However appealing it may be to present your kids with an adorable puppy on Christmas morning, it is simply not a good idea for everyone concerned.
The fact is that far too many such gifts end up in animal shelters. A recent study of 12 U.S. animal shelters reported that 48% of dogs surrendered to their shelters were young—5 months to 3 years old—and that 37% of dogs had been owned for only 7 months to 1 year.
Giving a living creature (of any age or species) is a serious matter, and especially so for kids. A pet is not a battery-operated toy that can be played with, then put away on a shelf.
There are many factors to consider when deciding to bring a puppy into your home. Adding a puppy to your family is a 10- to 15-year commitment, and raising a happy, well-balanced dog requires an enormous amount of time, effort and expense.
In addition, while your kids may insist they’ll participate in the pup’s daily needs—feeding, walking, training—you as the parent must be realistic, and acknowledge that the bulk of dog care will invariably fall on you. Most children are simply not ready to take care of a dog until they are of high school age.
If your child (and your family) really wants a puppy, consider giving a gift certificate for one instead. Wrap a puppy toy or fancy collar and leash and include a note saying a puppy will be joining the family in the near future. Then plan a date for after the busy holidays to go shopping for the new pet, whether from your local shelter, a qualified breeder, or some other responsible source.
You owe it to your new puppy to give him every opportunity to develop a long-lasting, loving relationship with his family. Be prepared, patient and consistent. Puppies learn through experience and association. The more consistent you are, the faster your puppy will learn and the happier he—and you—will be.
Click here to read numerous tips from Bark Busters about puppies and puppy care.