What could be a greater gift than a puppy on Christmas Day? Seeing a bundle of fur clambering out from behind the tree has to be the ultimate present. Many pet owners bring their new puppy home around the holidays but not all are prepared for the new responsibility. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that a puppy is a lifetime commitment.
Trupanion’s veterinary consultant, Denise Petryk, DVM, shared eight questions a potential dog owner should ask before getting a puppy this holiday season.
Questions to ask yourself before getting a puppy this holiday season
1. Was the whole family involved with this decision?
Make sure the whole household is aware and agrees with the idea of buying or adopting a pet. When you bring home a puppy, you are committing to care for them throughout their lifetime. While a puppy is adorable and cuddly, it will soon grow. Make sure you’re prepared to care for that dog throughout its life. Having a dog may impact your lifestyle and can be both difficult and rewarding at the same time. Be realistic and make sure everyone knows what to expect.
2. Is this breed suitable for my family and lifestyle?
Every dog is unique so it’s important to do your research and make sure their size, activity level, and personality will be the right fit your family. Consider how big they will get and how much grooming they might require. Does the dog require a yard? How much exercise will it need? What health concerns should you keep in mind?
3. Do I have the time to train and care for a puppy/dog?
A new puppy requires a lot of time and interaction to become healthy and well-rounded. You may need to adjust your lifestyle to meet their needs. Who will watch him/her when you are away or at work? Think about the cost of doggy daycare, how long your pet may need to stay at home without you, and if you have enough time to dedicate to your dog.
4. Am I prepared financially?
A puppy costs far more than a one-time adoption fee. Food, toys, training, routine veterinary care, the inevitable replacing of furniture and shoes as well as unexpected veterinary costs can add up quickly and will be there throughout the course of your dog’s life. Have you factored these costs into your budget? Medical insurance for your pet is one way that you can help protect yourself against these unexpected bills as well as ensuring your pet can receive the best possible care and treatment.
5. Does my living situation allow for dogs?
Think about where you’re living now and whether that will be conducive to a dog. Will this change? Will your dog need a yard or will it be okay living in an apartment? Does your landlord charge extra fees for having a pet? It’s not just your living arrangements that you need to question but your lifestyle too. Some of the things you need to ask yourself include: will you be away from home for more than six hours at a time? Where will your dog be during this time? Are you planning a vacation or a large party for the holidays? If the answer is yes, maybe this isn’t the best time to introduce a new pet to the home.
6. Who is responsible for training and caring for the puppy?
While someone may be a primary caretaker, everyone in the family should be on the same page when it comes to feeding, walking, and caring for your new dog. Consistency is key during these early stages of a puppy’s life in order to establish rules and develop good behavior.
7. Will I be adopting my pet from a reputable breeder or rescue group?
There are benefits and potential pitfalls, whether you decide to buy or rescue an animal. Ideally, you should do your research to ensure you are getting a healthy pet. Does the breeder or rescue group treat animals humanely? Would others recommend them? Be sure to ask your breeder, rescue group, and veterinarian plenty of questions and always talk through any concerns, however small they may be.
8. Will this puppy get along with other pets in my family?
This is another key consideration and while it can be hard to predict how your family cat or dog may react at having a new pet in the house, you need to think about how they will adjust to a new puppy in the home. There are various ways that you can introduce them into the household, but always make sure it’s done gradually or on neutral ground.
Dogs bring so much joy to our lives, but it’s important to remember the responsibility that comes with being a pet owner. A dog requires love, time, and financial commitment that lasts a lifetime.