Rather than selecting a trendy new gift this year for a loved one, some people consider giving a pet for the holidays.
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A pet, of course, comes with an array of responsibilities that gift givers — never mind the recipients — may not have fully considered.
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Carl Peterson, CEO of Bark Busters Home Dog Training, headquartered in Danville, California, shared with Fox News Digital his top tips for how to prepare first-time pet owners for a furry new friend this year.
1. Use a checklist
The owner himself of two golden retrievers, Peterson said his No. 1 tip is to make a checklist when considering gifting a dog to a first-time pet owner.
“It’s important to start with a dog ownership checklist with questions to ask yourself,” he said.
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Some of the questions about potential new dog owners include:
- Can they commit to 10 to 15 years of care?
- Are they ready and willing to handle the financial commitment required for responsible dog ownership?
- What type of dog will best fit their lifestyle — breed, age, prior background?
Other factors to consider:
- How often are the pet recipients at home?
- What kind of environment do they live in?
- Do they have the time in their daily life for the care of, and the interaction with, a new pet?
Peterson said once the checklist of questions has been answered, then it’s time for the next tip.
2. Ask the recipient direct questions
“The next step is to ask the recipient directly if they’re ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a dog,” he said.
Peterson noted that although this step takes the surprise out of gift giving, it’s important for the recipient(s) to be prepared for the arrival of a pet.
“If everyone’s on the same page, now is a good time to start prepping by getting the necessities and dog- or puppy-proofing your home (leash, collar, dog bed/crate, food, toys, etc.),” he said.
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The longtime pet industry professional also said this would be a good time to consider dog training to help first-time pet owners get started on their dog-owning journey.
“It would make for a perfect surprise gift as the bow on top to include the gift of dog training,” he said.
3. Do your homework
“We recommend the recipient not only be aware of the gift, but also have a say in what type of dog” is given, said Peterson.
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Peterson said that certain breeds can better fit certain lifestyles.
For example, he recommended a cavalier king charles spaniel, shih tzu and chihuahua for a lower maintenance lifestyle, in which the owner might live in an apartment with less access to larger spaces.
If the dog recipient lives an active lifestyle — going hiking, biking, swimming and more on a regular basis — Peterson recommended retrievers, collies, pointers and german shepherds.
If the dog recipient has a family with children, then he recommended dogs known to be tolerant of busy households, such as various retrievers, newfoundlands, bulldogs and beagles.
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Peterson noted that although giving someone a puppy can be fun — adopting a dog from an animal shelter can be “just as joyful.”
“Right now, animal shelters across the nation are bursting at the seams and in dire need of people to adopt,” he said.
At the end of the day, Peterson said a new pet in the family is bound to bring people a “lifetime of unconditional love and memories.”
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