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Everyone dreams of waking up Christmas morning and running downstairs to find an adorable puppy sitting under the tree with the quintessential big red bow. It is the cliche scene from so many different movies, shows, and commercials.

In reality, this is normally a pretty bad idea! So here are some reasons why you should skip giving a pet as a gift this holiday season. 

Well, they might be fun, but the holidays are a notoriously stressful time for people across the globe. The weather is not typically the greatest, there is tons of traveling involved, and hosting parties can make the sanest of people lose their minds. Try adding a puppy to the mix.

The first few weeks of having a puppy are incredibly stressful. It can almost be compared to bringing a baby home. You need to puppy-proof the house, get up in the middle of the night to take them out, and keep an almost constant eye on their whereabouts. Though the idea of seeing the huge smile on the receiver’s face when they see their new puppy may make it seem like a good idea, they won’t be smiling later when they can’t handle all the challenges and messes that come with being a new puppy parent.

When the Novelty Wears Off… There’s a Whole lot of Responsibility

The first few days with the new puppy may be extremely exciting and full of joy for all involved, but the novelty of having the dog will soon kick in. Pets are a lot of work. They take a ton of time, money, and energy. They also don’t stay tiny, fluffy, babies forever. More often than not, children who receive pets as Christmas presents don’t understand the responsibility that comes with them. This responsibility then falls to the already busy parents.

Giving pets as gifts to adult friends or family members can also cause problems. It is wise to adopt a pet that fits your lifestyle and wants. Someone giving another person a pet may not know the time or energy they have to dedicate to that animal and, thus, may make a poor decision on that person’s behalf. Even with amazing intentions, giving someone else a pet may do more harm than good.

Christmas Puppies or Kittens Often End Up in Shelters

And we can’t forget about the puppy or kitten that all this is revolving around. That animal is going to rely on the person for everything from food and a place to sleep, to guidance on behavior and love. If that person cannot provide this to the animal, what does that puppy or kitten do? They may suffer from a lack of exercise or attention. They might also have medical issues that cannot be paid for. Worst comes to worst, that animal ends up in a shelter. From there, their fate is indeterminate.

Shelter’s across the U.S. see a huge shift in the number of animals they have coming in during the months following the holiday season. As puppies and kittens lose the adorable baby-ness they had on Christmas morning, some people find themselves less invested. As they get older, puppies are prone to causing more messes and damage (especially in the case of larger breeds).

Puppy training is not the easiest thing on Earth, and potty training takes its toll on every new puppy parent. If the new parent to this animal was unaware they were getting the pet, they may not be ready for the responsibility it entails. The only way out may be to return their Christmas present to the shelter for someone else to take care of.

Jennifer Galloway, Director of the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Florida, explains, “we’ve seen too often where the pet goes home and comes back a few months later because someone wasn’t happy with that selection, and they don’t bond with that particular animal.” She says that every year, a few months after the holiday season, they get more than 50 surrenders that were given as gifts.

Unfortunately for the puppy or kitten, in the week or months since Christmas, they have been growing. They not only lose the endearing qualities that get tiny puppies adopted, but they may have been developing some less than ideal habits. Both of these things make adopting out the animals difficult. High numbers in the shelter during the first half of the year is just another challenge for each individual pup and kitten in their pursuit of a loving, forever home.

How to Properly Give a Holiday Pet

If you are well prepared for the responsibilities and costs associated with bringing a pet home, consider waiting until after Christmas. Buy a collar and place that under the Christmas tree as a representation of the future animal. Make the adoption of the puppy a family event so you are able to choose an animal that fits in perfectly. This will not only allow you to welcome your new family member into your home in a calm and relaxing way, but will ensure you find the perfect match!

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