Is there anything that conjures up the “warm fuzzies” like imagining your family coming down the stairs on Christmas morning, only to be greeted by a soft and warm puppy wearing a too-big red bow? Before you make the visions of wagging tails and wet kisses a reality, Wisconsin Pet Care would like to explain why you might wish to reconsider getting a puppy as a holiday gift.

1) Adding a dog to the family is a big decision. Even if your family has been thinking about getting a dog for a while, actually bringing one home is a process that should involve everyone. What if the “idea” of having a dog ends up being more fun than actually taking care of a dog? If your family doesn’t stay engaged in the daily rigors of pup ownership, are you willing to take on all of the responsibility? The already overcrowded animal shelters see too many of these dogs each year, so it is important to know from the start that everyone is on board. Adopting a dog or cat is a commitment of at least 10-17 years. Can you afford upon average 2K a year for food, vetting, grooming, basic shots, training?

2) Whether you choose a puppy or an adult dog, it will take him some time to get accustomed to all of the sights, sounds and smells of his new home. Be patient with the new addition as it generally takes a good year for the new dog to feel safe and comfortable.The hustle and bustle of the holidays can pose heightened stress as schedules may be irregular, guests will be more frequent than usual, and the environment will likely be noisier.

3) Getting a new companion for a neighbor, friend, or extended family member is even less ideal. There is a forever home for every dog, but choosing a new pup is a very personal experience – and it is a decision that they will need to make on their own. When they are ready to add an animal to their family, they will. Please resist temptation when seeing a puppy and think about the welfare of the dog over the “cute factor.”

So if not a new puppy, what can you get for the dog lovers on your Christmas list? What about an IOU for a pup?! Start off the new year with a new bundle of fur (just make sure that the whole family can come along to the animal shelter or rescue group)! Of course, this doesn’t have the same picture-worthy appeal that a physical dog would have on Christmas morning, but it does give you time to explain the responsibilities of pet ownership (or allow the gift recipient a chance to ready his/her home for a new dog). Here are some items that would be nice to include with your “dog IOU”:

*Pet Bed
*Collar and Leash
*Dog Toys
*Set of Dog Bowls
*Dog Training Book or Breed Specific Book
*Nail Clippers, Brush, Grooming Items
*Gift Certificate to Wisconsin Pet Care (of course!)

Of course, it is still important to wrap your gift with a too-big red bow and get ready for the squeals of delight on Christmas morning. It may not be a new puppy in the fur, but it definitely gives everyone something to look forward to after the tinsel and eggnog are gone.