Christmas is just around the corner and many people are thinking about what they should get their loved ones. Top of many people's list isn't the latest DVD or a new gadget, but a furry companion.

A high number of dogs get adopted or bought during this time of year, with partners, children and family members all asking for a pet for Christmas. While this is a great gift to give, after all, unconditional love is always a lovely present; some people aren't entirely sure what having a dog entails.

Even if you already have a dog, or have had pets in the past; each experience is different and every pooch comes with their own set of rules. This is why you shouldn't get anyone a dog if they aren't ready for it, if a pet won't work with their lifestyle or if they've never had one before.

As well as Christmas being a popular time for new pets, there is usually an influx of animals going to kennels or being abandoned in the new year because their owners are unable to care for them. This puts a strain on charities and kennels, not to mention meaning hundreds of dogs remain unwanted for extended periods of time.

This is why it is vital that you fully consider whether you are ready, or the person you are getting a dog for is prepared to own one. If you aren't entirely certain, or if the answer is a resounding no, then you should find another gift idea that doesn't require so much time, money or care.

To help you make the decision, here are some questions you should be asking. If the answer to any of these is no - even if the answer to all the rest is yes - it is probably not the best time to consider getting a dog.

Do you have enough time to train and care for a dog?
Can you ensure a pet isn't alone all day?
Can you afford a dog, including vet treatment and everyday costs?
Will you be able to take a dog for regular walks?
Is your home suitable for a dog?
Will a dog get on with any other pets?
Will a dog behave around children?
Do you know what owning a dog entails?
Will you be able to cope if they get sick?
Do you know how to train a dog?

You should definitely consider whether a dog is the right move for yourself or your loved one before taking the next step. After all, a dog isn't just for Christmas.

Written by: Hannah