Congratulations on the new addition to the family! Pets offer so many benefits to owners, including companionship, an exercise partner, and unconditional love, among other things. But a few common mistakes (albeit well-intentioned) can spoil that relationship. As National Pet Month draws to a close, let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts of living in an apartment with pets.

DO make a time commitment to care for your pet.

Much like a newborn baby, a new pet requires plenty of care. Things like training, socialization, preparing a healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise are important parts of pet ownership. Adopting a pet requires a real commitment of time and financial resources. Remember, this little buddy depends on you for care and support. If you are away from home often or don’t have the free time to focus on its care, owning a pet is not a good idea. 

DO provide your pet its own space.

Whether it’s a crate, a chair, or a spot under your bed, pets need their own space to relax, nap, eat, and just be a pet. “Allowing your dog to decide when she would like personal space or if she feels like being affectionate is actually an empathetic and respectful response on the part of the human,” explains Sarah Wertkin of EduCanine. “Becoming more intuitive about your dog’s behavior will strengthen the bond between you and your dog.” 

DON’T allow your pet to roam the property or neighborhood unattended.

Even if they seemingly know their way home, don’t allow your pets to roam the apartment complex or neighborhood. Allowing a pet cat to roam free is common, but the dangers of the outdoors are plentiful. Your pet could be harmed by other larger animals or humans—they may even track disease, ticks, or fleas into your home. 

DON’T ignore going to the vet.

Preventative care is a smart and ultimately affordable strategy for pet ownership. Be sure to keep your pet’s vaccinations current, both as a health benefit for your pet and for the health and safety of your family members as well. According to the American Humane Society, “Many contagious diseases are airborne and your pet could easily be exposed through an open window.” Even if your pets spends most of their time indoors, regular veterinarian visits will ensure good health. 

Our furry friends do so much for us; we owe it to them to return the favor by being smart, responsible, and caring pet owners. Check with your apartment complex for rules and guidelines about pet ownership. By being committed to spending necessary time, providing plenty of space, and keeping them safe and healthy, your pet will remain a trusted companion for many years to come.