Want to gift a dog for Christmas? Here are 12 things to consider before getting a dog for Christmas.
A Dog for Christmas?
Thinking about getting a dog for a Christmas gift? So many people this time of year think about gifting a dog to their kids for Christmas.
It can be a really sweet gesture and make for some sweet moments on Christmas Day, but is it the right decision for you and your family?
What to Consider Before Getting a Dog as a Gift
These are 12 things to consider before getting a dog as a Christmas gift:
- Do your kids like dogs? It may seem like a silly question, but it’s definitely an important one. Do your kids like to look at dogs from a distance, or do they have prior experience with everything involved in a dog’s life? Do they like to pet dogs? Do they get nervous around dogs? Are they capable of helping to take care of the dog?
- Do YOU like dogs? Let’s face it; unless your kids are older and super responsible, chances are you’ll be the one taking care of the dog the most, especially during the day when the kiddos are in school. Are you comfortable with having a dog around?
- Do you know about dog behavior? Puppies bite, nip, and chew…on everything. They can cry and whine. They have potty accidents. They jump up. They dig. They roll in dirt and other things. They shed. As they get older, guess what? They still do those things, but in a bigger size with a louder bark. Some dogs are cuddly, and some are not. Ready for all of that?
- Is your home ready for a dog? Getting a new dog is often like having a baby in the house again. Your house may need to be puppy-proofed before Fido comes to live with you. Think gates, crates, food storage secure, favorite pillows and toys in safe places, furniture covered, yard fenced in, etc.
- Is anyone allergic to dogs? There are tests available to find out, or you could visit a family member who has a dog.
- Are you going to have any major events coming up? Expecting a baby? Moving to a new home? Grandma moving in? You may want to delay getting a dog, or just be prepared to help your dog transition to the changes. It wouldn’t be fair to the dog if there was a change in your life and you needed to give the dog up for adoption.
- Do you have a job? I’m asking for two reasons: one, because you’ll need to pay for dog-related things, and two, because you’ll need to figure out what to do with the dog during the day. Yes, dogs may sleep up to 10 hours a day, but it’s probably not a great idea to leave a dog alone for that long all the time. Do some research into pet sitters or walkers, or even ask a neighbor to check in.
- Are you financially able? Dogs aren’t just a one time payment. Some of the things you’ll pay for will include: vet visits, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, dog license, training, grooming, dog food, treats, toys, bedding, etc.
- Are you physically able to care for a dog? Dogs need to be let outside and fed. They benefit greatly from walks and playing. They occasionally may need to be picked up or held. Are you and others in your household physically able to care for a dog or will you need help?
- Purebred or mixed breed? This is more a matter of preference, but still something to think about as it can affect your financial contribution in the short term and long run. It may also be a matter of buying vs adopting a dog. While there are purebreds that are desirable, it’s been found that mixed breed dogs can be generally healthier than purebreds. You may pay more initially for a purebred than the adoption fee for a mixed breed. (Personally, I say adopt, don’t shop! So many wonderful dogs in shelters!) No matter what, it’s important to do some research about different breeds and mixed breeds and their characteristics to see if they’re right for your family.
- Do you like to travel? Do you like to go on vacations and trips? What will you do with the dog? Will the dog travel with you or stay home? This can be another thing to consider financially as you may need to pay for boarding or a dog sitter or even extra expenses on your vacation.
- Are you ready for lifelong commitment? A dog is not just a Christmas gift that can be forgotten after the holidays. It’s a lifelong commitment that can live around 10-15 years on average. Are you and your family ready for such a commitment?
It’s vital to ask yourself all of these questions before getting a dog for Christmas. Too many dogs are given as gifts, only to be returned or rehomed.
Many of the rescues and shelters are overrun with pets and because of that, some dogs may end up in kill shelters. Please, please do your homework before choosing to give a dog as a gift!
A Plea for Shelter Dogs
I may be biased being that we have two shelter dogs, but I would ask you to consider a dog from a shelter or rescue if you choose to get a dog. There are so many dogs ready to be adopted who would make wonderful additions to your family!
I’ll share my family’s experience with shelter dogs to give you an idea.
After our 15 year old Weimaraner passed away early in 2021, I told the family I needed a break from dogs. Reilly was a huge dog who was very active and a bit too big for us. My husband and I bought him as a puppy on a whim when we were young newlyweds and didn’t know anything about his breed, which is why I stress doing your homework about dogs!
But then in 2022, around my birthday, I came across a photo of a local shelter dog and I fell in love. We had moved into a larger home with a much bigger yard the previous year, and since the kids missed having a dog around, I knew it was time to consider a dog again.
We did our homework this time. We included the kids in our conversation, especially our youngest son, who had been bitten in the face by a dog years earlier. We wanted to make sure everyone was on board with what it meant to have a dog again. We needed to make sure our new home was ready.
After filling out an application at the local shelter, we visited to see the dogs they had available. We were able to see them together, to see how they would react to us. Even though we could read about them on the sheets hanging by their kennels, we could also see to how to they reacted to each of us. We also read which ones would be comfortable around multiple kids, and ruled out those who may not do well with kids.
We considered a few of them, and scheduled an appointment to have meet and greets where we’d be able to interact with the dogs.
Little did we know, we were being watched too.
The staff, after seeing how we interacted as a family, pulled us aside and told us they might actually have the perfect dog for us in the back, one who had been part of a rescue mission from a horrible living condition. The dog and her puppies had been left in a trailer for a month with very little food. They were Pitbull Labrador Retriever mixes.
Doesn’t sound like the best dog for a big family with multiple kids, right?
But the moment Rubics Cube, now Ruby, came around and saw us, she just melted into us. She was immediately comfortable with the kids petting her. She responded positively to my husband and oldest son, who are tall guys and can be intimidating to new dogs.
It was love.
And less than two days later, they called to ask us if we’d be willing to also adopt one of Ruby’s puppies who had been found with her so that they could be together. Of course, we said yes, and Keeva came home with us as well.
Shelter staff and staff at rescues take the time to learn about dogs who are up for adoption. They interact with them during feedings, play time, and during regular care. They see how they react to a variety of situations in a variety of settings. They know their history, and can often tell what their future should be like.
And a bonus: many shelter dogs are out of the puppy stage, meaning that they’re more likely to be house trained. You may need to invest in other basic training, but they may not need to be potty trained day and night like a new puppy would.
Please give adoption a chance. There are so many dogs out there looking for a family to love!
Note: Yes, many of the dogs in shelters these days are Pitbulls or even Pitbull mixes, but don’t let that sway your decision to adopt rather than shop. They unfortunately have been given a bad rap. They can be some of the most loyal, playful, cuddly creatures you’ll ever meet! Believe it or not, many of them make excellent family pets.
A Dog for Christmas
So, what do you think about getting a dog for Christmas? Ready to do your homework? Best wishes on whatever you decide is best for your family!