Some people may be considering giving a puppy to a loved one as a holiday gift. But Sandy Driscoll, owner of Academy of Dog Obedience and advertiser on The Eastsider, said it might be best to wait until after the holidays to select and give a loyal and furry companion to a loved one. Here is her advice:
It is almost always a bad idea to surprise a friend or loved one with a pet as a gift.
A dog/cat is something that we end up having for many years … 15 or more. It’s not a purchase to be taken lightly. A new pet needs to be selected with the prospective owner’s wants, needs and lifestyle in mind. As tempting as it is to give a bow-wrapped puppy, it’s much better to wrap a gift certificate and let the recipient choose his or her own pet. The holidays can be a particularly exciting and stressful time for people and pets, so choosing that perfect dog or puppy after the first of the year makes much more sense. By that time, holiday spirits have quieted down, and there’s much more time to focus on the new puppy!
Breed choice is important
This encompasses size, energy level, temperament, appearance, etc. Be aware that all breeds have specific traits. Don’t be surprised if that cute Pit Bull grows up to have some dog aggression problems, Retrievers (Labs, Goldens, etc) are enthusiastic and high energy, toy breeds and terriers can be barkers, and certain breeds can be more difficult to housebreak or potty train than others.
Take into consideration family members
It’s generally not a good idea to have a very small dog (Chihuahua, Yorkie, etc.) around very young children. Children should be old enough to learn how to interact with a dog properly, not to tease or mistreat it, and children should NEVER be left alone with a dog.
Dogs are available from a myriad of sources
Animal shelters, animal rescue groups (there are specific breed rescues for just about every breed), online (Craigslist, etc), breeders (good breeders and backyard breeders) and pet stores. Do NOT buy a dog from a pet store! No matter what they tell you, the puppies always come from puppy mills (mostly in the Midwest…..Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, etc), are very overpriced, generally unhealthy and have temperament problems resulting from being inbred. If you are looking for a specific breed, and want a purebred dog, go to a local breed rescue (easily found online), or find a GOOD breeder. This can be done by checking with the American Kennel Club website.
Start training early
The best time to start training is the moment your new puppy steps over the threshold! Even a very young puppy can be taught manners, gently. At this age, it’s mostly preventive training, which encompasses replacing bad habits with good ones, and redirecting unwanted behaviors. Most important would be housebreaking/potty training, teaching a puppy not to jump (on adults, kids, tables, couches), not to nip/bite with those needle-sharp puppy teeth, how to walk properly on a leash, etc. Obedience training (heel, sit, stay, come, down) can be integrated as the puppy matures. It is easily possible to have a five month old puppy who is cheerfully responding to all those commands!
There are many wonderful dogs, purebred and mixes, available from animal shelters and from rescue groups. The animal shelter that covers The Eastside area is the North Central Animal Shelter (3201 Lacy St., Los Angeles 90031 Phone: 888-452-7381)
Enjoy your puppy/dog! They all add pleasure and immense happiness to our lives. They never live long enough, so treasure the time you have with them now.