The image is one placed in our minds through books, TV shows, and movie scenes. The lid is lifted from a gaily wrapped Christmas package, and an adorable puppy pops her head out of the box.

Every Christmas, many folks set out to copy this scenario, but the truth is, puppies do not make good “under the tree” presents. Great care should be taken before giving a pup as a gift.

The first thing to ensure is that the person really wants a dog. The fact that they once said, “Someday I want to get a Fluglehound” doesn’t mean that “someday” is now. Unless you are purchasing a dog for your spouse or child who still lives at home, do not try to surprise someone with a puppy. Talk to the person you’d like to buy the puppy for, or an adult member of the household, to ensure that the gift would be welcome. Also realize that most quality breeders will not sell you a dog to give to someone outside of your home; they will want to speak with the dog’s ultimate owner before the puppy leaves their care, to verify their baby is going to a good home. Be sure the person has really thought through the addition of a dog to the family. Talk to any shelter or rescue group and they can tell you that a few months after Christmas, older pups start pouring in, as the “cute” wears off and people begin to regret their Christmas puppies. Once you have determined that the person really does want a dog, be sure you know the type of dog they want, and that they have thought through the positives and negatives of the breed. If after doing your research you don’t see a specific breed as being appropriate for the person, talk to them before proceeding with the purchase. Realize that puppies aren’t the right choice for every family, and consider whether an adult dog might be a better fit. A housebroken, crate-trained dog might be welcomed. Again, talk with the person about your concerns.