Every parent loves to see their child's face light up with joy when they open the perfect present. So, when a new puppy, kitty or other pet appears at the top of a youngster's wish list, it's important to realize that unlike other holiday gifts, bringing home a dog, cat, bird or even fish, takes a lot of planning.
However, with seven simple steps, it’s easy for any parent to plan ahead and make smart decisions around adding a new pet to the family.
Tips for Giving Pets as Gifts:
1. First, go over a child's wish list together to see if they will appreciate and care for a new pet. Ask the child how he or she would care for the pet if someone granted his or her wish. Make sure to remind them that pets need to be fed, taken care of and they can often make extra messes. Of course, a child is likely to promise to do everything involving the pet, so it's important to remember that the younger the child is, the more the responsibility will fall on the parents.
2. Take the child to an adoption event or animal shelter to confirm what breed or type of pet he or she wants. Some gentle steering will be able to sway him or her to the best option for the family. In addition, Petco hosts free monthly Meet the Critters events where kids and adults can learn about different types of pets, their habitats and care, and feeding information.
3. Thoroughly research the animal's care, maintenance, grooming and training requirements. Prepare a list of staples the pet will need and put them on a wish list. Be sure to include a cage, food, leash, shampoo, treats, toys and accessories so there aren't any surprises by the barrage of additional expenses. Then, add on health and cleaning items to cope with the accidents that are part of every new pet's first days at home.
4. Once you've decided to add a new pet to the family, identify a good veterinarian in the local community. Determine whether a license or community permit is needed, set a vaccination schedule and take care of any necessary paperwork.
5. If adding a puppy to the family, be sure to check out local dog training classes and/or free workshops in the neighborhood. This will help make certain the family puppy is set up for success. Petco offers Dog Training Classes, as well as free seminars to help raise a well-behaved companion.
6. Then it's time to get the house ready for the new family member. Try to prepare as much as possible prior to bringing the new pet home. Amphibians, reptiles or fish need aquariums, filters, heaters, plants and other accessories - many of these need time to settle before they will sustain a new pet. A new bird or rodent will require a cage, bedding or cage liner, dishes and toys. A larger animal, such as a puppy or kitten, will also need a bed and a carrier or crate. Petco provides free care sheets, which list the recommended supplies for each animal, in addition to important information and care requirements.
7. When it's time for the big unveil, it can be enticing to tie a red bow around a new puppy's neck or the hamster's cage and leave them amid the other packages. However, this guarantees stressing out the newest family member before he or she is even discovered by the family. It's better to wrap the cage and accessories with a photo of the animal for presentation on the actual holiday, which also helps to prevent a new pet from being mistakenly identified as a toy.
The best option to introduce a new pet into the home is to wait until after the holiday season is over and things have settled down. The hustle and bustle of the holidays can stress out any new pet, and possibly the pet parent!