A puppy is a terrible Christmas gift

Ollie is a 3-month old Cairn Terrier
Ollie is a 3-month old Cairn Terrier

It's not a wonderful time for a puppy

We've been getting lots of calls at the shop lately from people looking to buy puppies for presents.

And while buying a puppy from a pet shop - any pet shop - is a bad idea, that's not the focus of this article.

In this article I'm going to tell you why buying a pet for a present is a terrible idea - especially around the end-of-year holidays.

Booker (Boston Terrier)
Booker (Boston Terrier)

Don't let sentiment trump common sense!

We've all seen the heart-touching, tear-inspiring commericals or advertising with the adorable children, still in their pajamas, rush to discover gifts under the tree and are overjoyed to discover the box (with holes along the top edge) that opens to magically reveal the adorable puppy they've wanted forever.

It's an adorable scenario - for about five minutes. Then the kids want to open their other presents, play with their new video games, get into an argument or six, eat breakfast, etc.

Mom and Dad want to reestablish order in the house, get everyone fed and dressed, and hit the road for all the stops that must be made on the holiday, or prepare the house for all the guests arriving later on.

And what happens to the puppy? Dogs aren't inanimate objects that can be pushed aside until there's time to play with them. They are living beings with essential needs - food, water, safety, etc. If you're planning to add a pet to the family - plan carefully. You'll (hopefully) be spending at least the next dozen or more years with this animal.

Buddy is a Bichon Frise
Buddy is a Bichon Frise

No one needs more stress

The holidays are a stressful, albeit happy, time. There's generally no such thing as a regular schedule, and the normal routine of the household is disrupted. Even the best-trained dog, who's been in the family forever, can become upset. Dogs thrive on regularity and schedules.

Introducing a new puppy into the mix brings more stress. In addition to all other obligations, the new puppy must be fed, trained, played-with, and paid attention. There's no "off" switch on pets - their needs are all day, every day - even holidays.

A sad, but true, story

I recently read about a perfect example. A man, who already had a young child, didn't want any more children, so he decided to get his dog-loving girlfriend a puppy to satisfy her maternal desires. He presented her with a Pug puppy that she adored. After several weeks, both the man and his child decided they hated living with a dog. This story has a happy ending for the dog - the people were conscientious enough to contact rescue and find a wonderful home for the puppy. But the woman was heartbroken. She made the best choice for her family and for the dog, but it wasn't easy or happy.

Melody the Chihuahua
Melody the Chihuahua

The best holiday gift for a dog-loving child

If you've decided it's time to add a puppy (or dog) to the family, the holidays are certainly a wonderful time to let the kids know their wishes are going to come true. Instead of the puppy - wrap up all the accessories that come with getting a dog: a collar, leash, bowl, toys, certificate for obedience class, etc. Let the kids know, with this box of wonders, that their puppy will be coming - at a calmer time.

If you haven't decided what breed of dog will best suit your family, recruit the kids in a fun research project. Dogs come in every size; from Chihuahuas at less than five pounds, to Mastiffs at over 100 lbs. Dogs' temperaments are equally diverse; from "velcro-dogs" that won't let you out of their sight, to independent-workers who happily entertain themselves. If the children truly want a dog, they should enjoy exploring and learning about the different breeds. Does the family love the look of a Dachshund? a Poodle? a Golden Retriever? How much space will the dog have to run and play? Do you have a fenced area? How much grooming are you willing to do? All of these questions need to be answered to find the perfect companion dog.

There's never a perfect time
Just like every other occasion in life - there's no such thing as a perfect time to add a dog to the household. And the breeder and mother dog have a big part in the "when" decision. Be thoughtful and plan carefully. Every family member will be happier.

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