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Bark Bytes… Should Pets Be Given As A Surprise Holiday Gift?

By Richard and Vicki Horowitz

Every year as the Holidays approach, the topic of giving a pet as a gift comes up.  If you plan to give a pet as a surprise, you need to realize that the new owners may be too occupied with holiday preparations, celebrations, guests and overall activity to give the new pet the attention he needs for proper housebreaking, crate training and overall puppy manners.

Holidays are a hectic time of year for most households.  Introducing a pet during this time may cause stress for both the new pet as well as younger family members.  The chaotic times of the Holidays may create a potentially hazardous environment for the unfamiliar puppy, especially if the household is not used to having a four legged creature under foot.  It can be hard to keep ornaments, decorations, tinsel, wrapping paper, Poinsettias and other poisonous plants out of reach of the new pet.

Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment that every family member needs to agree upon.  This is an important process every family should make together.  Pets should never be given on an impulse.

Adding an animal to the family is an important decision.  Hold family meetings to create rules about caring for the dog before you get the furry family member.  What kind of dog fits in with the family dynamics—large or small, young or old, active or low energy?  Who is financially responsible?  Where will he sleep and eat?  Who will walk him and clean up after him?  Will he be allowed on the couch, the bed, and in all rooms of the house?

Making sure the family has time for the new pet is essential to the puppy’s development into a well behaved dog.  A stressful introduction can have negative effects and hinder a safe, successful integration into the family.

To improve the chances of a successful transition into your home, introduce pets during a relaxed, quiet time when the family can devote full attention to helping the animal adjust.  Also have the proper supplies (food, crate, collar, leash, food and water bowls, hard dog appropriate toys) as well as planned visit to the veterinarian.

Vicki and Richard Horowitz, of Woodbridge, are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company.  For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit

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