The holiday shopping season is officially upon us. Are you thinking of getting a puppy for the kids this year?

Puppies are adorable! Everyone loves a squishy bundle of love! Before making the decision to get a puppy, take time to really think about what it means to bring a puppy into your household. Puppies require a lot of work. You will need time and energy to deal with housetraining and boundless puppy energy. Effective house training requires someone to be home to take out the puppy on a regular schedule each and every day. Puppy puddles and accidents will occur in your home. Be prepared with plenty of clean up supplies. Make sure you have effectively puppy-proofed your home. Also know, that especially in its first year, your puppy will chew on everything he can get his mouth on (including your furniture, carpets, books, electrical cords and anything else lying around).

Have you considered adopting an older dog for your household? Many shelter pets are already house trained, know basic commands, are spayed and neutered, and well past the puppy chewing phase!

One of the big myths about shelter pets is that all of them have behavioral issues or have been rescued from abuse. On the contrary, many shelter animals end up there because their owners can no longer care for them. The Humane Society of the United States says the majority of pets in shelters are there because of people problems i.e. financial crisis, loss of income, divorce, lack of pet accessible housing or lack of access to veterinary care.

Statistics show that up to 25% of shelter animals are purebreds and many shelters and rescue groups have both puppies and older dogs available if you have your heart set on bringing a puppy home.

I personally am a huge fan of adopting senior pets who often get overlooked at shelters. My most recent adoptee is Scout whom I adopted last year at 12 years old. It’s been extremely rewarding for my husband and I to watch Scout evolve into a happy, confident and sassy terrier over the past 18 months.

Maryann Regan, Executive Director of the Scituate Animal Shelter, states: “We like to ask people to consider adoption as they are in the process of researching where to get a pet. There are myths that shelter animals have issues. Adopting an animal from a reputable shelter can be a very informative process because reputable shelters do extensive evaluations (both medically and behaviorally) prior to adopting and will tell adopters everything they have learned.”

No matter where you get your next best friend, do your research first before you get emotionally attached. Avoid puppy mills and consider saving a shelter pet. Jennifer Durkin from Brown Dog Coalition and Rescue states “The key to acquiring a dog is matching the pet with the family lifestyle.”