Choosing a Christmas gift for your friends or family members is not an easy thing to do, and in many cases, it is downright stressful and requires a lot of time to decide on a gift and then go and buy it. However, that is what makes Christmas such a lovely holiday, the spirit of giving spreading all over the place, and giving presents is one sure way to show others that you care about them.
One of the things that people often gift for Christmas are pets. Whether it is a kitten, a puppy or a parrot, gifting an animal is often viewed as a perfect present for kids, and one that will usually make them go crazy about it. However, it is not something that you should do without a careful consideration.
In fact, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t do it at all. While I'm writing specifically about dogs here, these considerations should be taken no matter what type of animal you're thinking about adopting. It's especially important when thinking of buying a pet for a child, as it's most likely that the parents will need to help with the animal's care.
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Why You Shouldn’t Gift Dogs for Christmas
1. Are You Sure They Even Want a Dog?
The main reason to avoid gifting a dog for Christmas lies in a simple fact that you probably don’t know whether the recipient really wants a dog, or any other pet. Having a dog as a part of your household is a huge commitment and many people are simply not prepared to take that obligation on.
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 kid, you MUST ask their parents whether they would like to have a dog. If you ask a kid, you will surely receive an affirmative answer, but kids rarely have the discipline and desire to really take care of a pet.
They like to play with a dog, pet him and even walk him, but when it comes to really taking care of a dog, that is where the parents come in. You don’t want to burden the parents if they are not interested in having a dog, even if kids really want one. Every kid wants a pet, that’s not surprising after all.
Some of those puppies that were given as a Christmas gift will end up on the street or in animal shelters. You need to make sure that the recipient actually wants a dog before you give it to them as a present. Dog shelters and pounds are already full as it is, there is no need to add more by creating a situation that you haven’t anticipated.
2. Dogs Are a Long-Term Commitment
If you are not sure that somebody really wants a dog, you need to consider the fact that you are not giving them a short-lasting present, you are giving them a living being. Some dogs can live more than a decade, and if you are not sure that the recipient is ready for such a long-lasting obligation, you need to think again about gifting a dog for Christmas.
Dogs are not toys, there are living beings and you need to treat them as such. Giving a dog to your nephew just so you can impress him is not a good enough reason to give a dog as a present for Christmas. Small children are probably better suited for stuffed animals anyway, and if that is the person that you want to make happy, you should consider a toy as a gift rather than a real dog.
You need to take into account the time and effort required to properly train a dog as well. Some dogs will require constant care until they get used to their new home, and even then, there are things like potty training that need to be addressed. That is why you need to be absolutely sure that the recipient is truly ready for such a big commitment.
3. Having a Dog Can Be Expensive
It is easy to buy a dog and gift him to someone. You need to be aware that the recipient is the one who will have to take care of him, which can often add up to a lofty sum. First, there is food, which is not really such a big expense, but it adds up over the 10+ years the dog will live.
Then there are vet visits and checkups, and other things like toys, grooming supplies, training supplies and bedding. Some studies have shown that caring for a dog can cost more than $1500 a year, according to a Time article where they did the math, which is not a small amount for some families.
4. The Dog Probably Comes from a Puppy Mill
Many of puppies found in the weeks before Christmas will 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. If you truly care about animals, you should make sure not to buy a puppy before Christmas because you will be incentivizing disreputable and irresponsible breeders.
Perhaps the best thing to do, if you want to give a puppy as a gift to someone, is to give them a gift certificate instead.
Even if you are considering adopting a 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. That often leads people to go to these shady breeders and support their business.
They can wait until the holidays are over and get a puppy from a reputable source. Even more, they can get a breed that truly fits their needs and that they are able to take care of.
5. Christmas Is Not the Best Time for Dogs
Christmas, and the entire holiday season for that matter, is not such an easy time for dogs. They can easily be stressed out by the big crowds at family gatherings and dinners, and they will have a hard time with loud noises that accompany Christmas.
Even for dogs that have been in the household for a long time, that can pose a certain issue. That is why it is important to make sure that your dog is safe and sound during Christmas, preferably in a separate room with a different atmosphere, where it is quiet.
Bringing a new dog in such a hectic surrounding can have really harmful consequences. Trying to adapt a new dog to his new home during Christmas is not an easy task. There are too many distractions and new dogs require a lot of attention and care. That is just another reason why you shouldn’t gift dogs for Christmas.
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You Still Want to Do It? Then Do It Right.
After reading all those reasons on why you should never gift a dog for Christmas, if you still really wish to give a dog as a gift for Christmas to someone, there are certain things you need to do if you want to make 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. If they are, then you need to make sure that you choose the right breed.
For example, if the recipient lives in a small apartment, you should choose a small breed. If they have a house and a backyard, you can choose some larger breed then. Again, the best thing to do here is to ask what would they prefer.
Another thing to do is avoid giving the dog on Christmas. Try to do it a few days before, so you can give the recipient time to adapt to this new situation, and train dog at least a little bit before Christmas comes.
This way it will be easier for both recipient and dog to deal with stress and excitement that comes with Christmas. It is even better to wait and give them a dog after Christmas, as we have already 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.
You also need to keep in mind the specific situation of the recipient. Do they have children, or maybe other pets? Some breeds will get along with small children better than the others, and some breeds will have difficulty adjusting to the presence of another pet, especially if you are not gifting a puppy which will have time to adapt to other pets and learn how to live with them.
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 stated above that show that 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.
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