6 Steps to Take Before Getting a Dog for Christmas
Thinking of getting a new dog this Christmas? Here's everything to consider first, including breed, adoption options, pet supplies, training, and care.
Nothing makes a family complete like bringing a dog home. From days spent playing in the backyard to snuggles on the couch, there are so many sweet memories to be made with a new furry companion.
If you're considering getting your family a dog, what better time is there to bring that kind of joy into your home than the holidays? But before you get the ultimate Christmas gift, take these steps to make sure you're fully prepared.
1. Decide If Your Family Is Ready for a Dog
Before you bring a dog home, it's important to know if now is the right time. Dogs are a decade-long commitment, sometimes longer, and agreeing to that level of responsibility is not something your family should take lightly.
Before you adopt, consider your financial situation. The cost to adopt a dog is not a one-time purchase – there will be regular food and toy purchases, training classes, vet exams, and more. Review your budget and decide if you have enough disposable income each month to financially support a dog.
The amount of time you have to dedicate to a dog is also important to consider. Dogs need daily walks, exercise, training, and playtime. Do your family's work schedule and lifestyle leave room for a dog?
If not, you may also need to factor in dog walkers, doggy daycare, and private trainers into your pet budget.
2. Determine Which Dog Breed Is the Best Fit
Not every dog breed will be the right fit for your family and lifestyle.
Are you an active family who loves hiking together on the weekends or playing soccer in the backyard? A larger, more energetic breed could make a great hiking buddy, and they'd love all of the exercise. In contrast, if your family prefers a more laid-back lifestyle, a smaller, lower-energy dog could be a better fit.
If you have children, it's also important to consider breeds or breed mixes that work well with kids. Every dog is unique, and you can't tell what a dog's true personality will be based solely on their breed. But it's good to at least get an idea of what types of dogs will interact the best in your household. Similarly, if you already have other pets in the house, you'll want to consider dogs that will do well around other animals.
Once you've chosen a breed, you'll also need to decide if you want to adopt a puppy or an adult dog. Adopting a puppy gives you the advantage of controlling more of their upbringing and starting their training early, but puppies are also a lot of work. Adult dogs can come with more question marks in their background, but it's easier to know what their personalities will be when you adopt them.
Both puppies and adult dogs come with their own benefits, so it ultimately depends on what works best for your family.
3. Explore Adoption Options
Depending on the type of dog you're looking for, you have many adoption options available.
If you have a specific breed in mind, you can look for a local rescue group that specializes in that particular breed. You can also explore breeder options, but you should always do thorough research before deciding on a breeder to make sure they're reputable.
If you're open to exploring multiple breeds, consider adopting from your local animal shelter. These animals are just as friendly as those from a breeder, but they rely on people like you to give them a loving home.
Your local shelters also have puppies, and you may even find the breed that you're looking for!
4. Gather Pet Supplies
Before you bring your dog home, you'll need to buy all the necessary supplies to care for your pup.
Your dog will need a food and water bowl, as well as plenty of food to get them started. Depending on where you adopt your dog from, they may send you home with food to help make the transition easier, but you'll want to purchase additional food as well.
Your dog will also need a collar and a leash, as well as a harness. If the shelter or breeder doesn't provide you with an ID tag, you'll want to get one of those made to keep your pup safe.
Treats are also a must before you bring your dog home. Get a few different varieties of treats so you can learn what your dog likes and doesn't like – using treats they really love is a great way to reward your dog during training.
Likewise, get a few different styles of toys for your dog to try. You'll also want to get your dog a comfortable bed and a crate, if you plan on crate training.
Lastly, if you're bringing home a puppy, buying puppy pads to aid in potty training is a great idea.
5. Dog-Proof Your House
Dogs are curious animals, especially when they're new to your home. If you don't dog-proof your house, they're likely to get into something they shouldn't, leading to a potentially dangerous situation.
Before your dog comes home, put all your medications, cleaners, and other chemicals on high shelves where they can't reach them. Research any potentially toxic plants in your home, and move those far out of your dog's reach as well.
If possible, use childproof latches to keep cabinet drawers shut. You'll also want to consider a trash can with a lid, preferably one that latches.
Hide any dangling wires from your television, lamps, or other electronics to prevent your dog from chewing on them.
Baby gates are a great way to block off areas of your home that you're not ready for your dog to enter yet, so you can create a smaller, safe space for your dog when they get home.
6. Create a Training and Care Plan
Before you bring your dog home, discuss the roles and responsibilities of caring for a dog with your family. Designate who will take the dog for walks and when, and who's responsible for training.
You may decide to collectively walk and train the dog together as a family, and that's great. Whatever your decision, it's important to know and prepare beforehand.
It's also important to discuss your expectations and boundaries with the dog, so your whole family is on the same page. For example, will the dog be allowed on the furniture? Discussing this upfront will help all of you enforce the same boundaries with the dog, so it's easier for them to learn.
Is Your Family Ready for a Dog This Christmas?
Adopting a dog is a big commitment, but it's also one of the most fulfilling decisions that you can make. Talk to your family about the added responsibility and financial implications of bringing home a dog, and make sure that everyone is ready and excited.
Enrolling your puppy in a pet insurance policy is a great way to prepare for their future. Optional Wellness Coverage through AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) provides support for a variety of routine and preventive care expenses, allowing you to focus more on the health of your pet and less on costly veterinary bills.
Richard has shared his life with pets since childhood, and currently has a rescue cat and dog. He works with veterinarians and pet businesses to improve their content. To find out more, please visit his [website](https://richardrowlands.com/).READ MORE ARTICLES