It’s the most wonderful time of the year. While many of us are still carrying those extra pounds we picked up from Thanksgiving, the holiday is now well behind us. It’s now time for Christmas, Hanukkah, and a bountiful bouquet of other holidays to shine bright. This, of course, means shopping and brainstorming gift ideas are in full motion.
Whether you’re shopping for presents for your kids, your significant other, or a friend, a popular “item” that crosses many people’s minds, is getting a puppy. They are super cute, full of love, and build lasting memories. Sounds like the perfect present, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not!
Now, don’t get us wrong, a puppy can be the perfect gift for Christmas, but in this article we are going to explore why it’s not the best option for most people. We will also give you some great alternative gift ideas. And if you’re set on gifting a puppy, we’ll help show you how you can make sure it’s a positive experience for everyone involved.
At Innovet Pet, our goal is to keep all pets safe, so here’s why puppies don’t always make a great holiday gift.
Why Puppies Don’t Always Make Great Christmas Gifts
While giving someone a puppy as a present can be one of the greatest gifts you can ever give someone, it can also be one of the worst.
A dog is a lot of work, and since most dogs live between 10-20 years, that’s a significant chunk of our lives we need to dedicate to them. Having a dog can make vacationing harder, making moving trickery, cause unexpected high costs, put a wrench in a hobby, and on the list goes.
Puppies, especially, require a lot of time. If you’ve had a puppy before you’ll know It’s hard to balance work and taking care of one, let alone managing several other things like hobbies, social life, and on. Do you know if the person you're giving the puppy to is ready for all of that?
Even when a person expresses interest in a dog, make sure they aren’t just saying it off the cuff.
One rule you may wish to follow when gifting someone a puppy is to ask yourself if you’re prepared to take care of it if the other person can’t? You don’t have to always follow this rule, as there are times when the gift giver can’t possibly take on a new dog while the gift receiver can.
However, this rule is pretty great to follow, because it greatly curbs a large problem with Christmas puppies.
The Unwanted Puppy
There is no way around it, more puppies end up in shelters the following months after December, and this is because many of them were “unwanted gifts”.
Fortunately, for dogs, and to a lesser degree cats, the relinquishments rates aren’t too high. A 1999 study saw only 0.3% and 0.4% of dogs and cats, respectively, were relinquished to a shelter. As well, an ASPCA survey showed that the vast majority of dogs and cats (86%) stayed with the original gift receiver.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold up for rabbits, who experienced high relinquish rates shortly after Easter.
Should I Give Someone A Puppy As A Holiday Gift?
In most cases, you probably don’t want to give some a puppy for Christmas. The last thing you want is that puppy taking the person by surprise and being too much for them. This turns your wonderful gift into a nightmare that causes a person's guilt because they can’t handle the dog and want to get rid of it.
As well, shelters are full as it is, and no one wants to see another dog end up there. Remember our safety rule from above, where you only gift someone a puppy if you’re willing to take them if they aren’t the right fit.
How do you know if someone is the right fit? The easiest way is to ask them. If that takes too much of the surprise away, then make sure you know the person’s lifestyle and schedule. That both can fit in a puppy, and that the person has expressed a great interest in one.
Ask yourself if you would give this person a dog as a present if it wasn't the holidays? Don’t worry, research shows getting a puppy as a gift, does not increase the bond between owner and puppy. So it’s completely fine to wait on the puppy gift idea until after the holidays.
Remember, new dogs, especially puppies, require a lot of time, work, and energy. You can only expect a puppy to hold their bladder one hour for every month of age and they sleep in fairly small intervals. This is one of the reasons some companies are now even giving new pet parents paid time off, which is fantastic to see.
If you’re giving a kid, 12 or younger, a puppy as a gift, then make sure you’re ready to take on full responsibility. Start getting in the habit of thinking: Are my spouse and I ready to care for a puppy? Instead of: Do my kids want a puppy?
Puppies and kittens can make one of the best gifts to give to someone. They can also be one of the worse. Even more disheartening is this gift can suffer and spend the rest of their lives in a shelter.
So play it safe! Don’t give your kids a Christmas puppy unless you’re willing to take full responsibility for it. And don’t give an adult a puppy as a gift unless, again, you’re willing to take responsibility for it. Responsibility is the key here, and when we all do our part, we’ll dramatically reduce the high shelter rates.
One amazing thing you can do instead of surprising someone with a puppy is to surprise them with some essential puppy supplies. A crate, leash, collar, and food bowls are all great ideas. This will get the person excited — you can even offer to go pick out a dog with them — but it won’t throw a huge decade-plus responsibility on their shoulders.
Puppies are wonderful gifts, just don’t give them as a gift because it’s the holidays. Ho. Ho. Ho.