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  • Ashley Streight

18 essential tips for first-time pet owners

Getting a new pet is a seriously exciting time, but it's also fraught with tons of questions — especially if you've never owned a dog or cat before. Preparing a little in advance will help ensure that you and your new pet can enjoy a comfortable, stress-free time, even when you're in the midst of potty training and teaching them how to sit.

New to the world of owning pets? Scope out these 18 essential tips for new pet owners, starting with what you need to do before even bringing home your new furry friend.

1 of 18 Buy all the supplies you need before bring your new pet home As soon as your pet gets to its new forever home, it's going to have needs. Make sure that you've purchased food, treats, toys, and a litter box (if necessary) in advance to avoid any issues on your pet's first day home.

2 of 18 Schedule a vet visit ASAP Whether you adopted a pet or purchased through a private breeder, a trip to the vet to check on your puppy or kitten's health is a must. At this visit, you can get a full check-up and any vaccinations that a young pet needs to be healthy.

3 of 18 Keep destroyable items out of reach — or make them off limits Puppies and kittens are curious, and that can occasionally mean disaster when that curiosity is expressed all over your new shoes or the side of the couch. Make sure that anything that could be toxic to your pet is out of its reach, along with items that you want to keep safe from sharp little teeth and claws. 4 of 18 Think about microchipping your pet If you adopted your pet from a shelter, it's likely that they have already been microchipped, a process that attaches an electronic chip to your pet in case they get lost. That's likely not the case if you purchased from a breeder, and investing in a microchip can mean the difference between tragedy and a happy ending if your pet ever gets out of the house.

5 of 18 Start training early, and stay consistent Your new pet will need lots of training on how to live in its new home, and it's up to you to make sure they understand the rules. Start training your pet on where to go to the bathroom, how to interact with people, and which items they're allowed to play with as early as possible.

6 of 18 Consider enlisting a professional trainer If you work long hours or don't have tons of time to dedicate to training your new pet, consider hiring a trainer. They're experienced in dealing with common issues, like barking or scratching and can knock out problematic behaviors quickly and effectively. 7 of 18 Read everything you can about your breed Whether it's a dog or a cat, every different breed has different requirements. Some, like English bulldogs, are prone to certain health conditions, while others, like Huskies, require a high-energy household. Seek out resources from organizations like the American Kennel Club for information on your breed's temperament, potential health concerns, and even what to expect when it comes to shedding.

8 of 18 Invest in cleaners for inevitable pet messes Even if you're incredibly consistent with training, your pet will still likely have accidents as they adjust to their new home. Enzymatic cleaners are essential for removing odors from pet waste while investing in a handheld or cordless vacuum might be a good idea if your pet's breed is known for shedding heavily.

9 of 18 Consider spaying or neutering your pet Spaying and neutering housepets is a hugely important tool in the fight against homeless animals. If you don't intend to breed your dog or cat in the future, consider having them spayed or neutered to eliminate the risk of unwanted litters. 10 of 18 Make sure your pet is getting the right exercise Most pets, including high-energy cat breeds like Bengals, require some kind of daily exercise. Plan to take a walk with your new pup daily, or invest in toys that can keep your kitty entertained indoors.

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