We’ve all heard what the experts say: A Christmas morning puppy isn’t a great gift-idea. Still, you can make Christmas dreams come true with some advance planning. Here’s our best advice:
Unwrap the Box: A gift box filled with dog-adoption goodies will let children know a four-legged family member is coming soon. Some items to include:
- Food and water bowls
- Leash and collar
- Pet carrier, to bring your new dog home
- Dog food, enough for the first days
- Pooper-scooper and pet-waste bags
If you already have a particular dog in mind, include an invitation from the shelter or breeder, so your family can schedule a visit to pick out (or pick up) your new dog. The anticipation will only add to the excitement of the adoption process.
Do Your Breed Homework: Consider size, activity level, and temperament when adding a puppy to your family. The American Kennel Club website lists traits for 150 breeds; and breed-specific sites can provide further details on dog traits. Even mixed-breed rescue dogs exhibit traits known to their breed(s).
Find Your Match: Once you’ve decided what kind of dog is best for your family, visit your local shelters and rescue groups. Be prepared to complete an adoption application and many rescue groups require home visits to ensure your home is the perfect match for the dog you have chosen. Keep in mind that purebred dogs are often available through shelters and there are many breed specific rescue groups.
Family Training: DogServices will soon be offering puppy classes, obedience classes and Canine Good Citizen classes. This is a great way to establish good training habits in your family from the get-go.
Reputable Sources: Ask dog-savvy friends to suggest breeders and be suspicious of anyone offering to ship you a dog without meeting your family first. Reputable breeders take pains to find the right homes for their puppies. Don’t be offended if a breeder turns you down—it’s simply a sign that their dogs are not the best match for your household.
Ready, Set, Vet! You’ll need to establish a relationship with a vet once your newly-adopted dog comes home. Go ahead and ask friends for recommendations and request information on immunization schedules and puppy checkups.
Sharing Dog Duties: Don’t leave dog chores to chance. Establish a list of dog-duties and enlist family members’ participation. Decide who handles morning feedings, who fills the water bowl, and who handles trips outside before you bring your new dog home. Children, especially, take dog-ownership seriously when they’re prepared in advance.
Give Adult Dogs a Chance: Not all households are suited for puppies as they require a lot of attention and training. Adult dogs can be a perfect fit! Most times adult dogs are already housebroken and many have had some training. When searching for a new addition to your family, please consider the benefits of an adult dog!