How to Be the Pawfect Guest — Getting Your Dog Invited Back

imgresWhether your inquisitive canine and you have been invited for a happy hour event at your neighbor’s condo, a weekend at your friend’s home, or a month-long stay at your cousin’s lake house, you want to ensure you get invited back. In the past, we’ve discussed how to help your inquisitive canine be the pawfect host so we thought we’d hit the other end of the spectrum and address ways to set your precious pooch up to be a poster dog for being the pawfect guest.

With holiday weekends around the bend and summertime on the horizon, we here at IC HQ’s wanted to share some of what we think are helpful tips to ensure that your dog is a gracious guest.

Tips For Getting Yourself — and Your Dog — Invited Back

Make sure everyone is on board with hosting a bow-wow! While the person you’re visiting may give you the thumbs up to bring your furry baby, consider others who may be in the mix during your visit. While Uncle Bob might be totally comfortable around dogs, little Sally may be afraid of them. Additionally, consider leaving your inquisitive canine at home if she or he doesn’t play nicely with other animals (or vice versa, with the pets that belong to the people whom you’re visiting).

Keep it clean and tidy. No matter how gracious your hosts are, creating extra work for them shouldn’t be part of your visit. Cleaning up after yourself is key, and similarly, tidying up after Fido is essential, too. Remember to follow the fur trail, and wipe down, sweep, use a lint roller, or vacuum as you go. This goes for dirt and other outdoor debris, and food and treat remnants as well. You’ll also want to make sure toys are picked up and beds/crates/dog mats are kept in a discrete location and are not tripping hazards. Lastly, ask your hosts how they would like you to leave the place before you leave. Check and double check to make sure you’ve picked and packed up everything, and restored order to any chaos you and/or your canine may have created.

Be like a stealthy Ninja! Are you up at the crack of dawn to take your dog out for a walk or to play in the backyard? How about moonlit walks before bed? Your host might have a different schedule, so keep this in mind when you and your inquisitive canine are roaming about.

BYOS (Bring Your Own Supplies). Pack what you need, without relying on your host to provide anything for your dog — including towels! Dogs are, for the most part, simple creatures, but through domestication, it seems their “essentials” list has grown. Depending on the type of visit, you’ll want to remember to pack what you need, including a leash, harness, collar, bowls, food puzzles, toys, food and treats, medications, grooming aids, waste bags, a bed or crate, and towels.

Reinforce your host’s behavior. Ya gotta love folks who welcome guest dogs into their homes. Show your gratitude from the get-go by giving them, and perhaps even their pet, a little gift. You can also express your appreciation by taking them out for a meal or to some place they enjoy. Lastly, follow up with a handwritten note. (These never go out of style, no matter how hi-tech our society gets). You might even include a photo of your dog at their place as a remembrance, letting them know your inquisitive canine appreciates them, too.

Skills fit for cotillion! Now’s the time for your dog to be at the top of his or her manners game. Being well-versed at sitting, lying down, going to his or her bed on cue, being quiet around distractions, leaving things alone when asked, and politely greeting people (and other animals) should be rock solid. This is no time for teaching new behaviors; this is, however, the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how wonderful your dog is. I would add in leash walking and coming when called too, as these behaviors are always needed, no matter where you go.

Know the boundaries. Make sure your dog and you understand where his or her “bathroom” is, as well as sleeping quarters and lounging locations. Will your dog be allowed on furniture? Even if he or she is, designating a special blanket or towel for your inquisitive canine to use will protect the environment while also subtly conveying to your hosts that you respect their home. When it comes to house training, take your dog to the requested outdoor spot to do his or her business, and then positively reinforce the appropriate behavior — so that he or she knows where to go. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on your dog to help prevent unfortunate incidents.

Visits should be fun and festive for everyone — including the host. A well-mannered inquisitive canine and self-aware guest set themselves up to be invited back every time!


Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter – Tweet to us and we’ll Tweet ya back!

How to Dog Moms Can Celebrate Mother’s Day With Their Canine Kids

Whether you’re a mom to human children or a parent to a beloved pet, it’s all about the relationship. Mothers share a special love and bond with their babies that’s unlike any other; the care and nurturing they provide deserves to be celebrated every day, and of course, especially on Mother’s Day.

I remember all the celebrations I shared with my own mother. She protested that she never wanted to be fussed over, but I always found Mother’s Day to be the perfect opportunity to do just that. Breakfast in bed, helping out more around the house, going places she enjoyed, and baking a special chocolate chip layer cookie pie especially for her. These are among my favorite memories, as I knew that at least once a year my mom enjoyed being doted on.

Let’s face it, when it comes to the relationship with our canine companions, it’s often maternal-like. Being that I’m a new dog mom again, Ringo and I have been discussing ways we can celebrate this special holiday together. He wanted me to share these ideas with your inquisitive canines to help them plan a fun day for you, too.

Take a pleasant walk in your favorite place. This one is simple, budget friendly, and without time constraints. Plus you won’t need a reservation. To make it even more fun, bring along a couple of treats — for the both of you. You can reinforce your dog for those behaviors you like, and treat yourself because you deserve it! Also, bring your phone along so you can snap some selfies to commemorate your special day together.

Take on a arts and crafts project together. Contact your local art studios to find out if you and your inquisitive canine can schedule a date to create. Whether it is the paint-your-own-pottery or sketching a picture of your dog, there are fun and unique classes to be found around town. The original inquisitive canine, Poncho, and I used to frequent Firefly Ceramics. We created a pretty set of soup bowls and serving platter that we decorated with his paw prints. That’s a gift that keeps on giving – whenever I use the platter and bowls, I always think of my precious Poncho.

Have a traditional Mother’s Day lunch, brunch, tea, or cocktails. Going out to eat on Mother’s Day is a big deal all across the country. You can go out for brunch in the morning, then tea or happy hour in the evening. Call ahead to make sure the establishments you choose are fido-friendly. You might even be able to share a meal, provided the foods you choose are on your dog’s diet, and not those you should avoid.

Do a mother-mutt photo shoot. Nowadays it’s easier than ever to capture each step of your day with photos and videos. But what do you do with all the great content? How about creating a photo album, scrapbook, or framing that that special Mother’s Day selfie?

Make a gift to your favorite canine charity. If you’re not the shopping type, you might want to help your favorite animal advocacy group. Make a donation of your dog’s toys, beds, or blankets that he or she doesn’t use any longer; a monetary donation is helpful, too.

Picnic in the park, on your deck, or in your backyard. An alternative to making reservations is to get a table for two (or more) at a local park, beach, or lake. You can even set up your picnic blanket in the backyard, front porch, deck, or in an indoor fort. The purpose is spending time together. You can also include some hand-feeding, capitalizing on training and reinforcing those behaviors you like.

Take a day trip. Hop in the car to explore a nearby place that you’ve never been before – you might find fido-friendly areas you didn’t know existed! The Bring Fido website allows you to search specific areas for places that are more dog-friendly. You never know, you might discover a brand new favorite destination!

Make this Mother’s Day special by including your four-legged baby in the festivities. Dogs are the embodiment of unconditional love, and we know that your inquisitive canine would love to pamper you with more than just sloppy kisses and snuggles… although that’s a great place to start!

From all of us at IC HQ’s, we wish all the moms out there a pawsitively wonderful Mother’s Day!!


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A Pawsitive Attitude is the Only New Year’s Resolution Needed for You and Your Dog

Inquisitive-Canine-Vinnie-LouieHello inquisitive pet parents, and welcome to 2017! I can’t believe we’re starting a brand new year. Time flies when you’re having fun… especially when hanging out with inquisitive canines.

When you think New Year, what’s the first word that springs to mind? If you couldn’t help but jump to “resolutions,” you’re not alone. Because who among us – human or canine – doesn’t desire and deserve a fresh start?

The key to getting your year off in a pawsitive way is to come at your goals with a dog trainer’s perspective: changes in behavior come from acting in a consistent, rewards-based, loving manner, NOT from sporadic, negative, punishing action.

My goal is to motivate, make it fun, and set everyone up for success — humans and dogs alike. So my New Year challenge for you is to shift your attitude towards your dog, and along the way, you might find you can apply some of these strategies in other areas in your life that can use some positive (pawsitive?!) adjustments.

The starting point is to first consider what you’d like to change about your canine, because
even though most of us have our dogs on pedestals and often think they can do no wrong, there’s usually one (or two) things they do that we might find annoying. And then once you hone in on what you’d like to adjust, you have to decide what’s realistic… and what’s not.

For example, do you ever have these thoughts about your pooch: “Do you have to bark at everything?” “Is it really necessary to jump on people?” “Why do you constantly have to chase everything you see, smell, and hear?”

These dog-specific behaviors are common and considered normal for the species, so for most of us, we tend to look the other way when our pets act as expected. But when these behaviors are so pronounced that we find ourselves constantly losing our tempers with our dogs, then it’s time to make a change. Because if we don’t teach them what we want, the annoyance level is likely to escalate, making us more sensitive and shortening the fuse each time they repeat the unwanted actions.

The main downside of this cycle is when you are focused on the negative, you get tunnel vision about your dog and forget all of the wonderful things he does the rest of the time. You also may forget that sometimes you actually want, expect, and appreciate some of the specific behaviors (i.e. barking) that you think you want to eliminate completely.

Here are the steps to take when modifying canine behaviors:

1) Watch what you wish for: This may sound ominous, but it’s actually a literal piece of advice: observe the behaviors you think you want to eliminate in your pet so you can honestly access how you feel about them, and also realistically, what you want to do about them.

We need to remember that these “annoying” behaviors are often what we find cute, endearing and funny. And, it’s also these behaviors that make dogs, dogs! Recognizing these factors can help bring us back to reality.

Conversely, we may be living with behaviors that aren’t serving our pets or us, and it’s then on us to take decisive steps to improve the situation.

inquisitivecanine-levi2) Make a list of realistic resolutions: Once you’ve taken some time to consider your dog’s normal behaviors, write them down divided into two categories: those that are wanted and those that are unwanted. For example:

  • Wanted: Sit, down, stay, come when called, leave things alone when asked, go-to-your-place.
  • Unwanted: excessive barking, jumping up on people (unless cued), pulling when on leash (unless cued), counter-surfing, chewing on forbidden items, digging around inappropriate areas, marking

For all the wanted behaviors, think about where and when you want your dog to perform these behaviors, for example, when sitting at doorways or to greet someone . Now’s the time to re-up your rewards game, and remember to say “thank you” when your animal makes good choices. Barking only once when the doorbell rings, keeping four-on-the-floor when meeting others, using appropriate greeting skills with fellow canines, walking nicely on leash , and eliminating in appropriate places are all worthy of acknowledgment and positive reinforcement. Give her a treat, a loud “GOOD GIRL!” and a snuggle when she is a model canine citizen.

As for the less desirable behaviors, let’s figure out if they are truly unwanted and need to end altogether, or if you need to teach your pooch when it’s okay – and when it’s not.

inquisitivecanine-dogtoyinmouthFor instance, barking. When someone is at the door or too near you personally or on your property, it can be very helpful for your dog to call your attention to the intrusion. My dog Poncho, for example, liked to alert me to “stranger danger,” when I would be loading things into the car and was a bit distracted. In this case, I appreciated his vigilance and would say “Thank you” when he did his job. On the other hand, during the more annoying bark fests, I’d ask him to be quiet, and positively reinforce him for staying silent. If he continued, I asked him to perform a more acceptable behavior, including picking up a toy and holding it in his mouth.

Other examples for teaching alternate behaviors to help keep that positive attitude might include: four-on-the-floor instead of jumping, laying on a bed or mat in areas where there are counters loaded with enticing items, and providing appropriate chew items your dog finds motivating.

3) Cop an attitude of gratitude – when you’re pawsitive, your pooch will respond in kind: What it comes down to is catching your dog in the act of doing what you want, make sure you say thank you. Express your gratitude! This alone could be one resolution that you could easily achieve. The other benefit of it is that when you stay consistent with your positive behavior of reinforcing the positive behavior of your pooch, you are engaging in what TIME magazine calls a “prevention goal.” Prevention goals are all about duties and the things that keep you on track versus “promotion goals,” which are the big, lofty, aspirational goals that are easy to dream about but are much harder to achieve. Your refreshed, pawsitive attitude, clarity and consistency around those canine behaviors that enhance, not detract from, your household are resolutions that are much easier to keep, all year long.

From all of us here at IC HQ’s, we wish you and your inquisitive canine a happy, healthy, doggone great New Year!


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Make Your List (Check It Twice!) To Prepare Your Pooch for Holiday Guests

imgres-1The weather outside might be frightful, but that doesn’t mean your inquisitive canine’s holiday entertaining skills — or lack thereof — need to be.

As a certified professional dog trainer, I am well aware that pet parents’ stress levels go up this time of year as they worry about how their dog is going to behave during the holiday hullabaloo. Will she jump on guests? Is he going to tackle grandma (again!)? Will the pup push over little Paulina? Help herself to the delectable prime rib roast left to rest on the counter? What about the ever-popular neighborhood exploration adventures that happen when arriving guests leave the front door open for a second too long? And then, of course, there are those visitors who just aren’t “dog people.”

What’s a pet parent to do?

In a nutshell: plan ahead, prepare and dress rehearsals!

imgresLet’s start off with planning ahead. When you’re expecting guests, you should consider who are the folks that are coming over, how they feel about dogs, and what reasonably they might be able to do when they arrive at your home to help keep your canine thinking clearly from the first “hello.”

Next, you’ll need to consider how you want your dog to act around company and what outside resources you might need to aid you in getting your desired outcome. For instance, say your dog is an enthusiastic social butterfly and wants to say hello to anyone and everyone, but doesn’t care how he gets the job done: jumping up, licking, barking and, with some especially energetic dogs, the hockey player hip check. As fun and entertaining that can be to some, many might find it annoying.

The solution? Ask your dog to greet people nicely. If you’ve done that training with your pet, then you’re already a winner in the holiday entertaining reindeer games.

Another option is to use the “Go to your place” cue, where your dog goes to a bed/mat/rug when the doorbell rings or there’s a knock at the door. Guests enter, and the reward for your dog is to say hello after you give the release cue that it is okay to do so. The second part of this behavior scenario is having your dog keep four paws on the floor. They can remain on their “place” while guests come to them, or you can give a release cue where they politely go to your visitors. Remember to reward your dog for behaving politely. A chin scratch, toss of a toy, praise, healthy treat or anything else your pooch finds motivating.

For those times when you don’t have time to teach your dog new skills or you’re concerned about the welfare of guests, think about bringing in some help to allow your dog to stay at home while you entertain and/or consider outside resources.

Is there’s a friend who’s happy to host your dog at his her home? Do you have access to a reputable doggy daycare facility that your pup would enjoy going to? Another option is hiring a certified training, petsitter, or responsible family member to come over and be in charge of your dog while you’re entertaining. We did this for our dog Poncho when we hosted an office party, and it worked out perfectly. He was included, taken care of and enjoyed himself, while my stress level was reduced so I could enjoy the festivities, too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: failing to plan is planning to fail. So make your list and check it twice to ensure your plans to entertain holiday guests don’t go to the dogs. Keep in mind that it’s best not to train a behavior or scramble to make other arrangements for your pet the day you’ve got a party planned. Begin training your pup sooner rather than later, and if necessary, locate and lock in necessary resources ahead of time. I can speak firsthand, as can , that the holidays are some of the busiest times of the year for pet sitters, boarding facilities, and trainers.

Here’s to a pawsitively happy holiday season to you & yours from all of us at the Inquisitive Canine!

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Pets Make Great Gifts! Your Pawliday Season Shopping Guide

Dear Inquisitive Dog Guardians,

The holiday season is a popular time of year for adopting pets — and cats and dogs are firmly at the top of the list. It’s also a time for giving. Combine the two and you end up with many folks finding companion animals on their hearth decked out in big fancy bows!

As a certified professional dog trainer, I’ve heard both happy and not-so-happy stories from folks who’ve been on the receiving end of a cute ball of fur. So to help ensure more stories that end on a happier note, while avoiding tales of woe, my trusty sidekick, Poncho, and I thought it would be a great time to send out gentle reminders to help you decide the best options for this life-changing decision.

Surprises can be delightful, especially if you’ve been able to play investigator, gathering enough data to conclude that your friend will for sure want a pet. If you’re in doubt, another possible way to go about it is to recruit one family member who agrees that a new pet is both what your friend wants and is logistically feasible.

Should You Give the Gift of a Furry or Feathered Friend? Take Our Quiz! Continue Reading “Pets Make Great Gifts! Your Pawliday Season Shopping Guide”

Take Your Dog to Work, Make Them Employee of the Month

Dear Inquisitive Dog Parents,Joan and Poncho in the Office

My sidekick Poncho and I are fortunate enough to work together, and we enjoy sharing our office while writing and educating others about the dog-human relationship.

We wanted to encourage others to share in the same experience,  so we decided to devote this month’s Dear Inquisitive Canine article to Take Your Dog to Work Day, which takes place on June 25th. This international pawliday was originally developed in 1999 by Pet Sitters International to help promote pet shelter adoptions by exposing those who don’t have a dog (or cat) to the joys a pet can bring, while encouraging folks to adopt from local rescues and shelters.

As a certified dog trainer I agree this is a wonderful way to share the love and joy a pet brings with others. It’s also the perfect opportunity to encourage dog guardians to train, refine and show-off their dogs’ obedience skills. The more active roles we take in our dogs’ behaviors in public places,the more freedom they will have to go to more places.

So how do you go about participating in this event? Poncho and I both wanted to provide our opinion. You can find his dog training tips on ways to help you prepare for taking your dog to work while I offer a general outline and suggestions to help you prepare for this exciting day below.

Your Workplace Rules:

  • Are dogs allowed? You’ll first need to find out if your employer will allow you to bring your dog into your place of business. If yes, will your dog be allowed in all areas or will he or she be limited to one specific location? If you are the boss, will you be allowing others to bring their dogs? Are there specified rules about dogs being on the premises? Can the rules be changed? If the health department paid a visit, would you/the company be in trouble? As much as we love this event, we want people to play by the rules.
  • Respect your co-workers: Are all employees comfortable with dogs being in their space?
  • Be Aware of Your Inside Environment: Is your workplace and/or office a dog-friendly environment? What will your dog be exposed to throughout the time he or she is there? New people, new sights, sounds, smells, chemicals and equipment. A completely different environment can make a dog anxious, especially if he or she has never been introduced to these conditions before.
  • Be Aware of Your Outside Environment: Is the area conducive to dog activities such as midday walks or a game of fetch? Will your dog have a convenient area to eliminate? Will you have a convenient location to dispose of your dogs waste?

Be Prepared with Proper Office Etiquette for Your Dog:

What behaviors will your dog need to know? No matter the work environment your dog will most likely need to know the basics: sit (especially when greeting others), “Watch me” (good for gaining his or her attention when needed) down-stay (while you have to actually work), and loose-leash walking (while you walk to and from and throughout the office and during various midday outings).

Train the Behavior Before You Need the Behavior

If your dog is already savvy at his or her canine behaviors for the office, I still recommend you practice, especially in new settings. As a matter of fact if you can do a dress rehearsal in your own office for a few minutes, it’ll make it easier on your dog (and you) when you are there the entire day.

If your dog is new to these adventures not to worry, you still have time to practice. To make it a successful journey you’ll want to practice the basics I’ve mentioned above for at least 3-5 minutes about three times a day. As I say to my own dog training students, “Train the behavior before you need the behavior!” Just like fire and earthquake drills, you’ll want to have practiced behavior “drills” with your dog before the big day!

Additional Ways to Celebrate Our Dogs and Promote Pet Adoption

What if you’re retired, work at home or aren’t allowed to bring your dog to work but you would like to help promote dog rescue and shelter adoption? A few ideas that can help you enjoy this day too.

  • You’re retired or work at home: If you have a well-mannered dog whose skills you’d like to show off, ask friends and family if you can bring your pooch to their office for a “meet and greet.” This is fun for you, your dog, as well as those you socialize with. It’s not called “pet therapy” for nothin’!
  • If dogs aren’t allowed in your workplace: You can bring photographs and/or video clips and share anecdotes about your dogs with coworkers.
  • You don’t have a dog but you want to help promote shelter adoptions: Take a field trip at lunch and visit your local animal shelter. You could find out more about volunteer programs, as well as adopting or fostering a dog of your own.

Whether your dog is already an employee of the month or still developing his or her good manners, it’s best to plan ahead! Developing a strategy to ensure success for you and your dog can not only help promote this event, but it just might enable you to bring your dog to work additional times. Sounds like the perfect situation to boost employee morale!

Is a New Pet the Right Gift for the Holidays? What to Consider Before Getting One.”

This is such a hot topic right now, don’t you think? I hear it every day, “I’m going to get the kids a puppy for Christmas. What do you think?” Hmm… I’m thinking SO many things, I don’t know where to begin. Instead of bursting anyones “Hallmark moment” bubble, I just smile, giggle, and agree that having a puppy (or adult dog, or cat, etc…) is magical – there really isn’t anything like the love and joy of a furry friend…trust me!

I get it! I’m sitting here right now with mine, Poncho, on a Friday night, playing training games, kissy face, and fighting for the computer…instead of out with my hubby at one of his holiday office parties… but when it comes to buying one for someone else, even if it’s within the same household, I encourage people to really think hard about this type of “purchase”, for both the giver and the recipient(s).

The following are questions posted by a journalist through a friend of mine:

  • Is a new pet a good gift to a child or loved one for the holidays? This is a “yes” and “no” question. If the person on the receiving end is an adult who is expecting one, then I would say it would be a great gift. If it’s been discussed and planned out then yes. If it’s for a child in the family, then I would want the entire family to agree to welcoming the new pet, and realize that everyone will be involved, one way or another.
  • Should the giver ruin the surprise by asking if the recipient wants that pet and breed before giving it? Definitely yes! Because the recipient not wanting such a “gift” could be a bigger surprise! An alternative would be to give someone items related to the pet they intend to give: books, pictures, toys, etc… along with a “gift certificate” good for “shopping” together. This way if the person really wants this pet, it can be a shared experience, which can be more meaningful.
  • What are the dangers/risks/drawbacks of giving an animal as a present? The biggest one is the person doesn’t want it, and the innocent animal has to be returned. It can be very traumatic for all involved. The person may want it, but then doesn’t realize the responsibility that’s involved with owning an animal. It’s the pet that ends up suffering the most if it ends up in a neglectful home, even if unintentional. It can also damage the relationship between the giver and recipient if one feels imposed upon or slighted, and neither feels comfortable talking about it.
  • What is a more appropriate vs. a less appropriate pet gift to give a child? It really depends upon the child, how involved they intend to be, and how responsible they are. It also depends upon what the parents expectations of the child are. Parents should investigate different types of animals that can be kept as pets, and the needs of that particular animal. Then match it to what the child can do to participate in its care. There are also many toys and virtual games that help build responsibility in pet care.
  • Are there any special things the gift giver should do or consider before giving the pet as a present (i.e., they should ensure that the pet has all its vaccinations, is microchipped, etc.)? Assuming that it is a welcomed gift, taking care of the initial health care needs and requirements is always nice. The gift giver may also want to include a items including: a carrier, crate, bedding, proper collars, leashes, car seat-belt, walking harness, food, treats, elimination box if necessary, elimination bags, ID tags, licensing fee’s, a gift certificate for a veterinarian wellness visit, training class if it’s a dog, a few toys, books or other information about the specific pet.
  • Where should a gift-giver try to get an appropriate pet (i.e., a reputable breeder or shelter)? What sources should the giver avoid? When it comes to adopting a pet or buying a pet, it’s really up to the individual. There are reputable Web sites that can help the decision making process. With millions of shelter animals being killed every year because of an unwritten gold standard for breeding, less than ideal  ownership, etc… shelters are certainly a good choice. However there are responsible breeders as well, and should be considered if that is the persons desire. The American Kennel Club has information on helping people choose a breeder.
  • Is it a good idea to research and suggest a reputable veterinarian/animal hospital in the recipient’s area at the time you give the pet gift? Yes. This would be a nice gesture for the new pet owners. I would investigate, then provide a list of a few names, allowing the recipient to make the final choice. They might also want to provide a “gift certificate” for a wellness exam.
  • Any special tips in terms of how to actually present the gift? Any creative ideas that won’t threaten the animal’s safety? A client of mine gave their son a puppy last Christmas. She placed the puppy in a large stocking for the presentation. Very cute. Attaching a fabric bow to the collar is sweet, and shouldn’t endanger the animal. A large basket on the floor with the animal nestled in can be cute, but it may jump out, so you need to be careful. You can also gift-wrap all of the accompanying goodies.
  • What are some good alternative gifts to giving a pet animal (i.e., membership to the zoo, donation to an animal-friendly cause or shelter, virtual reality pet game, etc.)? All of these ideas are good. If possible, the person can get involved with the local shelters. They always need volunteers. This way they can get the “pet fix” without the extra added responsibilities.
  • Any other thoughts or recommendations on this topic? Pets are an absolute joy to have as part of any family. Unfortunately, they are still considered property. With that, folks sometimes treat them like inanimate objects, and not like the living, breathing, individual beings that they are. If they don’t want it, they can’t just stick it in the back closet and ignore it. A puppy or adult dog is also very difficult to return. Giving someone a pet as a gift is similar to giving someone a baby. It needs constant care and attention, and not just for a year or two. Adopting a puppy means having a dog for around ten years or more – plus, they don’t move out. Parents buying a puppy for their pre-teen kids means the parents will still be taking care of the dog once their child heads off to college…unless the child continues to live at home. There is also a financial responsibility. I’d say before buying someone a pet as a gift, make sure the recipient really wants it, and knows the responsibilities that go with it.

So, is a pet a good gift? Yes, but only if the recipient not only wants it, but is responsible enough to take care of it, for the lifetime of the pet.