A popular time for bringing in a new pet to the home is undoubtedly during the holidays, especially around Christmas and New Year. There are advantages and benefits to doing it at this time, but there are also disadvantages too. For example, you’d do well to heed the saying, ‘a pet is for life – not just for Christmas’ as so many holiday pets can end up unwanted once the novelty of having a new pet wears off.

On the other hand, holidays are a time when people are usually free from responsibilities of if things like work and school. This can allow them to have much more time to spend with a new pet at a time when the new pet needs it most. Once the pet has settled in and feels wanted and is more relaxed, it won’t mind so much the lesser attention it will likely get when family members go back to work and to school.

Owning a pet carries a lot of responsibility. Every year after Christmas animal shelters up and down the country receive puppies, kittens and other pets by the hundreds. These are living, feeling, fully aware creatures that have been given to someone, usually a child, as a surprise present, often on Christmas morning. The child is initially delighted and excited to have his or her own pet. That’s great, of course, but young children have no idea what looking after and caring for a pet entails. Sadly, their parents often don’t either.

Young animals bite. They don’t do this in order to hurt, usually; it’s just their nature. If you watch puppies or kittens play together, you will see a lot of biting going on. However, it’s play, and the biting is not intended to hurt and rarely does. But if little Mary or little Johnny is bitten by the new puppy, the shock of it happening will usually cause tears and alarm.

The parents, unless they know about the normal behavior of young animals at play, will often decide that a biting pet is not at all suitable for their child, hence the trip to the animal shelter with the unwanted pet, immediately after Christmas. Of course, the young pet only wants to play and has no idea what it did “wrong”. It had probably just started to feel secure and wanted in a new environment when it is suddenly uprooted and whisked away. It probably was smacked too for biting the precious offspring, adding even more confusion.

This is clearly no way to treat any animal. If you intend to give your child, or perhaps a nephew or niece, a pet during the holidays, take the time to consider every possible eventuality. The pet is a living creature with feelings. It will act according to its instincts, and those instincts might sometimes tell it to bite.

As an adult, it is a good idea that you accept the responsibility for looking after a pet if you want to give a child a surprise gift. The child will no doubt promise the earth that he or she will feed, clean up and do whatever it takes to look after their precious new pet. However, the first time the pet makes a toilet mess on the floor, or is sick in a corner, it won’t be the child who runs forward to clean it up. You can depend on that. Bringing a new pet into a home during the holidays can be a great idea – but only if it is thought through properly.

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