It is that time for my annual list of considerations to think about BEFORE giving a Christmas or Hannukah puppy or dog gift…
Here are just a few reasons why a surprise pet during the holiday season is not the best idea:
Also keep in mind that children grow and change, as do animals. Kids may grow into or out of wanting the responsibility of a pet, and parents need to realize ultimately that responsibility will be that of the adult in the household.
The extra stress of holiday preparation, parties, overnight guests and clean up is not ideal for bringing a new animal into your home that will need your guidance in order to succeed. Remember, bringing a new animal into your home is like bringing home a baby with much responsibility, management and teaching ahead.
The weather outside is not ideal for housetraining. Remember, new puppies and dogs will need to be taught that the proper place to relieve themselves is outdoors. The short, cold and possibly snowy days are not the most pleasant conditions for you (and your new arrival) to be needing to go outside often.
A pet is a financial responsibility. In its first year alone, you will have veterinary bills including vaccines, spay or neuter, or possible illness with a puppy. You will also need to budget for a dog crate, exercise pen or baby gate; chew toys; an ongoing supply of treats; high quality dog food; a comfy bed; a leash and collar (flat collar, and optional halter or Martingale); and training. You may need to fence in your yard. Depending on your dog, it may require regular grooming. If you take a vacation, you will need to budget for doggy care. A parrot will also need a veterinary visit plus need a cage (and parrot cages can be expensive), toys, and food.
Pets should not be an impulse purchase. Time should be spent taking into consideration your living environment and lifestyle to find a pet well suited for you. It would be great to take the time to learn about how to teach your pet so as to succeed in your home.
If you want to give your significant other or child a pet this holiday season, may I suggest giving them a certificate for a pet instead of the real thing with possibly a pet care book? You could also offer a day of volunteering at a rescue where you can get hands on experience with the pet. Then, when it is less stressful and you have time to think about your decision, I have every confidence you will find your amazing gift!
If you get a holiday puppy…
…you are in for years of wonderful companionship.
Just know that as your puppy’s caregiver and teacher, it is up to you to teach him appropriate skills to succeed in your household and in life; and to work to prevent inappropriate behaviors.
The good news is that all of those skills are teachable with clear, positive communication….and patience. What are some of those skills? Teaching bite inhibition, crate training, house training, calm behaviors and other basic behaviors (come, sit, down, stay, wait, etc.), socialization to a variety of people, dogs, things and places, teaching the value in enrichment toys, prevention of resource guarding and chewing on inappropriate things, just to name a few.
Remember, your puppy is constantly learning. Beginning his life journey with you by teaching him with positive reinforcement will create a dog who loves to learn, loves being around you, and listens to you.
I’d enjoy helping you on that path.