CHICAGO (CBS) — A puppy might sound like the perfect Christmas gift for your kids, but one expert said many parents don’t think of all the extra responsibility that comes with it.

Carie Meyers, president and founder of the Puppy Mill Project, said the idea of surprising your kids with a puppy on Christmas morning might be overwhelming, but many families are overwhelmed by all the work of raising a puppy, and end up returning them before winter is out.

“There’s an uptick of the puppies that are given up in a few months,” she said.

Getting a puppy can be a lot like having a baby, according to Meyers.

“It’s like giving birth again. You have a new baby in the house, and a lot of people do not think it through, or their children are really literally too young. They’re not going to help. They don’t know how to even pick a puppy up,” Meyers said.

Meyers said puppies aren’t presents. If you want to get one, know that caring for your new furry friend is a full-time job.

“It’s a puppy. You have to take it out. It’s the winter, and nobody wants to do that, so people get fed up. You have to have a lot of patience for a new dog at any age, basically,” she said.

If you want to get a pooch for Christmas, consider an older dog who needs a home.

“If you’re going to get a dog, does it have to be a puppy? Can you rescue a dog that’s a year old? Two years old? That needs a home? That isn’t going to be a puppy that is rambunctious?” she said.

The Puppy Mill Project is devoted to raising awareness of puppy mills and shutting them down. Puppy mills thrive on the popularity of puppies; but typically neglect the animals, which often suffer from serious behavior problems and are kept housed in squalid conditions before they’re sold.