Christmas is a great time for giving and during this season many people are tempted to either get a dog for themselves or for someone else as a gift. And if you're interested in adding a canine companion to your home, it's always a great idea no matter the season to visit your local humane society or animal shelter to see what they have to offer. But although pets can make great gifts, it's important to think of a pet as a long-term companion, rather than a short term thrill. Unleash provides 3 things to consider before getting or giving a pet as a gift.

1. No Surprises
Dogs are a wonderful addition to life, yet not everyone has the time, energy, money, or interest in having one. You should always ask the receiver if they want a pet. A surprise may feel more festive and the recipient may be extremely happy about their new pet, but unless the 'surprise' has actually been well researched and thoroughly planned for, it can be a misguided idea . It's always best to let a prospective pet owner, be very engaged every step of the way in selecting a new pet and preparing in advance for it's homecoming.

2. Dog Ownership Responsibilites
Pets are not something that you can take home, try out and return if they don't suit you. You're taking on a lifetime commitment to care for that animal for the rest of its life. To ensure a smooth transition, discuss routine tasks beforehand such as feeding, grooming, getting home to let the dog out, and cleaning up after the pet. Because the novelty of having a pet can wear off, they are never appropriate gifts for children unless their parents agree to care for the them.

3. Pet Care Costs
People often fail to anticipate the cost of pet ownership. Dogs require veterinary care, food, toys, cages, training and pet-sitters. Avoid giving a pet to someone who might not be able to afford it. You might think you're purchasing a dog for someone who would love to have a puppy if money permits. But in reality, you might be sentencing your friend to financial hardship and the dog to inadequate veterinary care. When adopting a dog, most people don't think past the initial fee required to adopt. The average annual cost for owning a dog is $2,084, while cat owners pay an average of $1,318.

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