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Please remember a dog is for life, not just for Christmas

With the festive season just around the corner some people may be considering buying a dog as a gift. But prospective pet owners are being reminded that a dog is for life not just for Christmas.

West Lancashire Borough Council has 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.

Councillor Kevin Wright, portfolio holder for Health and Community Safety, said: “Owning a pet is a long-term commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. People should remember a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. 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 and your new pet could live for 15 years or more. Costs include food, insurance, toys, a collar with tag, a lead, and training classes as well as the cost of the dog.

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, and since 6 April 2016 it has been law to have your dog microchipped.

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 should only go to a reputable, licensed breeder and avoid puppy farms and backyard breeders. Why not log onto the RSPCA’s website www.rspca.org.uk for more information. This could help you avoid being a victim of the puppy trade.

For more information about the Council’s role and responsibilities with regard to dogs please visit www.westlancs.gov.uk/dogs.

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