November 5, 2017, by Ryan O’Quinn
Are pets good gifts? It’s what Hallmark movies are made of. That beautifully wrapped box with the big, flowy ribbons and bows — then out pops a cute, new puppy. The idea sounds good, but in theory, it may be a different story. If it was just that simple. Often, we get caught up in the warm and fuzzy thoughts that come along with pet ownership. The fun part of it, not the burdensome side.
Out of all the wonderful gift ideas there are during the holiday season, is a dog — or any pet for that matter — a good one? Well, that all depends. Is there a plan in place? Who is going to be responsible for feeding the dog? Paying vet bills? Walking the dog? Grooming the dog? And, of course, picking up the limitless amount of dog poop that’ll be in your yard, and probably inside your house from time to time. Think potty training.
The first thing that should happen is a family discussion or meeting. A meeting should be held so that all members can openly express their likes and dislikes regarding pets and the responsibilities that come with them. Discussing who will take on what chores ahead of time will smooth things out down the road.
Here’s a list of 5 things that should be well thought out before buying or rescuing a puppy, dog or any other type of pet.
Can you make the necessary commitment?
Will you have or make the time to walk your dog two to three times a day? If the answer is no, and you have no one who can perform those essential tasks, you should stop and maybe consider a lower maintenance pet. However, if you can afford it, there are plenty of dog walking companies as well as on-demand dog walking services such as Rover and Wag.
Does your choice of pet fit your lifestyle?
People tend to choose pets based on how popular, cute or cuddly they are. Not a good idea. Many times these pets are then dropped off at animal shelters when they prove to be too high energy, high maintenance or just because the novelty has worn off.
Research and really get to know the breed you are interested in and be open to changing your mind if it doesn’t fit your ability to provide for its temperament. Asking a lot of questions from existing breed owners is a great idea. With the power and reach of the internet, social media and online forums are an excellent place to start. Another good idea would be to find breed-specific Meetups.
Is your home pet-friendly?
Introducing a new pet into your home during the chaotic holiday season could be a recipe for disaster. Homes are adorned with fragile decorations, lit candles and not to mention plants like Mistletoe which can be poisonous to dogs and cats. Normal routines are often broken during this time due to an increase in the number of activities with friends and relatives.
Another important factor to consider is the type of home in which you live and the breed, temperament and energy level of the pet. Probably not a good idea to own a Labrador and live in a small apartment. Conversely, a Chihuahua would be a better fit for the living situation above, as they generally require less physical activity and maintenance.
Are you willing to make the time to train your pet?
No one likes an unruly, untrained dog. Ones that you can’t take anywhere. Not without any issues at least. It takes time and consistency to properly train a dog. Even if you hire a dog trainer, you will still need to make yourself available for training sessions with your dog and the trainer. Hiring an experienced trainer is always a smart idea if the pocketbook allows for it.
Will you be a responsible pet owner?
You should always spay or neuter your new dog or cat. If you rescue a pet from an animal shelter or control agency, it’s usually done upon adoption and is a law in most states. You won’t want to deal with the behaviors that accompany unsterilized dogs and cats as they’re not ideal.
Microchipping may be a good idea, however, is a bit controversial. It can be safer than other forms of identification. If your dog gets lost, he might lose his collar and tags. If your dog is stolen, the thief might remove them. The microchip won’t track your dog though. Your dog has to be taken somewhere to be scanned. Many communities are proposing making microchipping all dogs mandatory.
There’s really no cut and dry, right or wrong answer to the question of whether pets make good holiday gifts. It really depends on your own situation and more importantly having a solid plan in place.