The holidays are an exciting time to think of all the ways you can bring joy to those you love the most like adopting a dog A.K.A. “best friend for life”! But, while we might argue dogs make the best kind of gifts all year round, there are some questions every potential dog owner should ask before adopting. The same should also be said for those planning to give a dog to an individual or family as a gift. Therefore, before you tie a bow around your new rescue and ask him or her to lie down under the Christmas tree, answer this quick cheat sheet list of questions to ensure everyone has a happy and safe holiday season.

1) Do You Have Time to Devote to Training and Walking?
Although some dogs will require more time and patience to train than others, all dogs will need an adjustment period where at least 20 minutes are dedicated to teaching your new furry friend both the rules of the house and how to stay safe while away from home. Even seasoned dogs with excellent obedience may need a few refresher training sessions to bond with their new owners and learn the subtle differences in body language, tone of voice, and most commonly used commands. ??Plus, before you can share these commands with your dog, you’ll need at least a 20-minute walk to help him or her release some energy and prepare his or her mindset for listening. Moreover, higher energy dogs and those with next-level athletic abilities will require extended periods of exercise. It is always helpful to research and ask your nearby rescue organization about the energy level and exercise needs of the specific dog you are trying to adopt to ensure you are prepared for the time and effort you will need to put into maintaining your dog’s health.

2) Where will Your Dog Stay While You are Away?
When you are at the office or out running errands, do you have a plan for where your dog will stay? Will his or her safe space be in the home or outside? Be sure to create a special space that has clean water in a bowl that cannot be tipped over for more playful personalities, shelter from weather elements, comfort items that are safe to leave with your particular dog, and, of course, protection from getting into trouble. One solution is to put up baby gates in a laundry room or hallway where accidents are easier to clean and there are fewer objects to entice unwanted chewing behaviors. Your safe space should meet the requirements of your dog’s individual personality and breed instincts.

Also, if you are going to be gone for more than six hours, you’ll need to line up a pet daycare or pet-sitting service to provide ample potty breaks and playtime fun for your dog. On that note, don’t forget to plan for times when you’ll be on vacation or away on business trips. Before getting your dog, it is helpful to research the costs and read the reviews for local pet sitters and boarding options.

3) What Personality are You Looking For in Your Dog?
Dogs are so much more than a cute face. They come with their own personalities as well as exercise and grooming requirements to keep them happy and healthy. Spend some time deciding on what personality will best match your lifestyle and daily routine. A helpful hint might be to ask yourself about your reasons for getting a dog. For example, if you enjoy running or hiking, you may want to look for an exercise companion who can keep pace. If you are searching for a pet for your children, you may want to look for a dog with a more calm and tolerant disposition.

4) Is Your Budget Ready for Additional Costs?
Once you find the right match, take a look at his or her grooming and health requirements to see if the dog you have selected is right for your household. Many dog owners think about the cost of feeding their dogs, but forget to include wellness and sick visits to the vet as well as grooming fees in their budgets. Remember, dogs commonly live anywhere from 10 to 18 years. Some live longer! So, it is crucial to include a financial plan for the health and grooming expenses your dog may incur.

5) Do You Have Little Ones in Your Home?
Dogs make amazing loyal and loving pets for people of all ages. However, if you have small children at home, search for a tolerant temperament and relaxed personality. Younger children’s high-pitched sounds, exciting movements, and handling mistakes should be included in your thoughts as you search for the right dog for your family. For these reasons, consider medium and large-breed dogs with calm dispositions who may be better able to manage playtime fun without getting easily injured or nervous.

Ready to Adopt? Start Your Search Here!
Sophie’s Circle has a large selection of rescues for you to browse who are waiting for their forever homes. These dogs live with our wonderful foster families who take loving care of them and get to know their personalities, health issues to note, and preferences. Discover our frequently updated list of loving dogs and see which one matches your Santa’s wishlist today.