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Life Lessons: Tips for first-time pet owners

According to the American Pet Products Association, 65 percent of households owned a pet in 2016; that is up from 56 percent in 2011. And 2.7 million pets will be adopted from animal shelters this year. As more and more people look to add a four-legged companion to their family, here are some important mistakes to avoid, especially if you are a first-time pet owner.

A 12-week-old Great Dane puppy may be small enough to carry in your hands right now, but in about another 15 months he will be at least 120 pounds. Not doing research on a pet beforehand is one of the biggest mistakes for first-time pet owners. Robert Hess, Veterinarian at Winter Park Veterinary Hospital says, “Decide what you want, then try to pick what pet matches you. So many people get the wrong pet.”

So how can you choose the right pet for you? Both AKC.org and the American Veterinary Medical Association websites have information to consider when looking for a pet. And Purina’s website has a cool feature that allows you to find the right cat or dog breed by answering a series of questions.

Another tip for first-time pet owners: don’t skip training.

“When you get a pet early, like a dog, if you really work hard the first six to nine months and train it well, it solves a whole lot of problems down the road.” Hess explained.

And always reward good behavior and don’t punish bad, it only scares and confuses the dog.

Hess continued, “It hasn’t worked very well for people and it doesn’t work very well with dogs or cats either.”

Try PetFinder.com to be matched with the perfect rescue pet for you. One more thing new pet owners need to know. Be careful about switching your dog’s food. This could lead to an upset stomach and causes diarrhea. If you do want to change the food, gradually mix in the new dog food with the old over the span of a week.


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