If someone on your list is wishing for a pet this holiday season, here are some tips and things to consider to make sure that everyone — including the new animal — is jolly. Sherry Woodard is resident animal behavior consultant for Best Friends Animal Society, an animal advocacy group that also runs an animal sanctuary, as featured on the National Geographic show, “Dogtown.” She offers some smart advice on making this important decision.
Is a pet the right gift?
Owning a pet is one of the most rewarding things life can offer and it’s the start of a friendship that will last for years, but pets also come with serious responsibilities and a commitment to their health and happiness. Before deciding what kind of animal to buy, first consider the following questions:
- Is the giftee ready for the responsibility of pet ownership? If the answer ends up being no, are you prepared to take on full responsibility yourself? If you don’t think your kids are ready, perhaps give a lower-maintenance animal, like a fish, and see if they demonstrate the responsibility necessary for that desperately-wanted puppy.
- Has the giftee expressed a clear desire for a new pet? This is one case where a truly surprising gift might be an unpleasant surprise. If you’re not sure, Woodard suggests using creative ways to find out: Walk them by a pet-store window; leave Animal Planet on in the background during dinner; take a stroll around the local park or dog run to see if any particular pet catches their eye.