Dogs & Cats

How to Gift a Puppy -- Safely

Want to give a puppy this holiday season? Do it right with the advice of our resident veterinarian, ...

This dog-loving Santa does not say “Bah, humbug!” to giving dogs as gifts. I know Christmas puppies are showstoppers, guaranteed to make a lasting memory. So, if you plan on putting a pup under the tree, don’t hold back. Just heed a few of Santa’s suggestions.

Do your homework. First, make certain that the recipient really wants a dog and the type of dog you plan to give him or her. Also, give the dog accoutrements too, so the new owner doesn’t have to scramble to buy bowls, food and bedding.

Make time. The holidays can be an ideal time to adopt a new puppy if work and school schedules are light and flexible, allowing for plenty of time to bond. However, if your recipient’s holidays include traveling, revolving parties or houseguests, hold off on adoption for a quieter time when they can focus on this important transition.

Keep puppy safe. Puppies can end up accidentally getting injured or eating something inappropriate that makes them sick (or worse, requires surgical removal). Keep puppies safe by placing them in a crate when no one is interacting with them. Children with puppies need close supervision to ensure the puppy is handled correctly and gets frequent breaks.

Don’t forget older dogs. Although puppies definitely garner more oohs and aahs, mature dogs should not be overlooked. Visit your local shelter before adopting and consider opening your home to a sweet older dog. These dogs typically need less house-training and are way past the chewing phase.

Take your time. If you are buying from a breeder, learn about the breed, common health problems and the breeder’s reputation. Don’t make a rash decision to meet the holiday deadline; you can always give a puppy gift certificate if the right dog is not available.

Consider building anticipation. Giving a dog as a gift does not always mean putting a live pet under the tree. A beautifully wrapped box full of doggy supplies with a photo of the puppy or a “coupon” to pick out a dog in the new year can be just as exciting.

And if you think your child will be devastated if the puppy is not under the tree, think again. My son received a dog for his 7th birthday, after two years of begging and pleading. However, he did not get the pup on his birthday. Instead, he got to help select a puppy from a litter that was only three weeks old. He spent the next five weeks preparing our home for the puppy’s arrival. The anticipation was just as exciting as the adoption day, and my son took real ownership and responsibility for his puppy since he was a part of the process.

My Gift List
Now, what to give your furry, four-legged someone? Chew toys, collars and leashes are always nice gifts for dogs, but think about giving something with long-term benefits, such as a health insurance policy, a much-needed dental cleaning, heartworm testing and prevention, fencing for the yard, orthopedic bedding for arthritic dogs, time with a trainer, or passes to the local doggie day care for some social interaction.

And don’t forget your new year’s resolution to spend more time doing what your dog loves to do: have fun!




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