This weekend, I started talking about why giving pets as gifts is a bad idea.
To that topic, I'll add a few more reasons why Christmas Day is not the day to introduce a new pet to your household.
- Being introduced to a new home at any point in the year is stressful for a new pet and for any pets you already have. You need to devote time and attention, and a quieter house, to smooth the transition.
- The commotion of holiday guests, kids running through the house with new toys, and the general din created by doorbells, oven timers, barking dogs, meowing cats, squawking birds, and sports fans watching the Christmas Day football game will further stress the new pet.
- The general exuberance and excitement of the holiday can potentially make children grabby, a little less careful in the way they pet and handle animals, and even quarrelsome as kids fight to hold the new pet (we've seen it happen).
- The commotion of the holiday makes it difficult for adults to keep track of kids, animals, and the safety of both.
- Pets given as gifts meet the same short attention span as the other gifts a child receives. Eventually, the novelty of the video game, the tech gadget, or the pet does wear off.
If you want to bring home a new pet after the holiday, you can certainly use Christmas Day to announce it.
- Buy some necessities, accessories, and toys and wrap those up with a picture of the type of pet you'll be adopting (dog, cat, guinea pig, rabbit, etc.).
- Make it a post-holiday family outing to head to a shelter or rescue to find your new buddy or buddies. (Bring along some toys or treats to leave for the other animals waiting for adoption.)
- Ask shelter workers for advice or handouts they might have for giving your new friend a successful, stress-free introduction to their new home.
- Keep the house relatively peaceful for a couple of days to allow everyone time to get settled in.
Bringing home a new pet should be a happy time for both animal(s) and humans -- and should be the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship. But it all comes down to the right timing and the right decision making.