Big gift for a teenage dog owner
August 22, 2022 7:13 AM   Subscribe

My 13 year old niece just had a big celebration which requires a big present and, unrelated to this, recently got a bichon frise puppy - her first dog ever. I'm thinking about getting her a present related to the puppy. Any suggestions? Looking to spend as much as $500 US/Canadian. She's located in Toronto, Canada.
posted by evadery to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
The 10000% best gift I got as a new dog person many years ago, and the one I give to every new dog family now, is a gift card for positive reinforcement training classes or private lessons. Everyone loves buying puppy toys and treats and tags (for good reason! so much fun!), but having help and support = priceless.
posted by picopebbles at 7:22 AM on August 22 [26 favorites]

^^^ Yes! Such a great suggestion. We used the positive reinforcement method with my dog, complete with classes, and it brought out the best in both the dog and the person. Mostly the person, haha. :)
posted by mochapickle at 7:45 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]

100% training. My most dog-people friends usually recommend 2 training courses for exactly the reasons above: one trains the dog, and one trains the human.
posted by adekllny at 7:49 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]

A 13 year old (7th grader?) can't take a dog to training classes without heavy parent support and involvement (driving, scheduling etc) -- in fact, the parents could easily be the ones who wind taking the dog without your niece if there aren't a lot of other kids there doing it too, unless she's the kind of kid who wouldn't mind being the only non-adult in the session. -- And perhaps the parents already have training lined up. So, great as training classes are, I would not gift this to a 13 year old without definitely speaking first to the parents and getting their enthusiastic approval. If they say yes, go for it. Otherwise...
$500 is a lot to spend on a dog-related present. If this is a coming-of-age gift, I'd spend a couple of hundred on something fun, like a fancy dog bed and some nice dog toys and pretty leashes, and give the rest of the gift as cash. IME kids this age love the fact that at certain big life events, they can begin to save up a meaningful amount of money to spend eventually on an independent decision.
posted by ojocaliente at 7:57 AM on August 22 [5 favorites]

Definitely the training if the parents are on board. I was in charge of training my then-puppy when I was about this age and I'm still one of his favorite people, even though I live in another state. Even better than the actual training was the bonding. Otherwise I agree on spending some on the dog and some on the kid. My dog-person friends have a lot of fun with the BarkBox subscription, I wonder if you could sign them up for a set amount of time for that?
posted by clarinet at 8:09 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]

I'd buy a few years of pet health insurance from Healthy Paws, or Nationwide, or one of the others.
posted by bz at 8:56 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]

A regular obedience or puppy course shouldn't run you more than about $250 (we did two elsewhere in Ontario, at different places, for about 150 each) so if you wish you could spend some money elsewhere too. I would also caution you to avoid purchasing training that has the dog staying at the training facility for a week or two, since they often are not as positive as advertised and are also less likely to be effective without involving the owner and their home in the training process.

I strongly agree with talking to the parents before purchasing this type of gift, but it is a great idea!
posted by randomnity at 9:09 AM on August 22

Dog training classes would be my first suggestion too, but you'll have to get the parents on board to take her unless you live close, then going with her could be part of the present and a fun bonding thing for the 2 of you.

If not then I'd look at a really fancy dog bed sized for when the pup grows up. There are so many amazing designs out there, everything from one that looks like a couch to ones that look like baroque beds from the palace of versaille.
posted by wwax at 9:25 AM on August 22 [3 favorites]

Maybe a gift cert for a year’s worth of pet grooming at a local pet spa?
posted by sundrop at 7:42 AM on August 23

Bichons need regular grooming and that can get really expensive, I'd opt for a gift card to a well-rated local groomer
posted by radioamy at 3:16 PM on August 24

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