly and effectively substitute more appropriate behaviour is your responsibility and is crucial to maintaining your good and loving relationship with your little buddy.