The warmth and sweet dreams of Christmas are upon us and nothing is as sweet and full of warmth than a snuggly, furry puppy! What could be finer than to give the special gift of a friendly and cute puppy for Christmas? Giving and thoughts of others is the spirit of Christmas! A puppy would seem to fit that description of giving love to someone you love! But, alas, there are many reasons NOT to give puppies or any animal as a gift at Christmas time. As precious as a puppy is, it is imperative that the person you want to give the puppy wants and is able to care for a puppy for the next 10 to 15 years. It is a huge financial and TIME commitment for anyone between food, veterinary expenses and training. The warmth of the moment can be overshadowed by a feeling of enormous pressure for the person being given that wonderful gift. Even if a family had thought long and hard about getting a puppy or an older dog, Christmas time may not be the best time to bring a new member into the household. Between the festivities, coming and going, food preparation, company visiting, the holiday tree, and beautifully wrapped presents can be extremely stressful for a puppy or rescued dog coming into a new home.
Nobody loves puppies more than I do, but the holiday season probably is not the best time to bring that new family member home. And, if giving a new family member to someone else is really want you want to do, giving them the choice of what puppy they want and when to bring a puppy home can ease so much pressure and stress on everyone.
A more responsible and caring way to bring a “Christmas Puppy” into your home or giving one to someone else is to put a stuffed puppy under the tree, all wrapped in beautiful paper with a note that says, “Let’s go pick your puppy after the holidays!” Then, make a family plan to research breeds together, find a reputable and committed breeder, or to start looking at shelters for the right dog for the family. Bringing a puppy or dog home should be well thought out, planned for when everyone has time and finances to make a smooth and loving transition for the dog into a new home.
Remember, if you give a puppy or dog to someone for Christmas the financial commitment can be difficult for some. During the first year you can expect about $1000 in veterinary expenses for shots and spay/neutering, and any other illness that might come up. After that, I consider a minimum of $500 or more a year for veterinary expenses even for a healthy dog. Food can range from $30 a month to $100 a month depending on the size and age of the dog or puppy. And, unless you have trained several dogs yourself, include at least $500 for training that puppy right away before problems start. The cost of getting a health certified purebred puppy from a reputable breeder (NOT a pet shop or puppy mill puppy) can cost anywhere from $800 to $3500 depending on the breed. Deciding on a purebred dog gives the advantage of known personality traits and hereditary background that might fit for your family. Shelter dogs are not as costly up front and will provide a home for a needy soul.
Getting or giving a puppy or older dog for Christmas can be a wonderful experience if well planned. However, please remember that dogs are living, loving creatures that require a lifetime commitment. They are not members of our households only during our convenience. Merry Christmas!!!
By Fran Jewell IAABC Certified Dog Behavior Consultant
NADOI Certified Instructor #1096 Sun Valley, Idaho