Bringing a pet into your life can be a truly wonderful experience. Medical research has long shown that having loving animal companions can help prevent a host of health issues, lower blood pressure, increase life-span, etc. Anyone who has come home to a dog knows the wonderful heartwarming feeling of a creature who is just *that* excited to see you each and every time you walk in the door. Cat lovers will speak fondly of evenings spent with cats on their laps, or of morning rituals, etc.

Bringing an animal into your home isn’t all about the benefits to you, of course. Anytime you adopt an animal, you are making a commitment to that animal to care for them for the duration of their (or your) life. A certain amount of responsibility comes with this, and it goes beyond making sure that the animal has the food, water, shelter and medical care they need. Companionship is important for animals, so it is important to make sure that you are really making time for your pet.

Most people don’t have the luxury of structuring their day any way they like, but you should make sure that you are structuring your free time to include quality time with your pet. If you work 9-5, for example, that is a long eight hours that your animal will be without you. Creating a schedule so that you have dedicated pet time, such as a morning and evening walk with your dog, is useful. When you’re at home, actively engage with your pet. Play tug of war or drag a toy mouse across the floor while you watch TV, or sit someplace where you can reach, stroke, and be interactive with them while you’re relaxing. Obviously, some animals want more human attention than others, so be sure that you know and can meet the needs of any animal before you bring them home.