Every year we try to circulate the same message across social media and amongst friends that getting a dog for Christmas is for life. You’ve probably seen tonnes of social media posts or adverts on the television sharing why a dog shouldn’t be a quick last-minute present just because the kids have nagged on for one for a few weeks. Getting a dog is a big decision. They make you their absolute world and will revolve everything around you, so you need to be certain that you can reciprocate the same unconditional love that they will show you.
Almost every child wants a dog, it’s natural. We want a little best friend to follow in our footsteps and be the most adoring shadow, dogs are the most wonderful companions for everybody, especially the children, but is Christmas the best time to get a dog? Can you dedicate the time and attention that the puppy will need? Have you considered everything before getting a dog? Have you thought about the logistics? If the answer to any of these is no, you need to take a step back and evaluate.
There are many things to consider before getting a dog or a puppy this Christmas so please make sure you have taken everything into consideration. If you have, then I guarantee you’re going to have a friend for life who will make you their absolute world. You might also want to read our blog on how to keep your pet safe at Christmas.
Is Christmas the right time?
Let’s think about this for a moment. There’s a huge tree thing sitting in the living room with flashing lights and all of those sparkly things lying around. Looks beautiful for us, right? But let’s consider the dogs point of view for just a moment.
The increased number of visitors plus everything lying around creates an almost scary atmosphere for either a timid rescue dog or a brand new puppy. Should he touch the sparkly stuff? Should he attack the sparkly stuff? You tell him not to go near it but it’s there constantly. Looming over him or her.
Sometimes, having an overkill of Christmas decorations paired with constant new visitors can cause unwanted behaviour to occur that can be difficult to reverse. You might find that your new puppy becomes frightened of people, or a shelter dog with a difficult past might find it hard to adjust when they’re already trying to learn to trust humans again. Just like humans, it can cause anxiety, depression, and even aggression.
Of course, for some dogs this won’t be the case. That’s why it’s important to consider the breed of dog before making the plunge.
Ah, that old roasted chestnut you say? Well, it’s true. Bringing a new member of the family into the house equates to years and years of commitment and care. Research estimates that 130,000 dogs enter UK rehoming charities each year. The sad part about this is that a huge influx is after the Christmas period. Even sadder is that unwanted behaviour is the most common reason for dogs under the age of 2 to be put to sleep.
You need to be certain that you can dedicate the time and effort into raising a puppy or rehabilitating a shelter dog. That means plenty of walks, training, and care and attention.
Can you care for the dog?
Touching on the responsibility part, taking care of a dog is a huge process. It means lots of walks, plenty of training, and of course, lots of cuddles when they need them. Not only that, but they cost money. A few months ago we posted how much it actually costs to take care of a dog so it’s worth giving that a read to make sure that you can fund a dog before getting one.
You’ll also need to do some research about which breed and size best fits your home. When we got Rio and Marley, we got them from two different families. But, we knew that a Cavalier King Charles suited our lifestyle and would be happy living where they are. We knew they’d be a good temperament to be around children. We knew they’d be more than happy to cuddle on the sofa but that they would also be ready to play when we are.
Adoption is a great choice for getting a dog, but make sure it’s a dog that feasibly you can look after. There’s no point opting for a dog that logistically you can’t take care of, or with problems that you’re not able to afford or have the skills or patience to deal with. A dog which requires special homing will need to go to the right home. The same goes for size, if you have a small apartment it’s not fair on neither you or the dog to choose a large dog that wouldn’t have the space to burn off the energy that he needs to. Don’t let your dog become another statistic.
Another thing to consider is dog insurance – this is always worth getting, and the cost can vary considerably depending on breed, age and where you live. You can find out more in our blog about the cost of dog insurance.
Have you stocked up?
Before getting a dog you’ll want to make sure that you’ve dog proofed your home. This might mean sacrificing a few Christmas decorations for at least the first Christmas. You’ll also need to make sure that you’re stocked up with food that is nutritious, a comfy bed, blankets and lots of cuddly toys to make your dog feel at home and warm.
You might also want to get your hands on a hot water bottle. Many dogs, especially puppies, love having a hot water bottle in a safe cover to cuddle with. It mimics the feeling of being in bed with their mum and siblings. Always make sure the the hot water bottle has cooled down to a safe temperature before giving it to your dog and ensure that the cover doesn’t have any small objects that can be taken off, chewed or swallowed. Never leave a dog unattended with a hot water bottle.
If you’ve researched all you need to know before getting a dog and you’re still ready to go, then make sure you have done the research. Wherever possible, please adopt a dog and at all costs, please don’t rush to a pet store to buy a dog just for Christmas. Take your time, do the research and consider adopting if you can. Get ready to welcome the most beautiful dog into your life, whether that’s giving a shelter dog a second chance at life, or raising a puppy in the most amazing of ways.
If you are looking for some support about where to rescue, here are a few charities nationwide to help you with your search:
Dogs Trust founded in 1891 is the largest dog welfare charity in the UK.
Blue Cross have been helping sick, injured, abandoned, and homeless pets since 1897 across the UK.
RSPCA have been saving animals since 1824 in the UK.