A Dog as a Surprise Present Doesn’t Always Lead To a Furry Merry Christmas!

Are you looking forward to the Christmas holidays? Some puppies and full-grown dogs won’t be. Why? Because they will end up as gifts in the festive season and it will not end well for them. You might be wondering why this would be the case – surely a gorgeous puppy would make the ideal Christmas gift?

There is an old saying – “A dog is for life and not just for Christmas”. While it is true to say that a lot of dogs that are given as gifts are treated well and are loved by their owners, it is not always the case. What seems like a good idea can turn into a disaster for the poor dog.

There is nothing more heart-breaking than seeing so many beautiful dogs turn up at rescue centers, which were basically unwanted gifts.

A Dog is a Life Commitment

Before you even think about giving a puppy to a person as a gift, you need to know if they will be committed to loving and taking care of the dog for the next 15 to 20 years. A dog needs a lot of special attention, especially in the early training period, and of course plenty of exercise. Is the new owner going to be the right kind of person for this? Does their lifestyle suit having a puppy or would they be better with an older dog that is already house trained and has mastered basic commands such as sit, stay and down?

The last thing that you want to do is to give a dog as a Christmas gift to someone (or a family) that doesn’t want it. Not all people have the same loving and caring attitude towards dogs that we do. Yes, the kid will most likely be delighted with the new puppy, but will the mom and dad?

So, if you are thinking about giving a dog as a Christmas gift, we suggest that you take these 4 key factors into consideration:

#1. Make sure that it is not a Surprise

There is nothing wrong with giving a dog as a gift if they go to the right people. A puppy can literally light up a person’s life, and they can be delighted to receive one. But not everybody is going to feel that way, so you need to find out first.

But what about the surprise element? Look the welfare of the dog is far more important than a surprise package – any welcome recipient will get even more joy from the first walk or snuggle they have with their new furry friend.

But, if you really don’t want to ask the intended recipient if they would like a dog as a gift first, give them something else to unwrap on the actual day. Maybe a photo of the proposed pooch in a picture frame with an ‘I Owe You’ note written on the back. Or give them a box of doggie essentials, such as food and water bowls, a leash, toys or a dog blanket.

The recipient then has the opportunity to meet the dog first and ensure they are a good match for each other or select a more suitable canine companion. This is definitely best for both the receiver and the dog in the long run.

#2. Be Prepared for Anything – Pay the Adoption fees

OK, so you have asked the recipient if they want a dog for Christmas and they tell you that they do. The thing is that you can never be 100% sure, even if you know the person really well.

We have always chosen our own dogs and I think that’s really important, because you know which is the right dog for you when you meet them – there’s an unmistakable mutual bond. And don’t forget, the present may be for an individual, but there are other people in the household that will need to get on with the new furry family member too.

So, it is a good idea for you to pay the adoption fees to the shelter first. If the recipient changes their mind (it happens) then there is no harm done and you have made a great donation to the shelter.

Bringing a new animal home and settling them into a normal routine takes a huge amount of preparation, perseverance and patience, so the hurly burly of the holiday period may not be the best time for either the gift recipient or the dog.

#3. Only give Dogs as Gifts to Family

You might not agree with this point as you may have friends that go back many years. The trouble is that even those friends that you grew up with will sometimes find it tough to say no to you and, again, you may not know their other family members so well. This can be a disaster for a dog, so just stick to giving a dog to your immediate family.

#4. Avoid Acting on Impulse

It can be very hard to walk past someone that has a box of cute puppies for sale. You start thinking about who would love one of these puppies for Christmas, and before you know it you buy one. AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS!

Similarly, internet shopping allows anybody to buy a pup at the click of a button!  This just fuels the already huge problem of illegal breeders and puppy mills (who also supply pet stores) – they just see the poor dogs as breeding machines and to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense. Please, DO NOT purchase any pet through these channels – this more often than not turns out to be a very expensive mistake.

We simply ask that you really think seriously about where you buy ANY pet and we always encourage people to consider adopting a rescue animal first, where the rescue center will know more about the history, character, health and training needs of the animal.

There are already so many unwanted animals in rescue centers across the country and sadly the situation only gets worse around Christmas time, when people give up unwanted pets given as presents.

If you follow the guide principles above, you will not only give someone a great gift but for a homeless pet, a loving and dedicated family is the greatest gift of all. 

Wishing you and your canine companions that best of health – always!

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team



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 Tips On Preventing Dog Obesity

shutterstock_143211553People are generally always concerned with their weight – and it’s no wonder given our current society. While being supermodel thin may not be everyone’s ideal goal (and with reason!) it is important not to underestimate the dangers of obesity. There is a healthy weight for everyone, and maintaining that promotes a healthier life in every aspect. With obesity rates at an all-time high, it’s no wonder that an estimated 55.6% of dogs are overweight or obese as well. Unfortunately, the dangers of obesity are not limited to humans – our dogs suffer just as much. Not only can pets fail ill to Type 2 Diabetes, they will have excess strain on their bones and organs, increased risk for heart and respiratory disease, multiple cancers, and an overall decreased life expectancy. Just like humans, putting on the pounds is often far easier than taking them off. Below are some tips on how to maintain your pet’s weight loss!

      1. Knowing Ideal Weight – This is SO important for pet owners. It might be hard to believe, but the average pet owner really has no idea what the ideal weight for their dog is! In fact, when I’m often out with my working dogs, I get told their too skinny! Ideal weight in dogs is not a number, but a certain ratio. You want ribs to be easily felt, but not necessarily seen, and a defined waist. You can use the chart below to get a better idea of what your dog should look like:


        Click to Enlarge

      2. Exercise – You were probably hoping this wasn’t on the list. But it is! Not only is exercise essential for your dog’s mental health, it’s needed to maintain his physical health as well! But exercise needs to be more than just a short walk around the block, depending on your dog. A leisurely stroll is nice, but if you’re looking to lose weight and maintain that weight loss you need to get power walking (or running if you can!) to make sure those calories are getting used. This is beneficial for you and your dog! Try and set a pace of about 15 minutes per mile, and avoid stopping for all of the sniffing and marking that may typically slow down your walk. Remember that even 20 minutes a day at a decent speed can improve your health, so put those shoes on and take your dog out!
          1. Diet Changes – You may not necessarily need to change your pets’ food, in fact, we generally advise against it unless you’re experiencing other issues. It’s usually the amount of food that’s the problem. Try to avoid table scraps, and make sure you account for treats when deciding how much to feed your dog during his meals. The guidelines on the pet food bags are just that, guidelines, so experiment with your dog and see what works best for him. Each dog has a different body and activity levels, all of which need to be considered when setting the pace on diet. It’s best to feed scheduled meals rather than free feeding, as you have full control over the amount of food your dog eats. If your pet is acting too hungry when you know he’s getting enough to eat, try adding in some fresh, steamed green beans. These are an excellent source of fiber with almost zero calories – so your dog will feel full without adding on any weight!
          2. Talk to Your Vet – Weight loss is important, and your veterinarian is one of the best places to start. If your dog is severely obese, your vet can help you get started without causing too much discomfort for your dog. Remember than an overweight dog is more prone to injuries, so you’ll have to ease into exercise. Your veterinarian can also help you rule out ailments that can cause obesity, such as hypothyroidism. Even if you don’t think there’s anything medically wrong, it’s advised to always to consult your veterinarian if you’re making any drastic changes for your pet.
          3. Monitor Weight – This is something you would do as well! Keeping your pet’s weight in check is easier when you check it regularly. Your dog should typically lose about 1lb per month, and monthly weigh-ins will help you determine whether or not your pup’s weight loss program is working for him. Working with your veterinarian in determining this plan and making sure it’s working (and not too well, too much weight loss at once can be dangerous) will guide you and your pet back on track to a healthy weight.

      Most things are easier said than done, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. Remember that you are your dog’s will power and are in control of his health. Allowing him to become obese is detrimental, and we know that you don’t want your pet leaving your side any sooner than he needs to. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to maintaining a long, healthy life. With time and effort on your pet, your pup will be healthier and happier than ever.

      About the Author

      Katie is a professional dog trainer located in Southern California, with a background of experience as a veterinary assistant as well. She has trained and competed with multiple breeds in AKC Obedience and Rally, agility, herding, Schutzhund/IPO, French Ring and conformation. She has been involved in dogs since she was a child, and specializes in protection dogs, working dogs, and aggression issues. You can visit her website, Katie’s Dog Training, to find out more information about her training and accomplishments. When she’s not helping others and writing, she’s out on the field with her Belgian Malinois and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.


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Tips On Preventing Dog Obesity