Giving a Pet for the Holidays? Present it After the New Year.
“Can we get a puppy?” “I really want a kitten!” Parents who hear these pleas throughout the year may decide to surprise their children with a pet for the holidays. But without careful consideration and thorough preparation, they may end up with an unwanted — and unhappy — dog or cat. Here are some tips on avoiding the pitfalls of surprising your family, or another adult, with a pet.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
The holiday season is a hive of activity. There are parties, shopping trips, school events, visits with friends and relatives, decorations, and lots of excitement — all good reasons NOT to bring a pet into your home at this time.
Pets of any age can find moving into a new environment stressful. They need time, attention and consistency to make them feel secure and comfortable. Puppies need to be fed and walked on a regular schedule and exposed to other aspects of a regular routine. Housetraining has to start right away. Taking a puppy outside every time he eats, drinks, plays, or wakes up can be challenging enough the rest of the year, but the holidays present extra hurdles.
Here are some of the costs
associated with caring for a pet that
your gift recipient (or you, if the gift
is for your family) will have to pay:
- Sick visits (may include costly diagnostics or surgery)
- Food and treats
- Grooming (dogs)
Additionally, curious puppies and kittens may be harmed by foods, plants, decorations, gift wrappings, lights, and other items you may not be in the habit of monitoring. And a young pet can get nervous from the excitement of unwrapping gifts and other holiday celebrations.
A better time to bring your new pet home might be after the holidays, when the ornaments are put away, life has calmed down, and you’ve resumed your normal routine.
Wrap Up the Excitement
You can still provide pet-related excitement on the holiday. Purchase items you’ll need for your new arrival and wrap them as holiday gifts. These can include:
- food and water bowls
- litter pan
- leash and collar
- food and treats
You can present a gift certificate or I.O.U., a picture of a dog or cat, or a book about caring for your new pet. This will provide excitement during the holidays as well as something to look forward to when they’re over. Your gift recipient will also have a chance to prepare for the impending arrival and learn how to be a good pet parent.
Helping a Child to Be a Pet Parent
Even the most fervent yearning for a dog or cat won’t make a child a good pet parent. It’s up to you to prepare your children for the responsibility of having a pet. A young child will not have
Tip: Don’t Put a Lid on ItIf you do give a puppy or kitten as a gift, never put the animal in a box with a lid on it, even if you poke holes in the box. Your pet may not get enough air, and may be frightened by the dark, enclosed space.
An older child may be expected to assume some responsibility for walking the dog or feeding the cat, but this should still be supervised by you. Children, including teenagers, sometimes get distracted or forgetful, and may not realize how their unintentional neglect can affect a pet who needs attention.
A Surprise Gift Can Have Surprising Outcomes
While surprising a child with a pet can be a big thrill, you may get a less positive reaction from an adult. Even someone who loves cats may not be willing to take on the responsibility or the cost of caring for one. Someone who wants a dog may not want the job of training a puppy. People have different breed and size preferences, too. Consider discussing the gift with the person before you give it, and taking them to the shelter or breeder to choose the pet. And if you want to replace a pet who died, wait until the person is ready emotionally. Many people need time to grieve before they’re ready to move on and embrace a new pet.