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A Dog is for life, not just for Christmas

December 2011 blog – Ingrid Grayling

As I get older Christmas seems to come around quicker each year and before I know it it's time to deck the halls with festiveness and start thinking about what extra special walks I can take my guests dogs on over the Christmas period. It's one of my favourite times of the year and one that offers time for reflection and thought.

One reflection I always have is triggered when I receive Christmas cards from clients who I have helped during the year to select a new dog or puppy. It is so rewarding to know that my advice and experience has been worthwhile and that many of my clients are now enjoying a life with a new family member and one that suits them and their lifestyle. Having said that this also makes my thoughts turn to a certain worry, and one which always seems to appear year after year, and that is puppies and dogs as Christmas gifts!

I always worry about puppies at this time of the year as it seems to be a popular time for purchasing the little bundles of fluff and giving them to eager children and family members as the 'perfect Christmas gift'. The period post-Christmas and into the first few months of the New Year always brings with it for me frantic phone calls and desperate emails from distraught parents who have upset children or who are tearing their hair out as they have suddenly discovered that their cute doe-eyed bundle has suddenly turned into a furniture chewing, carpet wetting, lead pulling nightmare and they don't know what to do.

It's so tempting to be swayed into buying a puppy or dog from an advert seen in a local newspaper depicting a cute little face, or agreeing to take a puppy off a friend of a friend who's bitch has just had 'the most adorable pups'; likewise a fun family day out to the local rescue centre can always pull at the heart strings of the most well-meaning of us and makes us think we're doing the dog a favour by taking it home.

I am in no way saying that the above methods of buying a dog are wrong, far from it, rescue centres play an incredibly important role in re-housing and rehabilitating our furry friends, and are certainly a good place to start looking for a family pet. No, my concern is the actual selection people make and the choice of puppy or dog they go for. As 'want to be' dog owners and caring human beings our emotions sometimes do get the better of us, which is when we make selection mistakes.

If you lived in an inner city location on the top floor of a tower block with no outdoor space to exercise a dog in would you really buy one? Or if you did what breed would you go for, a German Shepherd perhaps? (cute and small at 8 weeks but a little larger at fully grown age). Or if you work all day and long hours, what dog would you go for? An energetic Spaniel or excitable terrier?

Like all young livestock, puppies need to be looked after properly and with great care. They have to be toilet trained and fed with the correct food to ensure that they are receiving the right amount of nutritional value to enable them to grow and develop properly. They also need to be introduced to life within the human pack, be taught basic obedience training, which includes how to avoid chasing livestock, and generally taught how to behave in the world so that owners and dog can have freedom and fun with in certain boundaries for the rest of their lives.


Having a small child begging you to buy them a puppy which they want to let sleep on their bed at night to cuddle might seem like a nice idea at the time for them, but when the dog starts to grow up and the legs and body keep growing and growing, and the food and vet bills continue to grow too, life with a dog in it can take on another meaning.  

Before you consider becoming a dog owner there are three main things to consider - the first is responsibility, the second is commitment and the third is time. If you have all three of these things then your chosen dog will be a very happy one.

Here are a few pointers to avoid the heartache of a wrong decision:
  • Look at the environment of where you live. Is it suitable for a dog?

  • Where are you going to exercise and walk with it? Is there somewhere near your house to do this or will you have to get into a car and drive somewhere?

  • How much space do you have in your house? Where is it going to have its bed and live?

  • Can you afford the vet bills and food bills?

  • If you go away who is going to look after it?

  • Who in the household is going to care for it on a daily basis and be responsible for the training?

  • If you have children are they going to move from childhood to teenage then loose interest leaving you left with it?

  • Use these questions as guidelines and talk about them with your partner or family and if everyone is sure then go ahead, get a new family member. Having a dog in one's life, is I think, one of the most rewarding things in life and as the saying goes, a dog is a man's best friend!

    Ingrid Grayling offers puppy buying advice and help in selecting the right dog for you and your life. She also offers puppy care and training advice and lessons and is available on email at :

    Ingid Grayling.com
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    Website By StevenAskew.co.uk