Holiday puppy, a good gift or possible failure?

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    Yes, there are pitfalls of giving a puppy as a gift.
    January and early spring is when animal shelters experience a high degree of owner surrenders. Owners become frustrated with housetraining a puppy in January, and in the spring puppies turn into adolescents.
    If you’re thinking about a pup for your kids this holiday season, be realistic and ask yourself, “Am I ready to raise this puppy?” Know the responsibility will ultimately fall on the adult in the house, no matter what the kids say.
    If you’re thinking about surprising someone outside of your home with a new puppy, please think again. The gift of a living, breathing, sentient being may not be welcomed. Being saddled with a 10-15 year commitment of time and money that one wasn’t expecting can be quite a burden.
    The mission of Cold Nose College is keeping dogs in their forever homes through training and education. The entire family should be on board with the selection of the dog. It’s vitally important to consider the dog’s temperament, energy level, exercise and grooming needs in order to fit the family’s lifestyle. Doing research and selecting the right dog for your home is so important.  
    If the family is on board or your friend has indicated that a new dog or puppy would be a good addition to their home, consider this: The holidays are very busy and may not be the best time to bring the new dog or puppy home.
    Instead, think about the surprise of a basket of dog toys and dog gear such as a collar, leash, food bowl, bed, toys, crates and a training gift certificate. Then, as a family, everyone can share their feelings about choice of dog for the family.
    If the pet is for someone outside your family, remember that choosing a pet can be a very personal decision. Instead, you could give
a gift certificate to cover
the cost of adoption, training, veterinary visits, grooming or daycare. Maybe an offer to pet sit for the
recipient who will no doubt need a break from puppy duty.  
    There are lots of great dogs out there looking for their forever homes, whether from the local shelter, rescue groups or reputable breeders. We owe it to dogs to make the right decisions as to which specific one is right for your lifestyle and when to best bring them home.  
    Brad Waggoner is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a KPA Certified Training Partner, a dog*tec Certified Dog walker/instructor, faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior and partner of Cold Nose College in Murphy. He enjoys providing behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area, as well as offering educational opportunities for dog trainers and dog hobbyists throughout the U.S. For details, visit www.coldnosecollege.com.