You've seen it in the movies and on TV: the perfect Christmas morning where the little boy and girl run down the stairs to see what Santa brought them and find a puppy sitting in their living room with a big red bow on him! Mom and Dad are pleased that their gift was so well received and the kids finally got their wish of having a puppy of their own.
Real life doesn't work quite like that. In real life, the parents would have struggled to find a way to keep the puppy hidden until Christmas. The kids would have been excited for maybe half an hour, and then would have moved on to their shiny new toys and gadgets while Mom and Dad tried to prevent the squirmy puppy from chewing all the presents.
It sounds like a great idea to get a puppy as a Christmas gift, but there are some important factors to consider before making such a commitment.
Picking a pet is a personal choice.
You should always research a breed before picking out a dog. It's important that they coincide with your lifestyle. If picking out a puppy for a friend, you may not pick the dog that is the best fit. Will the dog get along with children? Does he need a lot of exercise? Does he like to be around other people and animals or prefer to be alone? These are all things to research before picking out a dog to make sure he'll be a good fit. Some people also want to make a connection with their puppy when picking him out. If you give a dog as a gift, you take away that opportunity for the pet owner to make a personal bond first.
Being a pet owner can be hard work.
There are a lot of responsibilites when owning a pet. So your puppy present is fun at first, but it comes with strings attached - years and years of time and care. There are vet bills to consider. Even if your pet is healthy, there are still the check ups, basic grooming, and flea meds to consider. Your dog will require a lot of time and attention from you, not to mention enough space to move around in hopefully a pet friendly environment where he can't break or chew too many vaulable things. Bringing a puppy on Christmas day to an unsuspecting friend or loved one locks them into a long term contract with their new furry friend.
Holidays are stressful for new pets.
Visitors are coming in and out of your house, or you yourself are travelling to visit loved ones. Now throw a puppy in the mix and see how chaotic life can get. Puppies need some stability and routine in order to start training them, and they also need time to take a break from the parties and groups of people. It's also not as much fun to start training a puppy when you just want to be going to parties and visiting with friends. You've got a puppy that needs to go outside to go to the bathroom and needs to be monitored to make sure your new shoes don't get torn into pieces. There is also the danger that your new pet could chew on some tinsel or garland or even poinsettias.
What should you get as a gift instead?
Get your kids or friends a book about being a dog owner. Or buy a leash, dog bed, and even some toys so they'll be prepared when they actually do get a dog. Then they can research what dog is best for them and pick out the perfect pup when life has settled back down to normal.
It's admirable to want to save a dog from a shelter for the holidays, but remember that a lot of dogs end up in shelters because they didn't fit in with their families. You don't want to do that to another dog, so make sure you do your research and pick out a pup at a good time in your life.
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