As the saying goes: a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.
Although puppies can make excellent gifts, the decision to bring a dog into your life isn’t one that should be taken lightly. A dog will live for an average of 13-15 years, with some breeds like Chihuahuas making it well beyond 15-years-old.
This is a significant commitment that will undoubtedly change your life, so it’s important that you ask yourself some very important questions before you introduce a puppy into your home.
Do you have time for a puppy?
After the excitement of bringing a new puppy home has worn off, many people fall into a routine with their dog that means it doesn’t always get the time and attention it needs. You will need to make time to walk, feed, groom, entertain and train your dog, and this can quickly add up.
A complaint many parents have is that they take in a dog with the understanding that their children will walk it, but they are left with the task when the children grow bored of the animal.
Can you afford a puppy?
Estimates on the cost of keeping a pet vary, but many pet owners will tell you that it always ends up being more expensive than they first thought.
Puppies are notorious for turning their noses up at certain types of food, so finding a brand of food they like can get pricey.
You will also have to think about insurance, vaccinations, pet sitters and grooming – it all adds up.
Are you allergic to dogs?
Some people don’t realize they are allergic to pet dander until it’s too late and they either have to suffer in silence or rehome their beloved pet.
Spend some time with a friend’s pet or visit an animal shelter to find out if you are allergic to pets. If you are expecting your family to grow, it might be wise to choose a breed that doesn’t shed its fur.
Do you have a training plan?
Many people underestimate how much training is required to turn their scrappy pup into a well-behaved dog. Training should start from day one and inexperienced dog owners might want to think about enrolling their puppy in training school.
Even if your dog only learns to return when called, this will help to keep your pet safe if they are ever off leash. Before taking your dog outdoors, make sure his microchip dog registration is up-to-date in case he gets over excited and runs away.
Is your home puppy proof?
Puppies are notorious for getting into places they shouldn’t be and eating things that are dangerous for them. Before bringing your puppy home, thoroughly puppy-proof your home by getting down to their level and looking for potential hazards.
There are plenty of foods that certainly aren’t safe for dogs to eat, but they can also be attracted to potentially deadly things like laundry detergent pods, dryer sheets, antifreeze and cleaning products.
Veronica Pembleton is a freelance writer and research journalist, who specializes in a number of core areas, including animal protection, rights and law. With a love for animals, Veronica used her Journalism degree to gain access to a number of related cases and contacts, where she was able to build her portfolio of feature articles.