It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Christmas is around the corner. A time with family gatherings, good food and of course presents. For some also a time to get a new dog, but before bringing that little furball into your life, read these 10 suggestions that might make you rethink that amazing gift idea.

  1. Getting a new dog is a joined decision and something everyone in the household should be on board with.
  2. A puppy is cute and fluffy, but will grow up and is a 15-20year commitment and responsibility. Is everyone ready for that?
  3. A pet costs. Can you afford the mandatory health insurance? Their trips to the vet? Dog food, toys, not to mention the continuous need for a supply of poop bags?
  4. A dog should not be left alone more than 5-8 hours per day(depending on which country you live in. In Sweden you can only leave your dog for 5 hours at a time). Can your work schedule adapt to that or do you need to think of maybe hiring a dog-walker or take your dog to a doggie daycare?
  5. Have you done the right research into which breed fits your activity level and day-to-day life? Are you jogging every morning and want to bring your dog? Or will you take your dog with you to your local café for that brilliant morning coffee? Don’t expect your needs to change just because you get a dog – if you are not a jogger, then your dog will certainly not make you one, so get the breed that fits you and if adopting from the shelter be very specific about your day-to-day life so they can help you find a dog that is the right match for you. A good shelter should know their dogs to a level where they can direct you in the right direction.
  6.  A dog needs more than 3 daily walks – this goes for any dog no matter the breed or activity level. Your dog not only needs physical daily exercise but also mental stimuli in the form of activity toys (see our Xmas calendar on Youtube if you need inspiration (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iU758jUgtkg&t=101s), playtime and teaching them new tricks – be it in an agility court, nose work or basic obedience training. Think of it as your dog’s work for the day. You come home having both your body and mind exercised, feeling contempt and tired. Why not make your dog feel the same way?
  7. Have you done your research? Getting a dog also comes with the responsibility of you learning what your dog needs, so take a family trip to the local library and borrow all the good doggie books, search online for info, forums or groups where you can ask all your questions, talk to your friends or family members who has dogs already or book a session with an ethologist to help you on to the perfect start with your new buddy (If you book a consultation before Xmas with me about getting a new dog, you get 10% discount).
  8. A dog needs time to settle into his or hers new home, so for the first 2 weeks at least you need to be able to be home with your new dog. This also means that taking your pup to all the wonderful Xmas celebrations with your family or friends is not a good idea, as that will only stress him/her out and increase the settling in process in your home. My suggestion would be to give a picture of your new dog as a present but then not getting him/her before after New Years, as that is when you are most likely to be back to your normal routines and will have proper time to introduce the little new member to your family and your life.
  9. Be prepared. Your new dog might have a little accident in your home or destroy something. Doggie proof your home before the dogs arrival. Is there something your dog’s tail might incidentally knock over? Is there something he can chew on? Like a yummy slipper that you might want to pack away or store in a cabinet? By doggie proofing your house and making sure to take your dog out plenty during the first days you set both you and your dog up for success and the settling in period will be much more enjoyable.
  10. Make sure that everyone follows the same rules for the dog. Is the dog allowed on the bed or sofa? Who walks him when? Who feeds? Who trains with the dog? Who can come up with the best activity game for the dog? Or teach him the best trick? If you have children be sure to educate them about how to interact properly with a dog. This could be how to make the dog sit before getting a treat, how to play safely with the dog, when to give the dog space and how to read how the dog is feeling as well as when to leave him or her alone (an example – if the dog walks away from the game, then the child should not follow, but leave the dog until he or she is ready to play again). Make it a fun experience for both and the bond will be unbreakable. (I could write a whole blog about children and dogs, so that will be coming up soon ;))
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