In the lead up to Christmas, the number of people thinking about getting a dog can increase by a whopping 400%. More people buy a dog at Christmas than any other time of year.
Having a dog over the festive season can create warmth, love and laughter in any household. Cuddles by the fire, walks in the snow, cute Christmassy dog collars… it’s a heartwarming picture, right? The notion of dogs and Christmas is irresistible, and it’s no wonder so many people are tempted.
For many dogs, this is the start of a happy life in their forever home – but sadly, hundreds of dogs will be abandoned by their new owners when the festivities are over. Just like every other year, rescue centres will inevitably fill up with abandoned Christmas pups, placing them under immense pressure and financial strain.
If you’re thinking of getting a dog at this time of year, for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, please don’t do so on a whim. A canine Christmas gift requires a lot of thought and preparation, and returns should be completely out of the question.
Why Are So Many Dogs Abandoned After Christmas?
We’re all guilty of buying things we don’t need or can’t really afford from time to time. When we make an impulse buy, it’s usually to make us feel good or because we didn’t take the time to think it through. But a dog isn’t your everyday impulse buy. Getting a dog at Christmas on a whim and changing your mind about it in the new year is terribly cruel and completely unnecessary.
So why are so many dogs abandoned after Christmas?
Christmas can be an expensive time. It’s so easy to get into the festive spirit and splash the cash on things you wouldn’t usually buy. Come January many people find themselves having to tighten their purse strings. Once you have paid for your dog, you need to finance their care. The price is undeniably high – you have to buy food, equipment, various other items and pay for vet bills and take out pet insurance – and some new dog owners find that they cannot afford their dog in the new year.
Another common reason is time. Christmas usually means more time spent at home, which is ideal for welcoming a new pup into the family. But when life goes back to normal in the new year, you may have less time to devote to your dog. You need to consider this before getting a dog, and if you think this might be the case, don’t get one.
Dogs need and deserve a committed owner, one who spends time with them, plays with them, and takes them for walks. Anything less than this is cruel and could lead to serious behavioural problems.
Behaviour is the number one cause of dog abandonment throughout the year, and it’s especially common after Christmas.
It’s important to remember that every dog will behave calmly if given the chance. There’s no such thing as a ‘bad dog’. Common behavioural issues, like barking, scratching and digging, can be avoided with committed training. When a dog is not well looked after, you are more likely to notice behavioural issues – an example of this would be if they are under-stimulated and bored.
When you buy a dog on a whim, you’re unlikely to have done your due diligence and research. Each dog breed is different, and not all will fit your lifestyle. If you can’t meet your dog’s needs or provide sufficient training, they will likely end up displaying unwanted behaviours.
Before you buy a dog at Christmas. Are you puppy prepared?
Dog abandonment is largely avoidable, especially if you ask yourself these six all-important questions before making any commitments. We know you might have your heart set on getting a dog this Christmas, but please answer these questions honestly.
- Do you have enough time for a dog?
- Can you offer a dog a suitable environment? (Find out what makes a suitable environment here.)
- Have you done your research? (Choose the right dog for you!)
- Can you afford a dog?
- Is everyone in your household on board? (Adults, children and other pets.)
- Can you make the commitment?
Even if you answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions now, will your answers be the same in January? Go back and answer all the questions again with future you in mind.
Read the full blog: Should I Get a Dog? Find Out if You’re Ready With These 6 Questions
The risk of ‘petfishing’
32 million people have bought or adopted a pet since the start of the pandemic, and sky-high demand for dogs has led to the risk of ‘petfishing’.
A bit like catfishing, petfishing is where cruel sellers advertise and sell an animal deceitfully. In the case of dogs, a petfisher may lie about the circumstances surrounding a puppy’s birth to make it sound as if they have been bred ethically when they have actually been puppy farmed. These sellers prioritise profit over welfare. Many of these dogs have been bred and raised in terrible conditions or even imported from abroad.
Not only is petfishing unethical, but it leads to all sorts of problems further down the line when a petfished dog struggles to adapt to life with their new owner. This might be because of health or behavioural issues, as many of these animals have been mistreated and are not properly socialised. In many cases, the animal ends up at a shelter or they sadly pass away due to complications.
While the pandemic has already given rise to petfishing, many opportunistic petfishers strike at Christmas due to soaring demand for dogs.
If you’re thinking of getting a dog this Christmas, watch out for these tell-tale signs of petfishing:
- The seller has posted multiple advertisements in a short time period
- There are several different breeds for sale
- Vague and generic wording on the advertisement
- The seller wants to meet in a public place
- The seller will not let you see the puppies and their mum together
- The seller doesn’t ask you any questions to make sure you’re a good fit
Is buying a dog at Christmas ever a good idea?
A dog can really add to the magic of the festive season and bring love and joy into our lives – something that many of us are craving after the trials and tribulations of the past few years. But is Christmas a sensible time to get a dog?
One advantage of bringing a dog into your life at this time of year is that you might have more time to spend with them, depending on how much holiday you can take from work. Puppies need to be trained and shown the ropes, while rescue dogs need time to decompress and adjust to their new surroundings. Heading off to work from 9–5 isn’t the best idea.
Also, Christmas might not be the best time to introduce your new dog to visiting friends or family members, as it can get overwhelming for them.
For many people, Christmas is a tough time of year that brings worries, fears and anxieties to the surface. The Mental Health Foundation found that over 54% of the UK population was tackling anxiety in the run-up to Christmas last year and 23% felt lonely. Finding yourself a canine companion may do wonders for your mental health this Christmas time and throughout the rest of the year. Dogs are great for boosting your mood and confidence, and it’s difficult to feel lonely with an adorable pup keeping you company.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong time of year to bring a dog into your life, as long as you fit the criteria below:
- You have done your research and you’re completely puppy prepared;
- You know you will continue to provide outstanding care for your dog in the months and years to come;
- You’re acting sensibly and not on a whim;
- You’ve taken steps to find a reputable breeder or you have found your perfect match at a dog rescue centre.
Dog Rescue Centres are at Crisis Point
Dog rescue centres always see dog abandonment rise after Christmas, but this coming January will be particularly hard because they are already overrun with so-called ‘pandemic puppies’. One rescue centre in Wales has recently reported a 15-year high in dogs being abandoned, and centres are struggling to provide care for them all. This is why it’s so important that you don’t get a dog this Christmas unless you are ready to make a lifelong commitment.
There are so many rescue dogs in need of a loving home this Christmas, so if you do decide that you’re ready for a dog, please give the most special gift you possibly can – adoption.
Find out more: Adopt Don’t Shop: Why Adopt a Rescue Dog
There are other ways you can support dog rescue centres this Christmas. Why not try your luck in the DoggyLottery for your chance to win a fantastic cash prize? Looking for that special gift for a rescue dog or a rescue dog owner? Take a look at our range of fantastic DoggyWarriors products for dogs and their owners!
Whether you play the DoggyLottery or buy a fabulous gift for yourself or a loved one, you’ll be providing vital support to dog rescue centres up and down the UK. Thank you.