Now that the Christmas holidays are drawing near, what about a puppy for Christmas? To many people, this sounds like a great holiday gift idea for a child and while it could be, this can also be a bad idea.
While all puppies are cute and cuddly and lovable, they grow and become bigger and have to be groomed, bathed, walked, trained and fed. But the key word here is trained. And, as the article below points out, the tragic end to giving a child a puppy for Christmas is that there are a lot of dogs and puppies that end up in the local Animal Shelter, because child was just unable to properly care for the animal.
At the top of many Christmas lists is a puppy, but this can be one of the most thoughtless gifts to give. Moms and dads around the world give in to the pleas of their young children for a furry companion and believe the promises that the child will take responsibility for the care of their new friend. More often than not, this Christmas joy turns into a New Year resolution never to get another pet. The period following the “season of giving” sees the highest incidence of pets that are given up to animal shelters.
If you are thinking about giving your son or daughter a puppy for the holidays, make sure you carefully consider all of the requirements for keeping a puppy in your home. Take the time to go over a list of considerations about the type or dog and it’s special requirements for training, feeding and sleeping. Will you need a crate? How big a crate will you need? Do you have the space for safe play in your front or back yard with proper fencing?
Consider the following before you decide to get a new pet for the family:
• Have you researched the breed of dog most suitable to fit into your lifestyle?
• Do you have a securely-fenced property and sufficient space for the dog to move around freely? It is cruel to keep an animal tied up or kenneled for long periods of time since you restrict the physical development of the dog as well as create mental frustration which can turn into aggression.
• Do you have the time (at least one hour a day) and are you physically capable of exercising your new pet? “Running around the yard” does not fulfill the energy requirements of a dog, who also benefits from changes in his environment so he should be taken out for stimulating walks on a harness and leash. Do not use a neck collar or a choke-chain when walking your dog.
• Do you have the finances required to cover the needs of your pet for his entire life-span (dogs can live up to 15-16 years depending on the breed and health). This includes money for food, toys, veterinary bills, parasite treatment and control (ticks, fleas and worms) and equipment such as the harness, leash, bedding, bowls, kennel, treats, as well as grooming and training costs.
Just as a child requires education and discipline to be raised properly, so too does a dog.
As you can see from reading the excerpt above, there are plenty of things to think through before making this decision to add a sweet furry four legged family member to the household. Dogs require a lot of time and attention and it is similar to the commitment it takes to raise a child. Are you ready for all that this will entail?
Dogs are so similar to children that they also have short attention spans and get bored just as quickly. Boredom often leads to mischief! Are you willing to provide enough enrichment to keep your pet mentally stimulated and balanced so he does not become bored and destructive? Enrichment includes providing a wide variety of toys which are regularly rotated and changed, feeding the dog in ways to satisfy the hunting instinct of the dog (who is a predator by nature) and taking the dog out to different environments.
• What are the ages of your children? Any child under 13 never be left alone with a dog for the safety of both the dog and the child. Children can be inadvertently cruel by treating the dog as a doll and pulling the puppy around by his ears or tail, or poking their fingers into his eyes and ears. Dogs who are not properly socialized to children can become aggressive towards them and some dogs may even see little children as prey animals. Can you supervise your child and new puppy at all times?
• Is your child going to assist in caring for the pet: feeding, cleaning up after, bathing, grooming, playing with, walking, training—even when school resumes in the new year and interest in the puppy wanes?
• Have you sourced a registered veterinarian for your new puppy? Your dog will need to be immunized against puppy diseases and will require a booster vaccine every year. He should also be taken to the vet for regular check-ups to ensure he is in peak physical health at all times.
• Are you willing to neuter your new pet when he/she reaches sexual maturity at six months of age? T&T currently has an over-population of dogs and we simply do not have enough good homes for the number of dogs we breed. Neutering your pet also greatly lowers reproductive cancer risks and can significantly reduce certain behavioral problems.
So, here are my concluding thoughts. Getting your child a puppy for Christmas can be a wonderful and very special gift, but it is not a choice to be taken lightly and must be thought through completely taking into account all that this will involve. You must be absolutely clear about the amount of responsibility on both your part and the part of your children before you go ahead and wrap that special package for this Christmas.