‘Tis the season of giving…
One of my favorite times of the year!
In the spirit of giving, so many families decide to adopt a dog or give their family a Christmas puppy wrapped in a big bow under the tree.
Which I think is SO GREAT…
I love to see dogs leaving shelters to go to loving homes.
Sometimes I see families overlook potential challenges amid the excitement of getting a Christmas puppy. And the truth is that adding a dog to your clan must be a carefully thought-out and discussed topic before you decide to adopt.
Because taking care of a dog is a lifetime commitment…from training to exercising to socializing to feeding and keeping healthy…a dog is basically another child in your household.
So here are five questions you must address before making the decision to adopt a dog.
#1: Is Your Family Ready for the Added Responsibility of a Christmas Puppy?
Having a dog might seem glamorous, but it is A LOT of work.
Those little four-legged cuties require a lot of time and attention every single day.
So the first thing you’ll want to think about is who will be caring for the pup day in and day out. Obviously everyone might chip in, but there should be one person whose sole responsibility is making sure the pup is cared for.
It’s so much more than just playing fetch. It’s making sure your pup is fed, bathed, exercised, and groomed.
If you have children, are they old enough to help out with a few tasks like feeding the puppy or taking her on a walk?
Of course, the kids aren’t going to shoulder every responsibility, so do you (or your partner) have the time to take the pup on a daily walk (sometimes multiple walks) and let him out to do his business? Are you available to take her to vet appointments and have her groomed regularly?
If you’re already scheduled to the max with work or family responsibilities, then you may not have the capacity to take on a new dog right now.
If you have very young children, they will not understand or be able to help out with daily obligations of caring for a dog.
In addition, they may feel jealous of the dog because the pup will require a lot of your time and attention, which will take your time away from your children .
At the end of the day, you need to be sure that you (and your family) are prepared for all of the work that comes with a new puppy.
#2: Do You Have the Financial Stability to Provide for a Dog?
Getting a dog is quite the investment.
I’m not just talking about the actual cost of the dog (many shelters have adoption fees), but the costs that come with raising and caring for a dog.
I’m sure you’re thinking of the obvious costs…
…treats and toys…
…but there are so many other expenses that you’ll need to account for.
You’ll need to get equipment like a crate, dog beds, gates for around the house…
And supplies like cleaning products in case your pup has an accident…
Or leashes, food bowls, shampoo, flea and tick treatments, heartworm preventative, and brushes.
Are you going to have to get your puppy spayed or neutered?
Do you need to install a fence in your yard?
And maybe hire a trainer or invest in a puppy obedience class?
These things all come with hefty price tags.
Will you be sending your dog to doggy daycare or boarding them for vacations?
Be sure to research the costs of those facilities in your area, because some can be rather expensive.
What I’ve covered so far are just basic necessities, which don’t take into account any emergency costs, which you’ll need to be prepared for.
Like when your dog gets into those chocolate chip cookies on the counter and gets sick. Or if they hurt their leg while running in the backyard.
Do you have the financial stability to cover all of these costs, both expected and unexpected?
Make a list of all the things you’ll need to get for your dog along with any medical, training, and potential boarding costs to get an idea of how much you’ll need to set aside each month for your dog.
A little bit of financial planning will help you understand if you’re ready to take on the long-term, ongoing costs necessary to keep your new dog happy and healthy.
#3: Are You Prepared for the Lifelong Commitment to Training?
Puppy obedience classes are very popular.
They offer socialization for your new pup and help teach basic training commands like “sit” and “stay.”
But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
Training your dog isn’t a one-and-done type of interaction.
It’s something that needs to be cultivated and reinforced over time.
And it’s so much more than your dog understanding to “sit” or “stay.”
Training is about building a relationship with your dog so that you can trust them in any situation.
So you’ll know that if you’re at a crowded dog park or near a busy street they will listen and respect you as their parent.
Of course, in the beginning, training is about teaching your new dog the rules of the house, like jumping on the bed is not allowed and shoes are not chew toys…
But that training doesn’t end after your dog potty trained…
Dogs are animals and are driven by their primal brains, so we need to continue offering them good leadership, guidance, consistency, boundaries, and a whole lot of love and patience.
And that’s something that you can’t turn on and off.
Owning a dog is a way of life, and that requires continuous training and consistency in your communication and commands.
That goes for every family member. If mom says “no dogs on the couch,” but dad lets them jump up to watch TV, that can be very confusing for your dog. Every person in the household needs to know the rules and be on board with the training.
You can’t just call it quits when the “Christmas Puppy” excitement ends.
Are you ready to embark on a lifelong journey and commit to constant training throughout your dog’s life? If you answered yes, then you might just be ready to add a dog to your family.
#4: Have You Thought about Your Current (and Future) Lifestyle?
Having a dog certainly brings so much joy and playfulness into your life, but the truth is that getting a dog is like bringing home a new baby.
You might think that the dog will just fit seamlessly into your life. But it’s actually the other way around…
You need to adjust your life to meet the needs of your dog.
Which is why you need to think about how a dog might change your lifestyle.
(Remember…it’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas Puppy excitement….but how will you feel once the excitement fades away?)
Do you like to play video games on the couch after work? A dog will need to be taken outside regularly and given the opportunity to exercise, so you’ll need to be willing to give up some gaming time.
Do you like to travel? You’ll need to think about whether you’ll be bringing your dog with you or if you’ll need to board your pup. If you travel a lot for work, your dog may start to feel neglected, and you’ll be paying a lot of boarding fees.
Do you plan on having children soon? Or moving to a new apartment? These life changes will certainly affect your dog, and you’ll need to be prepared to foster a positive relationship with your dog to ensure she feels comfortable no matter what life changes you go through.
Are you constantly on the go ? Between working long hours or kids’ lessons, sports and activities, you’ll need to be able to care for your dog.
If you’re already living a life that’s overscheduled or too hectic, adding a dog will just exacerbate your busy-ness (and maybe increase your stress levels).
Your new dog will certainly pick up on the increased stress levels. And I don’t want owning a dog to be a burden to you. I want you to have a positive experience adding a loving new family member to your life.
Which is why lifestyle is such an important consideration when you’re thinking about getting a dog. And not just any dog…but the dog that is best for your family.
#5: What Kind of Dog Would Suit You and Your Family?
If you’ve asked yourself all the questions above and still want to adopt a dog…CONGRATULATIONS!!
One last thing you’ll need to consider before pulling the trigger is what type of dog you want.
It’s just not a good idea to jump at the first dog that becomes available.
Because each breed has distinct characteristics and personality traits that will (or won’t) work within your family dynamic.
We just discussed lifestyle. If you lead an active lifestyle, a high-energy dog like a Border Collie or Labrador Retriever would be perfect for you. If you live a more sedentary lifestyle, then breeds like an English Bulldog or Pug would fit right into your life.
If you or any family members suffer from allergies, you’ll want to make sure you get a dog that sheds very little or a hypoallergenic breed like a Poodle or Portuguese Water Dog.
Do you have enough space to accommodate a large breed? If you live in an apartment, you might want to get a small breed.
Not only knowing when you’re ready, but knowing which type of dog will fit right into your family will set you up for a lifetime of bonding and happiness with your new family member.
So as we enter the joyous holiday season, a new family member might just be the perfect gift, granted you understand the responsibility and commitment that comes with owning a new pet.
Are you planning to add a new pup to your family? Drop me a pic! I love to see smiling faces and happy, adopted pups not only this season but all year long.
~ Doggy Dan
P.S. Have you recently added a dog to your family and find yourself struggling to connect or teach him or her basic recall or leash training? Then check out my Dog Calming Code™ Program today.
I’m adopting my daughters year old female Chihuahua. Meg she is housebroken (a plus) I know Meg, my daughter is moving into an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. I have had several Chihuahuas that have died of old age. Love the breed!
Hi Ann, Meg is incredibly lucky to be transitioning into such a wonderful home. If you run into any issues then please get in touch….or you could even check out my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com …its a $1USD trial for 3 days and covers a broad range of issue. All the Best, Doggy Dan
I lost my husband this year. Am finding my feet and thought a companion dog would help. I bought a Shih Tsu x toy poodle. I can’t seem to toilet train her. She’s great on hard floors but as soon as she is on carpet she thinks she can do it. She goes toilet in garden on command,. She’s also very bitey and draws blood sometimes. I’m at the stage where I wonder if I’ve made a mistake getting her.
June, I am really sorry for your loss. It’s a terrible thing to lose the ones you love most. Puppies traditionally need a lot of guidance and patience, especially when it comes to toilet training and mouthing/biting. Restricting your puppy’s access to the carpeted areas unsupervised will help…having her on-leash with you whenever she is in that area is also a good strategy to avoid an accident. Make sure she has been to the toilet recently prior to taking her in there and keep her initial visits to those areas short. Once she is used to the feel of carpet she will be less likely to have accidents in there. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com covers toilet training and also how to overcome mouthing/biting…maybe take a quick look…its a $1USD trial for 3 day. I’ve also written a Blog about both of these issues, you may be interested in my advice there. All the Best, Doggy Dan
I have an 18mo German Shepherd female. Due to covid and some other issues she was not socialized to other dogs when she was a pup. Now when I take her to the dog park she will charge at other dogs barking like she is going to attack but as soon as they turn towards her she will tuck her tail and run sometimes yelping in fear. She is friendly with people and goes up to them calm and wants them to pet her. If I rattle paper or she sees me pick up her brush she will run away. She is also an excesive digger. What information do you have to address these specific problems?
Hi Don, the world outside their home can be a really scary place for some dogs and it’s important to remember that other strange dogs pose a very real threat in our dogs eyes. It is most likely that your dog’s reaction is a fear based one, and that she is confused about what her role is in her family. This is a behaviour I can definitely help you with, as well as the other issues you mentioned. Take a look at my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com where we show you very clearly how to overcome this behaviour…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…All the Best, Doggy Dan