5 reasons why a dog is for life, not just for Christmas… day
With Christmas just over one week away – our thoughts turn to finding the perfect present!
As always, we are reminding the nations animal lovers not to put a puppy on the list, and that getting a dog should be a thoroughly researched decision that considers the financial, physical and emotional responsibilities of dog ownership.
Last year alone we had 4,827 calls from people wanting to handover their dogs in the month after Christmas.
Many of these dogs were Christmas presents that hadn't lived up to expectations or were given up once their owners realised the responsibilities of dog ownership.
Christmas can be a very busy time with visiting family members, travelling and new and exciting sights and sounds which is sometimes not the best environment to introduce your new dog to straight away. If you are thinking about getting a dog this Christmas, read our 5 reasons why now might not be the best time:
- Time: Dogs need time to settle into a new home and bond with owners, so it is best to choose a quiet period when you can dedicate time to this.
Christmas can disrupt our everyday routines through travelling, visiting family and friends, not being at work and spending days and evenings very differently to the rest of the year. Dogs benefit from predictability and routine which helps them to feel secure, so it can be difficult for new dogs to relax, feel settled and learn about what life will be like in their new homes during the unpredictability of the festive period.
- Travel: Visiting family and friends might mean extra car trips or public transport journeys.
Dogs might find travelling overwhelming if they haven't had time to get used to it gradually, and some can even experience car sickness. Dogs should be introduced to their bed or indoor kennel, which you can make into a quiet, cosy den, and learn that this is a consistently safe and secure, comfortable and happy place for them to relax undisturbed. It is best if this remains in one spot, which can be difficult if you're travelling over Christmas.
- Food: Christmas is often a time full of lovely foodie treats – but many of these can be dangerous to dogs.
Dangerous foods for dogs include mince pies, raisins, Christmas pudding, alcohol, turkey bones and chocolate (particularly dark chocolate). These tempting human treats can be all too easy for a dog to get hold of whilst our attention is elsewhere. It takes time to teach dogs to cope when people are eating enticing food, such as Christmas dinner. Your dog may miss out on opportunities to learn valuable lessons for their future, as well as potentially becoming worried or frustrated if they are shut away during family mealtimes.
- Training: Lots of visitors and distractions can make the training process harder and be overwhelming for dogs trying to learn about their new home environment.
Friends and family often descend at Christmas, but this can be an added stress for a dog, particularly if they aren't used to meeting people. Your dog should have consistent training with clear ground rules that should be followed by all the family – well-meaning visitors may end up confusing your dog or inadvertently teaching them unwanted behaviours.
- Companionship: Dogs need to learn to spend short periods alone so that separation problems do not develop as they get older, but this needs to be built up slowly which can be tricky with all the festivities.
The sudden change of having lots of visitors or family members at home during the day to everyone suddenly returning to work or school can also come as a shock to dogs who aren't ready for this type of dramatic change in their daily life.
It's always much better to give ourselves appropriate time to help prepare our dogs to cope with festive occasions rather than drop them in at the deep end when they haven't necessarily had time to learn and practise the skills that can help them cope with it.
Our slogan 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.®' is as relevant today as it was when it was first coined by our former CEO 40 years ago. Please share our Christmas advert and spread the word.