Is a Christmas Puppy a Good Idea?

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Dog on Christmas DayLast minute shopping has us racking our brains for gifts that really mean something. We thoughtfully seek to fill a need, but surprising a loved one with a puppy is like lighting holiday candles with a blow torch; a tad overwhelming. Even if your widowed mother is an avid dog lover, she hasn’t had a puppy in two decades and putting a furry bundle under the tree might just get you permanently placed on her ‘naughty’ list.

Tips for Giving a Christmas Puppy as a Present

  • Enlist the advice of a parent, spouse or best friend to figure out how best to offer this living gift. They may broach the subject with the recipient and get you some valuable inside information.
  • Instead of presenting the puppy right away, another approach is to purchase a crate (the old metal variety has gone upscale with finished wood and wicker designs) and fill it with bowls, toys, a leash and collar, training guides and other essentials. Place all of this under the tree and enjoy the surprise reaction you seek.
  • If the recipient has a favorite breed, download and present pictures from breed rescues or at Petfinder. Keep local shelters in mind, too, since they boast a 25 to 40% ratio of purebreds to all-American mutts. Shelters may offer a gift certificate good for adoption is the recipient’s application is approved.
  • Are you considering breeders? Make sure you buy locally and meet at least one of the pup’s parents to avoid mass-produced pups. Get veterinary referrals and check with local animal control and your humane society to sniff out red-flag complaints.
  • Do a little homework on boarding options, veterinarians and groomers, and ask your friends for referrals. Having these resources at hand will help the new owner feel like there is a support system. If you are really moved by the holiday spirit, offer to watch the dog while they are away, but get ready to pay up; the recipient may book a two-week cruise and leave you holding the poop bag.
  • Present the recipient with plenty of information on the best tips to raise a dog. Be sure to show them our guide to bringing a puppy home!
  • Be prepared to accept a polite ‘no, thank you,’ from the recipient. Giving them an out relieves them of responsibility that lasts for ten years or more. Instead, offer a donation in their name to their favorite animal charity.

Video: Reaction to Dog as a Christmas Gift

Watch this cute video as some kids get a Christmas puppy. One of the kids is slightly more excited than the others, but we love the idea of giving a letter along with the dog to have them read.

If this advice sounds like a wet blanket tossed over your gift-giving plans, consider this: thousands of puppies bought impulsively as gifts will end up in shelters, or passed around from home to home. The novelty wears off, and the responsibility becomes all too real. While the thought will be appreciated, the gift of a Christmas puppy may be more of a burden than a delight, and the puppy pays the price.

Have you ever experienced a puppy as a gift?

Amy Robinson grew up watching Lassie movies and parlayed her passion for dog smarts into a twenty-two year dog training career. She is the creator of the award-winning Drool School DVD and lives with her husband and certified Therapy dog, Mac. You can read more about her on her personal blog at:

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