Oh my, the number of times we’ve had clients who are dismayed because a very well-meaning son or daughter gave them a “surprise” gift of a dog or puppy. Bringing a dog into your home, no matter the age, should be a well thought out decision and one that the intended owner should make for themselves. No doubt, dogs are good for us in a myriad of ways. The mere petting of a dog can calm our nerves and lower our blood pressure. The joy they bring into our lives on daily basis is good for the soul. However, when the “gifted” dog was not planned for, nor wanted, it’s a recipe for failure on both ends of the leash. Sadness for the human who is supposed to “enjoy” caring for the dog and ultimate disaster for the dog.
Sad, but true, many puppies and dogs given as gifts end up in shelters. This is even more true of dogs and puppies given as gifts during the holidays. It’s a well-known fact that these awesome creatures end up in shelters the following spring when the animal fails to meet the unrealistic expectations of the family. New dogs in the home take lots of time, lots of attention and need lots of guidance. Even more so for puppies!
Here’s what you can do to insure a happy human and a happy dog or puppy if you think your loved one (wife, son/daughter, mom/dad) might enjoy the company of a canine kid:
First, have the discussion with your loved one about the benefits of having a dog and ask…..yes, ASK if they have ever considered a canine companion. If the answer is yes, then ask if your loved one can financially afford the costs of raising the dog. Annual expenses run anywhere from $1,000/year and up for healthcare, food, grooming, pet sitting, boarding and training. And that’s a moderate estimate. If they’re adamant they do NOT want a dog, respect their wishes.
If your loved one is game for a canine companion, do research together and choose a dog whose energy, personality traits and grooming needs fit their lifestyle.
Don’t ever assume that a child will take sole care of a puppy or dog. Once the newness wears off and the child is back in school, the responsibility most always falls to the parents.
Dogs are social creatures and thrive when living indoors with their family. Please don’t banish the dog to the back yard or worse yet, a chain. Early crate training is an excellent way to help a new dog or puppy with housetraining and for preventing inappropriate chewing while learning how to live indoors with humans.
If you choose a puppy, is your loved one ready to give the puppy that middle of the night potty break? It may be a few weeks before your new puppy will be able to hold his bathroom needs all night. Those middle of the night winter potty breaks can be cold!
Discuss training. Three million dogs are euthanized each year because of behavior problems that can be prevented. Research shows that early training can help keep a dog in its forever home vs. being surrendered to a shelter. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recommends that pups begin training in a reward-based training class as early at 8 weeks of age (providing they’ve had their first round of shots and a deworming). With training you’ll learn how to appropriately deal with the puppy nipping and biting, jumping and other necessary foundation behaviors. You’re committing to a 10 to 15 year relationship with this furry little creature, so spending a little money on training is money well spent.
Even if you and your loved one have done your homework and ARE ready for all the responsibilities involved with bringing a new canine kid into your home, the holidays are such a busy time for most families. There’s normally just too much activity for a new dog to be introduced to the family and cared for properly during all the festivities.
Instead, the perfect gift may be a Canine Kid Gift Box filled with lots of the items needed for a the new dog such as: a collar and leash, a book on how to raise a dog or puppy, a gift certificate from a local shelter where you can adopt your furry friend and a gift certificate for training. Then you can sit down and begin making your list to be well prepared for the fun and excitement of a brand canine companion in your home.
A passionate advocate for humane, science-based dog training, Lisa Lyle Waggoner is a CPDT-KA, a Pat Miller Certified Trainer Level 2, a Pat Miller Level 1 Canine Behavior & Training Academy instructor, and a dog*tec Dog Walking Academy Instructor. The founder of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina, Lisa provides behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area of North Carolina.