With the holidays approaching, videos of “Christmas puppies” are taking over our social media timelines. It’s hard to resist the allure of these scenes, as kids and adults alike burst into happy tears at the sight of an adorable puppy. Cute as they are, however, these videos only show part of the story. It won’t be long before that cute ball of fluff starts barking, pooping, and chewing the furniture, and the realities of new pet parenthood set in.
Owning a pet can be wonderful and rewarding, but it can also be very challenging. Before you consider giving a Christmas puppy of your own, think about the realities of bringing a new pet home.
What happens to Christmas puppies after Christmas?
There’s no denying the comfort and joy of a dog in the house, but a new pet means a whole lot of responsibility, and an unprepared recipient may not be up to, or even really want, the challenge. After the excitement of Christmas morning wears off, the real work of puppy parenthood starts. Plus with all the festive chaos that comes at this time of year, you need to consider whether Christmas is the best time to be getting a puppy.
Having a dog can be costly, both financially and emotionally. Think of the resources needed to care for a pet (and the true costs involved):
- Veterinary care
- Toys, bedding, and other supplies
- Walking, boarding, or pet sitting costs
- Time and energy for training classes
- The ability to maintain a schedule that suits the dog’s needs
- Plus many more!
According to the RSPCA, there were more than 4,000 abandoned animals reported to the RSPCA last winter (winter 2018-2019) and the charity received more reports about abandoned dogs than any other animal over the festive period. If you’re considering the gift of a “Christmas puppy,” can you be as sure as possible that your puppy won’t become part of these statistics?
Should I give a puppy as a gift?
When we asked our friends at the RSPCA “is there a right way to give a puppy as a gift?” Lisa Hens, Senior Scientific Officer at the RSPCA said:
“Getting a puppy is such a big decision and a commitment to care for that dog for the rest of their life, so we would advise against giving a puppy as a gift. There are so many things to consider and sadly we see lots of dogs who have been abandoned and neglected because their owners haven’t considered the time, money and effort that goes into owning a pet, and they haven’t been able to look after them properly.”
But don’t worry, Christmas isn’t ruined! You can still bring some Christmas puppy cheer into your loved ones’ lives. Take them on an outing to volunteer at a local rescue centre, where you’ll get the benefit of puppy time without the lifelong commitment, as well as doing a good deed. And who knows, they may find a new best friend while they’re there! Lisa added:
“Rehoming centres and responsible breeders will want to meet the potential owner(s) of a dog at least once to make sure they’re going to the right home. If buying a puppy, we would always advise the new owner to visit the potential pup more than once to give you time to make an informed decision, ensure that the puppy is healthy and happy and that you’re not unwittingly funding the cruel puppy trade – sadly there are lots of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who are just out to make a quick buck out of the Christmas puppy trade. We would urge people to consider rehoming a rescue dog, there are lots of lovely dogs out there looking for their forever home.”
Alternatives to Christmas puppies
If you know your loved one or family is ready for a dog, you could give the gift of puppy planning. Bringing home a new dog is a personal decision, and a “surprise” puppy might not be the puppy they want or the best match for their lifestyle. But you can make the holidays bright by kick-starting the dog adoption process. Before Christmas, open the discussion of bringing a dog home. Then, you can surprise your loved one with a “puppy starter kit”. It’s a wonderful way to give the gift of choosing the pet that’s right for them , and planning for its arrival.
Your puppy starter kit can be as large or small as you have room for under the tree, and might include:
- A book on puppy care to get them started on the journey
- A cosy bed and/or blanket
- A fun assortment of toys and treats
- Food and water bowls
- A pet first aid kit
- A stuffed dog to act as a stand-in for now, and a puppy chew toy for later
- Information on a local rescue centre
A puppy starter kit lets you surprise your kids on Christmas morning, and at the same time involve them in the planning and preparations needed for a new pet. It’s a great way to encourage responsible pet parenthood and gentle introductions, which will only strengthen your family’s relationship with each other and the new pet.