‘Tis the season of giving, and if you are a parent, you might be getting the full-court press from your kids to give them a puppy for the holidays. But arents need to ask themselves some important questions before adding a furry friend to their family.
☆ Are you in it for the long-haul? Cute little puppies grow into bigger dogs that sometimes shed, slobber and have accidents in the house. They need regular exercise throughout their life. Also, you’ll need to get your pet spayed or neutered, and there are annual vet visits, and maybe more as they age. The rewards - unconditional love, companionship and an on-demand playmate for your children - are worth it. It’s simply important to think past the joy of the Christmas morning surprise when you’re considering a pet as a gift.
☆ Will you care for the pet and teach your kids to participate? If your kids are younger, you will need to assume the responsibility for caring for your puppy until your children are old enough to take on a larger role. Are you prepared for this reality?
☆ Have you considered a rescue pet? About 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. shelters every year. Mixed breed pups - like many of those found in the shelter - are often overlooked for “designer dogs.” But mixed breeds have lots of love to give, bring the disposition and characteristics of many different types of dogs to your family, and diminish some of the health concerns that can be associated with purebreds.
☆ Would an adult dog be better for your family? Puppies require a ton of time and energy (think potty training, chewing and midnight bathroom breaks), but adult dogs can be more low-key. Adopting an older pooch has many benefits. You know what you’re getting in terms of size and demeanor. Older dogs already know how to go outside to use the bathroom, and they’ve passed through the annoying chewing phase. Also, contrary to the popular saying, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
☆ Do you have time over the busy holiday season to welcome the dog into your home? Holidays can be hectic, and adding a new animal to your family is a joyful, yet disruptive, experience. Is your schedule free enough to spend the time transitioning your pup successfully to your home? Especially for rescue dogs, it can take a little while for them to feel comfortable in their new environment, so it’s important to establish a routine as soon as possible. Take a hard look at your holiday schedule and determine if it would be better to wait until after the fervor of the holidays has passed to integrate a new pet into your home.
Outdoor Power Equipment Institute / TurfMutt