Don't Buy a Dog for Christmas, buy Christmas For a Dog!

Instead of Buying a Dog as a Christmas Gift, Buy a Christmas Gift for a Dog.

Dogs make terrible Christmas presents. That cute puppy that the kids squeal and fuss over on Christmas morning is so often forgotten and pushed aside by Valentine's Day. Even if someone really, really wants a dog, they should be present to choose their own, not have one handed to them as a surprise.

So instead of puppies as Christmas gifts buy dog-related presents like leads and collars, dog training books, puppy training kits, nylabones or teething toys and tell your kids that if they read the training books, watch the training dvds and prove themselves responsible that you'll go together to the shelter in March and take your pick of all the Christmas puppies that were dumped there almost as soon as the decorations came down.

Here are some ideas for gifts for and about dogs and puppies whether you are buying them for your own four legged friend or for someone else's.

Board games have always been both an excellent way to spend some family time and a great way to encourage children to learn and analyse. Doggone is a fun and quick moving game that encourages an understanding of dog's behaviour and body language, while in Dogopoly you are bidding for dog breeds instead of houses, you get paid $200 when you pass 'Go Fetch' or get fined $200 for having fleas ... and other doggie twists on one of the world's favourite games.

Kongs are the king of dog toys, made of durable rubber, designed to promote healthy teeth and gums and with a hollow interior to stuff with enticing treats they are ideal for keeping an active dog busy and entertained. Kong now covers a wide variety of toy types from the puppy and extreme kongs shown here to kongs designed for scent training or to glow-in-the-dark. One clever innovation is the Kong Timer which dispenses filled kongs at regular intervals - a good way to keep your dog out of mischief when you have to be away for the day (and MUCH less expensive than a new sofa!).

If anyone were to ask which books I'd recommend for dog-owners or dog-owners-to-be, I'd say anything by Dr. Ian Dunbar or Jean Donaldson. Dr. Ian Dunbar's Sirius Training Technique is wholly positive and his books present a wealth of knowledge in a warm and friendly way. Jean Donaldson's Culture Clash is not so much a training handbook but more of a road map to understanding a dog's behaviour and in human eyes 'mis' behaviour such as aggression and resource guarding. Rounded off with a solid chapter on Obedience Training and proofing techniques, Culture Clash is as fascinating as it is a dog lover's bible.

Other dog books and writers to consider are:

Dog Behaviour and Training - another excellent book by Dr. Ian Dunbar. According to Dunbar euthanasia for behavioural problems is the number one pet killer. This book addresses the most common behaviour problems and how to solve them - a sanity saver of a book for frustrated owners and possibly a life saver for their dogs.

The Other End of the Leash - by Patricia McConnell whose dog behaviour and communication training courses are respected around the globe. If you ever wondered why your dog looks at you as if you are speaking double Dutch, it may just be becasue you are not communicating in Canine.


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