We've all heard the saying "a dog is for life, not just for Christmas", which is very true however that doesn't mean you can't get a dog this Christmas. You may be wondering why we're mentioning Christmas when it's only November, but you'll soon see there is a lot to think about before making that decision.
If you are thinking of getting a dog this Christmas then go for it BUT only after you have made sure you are making the right decision and that you are going to be giving him or her their forever home. There are a few things you need to take into account before you take the plunge.
The first decision you need to make is what kind of dog do you want to get? Before we got our first dog we were rather nerdy. We got a dog encyclopaedia; made sure the dog had the right characteristics for our family, made a list of our top 5 choices and then did a positive and negative cross analysis. Now, I'm not saying you have to be quite as organised as this but you do need to think about a few things!
What size dog do you want? This will change depending on your own circumstances: size of your house, number of people living in your house, where you live and size of your garden to name but a few. If you live in a small flat with small rooms you aren't going to be wanting to get a Newfoundland or a Great Dane! You may not want a tiny dog such as a Chihuahua for fear your children and their large feet are going to crush it!
What temperament do you want? Certain dogs such as Labradors are well known for being great with children. Cockapoos are well known for being hyper. Border Collies are well known for being highly trainable. Beagles are great with kids but are known to howl. It's a minefield out there. That's why it is important to do your research before you choose. The beauty of social media means these days it is easy to find a group of dog owners for a range of breeds meaning you're in with a good chance of being able to ask people who have experience of the breed you are thinking of. When we chose our Lab 11 years ago the main reason we got him is that they are notoriously good with children. Although we didn't have kids at this point we knew we wanted them at some point in the future. Three kids later and I have to say he was a great choice. He loves playing with the kids and is quite happy for them to roll around on the floor with him.
Where is your dog going to sleep? Crate training appears to be much popular now than it was when we got our lab 11 years ago. There is lots of advice out there about whether to crate train or not. Again it is worth doing your research as once you get your new puppy home one of the most important things you'll need to be is consistent. You might not fancy a crate and may decide to allocate a room for a dog bed to go in. You may even decide to let your dog sleep on your bed. It is your choice, but remember consistency is key. If you let your dog sleep in your room for a week and then suddenly move them downstairs the chances are you may have a few nights of bad sleep while he gets used to his new surroundings.
How much are you prepared to spend on your dog? Larger dogs need more food, this costs more money. Some dogs have delicate stomachs so may need a more expensive brand of food. Some breeds are more expensive to insure or may be more prone to need veterinary care. Long haired dogs will need more frequent grooming which costs money. Dogs need to be vaccinated annually as well as needing to be regularly wormed and flea treated. Having a dog in the house is like having another mouth to feed and this needs to be taken into account beforehand.
How much are you going to be able to walk your dog? Think about your work and family commitments. Dalmatians, Jack Russells and Weimaraners are said to need lots of walks. Shih Tzus, Chow Chows and Bulldogs don't need as much exercise. This will have an impact on your decision. Poodles, Pugs and Yorkshire Terriers are said to not like being left alone so if you work long days are they the right choice for you?
Don't let the walks be something to put you off though. That's where we come in! Hiring a dog walker is becoming an increasingly popular way to ensure your dog is looked after during the day. You may be happy to pop home in your lunch hour for the first few months, but as your puppy gets older and needs longer walks are you really going to have the time?
If you do decide to go for a dog walker then choose carefully. The cost of a dog walker can add up but make sure you do it properly. £7 for an hours walk may seem cheap but are they properly insured? What insurance is in place if they lose your key? Are you allowed to change your walk requirements to suit your needs? Is your dog transported in a safe way? Does your walker even have any experience? If you choose properly then the cost is worth it to make sure your dog is properly looked after and walked well. At Cheshire Creature Comforts we really do think we've got it right and if you were to choose us as your dog walker we are pretty sure you'd be pleased with the service we offer.
There is a lot to think about when choosing a new dog (hence the reason we are mentioning it now!) so have a good think and make your choice carefully this Christmas. And if you do need a dog walker- give us a call!