What to Consider When Bringing a Dog Home for the Holidays

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A lot of people consider puppies a great Christmas gift for children or family members. There is a lot to consider when making the decision to adopt a pet for someone, or yourself, at any time of the year, but there are a lot of other things to consider when you are choosing to do this during the holiday season.

Make sure you have really thought about the type of dog you would like to adopt. There are many things to think over and decide on such as: are you ready for a long-term commitment? Dogs can be a 10-15 year commitment, depending on the age of the dog at the time of adoption. You need to decide who will be the primary caretaker of the dog. Even when a family is convinced that everyone will pitch in, even when your children (or your spouse!) come to you with teary eyes promising that they will take care of everything the dog needs, eventually the bulk of walks and feedings are done by one or two people, depending on who is home at the right time.

Do you have young children in the home, or are you planning to start a family? A puppy can be just like another child, especially in the very early life stages. This includes
potty training, ensuring proper exercise, plenty of potty breaks, and multiple vet visits for vaccines and eventually the very important spaying or neutering.

Do you have an elderly or disabled relative living with you? This can be very important to take into account. A young energetic puppy or a big, strong dog can be very excitable, and can easily get underfoot of someone with physical ailments trying to walk around. Don’t forget about all the supplies you will need as well: bowls, leashes, harnesses, crates, toys, and much more that you will need to be financially ready to purchase and have waiting for when your dog “moves in.” Finding a good pet trainer whose training methods you agree with is also very important. They can help make the transition for you and your dog smoother and easier.

Now, if you have discussed this over with everyone involved in the decision to bring home a new dog, there are some more things to discuss regarding the holidays.

A dog coming into a new environment needs some time to adjust to their surroundings and the new people it is being introduced too.  Are you a family that always has guests over for the holidays?  You may want to gauge your dog’s reaction to new people. Some dogs may feel the more the merrier, while other dogs may be a little more bah humbug when it comes to guests in their home. Setting your dog up in a
room or crate where they feel very comfortable and safe, and have easy access
to water and/or food is very important. Don’t ignore your dog while your guests
are over though, make sure they are checked on and taken out for bathroom
breaks.

Are you traveling for the holidays? Will you be taking your new family member with you, or will you need to board them or arrange for a pet sitter? This is very important. Bringing a new dog home shortly before you go away for days or a week can disrupt an already new routine for you and your pet. You need to interview possible pet sitters and visit different boarding facilities until you find one that you are comfortable with and can afford. This can take a fair amount of time. Ask friends for suggestions of who they use and trust. Make sure your pet feels comfortable with who you choose to allow into your home while you are away.

A very important thing to be aware of this holiday season is foods and plants that can be harmful to dogs. For dog owners that have cats too, I’m also going to list foods harmful to them as well. You can never read this too many times, in my opinion. Having an emergency fund for vet care is a very important factor to consider, but being aware of potential dangers can help keep your pet safe. The foods and plants to avoid feeding your pets that are very common this time of year are:

  • Chocolate in any form including cocoa powder cooking chocolate, semi-sweet morsels, milk chocolate and dark chocolate
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Baby food
  • Brittle fish and meat bones
  • Poinsettias, and lilies

This is not a complete list of harmful food and plants, but I tried to include the most common items you may find in your home this time of year.

These are just a handful of ideas you should consider before adopting a new dog this holiday season. While this article can bring up a lot of serious topics you need to think of, adopting a new dog can be a lot of fun when you are as prepared as possible. Enjoy your new family member!

Juliet Carty Greene is the proud pet Mommy of Yoda, Wendy, and Willow. She has been happily married for over a year and lives in Salem, MA. Besides writing and expanding her knowledge on dogs, she’s an avid winter-time knitter and all-around animal lover.

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