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Seriously, don't buy a puppy for Christmas until you read this.

It’s the ultimate present for kids: A brand. New. Puppy. But what if you’re unprepared? It’s never a good idea to buy a pet before you’re ready. It’s a commitment that can last for over a decade. Here are a few key things that you should consider if you’re planning on buying a puppy for Christmas.

Check your lease

If you’re renting, your lease may not even allow you to have a pet – especially a dog. It’s a good idea to check this before you buy your puppy so that you don’t have to face the unpleasantness of rehoming it.

LISTEN: Pet owners are booking photos with Santa for their dogs and cats. The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss. Post continues after.


Check whether you can afford it

Many people underestimate the cost of owning a dog. Not only are there ongoing expenses like food and grooming, but unexpected costs can add up too. The RSPCA estimates that the average dog owner spends around $2,452 per year on their pet. This can obviously accumulate over the life of your pup, so make sure you can afford it. If you’re worried about unexpected vet bills, consider a pet insurance policy with accidental injury cover. This should provide cover if any potentially expensive medical emergencies pop up.

Entertainment

Puppies are full of energy and if they get bored, they could take it out on your house. It’s not unheard of for puppies to chew through walls, couches and even curtains. Give your dog toys and other forms of entertainment to occupy its time. If you’re planning on being out for long periods of the day, play music or leave the radio on so that they feel like they’re not alone.

Comfort

It’s important to give your puppy the security it needs to feel safe. Give them soft blankets, bedding and even a kennel so that they have a safe place in which they feel secure. If you’re bringing them home from a breeder, you can ask if they have a spare towel or blanket that might smell like their mum. This could help them to settle in more easily. You could also try wrapping a ticking clock inside a blanket and placing it near your puppy while it sleeps. It can sound like their mother’s heartbeat and comfort them.

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Safety

Dogs are a bit like children. You should keep anything that could hurt them out of their reach. This includes everything from small trinkets that they could swallow through to poisonous foods like chocolate. Make sure you avoid giving them any foods containing onion, dairy and nuts. You can view a full list of foods to avoid here.

Is it really a puppy you want?

Puppies are adorable of course, but they can be hard work. If you’re looking for a pet or a companion but you’re not ready to commit to the training and maintenance of a young dog, then consider rescuing or purchasing an adult dog or even a juvenile.

Do you have the time?

Dogs are typically social animals so they prefer to be in packs and to have companionship. If you’re planning on getting a pet but you work full time, consider getting a second animal to keep it company. Also, think about whether you can commit to walking your puppy regularly. The bigger the dog, the more exercise it needs, so consider whether you have the time.

At the end of the day, getting a new puppy is an exciting life step and definitely an experience worth savouring. But like most important decisions in life, the more research you do, the better the experience will be. Enjoy!

Bessie Hassan is a money expert at finder.com.au.

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