Friday, July 20 , 2018, 6:07 am | Overcast 66º


Inquisitive Canine: ‘Paws’ Before Giving a Pet as a Gift

There are things to consider to ensure the animal will be a good fit

[Noozhawk’s note: This column originally appeared in November 2009.]

Dear inquisitive readers:

With the holiday season here, Poncho and I thought it would be an appropriate time to bring up the topic of giving a pet as a holiday gift.

As a dog mom and certified professional dog trainer, I know there is little that compares with a relationship that provides true unconditional love. Poncho and I know what that connection means. And we understand that you or someone you know may feel the same way. While it can be easy to get caught up in the spirit of spreading joy during the holidays, it’s crucial to keep a realistic perspective of what it means to be the primary caregiver for a pet.

We highly recommend that before making a life-changing decision such as adopting a pet for yourself and especially for someone else, you ask yourself the following questions, answer them honestly, then use this information for making a well-informed and responsible decision.

Things to Consider Before Adopting

» Why do I want a new pet? Or, why do I want to give a pet?

Those are by far the most important questions, and two with so many answers. Although the loving relationship between a dog or cat and his or her family is like no other, it’s not a decision to be entered into lightly. A concrete decision, and one of unity, is best.

For more information on deciding whether a new pet is the right gift for the holidays. including alternatives to giving a pet animal, see my dog training blog.

» Is this the best time in my life to bring a puppy home?

Daily socialization, physical and mental exercise and training are all essential components for building a strong, loving and healthy human-nonhuman animal relationship we all strive for. While we believe it’s possible to work dog training into real-world scenarios and daily activities, raising a healthy pet is still a major lifestyle change.

Remember, if you’re thinking about giving someone else a pet dog or cat, ask if it’s a good time in his or her life.

» Are there any foreseeable life-changing events in my/our family’s future?

Although we aren’t able to predict the future exactly, including changes in employment, marital/relationship status and children in your home (either currently or in the future), all of these elements should be factored into the decision.

» Can I afford it?

You will need to take into consideration supplies such as leashes, collars, a bed, a crate, food and vet bills. The cost of owning a pet can be high. Even the basics add up. You will then want to multiply that by the number of years the animal is likely to be part of the family. Remember that for dogs it could be from eight to 17 years; for cats and birds, it’s much longer.

» What type of animal do I want?

Know your animal, know the species-specific traits and know your breed. There is a multitude of dogs and cats from which to choose.

We find it best to match yourself with a pet in the same way you would match yourself with a person. Who would you want to be friends with? Who would you be “attracted” to? Although we’re talking about dogs, cats or other domestic pets, you are still forming a relationship.

Educating yourself about normal behaviors of a particular animal can help you plan and prepare.

» Answering the following questions can help you make a more informed decision and set you up to be a responsible pet guardian. Do I travel? If so, would I need to make arrangements? Am I allowed to have this type of pet where I live? If something happens to me, who would take care of my pet? Am I physically able to take of this pet? Am I willing to meet his/her mental and physical requirements? Does this particular pet match my lifestyle?

Pet guardianship requires a lifetime commitment, a responsible attitude and the willingness to make the occasional compromise. We hope that these questions have assisted you in making a well-educated, informed decision. If you decide to adopt, we wish you all the best for a lifetime of happiness together.

— Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and human-canine relationship coach. Poncho is a 10-pound mutt that knows a lot about canine and human behavior. Their column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >