As we get nearer to the holidays, I know a lot of families might be planning the ultimate surprise for their kids: a Christmas puppy. It’s a magical gift that your children will remember for years to come. But, please: before you source the perfect dog for your family, have a long, hard think about whether you can manage a new pet.
We love our dog, and pets of any kind can be a joyful and incredible experience that gives you so much. But I want to make sure you understand that it takes a lot of hard work – and money – to care for any animal. I’ve put together a few questions you need to ask yourself before you buy a puppy.
Can you handle the responsibility?
Taking care of a new puppy is just like looking after a small child. It’s hard work, and there will be many, many challenges on the road ahead. If you are the sort of person that just gives up, I can tell you that owning a puppy isn’t such a good idea. There will be plenty of times when you get frustrated. They will cause damage, and they will misbehave – just like a child.
Do you have the time?
If you work and the kids are at school all day every day, it’s not the best scenario to own a dog. Canines crave companionship because they are pack animals by nature. And if you intend to leave them alone all day, it’s going to upset them. Of course, you can hire a dog walking service to ensure they get out and stretch their legs. But always remember that company is just as important to their mental wellbeing.
Can you handle the mess?
Puppies will eat anything, and until they are toilet trained, they will do their business wherever they please. If that is going to be a major issue, puppies are not for you. As they get older, they will start shedding hair. Believe me, their hair gets everywhere and will mean you spend more time cleaning than ever before. There are no such things as non shedding dogs, and some dogs shed less than others. Make sure you take their breed into consideration, especially if you suffer from allergies.
Can you afford it?
Vet’s bills, insurance, food – it all adds up to a lot of money over your puppy’s lifetime. You also need to throw in the cost of training your new pet, as well as any dog walkers or sitters you need to hire for when you are on holiday. Don’t forget; you have ten or fifteen years ahead of you if your dog lives a long and happy life. And all that money adds up to a significant amount. Think carefully about your finances before buying a little puppy!
Is the breed suitable?
Some dog breeds require a firmer hand than others. Some need to be walked for a minimum of two hours a day, morning and night. Some breeds can get funny when they are around small children. If you’re getting a dog, be sure you introduce it to your children and make sure it is good with them.
Puppies are amazing and adorable. But please, think carefully before making your decision!