Eleven Reasons Not To Give A Dog As A Gift

With Christmas round the corner, I wanted to sound a word of warning for anyone thinking of giving a dog or puppy as a gift.   While it might seem like a lovely idea, most Christmas presents of animals – dogs included – usually end in failure.

Reasons For Christmas Being Bad Timing

It’s Too Busy

Christmas is a really busy time.   People are often stretched to the limit with family gatherings, decorating, shopping, travelling and mass catering.   Bringing a puppy or adult dog into an environment of near chaos is unwise because it will upset and bewilder the dog.  You need a calm environment for a dog to properly settle in and be given the training and attention it needs.

It’s Too Stressful

Christmas is also incredibly stressful. It’s often the case that financial worries or just the stress of mass family gatherings causes divisions in the family and even family breakups.   Bringing a pet into a family or home under stress will make the dog stressed and it will be more likely to have panic attacks, soil the house or develop destructive behaviour.

Most ‘Surprise’ Christmas Homings Fail

It’s known that overall, about 50% of all dog ownership attempts fail.  That’s many millions of dogs worldwide.  I know I keep on saying it but in the USA 6.5 million dogs are given back or to rescue within the first 12 months.

That’s when the homings have been planned (or what amounts to planned, which in some cases isn’t much).  So giving a dog as a surprise a at Christmas is almost always doomed to failure.  About 75% of Christmas puppy, dog or other animal gifts don’t work out.  And that’s because not only is the person totally un-prepared but the timing couldn’t be worse either.

It Sends The Wrong Message

Buying a dog and giving it as a gift is sending the wrong message. It sends the message to everyone, particularly children, that a dog is simply an item which can be bought and sold, not a living, breating creature with feelings, rights and dignity.

It Encourages Puppy Farming And Overbreeding

Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for the puppy farmers who sell unseen via internet websites, puppy dealers, animal auctions and pet stores.  Buying a puppy at Christmas simply encourages their inhumane operations – dogs stacked in crates storeys high with no room to move, bad feeding, little heating, lighting or veterinary care.  And no regard for proper breeding for health and safety. Many of these farmed puppies also carry behavioural problems and genetic disorders which will set you up for a life of expensive vet bills.

So beware of any adverts for “Christmas Puppies”, because now you know what conditions they’ve been bred in.  Never buy a dog when you can’t inspect where it came from.

Other Considerations When Giving Dogs as Gifts

Adult Dogs Can Be A Risk

Adult dogs adopted from rescue may have an unknown history with children, or may have been exposed to badly behaved children.  So your child may be at risk from the dog.

Children Must Be Trained To Dogs

Conversely, the children may never have been educated on how to approach, play with or handle a dog.  It’s just as important for the child to be trained to dogs as the dog trained to the child.  In many cases, even more so. Many rehomings happen every year because the children were left unsupervised and were are fault for hurting the dog or annoying it beyond it’s tolerance levels.  You need to spend time educating children on how to behave around animals.

The Person Might Not Want One Because Of The Time Commitment

Some people, especially working people and retired people, don’t want or need the commitment of looking after an animal.  It is a serious commitment of time, energy and effort.  It will tie them to schedules, routines and thinking of the dog first, instead of them being free to travel (including on business) at a moment’s notice.

It’s A Big Financial Commitment

A dog could live 15 years or more, in which time the owner will spend thousands on food, toys, equipment, bedding, insurance and vets bills.

If It’s To Replace One Which Has Just Died

The person might still be grieving for their old dog and not be ready for a new one.  They might still have other dogs which might not take kindly to a new arrival in the household.  Or the person might have decided they are too old for one, or don’t want the commitment (see above)

The Person Might Have A Dog Allergy

If you’re giving a gift for someone, you should know them well enough to know whether they have a significant allergy.  But if you don’t, or the person is unaware of an allergy, you could be putting  their health at risk.

Never Buy A Pet As A Gift

It’s really vital NEVER to buy a pet as a gift.  If you are going to buy a dog, then do it in a considered way, with the whole household involved if appropriate, having through through all the options. 

When you go to buy a dog you must already know this as a minimum:

  • That you are ready for one
  • What budget you can afford for all its life costs
  • Your lifestyle inside out and specifically the minimum exercise you will give a dog each day
  • What size of dog you can take
  • Where it will sleep, where it will eat and where it will play
  • Know what pure breeds will fit your exercise profile
  • Have carefully researched responsible breeders so you know you are getting a quality dog
  • Hve carefully researched the best rescue centres
  • With an allergy – how to do the proper tests and what breeds you can choose from
  • Know the tests for how to choose a healthy, well adjusted dog
  • And the basics of what to do when you get it home (feeding, training etc)


  • Wrap up a stuffed animal of the pet you want to give and have your recipient trade that in for the real thing when the time is better
  • Give the person a pet toy, leash, cage or other accessory as a “down payment” gift on a pet that will come at a more convenient time.
  • Purchase a gift certificate to an animal shelter or pet equipment company.
  • Donate to the person’s favorite animal charity.
  • Buy a gift certificate sponsoring a dog for a year
  • Buy him or her a gift membership to their local zoo.
  • Give a child a virtual pet toy or video game that encourages care for an electronic pet first.

Get Your Free Guides!

Most people make a mess of choosing a dog.  50% of all dogs fail with their new families in less than 12 months.  That’s 6.5 million discarded dogs per year, just in the USA alone.  So fast track your success with the best tips around.  Get your Free Guides today by clicking this link    Send article as PDF   

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