Many apartment dwellers experience lean times when they are scraping to pay the rent and food bills. Perhaps they are sharing their abode with others in order to defray expenses. At that point in their lives, they most likely will not entertain the idea of adopting a dog or cat, due to the extra expense that would incur. However, many apartment dwellers grow in their jobs… and in their appreciation of the joys of pet ownership.
What to Do First
On that grand day when they’re the proud caretakers of a dog or cat, a lot of details might get “lost in the sauce” of all the excitement. New pet-owners soon realize they must consider pet food and pet “stuff” just as important as their own edibles and supplies, but there are other preparations that must be made in advance.
Whether you opt for a canine or a feline companion, rest assured that the pet you choose will meet you half way to establish a workable routine if you make them feel welcome from the get-go. Let’s first cover the generic concerns…those with apply to both dogs and cats. Then we’ll deal with each category separately!
Bringing Your Pet Home
Make sure your new companion has a little space (or two or three) of his or her very own. You don’t need a whole room for a dog or cat, but a corner—preferably near a sunny window–will do nicely. Also, have all of the usual swag waiting for your new pet when they get home. Your brand new pet will lose that lost look pretty quickly if you provide a few essentials: a bed or two, toys or (if a cat) a litter box and a food and water bowl.
Let ‘em Sniff!
Your new animal friend will need to acquaint himself or herself with every nook and cranny by smelling it out. To a doggie, the smell of an object matters more—his bed clothes, his bone, his water dish—whereas with a kitty, the environment will be the main attraction. A dog will try to scrunch or dig through his or her bed or “spot”, and a cat will perhaps act as if he or she is kneading dough as she or he readies for bed! (Cats are recalling their momma cats and new-mother milk when they do this.)
Clean Up Time
For both animals, you’ll need to consider clean-up duty more than a “maybe.” It’s a “must.” If you have a rug, invest in a vacuum or a manueverable Dust-Buster-sort of model. Don’t leave litter (for a cat) uncleaned. Keep dishes clean.
Potty Train From the Get-Go
Potty train your dog! When you first come home, she or he will probably present you with a little present in the very first room you and she or he land. So while you’re on the phone telling your best friend about your brand new whiskered roomie, don’t be surprised if your nose picks up an unfamiliar waft. Fear not! Fido is just waiting to be told, consistently, that outside is the place for doing his business. No need to scold or yell. Your dog will respect a calm, in control assertiveness. Use treats as rewards!
Make sure you and your dog pal invest in outdoors time. Yes, some dog breeds make for quieter, less antsy apartment-type pets, but all dogs like and need exercise. It keeps them from engaging in mischievous behavior (like jumping on your curtains if you’re away) and helps them sleep better. It’s also a terrific way for you and Fido to bond. Walking is important but so is a little game of Frisbee or “where did Mommy hide that yummy dog treat”? Put your dog’s terrific sense of smell to work and he or she will thank you for it.
Clean ‘n Cuddle
At day’s end or first thing in the morning, scoop out the debris and refill the cat box. (Pine-scented and natural litter works well as you’ll know when it’s been used and it covers up the smell. Some brands are made with dusty sawdust kernels though, so wear a painter’s mask when you’re going to be exposed for more than a few minutes.)
Do remember that cats are affectionate creatures. They love massages—so do dogs, but they’re not as big on touch. Kitties will do the blink-blink trick when they’re telling you they’re awfully glad you’re there! Be sure and blink back.
When You Go Out
Leave a soothing sound on when you leave, and at nap and bedtime. Animals like recorded sounds of their owner talking more than they do music. A fan or white noise machine will also help…and will drown out any noise from upstairs or downstairs, if you have noisy neighbors or thin walls!
You can take advantage of coupons when it when it comes to feeding your furball friends. E-mail quality pet food companies and ask to be put on a regular coupon mailing list, if they have one. They will have websites where you can download coupons, too.
Teach Good Manners
Finally, limit a pet’s begging antics . Imagine your dog (or cat) jumping up to grab your food every time you eat! You might seclude your pet in another room during meal times, but what if you don’t have another room? It’s simpler and more convenient to issue a firm “No!” when the begging starts. Don’t feed your pet from your plate. Remember: your pet’s behavior is entirely up to you in the long run. Concentrate on what you want your pet to do, and reward those behaviors consistently.