Working Parents… How To Be A Successful First-Time Pet Parent When You Work Long Hours

by Jessica Brody

Having a pet can be a wonderful experience, especially if you live alone and need some companionship. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, birds, and fish are some of the most popular choices for people who love animals, but it’s important to choose the right pet for you. Take your schedule and needs into consideration as well as the pet’s potential needs, as some may require more attention than others.

There are several things to ask yourself before you decide to find a pet, and it’s imperative to do some research beforehand as well. If you have children or think you might want to have other pets in the future, you’ll want to find an animal that interacts well with them. Not only that, but there are many expenses involved when you invest in a pet, and some of those unexpected vet visits can really add up. You must ask yourself if you will be able to care for the animal in every way, not just with the most basic food and water aspects.

If you work long hours, you’ll need to find a way to build a schedule around your pet so that he’ll be happy and healthy. Here are some of the best ways to be a successful pet parent.

Select the right breed and type

Do some research before you begin looking for an animal to adopt. Think about the type of pet you want; are you looking for one that’s active and enjoys being outside quite a bit, or one that will be okay with you working long hours? Do you need one with short hair to keep from triggering your allergies, or one under a certain weight due to restrictions in your apartment building?

In general, cats are quite content to be on their own for many hours at a time, so they are great companions for people who work a lot. If you’re just a dog person, however, it might be a good idea to steer clear of puppies–since they need a LOT of attention and care in the first several months–and go for an older dog who is house-trained. Invest in a dog walker who can come during the day while you’re away and let your pet out and/or feed him and give him some love.

Make your home pet-friendly

Before you even bring your new pet home, it’s important to create a friendly, safe environment for him. Have his collar and leash, food and water bowls, toys, bedding, and bathroom necessities all ready to go. Be mindful of throw rugs which can hook small toenails or create a trip hazard. Put away any books or small items that might be mistaken for chew toys. If you’re getting a cat, have a scratching post or carpet-covered nook that he can nest in so he’ll leave your furniture alone.

“Get down on your hands and knees … to see what’s down at that level that might look chewable or fun to drag around,” says pet columnist Kim Campbell Thornton.

Give him some attention

If you know you’ll have some long days at work ahead, plan out some activities for you and your pet to do together so he doesn’t feel left out. Go to the park, or take a long walk together around the neighborhood and allow him to get acclimated to his new environment. If you have friends with pets, invite them over or meet up at a local pet-friendly establishment and let the animals have a playdate together.

Keep him healthy

Your pet’s health should be a priority, so do some research on how to keep him feeling good. Dogs need lots of exercise, so daily walks are a must. Puppies need several vaccinations in the early months of their lives, while an older dog may have issues with their joints and eyesight. Taking your pet to the vet for regular checkups will help you keep him healthy and happy.

Remember to stay patient with your new pet while the two of you are getting to know one another. It can be overwhelming for both of you in the beginning, especially if you aren’t able to be home as often as you’d like, but if you put in the time and effort, your pet will love and appreciate you for years to come.

Photo via Pixabay by Wow_Pho