We all know the famous line ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’, coined by the Dogs Trust in 1978. This slogan was created to highlight the huge number of puppies and dogs that were being given up in the months after the festive season, not just at dog charities but sadly left on our streets too!

Far too often puppies were bought as ‘presents’ at Christmas time, undeniably due to them being cute and cuddly, but with little thought to what raising a puppy involved and what sort of dog they would grow into.

Since that famous slogan first appeared 37 years ago things have improved, and people are now more aware of the responsibilities that having a dog entails, but the problem is sadly far from over. There are still tens of thousands of puppies and dogs given up each year in Britain alone, maybe millions each year around the world.

This shouldn’t be happening!

Luckily there are a few very easy steps all potential dog owners can take to make sure they are ready for the ‘happy challenge’ of having a puppy, and being prepared for living with a dog for years to come.

I know most of you out there are responsible, honest dog owners, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra ready when you decide to get a puppy!

Not a Present!

It may sound stupid, but a puppy is not a present, it’s a living breathing creature, and a very active and demanding one at that!

A puppy really shouldn’t be given as a gift to someone as a surprise. A puppy should be chosen because you really WANT a dog and are really READY for a dog.

If you really think about it Christmas is probably the least practical time of year to get a new puppy anyway. Would you be excited at the prospect of housebreaking, walking and training your new puppy in the ice, snow and freezing winds? I bet your puppy wouldn’t love the idea either.

So bare that in mind if you have thought it through properly and are determined to get a puppy in the winter.

Research, Research, Research!

That’s a lot of research right? Well maybe I should add it a couple more times, because it really is the most vital thing to do before going out to get that puppy.

It is amazing how SOME people give it very little thought when getting a puppy.

If I listed everything you should consider, it would be bed time before you finished reading! So let’s talk about the most important!

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Lifestyle

Now let’s be honest, most of us live busy lives, so the first question we should ask ourselves is ‘do I have the time to raise a dog in my home?’ And when I say raise, I mean RAISE, this is no easy process. That dog is going to be demanding!

Your dog is going to require love, attention and interaction, not just when it is a puppy but right through its life. We all love our dogs, but we have to make sure we have the time for them too.

The Breed!

We all have our favorites, and most of us base it on the looks of the breed. But it’s the character and needs of the breed that we should be thinking about too!

Here is one reason why!

Some of the most common breeds given up by owners are highly active ones that need a lot of exercise.

German Shepherds, Labradors, Jack Russell’s and Lurchers are frequently to be found being rehomed, or even wandering the sides of the streets! Sadly this is mainly due to their owners realizing they don’t have the time to give them the exercise that they demand.

A puppy not getting the vital energy release it needs will become a naughty one! A naughty puppy will most likely become a naughty dog too.

THINK! Which is the best breed for YOUR Lifestyle?

If you do your research you will know the energy requirements of your breed, and if you have the time to give your dog the exercise it needs, you should have a relaxed, calm dog in the home.

If you get a breed that isn’t suited to your lifestyle, and you don’t have the time to do those walks and runs it demands, you could end up with a bored, unhappy, uncontrollable even destructive dog in the long term. That is something we all want to avoid!

So many dogs are given up because they become out of control, but it is up to the owner to make sure their dog is trained and exercised properly, it is rarely the fault of the dog!

After all puppyhood is the most vital stage in a dog’s development, get it wrong you and you may have a dog with behavioral problems that in time you sadly have to give up. Get it right and you should have a happy, level headed dog for the years to come.

Little Puppy but Big Responsibility!

They may look like a little bundle of fun, and they are! But they will also take over your life! Dogs are a Long Term Commitment.

Your dog could be with for anywhere between 8 and 15 years.

The question we should all ask ourselves before we get our puppy is – ‘am I in for the long haul?’ Think of it like bringing up a child, except you are going to be there for your dog’s whole life!

Just like a child, a dog takes up a lot of your time, and is hard work. When they are a puppy you will need to clean up after them, housebreak them in your home, train them inside and outside, socializing them with people and places, and watch over them so they are not chewing up your furniture. And those are just the first jobs!

They still need feeding, grooming, washing, and walking, whatever the weather. Get used to meeting only dog walkers when you are out in the evening in the torrential rain.

Learn to love those wet walks, there are going to be plenty of them!

Not so Little for Long

There isn’t really such a thing as a massive puppy, but even the tiniest, cutest pup can turn into a big powerful animal. Be prepared! It’s not just Wolfhounds and Newfoundlands that grow to a formidable size, those Labradors and Golden Retrievers will become strong, sturdy dogs too, and they will require plenty of space.

You might get a pup that you can carry in your arms now, but are you ready and willing for it to be pulling you along on its leash later on?

That Puppy will keep on Growing!

Make sure are ready to spend some of your hard earned cash too! This can be something any of us forget, and is a major factor in the number of dogs being given up to charities. You will have to pay out for your dog’s food, vet bills and of course plenty of toys for them to enjoy, and again all this for over a decade or more!

It Really is all Worth It!

But before it all gets on top of you, remember, it is all worth the effort when you have that beautiful, affectionate, loving dog by your side or laying on your lap.

Even the most devoted dog lover, that has thought seriously and researched properly before they adopted their puppy, can be surprised by what their puppy can grow into.

But if you research your breeds needs, and prepare yourself for the energy, commitment and joy of seeing your puppy grow into a happy dog, then we can all help drastically reduce the number of dogs given up after Christmas!

Making sure you are ready for the effort before you go out and find your dog can ensure you have a devoted and loyal companion for many, many happy years to come.