Skip to Content

How to Give A Dog or Puppy As A Gift Responsibly

Now’s the time of year when you’ll hear all that crap about “never” giving puppies as gifts.

We don’t need articles like that.

What we need is a guide on how to give a dog or puppy or kitten as a gift responsibly.

The rescue group I volunteer with has had more adoptions in the last month than ever because so many people want to add a dog to their families around the holidays. While this particular group usually has around 15-20 adoptions on a typically weekend, it had 38 adoptions the weekend of Thanksgiving! So awesome!

Adopting around the holidays makes sense for some people.

Time tends to slow down a bit from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2 or so (for some of us!). Some people can take time off from work. Kids are home from school to help. The holidays are not pure chaos for everyone, believe it or not. It can (and should?) be a peaceful time.

Josh and I stayed home for Christmas last year, and it was the most relaxing week and a half I’d had in a long time.

So here are some ideas for giving a family member a puppy as a gift … responsibly.

How to give a puppy as a gift responsibly

1. Go out and choose the puppy together.

Perhaps the most obvious idea is to simply adopt or buy a dog together as a family around the holidays. This will be exciting enough. The dog doesn’t have to be a surprise. It’s better to involve everyone and make a family decision.

In some cases, you may be able to coordinate with a shelter, rescue group or breeder to pick up the dog or puppy on Christmas Eve or Christmas after you have chosen him, but getting the dog anywhere around that time would be just as exciting and meaningful.

2. Surprise your kids with a card about getting a dog.

If you want to surprise your daughter with a puppy, you can still do that. Just surprise her with a card that says something like:

“It’s time to get that puppy you’ve always wanted. Let’s go pick one out together this month. Love, Mom & Dad.”

That would still be an awesome surprise, right? But it allows you and your family to choose the dog responsibly together, taking your time to choose the right one.

3. Offer to pay the dog’s adoption fee.

You don’t have to go out and buy or adopt a puppy for your husband as a surprise. That’s probably not a good idea. But what you could do is offer to pay the breeder or pay the adoption fee when your husband is ready to choose a dog. This shows your support and is almost as exciting as giving the actual dog.

Adoption fees from shelters and rescues range from about $50 to $400 depending on where you go. Breeders often charge much more than that, so you might want to offer to pay a percentage. 🙂

4. Give dog supplies.

If you know your son wants a dog, wrap up a nice leash or dog bed and give that as a gift to show your support. Leashes and beds are fairly neutral as far as the gender of the dog and size of the dog. If you know the type of dog he wants, you could give him a nice collar. Other options could be dog toys and treats, gift cards or offering to buy a kennel or food.

We all know the costs add up fast, so any type of gift like this would be appreciated.

Pitbull puppy

5. Pay for training, grooming or dog daycare.

Dogs are expensive! If your boyfriend wants a dog, offer to pay for the first round of dog training classes (typically around $150), grooming ($50+), dog daycare or a dog walker for his future dog. I suggest a handmade card or note and then paying for the training, daycare, etc., when the time comes. Your boyfriend may want to choose the specific trainer or daycare.

Another expense you could offer to cover could be the puppy’s future spay/neuter surgery (assuming your boyfriend wants the dog altered) or the first vet visit.

6. Give a picture of a puppy or a stuffed toy dog with a note.

If your girlfriend wants a puppy, how about surprising her with a framed picture of a puppy with a note about picking one out together? Or giving her a stuffed toy puppy with a card about choosing the real thing together?

7. Offer your services for help with the dog.

If your best friend wants a dog, how about giving her a gift like offering to pet sit for free or offering to take the puppy out for a midday potty break? Or maybe giving her some of the dog supplies you no longer need?

If you live far away, you could offer to pay the dog’s first boarding fee or pet sitting fee when your friend comes to visit you.

8. Donate to a rescue or shelter your loved one supports.

If your mom is involved with dog rescue, she probably has a specific group or two she regularly donates to or volunteers with. More than likely, she will want her dog to come from that specific group. Trust me, as a rescue volunteer myself, I know it would mean a lot to her if you made a donation to that group in her name.

I suggest a card that says something like:

“Mom, I know this rescue group means so much to you so I donated $100 in your name. Who knows, maybe it will help your future dog. Can’t wait to meet the lucky dog you choose.”

So, as you can see … giving a puppy as a gift doesn’t have to literally mean you surprise your brother with a puppy. There are a lot of creative ways you can “give” someone a dog without surprising them with an an actual dog.

Obviously, getting a dog or puppy is a big decision and the primary caregiver of that dog needs to be a part of choosing that dog.

OK, now I want to hear your ideas!

Have any of you ever given or received a pet as a gift?

How to give a puppy as a gift responsibly

What advice would you add to this list?

Related posts:

Christmas is the perfect time to get a dog

Cats as Christmas gifts

Christmas dog shaming

Jenn M.

Sunday 18th of December 2016

Its a great idea, i think go with a rescue, and just realize parents, if the responsibility section doesnt go as planned, its going to be on you to take over. Its a super long committment! But very rewarding ❤


Sunday 10th of January 2016

One of the sweetest memories I have from Christmas growing up was seeing my cousin Jill get a puppy from her parents. It was planned & well researched before - and XMas can be the perfect time for such a gift.

When everyone has a week off for the holidays it's a great time to get that pup house trained & on the right track.

Thank you for writing this; while I'd never condone just getting a dog on a whim as a "surprise" gift there's nothing wrong with planning it beforehand.

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 10th of January 2016

Such a good example!


Sunday 20th of December 2015

Definitely go with a percentage of the puppy price if you go with a good breeder! Good pups are expensive! When I was looking, prices were running the gamut from $2000 to $3500 for a well bred GSD puppy.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 21st of December 2015