The gift-giving season has arrived, and for many children (and adults), a cute, snuggly dog or cat is on the list of what they are wishing for.
Even though we know that dogs and cats aren’t staring at a calendar lamenting their holiday plans, there is something especially festive and heartwarming about giving a home to an animal over the holidays, especially if it means getting them out of a shelter.
Over the years, there has been a lot of controversy when it comes to whether or not gifting a pet for the holidays is a good, or terrible, idea. Thankfully, from the data currently being reported, it seems as though a Hanukkah Husky, Christmas Calico, or Kwanzaa King Charles Spaniel isn’t such a bad idea … as long as you do it the right way.
Our very own Dr. Jason Nicholas and his cohost, Mia, tackled this topic in episode 17 of our Paws & Play podcast. Listen to their discussion that goes over the pros and cons, things to take into consideration, and, if you decide to add a new family member, tips for setting yourself (and them) up for success:
Pros of Getting a Dog or Cat for the Holidays
More Time to Dedicate to a New Pet
One of the biggest pros to bringing a new pet into your family around the holidays is that, generally speaking, people have more time off from work and/or school. So as long as you aren’t traveling, and don’t have a bunch of company coming to stay with you, there is more time to shop for supplies, start forming strong bonds, get going on training, and of course, continue their socialization.
It Gets the Whole Family Involved
The holidays present a great time to positively introduce pet ownership and the responsibility that entails. “I think it’s such a common motivating factor for people getting pets at the holidays. They’ve got kids and the kids have been asking for them for a while and you know, the kids have achieved whatever milestone, their grades were good or they saved up, or whatever it is,” says Dr. J.
He suggests that instead of gifting the actual dog or cat on Christmas, print out a certificate and include it in a gift basket that has some supplies they’ll need for caring for their new pet. This way they can take some time to prepare for their responsibilities and, even more importantly, be involved in choosing the new dog or cat!
Cons of Getting a Dog or Cat for the Holidays
Show Me the Money!
You know that saying about nothing in life being free? Well, when it comes to animals, no truer words have been said. Much like a human family member, animals have a lot of costs involved, including but not limited to food, vet visits, toys, collars, grooming supplies, etc.
The holidays are a time when many of our wallets are already stretched thin, so it is very important to take a good look at your financial situation ahead of time and then determine whether now is the right time to get a pet.
Less Time Available
One of the biggest cons to getting a pet at the holidays is not fully evaluating the amount of time you have available, not just at the holidays but also going forward. It’s really important to have a good sense of how your schedule will be impacted while raising a new cat, dog, puppy, or kitten once the holidays are over with.
And if you have children, even if the dog or cat is technically their responsibility, it is still YOUR responsibility, and you have to be ok with that up front.
Holiday Travel Plans
The first few months with your dog or cat are incredibly important for establishing bonds, routines, and house rules. If you have upcoming travel plans, it may not be the best time to bring a pet home. Wait until you have an extended period of time at home in your regular routine to bring home a new pet. This will help them settle in and make the often stressful transition period easier.
Chilly Potty Training
If you live in a colder climate and are getting a dog that needs potty training, be prepared for late nights, early mornings, and invest in a good flashlight, and a warm coat and boots for you and your dog. Some dogs really don’t enjoy being outdoors in the cold, which can make house training take longer than usual and sometimes these dogs will have accidents inside. Be prepared for a consistent potty training schedule that might include frequent chilly forays outdoors, or consider training your dog to use potty pads.
Having family over for the holidays can be overwhelming for anybody, but it can be especially overwhelming for a dog or cat who is still getting used to their new world. Too much, too soon can create lasting fears and socialization issues.
Your new pet, whether they’ve just come from a breeder or a shelter, a lot has just changed in their world. They’ve potentially been bounced around between multiple shelters or rescues. Or, if it’s a kitten or a puppy, they’ve just left an environment where, hopefully, it was nourishing, and they had their mom and their litter mates around. But once they’ve joined your household, they have this new human family they’ve got to figure out.
If that early bonding period is stressed or pushed to the limits too early with a lot of visitors and socialization done incorrectly (i.e. not at the puppy or the kitten’s pace), it can make things a lot scarier for them, and that can really inhibit their social growth going forward.
That was it for this article. If you found it helpful, consider checking out our blog icareforpet !