Giving a puppy to your loved ones as a surprise is an exciting event. Take your time and think about the best way to capture their attention and maximize the impact. Holidays and birthdays are good events for surprises but you can work a puppy into any day of the year with success.
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Build some tension
When your family or friends look at puppies with you, tell them it's not a good time and they will have to wait for another opportunity. Secretly inform the caretaker you want the puppy and go back in private to collect the puppy they most desired. This will build tension and set the stage for your surprise. It is difficult with the initial letdown reaction but it makes the surprise more powerful.
Puppy in a box
Placing the puppy in a present type box is a good strategy for holidays or birthdays. Keeping the puppy quiet while inside the box is difficult but the surprise still works if the puppy makes noise. Wrap the box with paper and place a bow on top.
Provide ventilation (make a puppy gift box with holes, just to be safe) and place the puppy inside with a small amount of food to help him keep quiet. Place the puppy inside the box within minutes of it being opened to avoid any discomfort.
Gift puppy surprise at home
Go about your normal day and wait until everyone is gathered in your home at the same time. Have a group dinner to place everyone in a single room. Have a friend quietly let the puppy loose in the house and let the puppy surprise everyone while you are eating. The impact of the puppy entering the house alone will catch everyone off guard.
After the initial surprise, introduce the puppy to your group. Make sure excited kids (and adults) don't get so rattled they knock over nearby furniture or other items. If there are other pets around, be prepared to restrain them in case they have an excited reaction.
Create a scavenger hunt
Place the puppy in a pen somewhere concealed in your house. Garages and basements are good options for hiding the puppy. Build a list of scavenger hunt clues to find a puppy, leading hunters around the house with the final clue finding to the puppy. Scavenger hunts are effective for groups and individuals.
Puppy car surprise
Place the puppy in your car and tell the person you are surprising to get in for a ride. When they open the door, the puppy will be a complete surprise. Leave the windows cracked for ventilation. Do not use this option during periods of hot or cold weather. The puppy should only be left in the car for a minute. Having a passenger who knows about the puppy sit in the car and hold the puppy is also a good idea.
Make sure it's OK
Do not surprise someone with a puppy unless they are prepared to care for the dog. They must want the puppy and know the responsibility required to train and love the dog. Many animal shelters find Christmas puppies on their doorsteps each spring and (other abandoned gift puppies year round) after the cute pets grow and are more work than the giftee imagined.
Consider sending a surprise puppy letter to the giftee's parents, spouse or siblings to see if they have any feedback about whether or not the gift will be appropriate. They can also help prepare the house for a new pet to make the dog's first days in its new home more comfortable.