Wednesday, December 16, 2009
By Linda Cole
Adding a pet to a home anytime during the year is great, but careful consideration should be taken before surprising your kids or anyone else with a new pet as a Christmas gift. Giving a pet for Christmas may seem like a wonderful idea at the time, but pets don't always make good gifts. Here are five reasons why Santa says “No” to pets as Christmas presents.
No time for proper bonding
Christmas is the one of the busiest times of the year, and a new pet needs attention right away to bond with their new owner. If the bonding process is neglected during those first few days, the new puppy or kitten is more likely to form a relationship with the one who feeds them and attends to their needs instead of their intended owner. Plus, getting a pet for Christmas along with all the new toys and games Santa will leave under the tree can be overwhelming for children. Kids can quickly lose interest in a new pet after the initial surprise.
Giving a pet for Christmas can create an insecure pet. New puppies and kittens need to learn rules, and it's hard to give them the attention they need in a busy home. With family and friends coming and going, a new pet may have trouble learning who is in charge. There are so many unfamiliar smells in a new pet's environment that he may feel lost and uncomfortable. Insecurity can lead to behavioral problems later on, so it's important to help new pets, especially puppies, learn who their pack leader is.
Other pets already in the home
Giving a pet for Christmas adds more tension to an already busy household, especially when there is no time to properly introduce a new member who most likely will not be welcomed by other pets. Dogs and cats are territorial and are not eager to share their space with a newcomer. Kittens and puppies may not understand the social hierarchy in their new family and if you don't help a new pet learn proper socializing, the older cat or dog will give them a lesson of their own. Some little spats are to be expected, but outright aggression can leave a new pet hurt, frightened and harder to socialize with the other pets.
It's easy to forget that a new pet is in the house
During the holidays, we generally have more food sitting around for guests to munch on. Alcoholic drinks, chocolate candy, raisins, nuts and other food items can be deadly for pets. Plus there are electrical cords to chew on and play with, tree ornaments and tinsel, all of which can be extremely dangerous to pets. An emergency trip to the vet can dampen any holiday festivities. It's not easy keeping an eye on pets when you’re used to them in the house and even harder when the pet is new. An opened door as guests arrive can leave an exploring puppy or kitten out in the cold and lost. Refrigerator doors, cabinet doors or basement steps can all be harmful to a pet if you forget to watch out for them.
There's an emotional connection that comes with selecting a pet
Most pet owners can't tell you why they picked the pet they have. It may have been a look, a little yap or an outstretched paw catching an arm as a cage was passed. An emotional bond begins when you first see the dog or cat you will eventually take home. Choosing a pet is personal for most people and that's why giving a pet for Christmas isn't always a good idea.
If you want to give someone a pet for Christmas, a good alternative would be to buy them a gift certificate with a responsible breeder or make arrangements with a local shelter for an appointment after the holidays. This allows the person receiving your gift the opportunity and fun of picking out a new pet themselves. If you already purchased or adopted a pet, most breeders or shelters are happy to hold it until after the holidays when the new owner and pet have adequate time to properly bond. A picture of a new pet wrapped up gives someone, especially a child, something to look forward to after the holidays when life has returned to normal.
As far as I'm concerned, a pet is the best gift in the world to get. However, unless you are absolutely certain that the person receiving this heartwarming present really wants the responsibility of caring for a pet, it's best to not give a pet as a gift. Surprises are great, but giving a pet for Christmas may be a little more of a surprise than someone was expecting, and it may not be appreciated.
Read more articles by Linda Cole