Adding a Pet to Your Home

A family introducing a new pet to their home.

Adding a pet to your home and family can be an exciting and stressful task! There are many factors to consider:  the type of pet to choose, the space available inside and outside of your home, the time available in your schedule, etc.  In this article, we’ll review some tips to help you bring home your new pet and successfully incorporate it into your living space.

Preparing for a New Pet

Before purchasing or adopting a pet, there are a few things to consider.

How Much Space Do You Have to Work With?

To make sure that you can provide your new pet with a quality life, you first need to assess the space available for it. For example, a large home with an ample backyard can accommodate different pets compared to a small home or apartment.  There are pet options for all sizes of homes!

Consider both your indoor and outdoor space, and the types and sizes of animals that could exist happily in those areas.  Will your pet need their own dedicated space, or will they roam freely and share space with you? Make sure that the pet of your choosing can coexist in your home and has an appropriate amount of space.

How Much Time Do You Have?

Making space for pets in your home is a starting point, but you will also need to make time to care for your pets.

Some animals require less attention and maintenance, meaning they could be good options for families that are constantly on-the-go. For example, a fish needs daily food and regular tank cleanings, but those tasks are far less demanding than a dog who needs daily feeding, exercise, water, and the occasional grooming, veterinary check-ups, etc.

Review your schedule to see how much time you have available to dedicate to a pet. Your lifestyle will play a big part! If you are a jetsetter or someone who works long hours, you may have less time to spend with your pets than someone who works from home or is retired. Think about partners and children who could potentially help with care, and if it is a realistic option. 

Remember Activity Levels

When selecting a pet, many people focus on the size and type of their pet- especially as it relates to space and time referenced above.  However, many fail to think about the activity level of a pet.  Both age and the type of pet are factors in activity level, and it is important that you are prepared.

For example, if your heart is set on a puppy, that puppy is going to have a much higher energy level than a senior dog.  Exercise and play will be key as it will take some years for the dog to mature.  Senior dogs, on the other hand, may be more interested in sleep and relaxation than playtime. Make sure that you are prepared to meet the energy level and activity demands of your new pet.

Even small pets have routines that may or may not work for your family.  For example, a hamster or gerbil demands less care and attention that other types of pets, and their homes take up little space.  However, these animals are nocturnal. While they may be sedentary during the day, you could hear that hamster wheel spinning all night!

Creating Spaces for Your Pet

Once you have decided on a pet, you can begin to create some special spaces within your home.

Utilize the Space Under Your Stairs

New pets can come with a lot of supplies!  One great way to utilize the space in your home is to add bins, shelving, and other types of storage under your stairs.

Use the freshly created storage area to organize things like food, collars, leashes, treats, and toys. Consider alternating the colors of the bins or the height of the shelves to make it look visually appealing.  In addition to providing storage for your pet’s things, it can also contribute to the aesthetic of your home!

If you would prefer to utilize furniture rather than install shelves or cabinets, consider repurposing a TV stand or dresser. A television stand with cabinets or a multi-bin dresser has great storage space to keep your pet’s items tucked neatly out of sight.

You can also use the space under the stairs to place a bed, litter box, or food bowl for your pet to access.

Hollow Out a Side Table

Another great way to create space for your pet is to hollow out a side table. You likely already have one beside your bed or your couch, so use it!

If there is a door attached, take it off, sand anything that needs smoothed down, and add some bedding and a toy. This could be the perfect resting spot for a dog, cat, or other small animal. The same process works for small cages as well if there is proper ventilation and light.

Don’t want to mess with your existing furniture? Consider buying something new.  Many retailers are now offering crate-style furniture that for various rooms in the home. 

Think Vertically

If you are short on floorspace, get creative when it comes to using walls and the height of a room! For example, instead of putting a cat bed on the floor, consider hanging a basket near a window for nap with a view.  You could also install narrow walkways near the ceiling for small, nimble pets to travel from room to room. For fish and reptiles, consider vertical tanks that can fit snugly in a corner.

Create Outdoor Safe Zones

Depending on your pet, you may need alter some of your outdoor spaces for safety reasons.  This often involves fencing or gating specific areas of the yard. One common strategy is to build a fence and gate on a side yard to create a play area or run. This may seem restrictive, but it doesn’t have to be your pet’s only outdoor access. This space allows pets to lounge when they are unsupervised- especially if your yard is unfenced or if there is concern about access to the pool.  Additionally, the fencing could be a way to keep smaller animals such as rabbits or chickens away from larger pets.

Some pets may also benefit from a cage or house to protect them from the weather or predators. Do your research to determine the appropriate size structure and materials for your pet’s outdoor home.

Regardless of your pet choice, your home will feel well-balanced when both you and your pet have the time and space you need to coexist. Enjoy incorporating your new pet into your life!

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