As the much awaited day of Christmas arrives, many of us are still scrambling to find the perfect gift to give our friends or loved ones for the holiday. Some of these people will end up surprising someone with a dog. In fact, I receive numerous calls coming from people who have gotten dogs as gifts. Many times in this situation, the stories tend to sound similar. Most of the time, the person receiving the dog as a gift either does not have enough time to care for it or they were not expecting or ready for a dog.

So, if you are considering gifting a dog to your children or someone else, there are some things you should consider to prevent a disaster.

1. First, and most importantly, you need to be sure that the person receiving the gift is able to have a dog. In other words, you need to ensure the person has enough energy, time, and money to properly care for a canine companion. In addition, it is important to know if the person has any known animal allergies or if the person is required to travel a lot for work. Finally, think about if the person ever mentioned wanting a dog before, or if he or she lives in an environment that is beneficial for a dog

2. To gift a puppy, it is best to wait until the busyness of the holiday has passed as it will be very challenging keeping an eye on a young puppy in the midst of busy holiday activities. Furthermore, Christmas lights, tree ornaments, wrapping paper, and so on are invitations for a puppy to get into danger with. In addition, it would be rather stressful attempting to potty train a new addition with a house packed with guests. Not to mention all of the holiday plants decorating a home around Christmas such as holly, amaryllis, poinsettias, and mistletoe are poisonous to animals.

3. However, once you have considered all of these items and decide you still want to gift a dog, make sure you do plenty of research on what breed will best fit that person’s life or preferences. For starters, this is when you would want to consider the adoption of a puppy or an adult dog. Keep in mind when buying for children or elderly persons you will still need to be responsible for the training, care, and overall raising of the dog that you will more than likely inherit in the future. To make sure you get a good, quality dog it is a good idea to either check the local humane society or find a reputable breeder to purchase from.

4. Finally, you cannot just give a dog! The person receiving the dog would very much appreciate a starter kit to care for his or her new puppy. The kit would be good to include items such as a collar, leash, a small bag of food, bowls, and a few chew toys. If you wanted to go all out, you could also give the person names and/or gift cards to local trainers, pet supply stores, veterinarians, and groomers.

5. If you are unsure what breed or age of dog would best suit the person, a better idea than guessing would be buying the person a gift card and letting them pick out their own kind of dog.

Just remember that the Humane Society of the United States said it best when they said “A pet is for life, not just for Christmas.”