There may be no greater gift for your family, or for an animal, than to bring home a pet for the holidays, but you should consider planning ahead to organize your living space before you adopt a dog so that your gift is a success. Also be sure that you’re choosing a pet that fits your household.
Of course it is important to consider the size of your space and your lifestyle before you select one. If you know the breed, or consult with a vet, you should be able to tell how large the animal will get. Size, however, isn’t everything. Great Danes are considered giant lap dogs and are not normally as active as some canines a fraction of their size and, surprisingly, would do better in a smaller living space than those animals.
“Look at what you do and the things you will do into the future,“ said Ricky Whitman, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA “If you run and want a dog to do that with you, don’t choose a dachshund. If you sit on the couch and watch TV a lot, make sure you have a dog that likes to do that.“
If you are obsessed with a tidy yard, be sure you steer clear of a breed known for digging and other yard destruction. A lot of dogs grow out of the habit if they have it as puppies, but others are more likely to carry it into adulthood. Ricky urged owners to be patient and to go for training over time. “Dogs aren’t born knowing what to do,“ she said. Older dogs are sometimes easier to adopt because they are mellower than puppies and often already know how to live with a family, with potty training experience and the like. “It’s not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,“ Ricky said.
You can make just about any dog work as long as you know what you’re getting into, that a very active dog in a small apartment is going to require more monitoring and constant walks.
When you do get a dog, if it is active and likes toys, be sure to provide plenty as a distraction from damaging your house or yard, especially while it is still teething until about eight months. Ideally, consider furniture slip covers that are machine washable and walls painted in semi-gloss paint, as if you were adopting a child. Throw rugs are easier to keep clean than wall-to-wall carpet. Give a dog his own bed in rooms you frequent so he has a space besides your furniture to crash on. Visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website to learn more on prepping for a new pet.
There are differences of opinion about adopting a dog around the holidays or giving a pet as a gift. Ricky believes that it is better for the family to choose a new pet as group or the new owner to go on his own to pick out an animal to ensure there is a strong bond and that the pet is a good fit. The Pasadena pound and others like it offers gift certificates from its store on site that can be given under the tree with the promise of visiting in person later. The ASPCA supports adopting pets around the holidays as gifts, according to its recent article.
If you’re not quite sure whether you’re ready to adopt, consider fostering a pet for the holidays through Petfinder.com, which is also a site that displays animals for adoption.
Most of all, be sure to give the dog your time and attention. Enjoy!
by Ann Griffith