VCA Animal Hospitals
Published: Jan 30, 2013

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With Valentine's Day approaching, some people may be considering purchasing a puppy as a romantic gift for their special someone. While a canine companion can sometimes make an excellent gift, it will only be successful if the recipient of the animal is prepared to take on the responsibilities of dog ownership. Before you head to the animal shelter, ask yourself the following questions about your or your loved one's lifestyle.

What do you know about puppy training?
When you adopt a puppy, you're making a commitment to the animal that could very well last longer than a decade. If you want to have a happy and healthy relationship with your canine companion, you'll need to begin puppy training early. Dogs can more easily pick up commands when they are young, so be sure you have done your research before you decide to bring a dog into the family. You'll want to know the proper protocols for teaching your pet to come, sit and stay, among other basic commands. If you aren't sure how you would teach an animal these tricks, then you should put off your adoption until you have a better grasp on obedience training.

Do you have time to devote to the animal?
Even if you are adopting an older canine who has already been trained, you'll need to be able to devote plenty of time to making sure she's healthy. Someone the dog knows and trusts will have to be on hand to give the animal food and walks several times a day. An inactive canine is more prone to obesity in dogs, which can lead to a host of serious health problems, so it's essential that you are available to give your pet plenty of exercise.

Do you have the financial means to raise a pet?
Aside from the regular expense of dog food, there are other costs that often come along with raising a canine. If your pet hasn't been spayed or received dog vaccinations, then you'll need to make sure you have the money to cover the bills for these treatments. Throughout the course of your dog's life, she may experience medical issues that will require a trip to the vet, so you should consider investing in pet insurance if you do decide to adopt a new canine companion.

Does your loved one actually want a dog?
While purchasing a puppy for Valentine's Day might seem like a romantic gesture, you may end up in the doghouse if your loved one doesn't actually want to care for the animal. Every year around February 14, pets are brought into shelters because they were purchased as gifts, but ended up being unwanted. This is unfair to both the animal and the person to whom you're giving the present. It's not a bad idea to ask your loved one about his or her opinion on raising animals and assess his or her ability to care for a pet before making this decision.
 

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