It’s the second week of January and you’re lounging around in your new fuzzy jammies while sipping your favorite coffee when reality hits you; you have a puppy to not just keep safe, but take care of! And then it happens, you look in the living room and that cute little pup has destroyed your slipper, a toy, and what looks like his water bowl. As you scoop up little Fido, scolding him as he wiggles, it happens; yep, it was time to go outside.

Too often this is the scenario after you think getting a new pet is a good idea at the holidays. The reality really sinks in; this is a commitment I need to learn how to manage.  There are a ton of books, classes, people and resources out there to help you survive having a new puppy or even an adopted Great Dane. However, today let’s take a step back and just look at the basics of life with a new pet.

Tip #1 – Proper Nutrition

Nutrition is straight forward in most cases; food, water, and maybe treats. Even the cute puppy you bought at the pet store has a diet or regimen you will want to copy at home. If you do choose to change their diet, be sure to do it slowly. Done too quickly there could be adverse effects on their system. Start with a ratio of 1-part new to 2-part current food.  Same with treats; don’t overload them. Try 1 or 2 out and see how it goes. By doing this you can catch allergies and avoid digestion issues.

Tip #2 – Be Safe

When talking about safety on the basic level, it really comes down to this; a) where the pet can be and when, b) what can the pet get into and how to keep it away from them, and c) ensuring they feel that sense of security. Many dog owners rely on a crate to be part of this set up. Others might use gates in areas of the house to ‘block off’ space. Sometimes it’s as simple as always shutting the bedroom door. You can also invest in the use of a pet camera to monitor your pet. Overall, you need to assess your home to see what will work for your environment.

Tip #3 – Financial Smarts

We’ve talked about food, treats, toys, gates, and crates, but with a new pet, you have to consider your pocketbook too. This is the thing most people do not think about when they buy or adopt a pet. Without going over a long list of health conditions or adhoc expenses, there will be other standard expenses you should keep in mind. This includes things like veterinary visits, flea and tick treatments, heartworm medication, grooming, and city registration (required in most municipalities). Don’t forget the accessories; like a collar, leash, tags, and even special gear to fit your lifestyle (such as a life jacket or all-weather apparel). Doggy daycare or kennel costs can also be factors to consider if you travel or work a lot.

There are many things to take into consideration after the holidays if you’ve adopted or bought a new pet. Before giving up on your new pet, consider a family planning meeting so you can be sure everyone understands the responsibility of owning a pet. This sort of collective oversight not only keeps the pet safe, but offers a start to the training you’ll all need. Keep in mind the reward of owning a pet too. Their companionship is priceless, and they can meld right into the family (and usually do). Your pet will be there in good times, bad times, and everything in between. Is it always easy?  No, but you will find the unconditional love they provide is a priceless gift that endures long after the holidays have passed.