Think Twice Before You Give a Puppy as a Gift

Puppies are undeniably cute, aren’t they?

With those big happy eyes, tongues quick with the licks, and over-sized feet that are sometimes hard to control, they seem like the perfect gift.

But think again. There are a number of reasons why giving a puppy as a gift, especially over the holidays, isn’t a good idea.

A Puppy is a Long-Term Gift

Puppies are living creatures. They are a long-time investment: ideally, a life-time for the dog. They’re not like a sweater: you shouldn’t give a person a dog with the idea that they can take it to a shelter if they don’t like the size, breed, or color. Although dogs are sometimes surrendered for those reasons, or simply because the owner grows tired of the dog, it is hard on the dog.

Puppies are Expensive

Puppies and dogs can be expensive. Crates, beds, and toys can be pricey. Leashes and collars add up as well. There are on-going expenses of food and treats. Even healthy dogs require trips to the vets for shots and check-ups. Medical problems or injuries can add even more to that bill.

Not Every Rental Allows Pets

Not all landlords will allow dogs. Even if your friend or family member lives in a place that allows a dog now, that’s no guarantee they will in the future. A change in job, marital status, or building ownership may force an unforeseen move. Owning a dog can limit your options when looking for a place to rent.

Not Every Dog is a Match for Every Person

Even if the person you are getting the dog for can afford a dog and owns a home, not every dog is a fit for every person. Some dogs are more likely to trigger allergies in some people than others. Some people enjoy grooming their dog more than others do. Some people are athletic and love the outdoors; others are couch-potatoes. Dogs can be the same way. Some dogs are high-energy and would love a 5-mile run every morning. Others prefer to chill out with a good chew toy and watch TV.

The Holidays Aren’t the Time to Introduce a Dog to Your Family

Let’s say you pick the perfect dog for the person. The person you get it for has the money and accommodations to take in a dog. The pup you pick has the perfect grooming and physical needs to suit the temperament of the owner. The holidays still aren’t a good time to introduce a puppy.

Why not? Because for most people, all routine flies totally out of the window at holiday times. Puppies need routine. They need to be fed at the same time each day, and let out at the same time. They need to know what to expect.

Your first thought might be that being home for two weeks solid will be the perfect time to train your puppy. You can take him out whenever he needs to go out, be with him all the time, keep him company, get him potty-trained, and get him thoroughly used to you. That’s good in theory, but what happens the first day you go to work? Your puppy will be thoroughly lost and confused. Where is his person? This wonderful person who spent every moment with him is suddenly gone, and the puppy doesn’t know why.

It will be much better in the long run for both you and your puppy if you get him used to his real routine as soon as possible.

Give an I.O.U. Instead

If you really, really want to gift a puppy, give an IOU for a puppy as the present for the holiday. Then after the holidays have died down, you can go with the potential owner to pick out just the puppy the owner wants. You can even help get the bed, food, crate, collar, leash, toys—all the things the puppy will need in his new home. You might even consider paying for one or two vet visits as part of the gift.

Puppies and dogs are wonderful additions to many families. But instead of just giving the puppy to someone, be part of helping that person pick out the perfect dog to be part of the family for years to come.

Meet the Author: Pam Hair

Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.

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