'Tis NOT the Season to Bring Home a New Pet.   

People often give pets as gifts for the holidays. Whether it is a kitten, a puppy or a parrot, gifting an animal is often viewed as the perfect “wow” gift for kids.  However, it is not something that you should do without very careful consideration, and there are many reasons why you shouldn’t do it at all.  

Following are 5 reasons why it’s not a good idea to give pets for the holidays.  These considerations are focused on dogs, but they apply to any animal. 

1. Are you sure they even want a dog?  

Yes, having a dog is a true joy for the most part, but for the other part, it takes a lot of dedication, care and more money than you may think. If you are thinking about gifting a dog to a child that isn’t your own, you must thoroughly discuss this with their parents.  Same holds true in divorce situations where children spend time with each parent separately. Almost every child wants a pet, and may even be begging for a pet, but kids rarely have the discipline and desire to really take care of a pet.  A dog will take time and effort to be trained, there may be things like house-breaking that need to be addressed, and the cost for food, vet visits, and supplies is often more than people realize.   You must be absolutely sure that the responsible adult is truly ready for such a big commitment. 

2. The dog is more likely to come from a puppy mill 

Many puppies found in the weeks before Christmas come from puppy mills. Even though some of them will be healthy, many will not be because they are bred and born in harsh, inhumane conditions. Even if you are considering adopting a dog or puppy as your Christmas gift for someone, that can be a problem as well. Many shelters stop doing adoptions during this time in order to prevent issues that are often associated with gifting dogs for Christmas. Wait until the holidays are over and get a puppy from a reputable source when the prospective pet owner can be involved in the process of selecting their new pet and planning ahead for bringing him home.  

3. The holidays are not the best time for dogs 

The holiday season is usually extra busy with festivities, decorating, travel, house guests, baking etc. and routines are often thrown out of whack.  At any time of year, dogs are often frightened and stressed when adapting to a new environment. The commotion of the holidays only makes this more difficult.  Dogs adjust best in a calm, more relaxed atmosphere where they can get used to their new routine.    

4. Winter weather  

A puppy and even an adult dog will need to be potty trained.  This task is more difficult when the days are cold, rainy, or icy.   It is also much more challenging to take them for walks and exercise them outside when the weather is frightful.   

5. A pet is not a toy  

A pet is not a short-lasting present, it is a living being that will need care for many years to come.  Kids may not realize that a dog can’t be played with and then just put away when the novelty wears off.  Even for kids that are truly old enough for the responsibility of owning a dog, it is recommended to keep the addition of a pet separate from the holidays.   

You Still Want to Do It? Then Do It Right. 

After considering the reasons why you should not gift a dog for Christmas, you still want to do it, there are certain things you need to do to be sure that both recipient of the gift and the dog itself will be happy with that decision. 

·       First of all, you need to ask, straight up, whether the recipient wants a dog and whether they are ready for that commitment. Make sure they understand the level of commitment involved. If giving a dog to your own children, be sure that YOU have given it thoughtful consideration and are fully aware of how a dog will impact your household.   

·       Make sure that you choose a dog that is a good match. For example, a high-energy dog that needs lots of exercise wouldn’t do very well in a small apartment with a family that is at work all day.  

·       Avoid giving the dog on Christmas Day.  Try to do it a few days before or even better, a few days after for the reasons mentioned above.  

·       If the recipient never had a dog before, you should also provide them with some guidelines on how to properly care for their new family member. You shouldn’t assume that everybody knows what to do with a dog, how to potty train him, what to feed him, etc. These things might sound easy to you if you are a dog owner, but for someone who is dealing with it for the first time it might not be as easy as it sounds.  

All these things are important and you need to keep them in mind if you really want to give a dog as a gift for Christmas. There are many reasons why this is usually not a great idea, but if you are absolutely sure that a dog would be a perfect present for your loved ones, you need to make sure that everybody ends up happy for a long time, not just for one day.