Is Adopting a Dog a Good Christmas Present for the Kids?
Conventional wisdom says no. Arguments against adopting a dog for Christmas include the concern that the holiday season is too hectic, the idea that wishing for a dog is very different than caring for a dog, and the notion that an impulse buy can quickly turn into a regretful decision complete with a traumatic rehoming if things don’t work out.
However, if your kids are asking for a dog for Christmas, and you are considering a new furry addition to the family, then it just might be the perfect gift. To help you decide, here are some pointers:
#1: Make Sure the Timing is Right
One of the best ways to make sure your home is ready for the addition of a new dog is to take a look at your schedule. Are you planning to do a lot of traveling over the holiday season? Will you be hosting a crowd? Are there too many activities already filling up your planner? If so, then the holiday season might be a stressful time for a new dog.
On the other hand, if the kids are home from school and you plan to stay in most of the time, then a new dog may find it to be an ideal time to get plenty of attention, bond with the kids, and get used to a new routine.
If Christmas isn’t the ideal time, you can still plan on getting a dog after the holidays. To make it extra special on Christmas morning, consider wrapping some dog toys up and filling the stockings with them or place them under the tree. This way you can work some of the early expenses of dog ownership into your holiday budget and have the benefit of waiting until things calm down before bringing your new dog home.
#2: Find the Right Fit
All dogs are not alike. Each has their own personality. In addition, certain breeds have special needs and may or may not be a good fit for what your family is looking for in a dog. Do some research on dog breeds, even if you plan to adopt a mixed breed dog. Rescue shelter staff can usually approximate breed type and if you know what you are looking for it can make finding the right fit a lot easier once it is time to choose the right canine for you. A good source of information are dog websites like wileypup.com that break down breed information and much more.
#3: Work with Rescue Organizations
Unfortunately, demand for dogs and puppies spikes during the holiday season. This means that people who run inhumane puppy mills and grifters that run internet puppy scams are very active. One common scam is someone that promises a puppy, as long as you pay an expensive shipping charge to bring them in from out of state. Never fall for this. Reputable breeders will not ship a puppy without meeting the owner in person.
Check for local animal shelters and animal rescue groups (which can usually be found on Facebook or a local internet search). In addition, websites such as AdoptAPet help make finding adoptable dogs in your area that are being rehomed through reputable organizations easy. In fact, you can even search by breed type, age, and distance you are willing to travel for the ultimate in convenience.
#4: Talk About Care and Training in Advance
Getting a dog is a commitment and children of all ages can benefit from taking on some of the responsibility for caring for your new pet. For example, a 5 year old child can help keep the water bowl filled and fresh and a 12 year old can take on a daily walk.
Teens and preteens are the perfect age to start learning the basics of positive reinforcement based training. Consider enrolling in a training class hosted at your local animal shelter or pet boutique so that they can pick up skills to communicate with dogs that may well serve them for a lifetime.
Consider creating a dog care calendar, especially if you have multiple kids. This way everyone knows the chores they are responsible for each day. It also helps to establish a routine which will help your new family member adjust to their new home smoothly.
#5: Make Sure You Can Meet Your Dog’s Needs
Finally, before deciding if getting a dog for Christmas is a good idea, think about whether or not you have what it takes to meet a dog’s basic needs. This includes making sure your budget allows for routine vet visits, medications, and a healthy diet. In addition, gear such as leashes and harnesses add to your initial costs.
Another need that you will need to meet for your canine companion is exercise. In addition to regular potty breaks and walks, most dogs need some daily off-leash play in order to stay mentally and physically fit. A fenced yard or access to a nearby dog park or wilderness area are almost a must for most dogs over 20 pounds.
Finally, consider the time you may need to invest in training and companionship with your new furry family member. For example, puppies, while adorable, do require a great deal of time and training and are best adopted into situations where there is an adult present at home at all times. While adult dogs need less intensive time commitments, they still need to feel part of the pack and be taught basic manners and house rules.
Author Bio: Sharon is a professional writer and received her M.S. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 10 years.