Co Tyrone animal charity’s top tips on making sure a puppy is not just for Christmas

A Co Tyrone animal shelter has shared its top tips for those who may have a new pet in the house this year.

Janice Porter from Grovehill Animal Trust in Omagh says that while the honeymoon period for pets and their new owners can often go on well into the spring, there are times when some families find it difficult to maintain that relationship with their animals.

If that does happen, Janice says it is important for people to ask for help before using the last resort of rehoming their pet.

“We do have people that have never had a puppy before, and it is a learning experience,” Janice told MyTyrone

“It’s really important as a pet owner to know that there is no such thing as a stupid question. If there’s something you don’t understand or don’t know, ring a shelter or your local vet and get an answer to it.

“There are people who ring us and have a conversation and they find something really helpful, and that stops the dog from being handed into the shelter.”

For Janice, one of the most important things to have when you get a new pet is patience.

“A puppy leaving its mum or a shelter, obviously it’s a huge change in its lifestyle and its routine. So many times at the shelter we hear people saying they’ve had the pup two or three days and it’s not settling in.

“Of course it’s not – you have to allow days, weeks to get the puppy into routine.

“People getting a kitten or pup at Christmas time, they need to recognise that it is a roughly 14 or 15 year commitment.

“To get anything out of anything in life you need to put in a wee bit of effort.”

Speaking of puppies specifically, Janice added they shouldn’t be walked more than they can cope with at an early age, or it could lead to problems down the line.

“For every month, starting at 8 weeks, a dog should be walked five minutes. So a two month old pup should be walked a maximum of ten minutes.

“That doesn’t depend on the size of the dog, and it’s all to do with bone structure and growing.

“Vets have told me before that lots of pups have been injured or their growth has been affected because they have been exposed to too long a walk.”

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Socialisation issues is one of the top reasons why dogs are taken into the shelter, she added, and pleaded with families not to get their dogs to interact with other dogs and people to avoid that.

“Socialisation is really really important, throughout lockdown that has been difficult but things have opened up again so get them out to the dog park, introduce them to other family members so they don’t become completely attached to one family member.

“It’s hard work but it’s just so rewarding. Nothing beats you opening that back door at night time and your wee pet jumping out excited to see you.”

BelfastLive – Co Tyrone