Is it ever a good idea to give your child a pet for Christmas?
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Is it ever a good idea to give your child a pet for Christmas?

All of the UK’s major animal welfare organisations and shelters spend a lot of time and effort cautioning people not to buy pets as presents, nor get an animal over the festive season for themselves or their children. But if you were planning to get a pet for your children anyway, is there any particular reason why they should not have a pet for Christmas, as opposed to at any other time of the year?

Many parents consider that while a kitten or puppy might be a bad idea, getting a smaller pet like a caged rodent or even a goldfish in a tank is ok, and can add an extra layer to the Christmas festivities by rewarding their child with something that they really desired. In this article, we will look at some of the issues that surround giving pets to children as Christmas presents, and urge parents to think again about making a new addition to the household at this time of year. Read on to learn more.

What’s the problem with giving pets as presents?

Good advice to follow is to never, ever give pets as presents, for a whole host of reasons that are covered in more detail within this article.

Everyone should be able to make the decision to get a pet based on their own situation, and choose the pet themselves. Even when it comes to buying a pet for children, and so, something that you will have to be strongly involved in, the basics of teaching your child responsible pet ownership do not begin with a surprise animal being given to them when they had not expected it along with a range of other gifts. Pets are lifeforms-not gifts to use to make someone happy.

What if I planned on getting my child a pet anyway?

If you had already been planning to allow your child to have a pet and being that you would be the one to buy it and have ultimate responsibility for it anyway, you might think that surprising your child with a pet as a gift is a great way of making their day, and that Christmas is as good a time as any to get them a pet as a fabulous present. However, as mentioned, it is not a good idea to start children off on a lifetime of responsible pet ownership by having a surprise pet given to them, at the same time as toys and games and other things that are there for their amusement.

An animal is not a good gift, because by giving one, you are thinking about your child and yourself, not the best interests of the pet in question.

The issues with getting a new pet at Christmas

As well as the various issues and moral quandaries surrounding giving a pet as a present, Christmas is essentially the worst time of the year to introduce a new animal into the home. The reasons for this go deeper than simply making sure everyone in the home understands that a pet is for life, not just for Christmas, and also include the issue that at Christmas, the situation in your home will not be normal.

There will be people coming and going a lot, lots of decorations and new things around, and of course, many things taking up your child’s attention, such as other presents and festive food.

Not only will your child (and yourself) not be in the right frame of mind to give the new pet’s care your full attention and safeguard them while they settle in, but there will be a lot going on in the home as well, which will be unsettling for your pet and can cause them a lot of stress.

Children with new presents, friends around and a lot to do will also tend to be excitable and not in the right frame of mind to calmly get used to caring for a pet in the right way. Also, as all of the shops will be closed over the Christmas holiday dates and the postal service will be running more slowly than normal, if you find yourself missing something vital that you need to care for your pet, you will not be able to get it.

A better way of combining Christmas and a new future pet

If you have made an informed decision to allow your child to have a pet, you can still make a feature of this at Christmas in the right way, without actually getting the pet itself!

Regardless of the type of pet you have decided upon, be that a goldfish or a dog, you can give your child a gift related to it-such as an empty tank for a fish, or a book on caring for the pet, or a collar and lead, with a certificate or promissory note to your child that within a set period of time, they will have a pet to go with it!

This allows your child to enjoy the excitement of expectation of a pet to come, whilst also giving them the chance to get used to the idea and learn more about it, as well as teaching them an important life lesson about pets, Christmas and gifts, and how to start the journey of a lifetime of responsible pet ownership in the right way.

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