Why a Puppy Makes a Bad Christmas Gift

photoAlthough it’s the type of thing that makes us tear up and feel warm inside when we see it on TV and in films, giving a puppy as a Christmas present is actually a bad idea. Despite your best intentions, adding a new, four-legged member to your family requires more than that.

The holiday season is a hectic time for most people. Every day, there is more hustle and bustle than usual at home. There are mountains of presents to wrap and send out and tons of food to cook. There may be family and friends arriving and staying over, or you may need to travel to them. Now throw an 8-week old pup into the mix and the chaos meter will most likely go through the roof!

Taking care of a puppy is not cheap. Aside from the expenses of acquiring the puppy, there are the costs of veterinary care, dog proofing the house, and replacing anything that gets chewed on and destroyed. Needless to say, Christmas is not the best time of the year to add to your growing list of expenses.

Most reputable breeders actually refuse to sell puppies during the holidays for fear that they won’t be accepted or taken care of properly. There’s also the possibility that someone in the family could be allergic to dogs, which will only break everyone’s heart.

Unfortunately, puppy mills take advantage of the season and breed their dogs at this time of the year to make more money. Pet stores seem to do better during Christmas, too, mostly off of puppies that were bred only for profit. Worst of all is the fact that many of these pups are inbred and arrive at their new homes with genetic defects and illnesses. Sadly, a lot of them end up at shelters.

So before you buy a puppy for Christmas, read the following suggestions first:

* Ask your local animal shelter if they offer gift certificates, then go AFTER the holidays are over.

* Be a pet sitter first. Borrow a friend’s or neighbor’s dog for the day. This will give the children a chance to enjoy the company of a dog without having to do any hard work. Just make sure the dog is kid-friendly.

* Purchase some fun and interesting books about dogs for the kids to read. This way, they can learn about taking care of a puppy and get ready for the big day.

* Pay your local vet a visit and get to know him. See if you’re comfortable with him. Let the kids ask questions.

* Make plans. Set a date on when you’ll go look at puppies. Discuss breeders versus shelters with the family. Decide where your new pup will sleep, what he will eat, etc. Get the whole family involved!

Keep in mind that bringing home a puppy is not very different from bringing home a baby. With children, we have about nine months to get ready. For your new puppy, take at least a month or two. By not rushing, your holidays will be less stressful and you’ll get a new family member who will be loved for many Christmases to come.

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