Is Gifting A Puppy A Good Idea During The Holidays?

We’ve all seen those adorable videos of unwrapping presents on Christmas morning only to find a cute, wriggly puppy hiding inside one of the packages. Squeals and tears ensure making for an emotional moment. Gifting puppies is so much fun!

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However, what happens after that initial moment of euphoria? How did the rest of the day go? What happens when the family goes back to school, to work? Is it still a wonderful thing to have this new puppy?

Why Do People Gift Puppies During The Holidays?

There are multiple reasons why people give pets as gifts for the holidays:

  • Someone in the family has been asking for a puppy for a long time
  • Perhaps someone recently lost their pet and a loved one wants to make them feel better
  • There is someone who seems lonely

As a veterinarian, I’ve heard it all when it comes to gifting pets during the holidays. I’ve had older parents who were gifted a puppy by their well-meaning adult kids who thought they were lonely. More than a few times I’ve heard of a grieving spouse who was given a pet for comfort and companionship.

The underlying rationale for the puppy-givers is that puppies are awesome so they are going to be very readily accepted. They don’t tend to clear things ahead with the puppy receiver, or the family of the puppy receiver, to make sure the gift might be acceptable.

The one thing to remember if you’re contemplating gifting a puppy is that these are presents that will require the receiver to spend countless hours taking care of that present. They will have to spend money on that present for over a decade to come. It might impact any plans they have to travel or even just move.

What Are The Possible Bad Things That Could Happen If The Puppy Isn’t Wanted?

They Refuse the Gift

Well, the first thing that could happen is that the receiver just says “no.” Hurt feeling will no doubt follow immediately and will be felt by everyone present. What should have been a joyous celebration will now be filled with tension and hurt feelings.

It’s perfectly within the right of any person to say “no” to such a gift. The responsibilities that are tied to getting a new puppy mean different things to different people. Just because you think the gift is great doesn’t mean that the other person wants it.

They Give The Puppy Away

What happens after that initial gift-giving excitement is over? Perhaps later that day or even the next day the receiver of the “gift” decides that they don’t want the puppy now but they don’t want to tell the gift giver right away.

Maybe an ad on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace is placed and the gifted puppy is gone within a day or two. The new puppy owners may feel a bit guilty about giving the puppy away to someone else, but that’s preferable to keeping a puppy they truly didn’t want for the next decade or more.

They Take The Puppy To A Shelter

The worst case scenario? The new puppy owners not only don’t want the puppy, but they don’t want to spend the time or effort in trying to locate a new owner for the puppy. The shelter is easier and faster.

That may sound implausible, but it’s possible.

How To Prepare For Gifting A Puppy During The Holidays

In the perfect situation, a puppy is being obtained for a member of the family who has spoken again and again of their desire for a puppy for Christmas. In this case, the surprise (or not) will be a welcome one. You know that the puppy won’t be rejected.

Before The Gifting

Now is when all the other things need to be taken care of to ensure that the day will go as well as possible. Is the puppy going to be given first thing in the morning or later in the day? You’ll need to have someone to watch the puppy until the gifting time has arrived.

It’s best if whoever is holding onto the puppy for your just prior to the gifting takes the puppy for a walk to make sure it eliminates as much as possible.

Should you feed the puppy before the gifting? I would probably schedule the gifting to be at some point mid-way between two feedings. That way the puppy won’t be so hungry that it will be whining and temperamental and it won’t be full and wanting to take a nap soon after the gifting.

After The Gifting

It’s recommended to not take the puppy out to other locations/houses after he/she is given to its new owner. It’s going to be a really big day for the puppy. Don’t make it harder by putting it through more travel and stress than necessary.

Other Things You Need To Get For The Puppy BEFORE It’s Gifted

A puppy needs the following items:

  • Food
  • Bowls for the food and water
  • A bed and/or kennel
  • Toys
  • Collar or harness
  • Leash

Puppy Food

It’s best to keep the puppy on whatever food it’s been eating lately when you first bring it home. You can change the diet later if you want to, but inititally you don’t want to upset its stomach by switching foods. That’s a surefire way to end up with a little stinky puppy with diarrhea on Christmas Day.

If you do want to switch puppy foods, do so gradually over the course of a week by gradually switching out a little of the old food with the new food. I’m a big fan of Purina Proplan Puppy food, but you can check out more recommendations below.

The Best Dry and Canned Puppy Food, A Guide For New Owners


If you’ve not had a puppy in the house before, you’re going to be amazed at just how much of a mess they can make at times. There are ways to minimize this, and one crucial area is in the bowls that you select to give them food and water in.

I like this non-skid bowl set that comes with a mat. It’ll keep the area dry and much cleaner than most regular bowls.

A Place To Sleep

I’m a big believer in using a kennel as a safe bed for a puppy. Dogs usually like kennels because they are cozy and private. Kennels provide a safe place for the puppy to sleep and rest.

They also protect the puppy from getting into trouble when you leave as well as a means by which you can house-train them faster.

I like the covered ones that can help keep the environment a bit darker and quieter to allow for proper rest.

If you don’t want to utilize a kennel but still want to keep your puppy safe, then consider using a pet enclosure such as this one. Large enough for the puppy to stretch its legs, but not requiring any obtrusive pet gates in doorways.

A good dog bed is also a necessity. Every dog loves to have its own bed, even if they also like getting up on yours or on the couch.

The donut bed comes highly rated, but another great choice is the Deep Dish Cuddler.

When gifting a puppy, it's important to remember there are many other things that should be gifted at the same time...

Puppy Toys

Every puppy needs to be given toys when it first comes into your home or it will choose something else to play with – like your shoe. The best puppy toys are the ones that the puppy loves to play with but won’t be easily torn apart.

You won’t know what type of toys your puppy likes at first, so it may be best to get one of the multi-toy packs to see what they will play with. A snuggle puppy is a great bed-time comfort for new puppies who might be spending their first night away from their family.

A Benebone chew toy can be something that your puppy can chew on to help with any anxiety or restlessness. A Chuck-It Ball is a great ball to get for any dog large enough to hold it in its mouth. These balls are easy to pick out in the grass or inside the house and are very difficult to destroy. They will last a very long time.


It’s highly likely that the new puppy will need a walk within that first day of being in their new home. I recommend a collar for any dog larger than 8-10 lbs, but if the dog is very, very small then a harness is more appropriate.


The proper leash is important when teaching your new puppy how to behave with you when you take it outside for a walk. A shorter (6 feet long is plenty) leash is best to start out with. You’ll want to keep a puppy close to you on a walk so they don’t ingest things lying about in the grass.

I HATE retractable leashes for this reason. A retractable leash is one that you can let unwind as the dog moves away from you. To get the dog back, they have to actually come to you as you press a button to wind the leash back up inside the little case.

The reason I hate these retractable leashes is that there’s little recourse for you to get your dog back to you quickly if you need to. Trying to pull on that “leash” that’s been pulled out is difficult and usually painful.

One Last Thing…

Be sure to make an appointment with a veterinarian for a time shortly after the gifting of the puppy. You’ll want to make sure that this little pup that you’re rapidly falling in love with is healthy. It also gives you a chance to ask any questions you may have about how to handle certain situations.