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Five questions to ask yourself before getting a dog, especially for Christmas

This time of the year most of us are getting excited for the Christmas season but a lot of animal rescue organisations are getting nervous, as many pets that are gifted for Christmas will be surrendered in the coming months. We know that this is never anybody’s intention and it’s heart-breaking for all involved - the dog, the owner, the kids that have to say goodbye and the rescue services when they see the sadness and confusion in the dogs eyes when surrendered.

This year was sadly a record year in animal rescues for KLAWS with over 100 dogs rescued to date, a 30% increase on last year.

To help avoid this heart-break we’ve compiled five important questions to ask yourself or someone you know considering a dog for Christmas to make sure it’s the right decision for you and the dog, as a dog is a lifelong commitment and responsibility.

1. Can you afford a dog?

Dogs are expensive, regardless of whether you get a puppy or an older dog. It costs around €2,500 a year to home a dog and you'll most likely have them with you for over a decade. Annual costs will include your dog’s licence, pet insurance, food, vet care (often unexpected), medication, vaccinations, leads and collars, bedding, grooming, toys, training, dog sitters and kennels for holidays.

2. Do you have time for a dog?

By adding a dog to your family, you are taking on the responsibility of another life, so make sure you have time to dedicate to caring for your pup. Dogs - especially puppies - require lots of love and attention. If you travel frequently, often find yourself working extended hours, or will be leaving your pup alone all day, you may want to reconsider your timing on getting a new dog.

3. Will exercise with your dog fit into your daily schedule?

Dogs need to be exercised. Whether a new puppy or a 9-year-old adoptee, your dog needs exercise and depending on the breed they may need more steps than you expect. While it is true that a puppy needs more exercise than an older dog (albeit in smaller bursts vs. long walks*), you need to make sure you have the time to commit to exercising your dog on a daily basis, whether that be going for a morning and evening walk, throwing a ball around the yard, running, etc. *Puppies can't go on full long walks until approximately six months old as it can inhibit their development

4. Do you have the patience to train a puppy?

Training a puppy isn’t easy. Puppies are naturally curious. They will chew and destroy stuff, and require training to become well behaved. Make sure you puppy-proof your house. The same goes for older dogs – even if the dog was previously trained at another home, your dog will probably need to be re-trained – especially if rescued. Try not to get mad if he has an accident or chews something – he may be nervous and will need time to adjust, just as a puppy would. Be patient, gentle, and caring.

5. If circumstances in your life change will this facilitate your dog?

We know that life throws many things at us, most of which we cannot predict but it’s important to know if the dog will be a permanent member of your family or something that can be removed when the going gets tough. For example losing your job, moving to another country or returning to the office. Will the dog be taken care of, move to the new country with you or will they simply be too much hassle? For those now working from home due to Covid think about your daily routine when you return to the office. Will your dog be left alone for a long period of time and will you be able to fit in exercising your dog along with work & commuting?

We’ve laid it all out and asked the hard questions. If you would like to find out more information here are some useful resources:

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