THINKING OF GETTING A PUPPY FOR CHRISTMAS?
Tempted to tie a bow around a puppy this holiday season in an effort to make someone's heart all aglow? Before you pounce on the perfect stocking stuffer with a tail, think twice about choosing a gift of the furry persuasion. Read the categories below for more information about choosing a puppy during the holidays.
The following are excerpted from the American Kennel Club's list of "102 Ways To Be a Responsible Dog Owner" --
RECOGNIZE THE COMMITMENT
Owning a dog is a long-term emotional and financial commitment. Before deciding that a certain dog is right for you, you must make an honest assessment as to whether your home is right for any dog.
EVALUATE YOUR LIFESTYLE
If you get a dog, he (or she) will become a part of your life. You need to make sure that he's suited for your lifestyle. For example, if you are athletic, you will probably not be happy with a dog that has a low energy level. If you are extremely neat, you will probably want a dog that doesn't shed much. All aspects of your family's life -- hobbies, activities, personalities, schedules -- should be evaluated before you get a dog.
MAKE A LIST
Determine what qualities you want in a dog. Consider size, energy level, grooming needs, trainability and temperament. Do you want a guard dog or a lap dog? Is it important that your dog get along with children? If you rent your home, are there restrictions on height, weight or breed? Answer these questions now -- once you bring a dog home, it can be heartbreaking to realize that you made a wrong choice.
CHOOSE A BREED
Once you have made your list of ideal characteristics, do some research to find which breeds fit that profile. Go to your local library, attend a dog show, and visit the American Kennel Club web site.
CONSIDER AN OLDER DOG
Puppies aren't for everyone. If an older dog better fits your lifestyle, check national breed-rescue organizations. These organizations rescue purebred dogs that have been lost, abandoned or surrendered due to the death or illness of their owners. Many rescue dogs have been spayed or neutered and are screened for health and temperament problems. Rescue is not only a great source for purebred dogs, it's also a way to save the life of a dog in need.
A responsible breeder or rescue contact will ask you extensive questions about the type of home you can offer a dog. These people are as committed as you are to making the right match between you and a dog. Remember that, due to their experience, they know what issues are important in placing one of their dogs.
AVOID PET SHOPS
Resist those adorable puppies in the pet shop window. Unfortunately, most puppies sold in stores are the products of large-scale commercial breeding operations, where puppies may not have received the time and care necessary to develop into good pets.
SKIP THE HOLIDAYS
Many people try to buy puppies as Christmas gifts for children or other family members. Most breeders do not recommend this. You should be prepared to give a new puppy your undivided attention, and that is rarely possible during the busy holiday season. A better idea is to give dog-related gifts -- toys, leashes, grooming tools -- and then bring the puppy home when all the excitement has died down.
For the complete list of "102 Ways To Be a Responsible Dog Owner,"
go to the American Kennel Club page linked above.