6 Things to Consider Before Getting a Puppy for Christmas
The scene plays out over and over again in books, movies, and television shows, a giant box and it’s moving a bit. Suddenly a puppy emerges! Everyone is happy! Who wouldn’t be? Puppies are the cutest things ever! While getting a puppy on Christmas would make almost anyone happy, there is a whole list of things to consider before making the commitment to taking on the responsibility of adding another living thing to the mix that is your life.
- It’s forever. A puppy can live up to 20 years and even though your situation may seem stable now, you never know when you’ll have to cut back on expenses or move to a place that doesn’t accept pets. Even more than that you may find that your growing family doesn’t always mesh well with even an established dog. What if your puppy likes you first three kids but starts getting aggressive when you bring home the fourth baby? What if you lose your job and have to move into a smaller house and there’s no longer a backyard for your dog to visit and now you have to take him on walks every time he has to piddle? While you can’t really foresee every circumstance ever you can think about what you would do in some of these common situations. Even if everything goes well you’ll likely still be responsible for the pup even after your kids go away to college, so be prepared for that.
- It’s expensive. Do you have the extra money in your budget to cover shots, annual check-ups, and pet emergencies? Pet insurance can help but they get pretty picky about what they cover at times and you may end up with a $3,000 vet bill without help if your dog gets into the Christmas chocolates. Most dogs will get more expensive as they age, leading to thousands of dollars in vet care, but often they will develop chronic conditions at much younger ages leading to costs in special foods, medications, and other therapies. Depending on your city you may also have to pay annual registration fees or keep insurance on your dog. Aside from all of that any time you go on a vacation or have to be away from home for a while you will have to pay for services such as boarding or doggy daycare. Obedience school, while expensive, can also save you a little bit of trouble down the road so budget for that as well.
- It’s exhausting. It can seem at times that puppies exist just to try your patience. While they don’t mean to cause problems, they will. Having a puppy around is like having a toddler on hard-mode. All the baby-proofing in the world won’t be enough to keep them from chomping down on your couch if they get bored and can’t find their toys. You’ll have to house train them and unlike your toddler, there’s no option for diapering at night in cases of an oopsie. If you get a puppy for Christmas you’ll want to be home most of the time for the first few weeks to get them accustomed to going outside and not on the rug.
If the first three don’t scare you away, consider these as well when choosing your pup.
- Rescue a puppy or a dog instead of getting from a breeder? While most will have a certain breed in mind after researching their expected temperament and knowing what type of dog you want to introduce into your life, don’t shy away from checking your local shelter. They will have a lot of mix breeds that are adorable and often healthier than a purebred dog, but they also may have some slightly older than puppy dogs in the breed you’re looking for. If you need a specific breed due to allergies or other concerns, really research your breeder to make sure they are breeding healthy dogs responsibly. Most responsible breeders only have one litter a year or less. They are not running a mill where their dogs are kept perpetually pregnant. Insist on a health check and guarantee before handing over the money, and beware of scams. Many dogs listed on the internet for sale do not exist at all. Don’t do business with anyone who will not let you come see the dog and its parents in person if they are claiming to have a litter. People promising to ship a puppy to you at a discounted price are usually just trying to steal your money and never had a dog, to begin with.
- Consider what breed or type of dog you want. While working dogs are gorgeous they are often more than a handful for families as they require high amounts of exercise and interaction lest they start causing drama. Toy breeds are cute, but often don’t like small children or loud noises. Consider your lifestyle and what type of dog will fit in with your routines. Trying to make a dog abandon his genetics to fit into a situation he won’t thrive in isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time and it just won’t work. If you’re taking in a rescue visit it a few times and bring the kids by to make sure everyone gets along well and that there aren’t any problems.
- Try before you buy. If your heart is set on a puppy and you’ve considered everything and are still good to go, consider contacting a local shelter about fostering a puppy. Usually, they will put you on a call list and house a puppy or dog with you while it is waiting for its forever home. During fostering your shelter or rescue should provide you with everything a dog needs like food, toys, and healthcare. They often have a program for respite if you need to take a break from your foster due to taking a trip or unexpected changes in your family. While fostering you can get a good idea of what all is entailed in having a dog in your home while setting money aside to fund puppy savings account for expenses for when you get your own dog. You may be eligible to adopt the dog you’re fostering if you like it, but if not you can just hand it back over when someone does adopt it and try a new dog with your next fostering opportunity.