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Make preparations before buying a pet
By Allison Matthews
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Love at first sight in pet stores and animal shelters can lead to impromptu animal ownership, but make advanced preparations before bringing a new pet home.
Jane Yeatman, Golden Triangle Kennel Club member and instructor of Superpuppy training classes at Mississippi State University, said the home, yard and surrounding areas can pose dangers to pets if owners neglect taking the proper precautions. Some alterations will help ensure the safety of a pet and home furnishings.
Pets who spend time inside the house can be a threat to furniture, but many household items can also be a danger to the animal.
"There are many common things in houses that can present danger to a pet. Electrical cords plugged into sockets are a threat if animals have a chewing habit. Also, cleaning products and some common house plants can be poisonous to animals," Yeatman said.
To prevent catastrophes, confine pets to an area where they are safe and cannot damage furniture. Yeatman suggested keeping dogs in crates when owners cannot give supervision.
As pets grow older, they may not always need to be confined when they are alone. Yeatman said adult dogs grow out of their "puppy curiosity" and learn what they are not supposed to do.
"Adult animals will usually just lay down and go to sleep when their owners are not home, but puppies cannot control their curiosity and playful nature," she said.
Make items like garbage bags or shoes inaccessible to pets to keep them from developing bad habits. Instead, give dogs chew toys to play with.
Cat owners should close off rooms with upholstered furniture they don't want scratched. Consider buying a scratching post to provide cats an alternative to fine furniture.
Before turning a pet outdoors, especially dogs, take measures to prepare a safe area for animals to enjoy without being in danger or causing a problem for others.
"If you plan to leave a dog outside at all, have some way to restrain him from just wandering around on his own. Never let a dog run free," Yeatman said.
She said the best situation for a dog is to have a fenced back yard, but the next best solution is a pen. Dogs are better off when they have space to move around freely. She said tying or chaining a dog to a post is very undesirable, and it only leads to frustration for the animal.
"Responsible pet owners do not let dogs run free. This is not safe for the dog because it can get run over by a car, lost or stolen. It also could get into a neighbor's yard and dig up flowers or do other damage," she said.
Yeatman said being a responsible pet owner requires looking out for the animal's safety, taking precautions to avoid damage by the pet and being a considerate neighbor.