We all know the phrase “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.” It’s familiar enough at this point to have become something of a cliche. However, the problem is that so many people don’t actually think about the importance of that phrase when they decide to give the gift of a Christmas canine companion. Sure, there really is nothing more amazing than the look of amazement on your family’s face when they see that little bundle of fur and excitement under the tree on Christmas morning, and that joy can last a lifetime. But if you’re not prepared to deal with all of the ups and downs that come with looking after a dog, then it might not be the right Christmas gift for your family after all. With that in mind, here are a few things to help you remember the real meaning of “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.”

They are a big responsibility

Puppy and Dog Responsibilities

When most people think about getting a dog for Christmas, they tend to only ever focus on the positive aspects of it. They think about how much joy it’s going to bring to their family, how much fun they will have with it, and all of the cuddles you’re all going to have together. Now, make no mistake, those are huge parts of owning a dog, and they really are wonderful. However, they’re far from the only aspects of owning a dog. The truth is that you’re also going to have to deal with the fact that dogs can sometimes get in the way, as well as make life just a little bit awkward for everyone from time to time. After all, you’ve got to start thinking about what to do with them when you leave the house, how to work around them for vacations, and all sorts of little details that far too many people simply don’t bother to think about most of the time.

They can be expensive

If you think that the costs of owning a dog begin and end with actually buying or adopting in then, you’re in for a pretty rude awakening. The truth is that a dog is likely to be a pretty expensive addition to your family. Even something simple like food can add a pretty heavy cost to your weekly shop not to mention things like vets bills. In fact, vets bills can be so expensive that you will almost certainly want to take out pet insurance. It might seem like that’s an extra monthly cost you don’t want to have to deal with, but it works out far cheaper in the end than having to shell out huge amounts of money on vets bills. Combine that with everything from grooming to toys, and you’ve got quite the expensive gift on your hands.

You may have to deal with unwanted pests

Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

Where dogs are, pests will follow. This is inevitable, and if that’s an idea that you can’t stomach, then a dog might not be right for you. Of course, just because dogs can occasionally pick up an uninvited guest or two doesn’t mean that your home will suddenly become infested. Fleas are incredibly common in dogs, and they can be seriously annoying, but they’re also very easy to deal with. A few drops of Advecta and the problem is likely to disappear pretty quickly. Things like ticks can sometimes be a little bit more of an issue, but again, they can always be dealt with. The only time that pests can become a really serious issue is if you don’t bother to deal with them at all. Then they can end up taking over your home and making all of your family’s lives pretty miserable.

You need to teach your kids responsibility

There is no more adorable and wonderful friendship than that of a child and their faithful furry friend. Having a dog in the house can give your kids someone to play with and to feel close to all of the time. However, dogs are still animals who don’t fully understand their actions a lot of the time, and if your children aren’t old or responsible enough to do the same, then you could end up with a serious problem. You need to make sure that you’re teaching your kids the kind of responsibility that they need in order to stay safe around a dog. If they’re playing too rough or when the dog isn’t in the mood, it’s liable to turn around and snap at them. Even an innocent little snap can be dangerous, especially when a dog is young and doesn’t know it’s own strength. Make sure that you teach your kids to be responsible with the dog and never leave them together unattended.

You have to commit to training them

Dog Training

Of course, if you adopt an older dog, they may already be trained which means a lot of the hard work has been done for you. However, if you adopt a puppy, then you’re going to need to teach them just about everything. This can be a lot of hard work and occasionally can be pretty frustrating. Sure, it’s not going to take years, but if you’re not committed and consistent, then your dog is never going to make any real progress. You need to set some time aside to make sure that they are getting the stimulation and training that they really need.

Now, don’t let any of this make you feel as though you shouldn’t get a dog. The truth is that a dog can make the best Christmas present in the world for the entire family. It can bring more joy and love into your lives than you might have ever thought possible. But the reality of owning a dog is that, like just about anything else, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows 24/7. You need to be prepared for when things are frustrating or difficult because that’s as much a part of owning a dog as playing and cuddles. But if you’re able to do that, then you may well have found the ultimate Christmas gift.