A Christmas Puppy? Maybe Not

December 4, 2010

Robert Forto

So you are thinking of getting a puppy for Christmas? Think twice. The idea of giving a puppy to a child for the holiday comes from the right place. You imagine the child’s reaction: an excited shriek, followed by cooing and exclamations of joy and appreciation.

Christmas Puppy? Maybe Not

Unfortunately, the scene you envision is exactly the reason that I do not recommend giving a puppy as a gift.

There is a lot involved in pet ownership that not everybody thinks of when they have intentions on getting a pet for Christmas. Who will be taking care of this pet? Are they willing to exercise their pet daily (walks)? How much time are they going to be spending with it? Where are they going to keep it when they are at work or school? Are they planning on taking the time or expense grooming their pet? Are they going to have them spayed or neutered? Are they going to have them properly vaccinated? Finally, what would they do if the pet had behavior problems? What are they planning to do if there was a medical situation that involved major, expensive medical treatment? If you can answer that you are dedicated in caring and being financially responsible for that dog, than by all means, get one.

But there is a lot of responsibility involved in caring for one that should never be taken lightly. I see so many people that have dogs that pay absolutely no attention to them. I have a client with I believe, five dogs. Two are very aggressive dogs that she cannot handle. And she is thinking about getting a Golden Retriever for her son for Christmas because he is afraid of the aggressive dogs.

I have two dogs myself. I take the time to be with them through most of the day and love them all. I have taught my 13 year old daughter responsibility from the time she was a toddler and still would never consider giving her a pet at Christmas. Our animals are part of the family, but in no way can she ever be trusted to be responsible or accountable for them alone. A child cannot take all mentioned above and decide, Yes, I really want a pet. Most kids cannot be responsible for themselves, much less a pet. Do they make enough money to feed and care for them? No, you will. Buying a pet for our kids for Christmas without proper consideration is a gift that might well turn into a nightmare.Realistically and sadly, Christmas puppies tend to be older puppies at the pound a few months later, or that nearly year old dog getting euthanized because someone bought a dog as a “toy” for a child that has no legitimate responsibility for that animal and loses interest. Also some people have no clue that dogs grow and get bigger also will require training and they bring them to me at arm’s length saying, “Fix my dog!”

Still have your heart set on the idea? Consider gift wrapping an I.O.U. in the form of a book on dog care, a greeting card picturing a puppy, a photo of the dog you’re considering, or even an ID tag.

Then, after the excitement of the offer has passed, you can discuss logistics. Is this really what they want? Is he or she really willing to make lifetime commitment to the dog?


Dr. Robert Forto is the training director of Denver Dog Works. He specializes in canine aggression and behavior problems. He can be reached via his website at www.DenverDogWorks.com

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About robertforto

Robert Forto is the owner of Dog Works Training Company in Alaska, a canine behaviorist, mushin' down a dream, sports nut and radio show host. Robert writes a lot about his observations in Alaska, pop culture, music, and of course dogs!

View all posts by robertforto

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3 Comments on “A Christmas Puppy? Maybe Not”

  1. huskyhouse Says:

    Great article, this should be in all the local newspapers.



  1. Holiday Pet Safety | Robert Forto - December 15, 2011

    […] [ Rewind: Christmas Puppies? Maybe Not. ] […]

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