With Christmas almost upon us, West Lancashire Borough Council has some important advice for anyone considering buying a dog as a gift.
A pet pooch can become a great part of any family, but owners have a lot of responsibility.
David Tilleray, who heads up the Council’s Environmental Health Service, said: “People should remember a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. Owning a pet is a long-term commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. By law you must be a responsible dog owner. If you follow our advice your pet will be a friend for life, and not just a novelty gift.”
Dog ownership can be expensive. Costs to consider include food, insurance, toys, collar with tag, a lead, and training classes as well as the cost of the dog. And your new pet could live for 15 years or more.
Your dog should have a balanced diet and access to water at all times. Veterinary care is essential, including vaccinations, worming and flea treatments. Groom, and check pets’ teeth, ears and nails on a regular basis for any potential problems.
A dog owner’s main responsibility is to provide a loving home for their pet. They should consider that leaving the dog alone at home for long periods could result in it barking loudly, which may disturb neighbours. Dogs need to be safe, well-behaved with people and other animals. Owners should look into training their pooch.
Dogs also need time and attention. Some breeds will need more mental stimulation and exercise than others or they may become destructive.
By law, owners must keep their dog under control at all times and prevent it from being a nuisance to others. A dog must be clearly identified, wearing a collar and tag with the name and address of its owner.
People thinking about buying a dog for Christmas should consider which dog - if any - would suit their family and lifestyle. They should ask friends about their dogs, and find out more about the breeds they like.
Potential owners should consider that some dogs can be more aggressive than others. Neutering a dog can have health, financial and behavioural benefits. Unneutered dogs can display unwanted sexual behaviour and aggression. Neutering could encourage calmer, more predictable behaviour which makes them a more suitable family pet.
Those considering buying a pedigree dog, only go to a reputable breeder and avoid puppy farms.