My first instinct as a trainer is to tell you “Noooooo… don’t do it!”
As one who has done it, I understand the desire.
You’re probably thinking, “my kids have been asking all year for a puppy.” or maybe, you’re thinking about a parent who’s been alone and needs some company. Maybe you’ve lost a loved companion and it feels like time to get another. What a great time of the year for such a cute, precious gift… or is it?
Like I said, I did it. A long time ago, before I was a trainer, I thought, “puppies are cute, I gotta have one and, why not? I had just tragically lost a loved companion. I have a winter birthday and Christmas was just around the corner. My unknowing, emotional brain said “this is the perfect gift.”
While the puppy I brought home turned out to be the most special, gentle soul I have ever lived with, the practical road of a winter puppy was a challenge I didn’t think to consider:
First, if you are thinking about giving a puppy as a gift to someone outside of your household – don’t. You are asking someone to assume the responsibility of a life and maybe, that life isn’t what the person is ready or capable of being responsible for.
Secondly, puppies are babies. If you’re set on the idea of a dog as a gift, think about a dog older than 1 year and make sure the person receiving the dog is ready and willing to fully accept that responsibility.
If you’re seriously considering a Christmas puppy for yourself or your household, take the following into consideration:
First and foremost, a puppy needs to be potty trained. Think about the time of year this will be occurring! Sure you can just open the door and shoo the puppy out a few times a day IF you have a fenced yard. Unfortunately, that IS NOT potty training and I guarantee indoor “accidents” will be a regular, daily, unwelcome event in your house. That means someone, probably you, has to be responsible for taking the puppy out on leash first thing in the morning and then at least 6 more times during the day and you will be going out in cold rain, wind, snow and any other bad weather that comes our way.
(Tip: Puppies can only hold their bladder & bowels ONE hour for each month of age)
Secondly, think about how much time you spend at home. Are you planning on traveling during the holidays? Do you attend many holiday social events that last more than a couple of hours? Do you “do up” the holidays big in your own home and have lots of guests or spend lots of time preparing or in the kitchen? What will you do with a new baby in your home that requires constant attention, potty breaks and appropriate instructions for how to live peacefully and appropriately in your home?
Ahhhh, Christmas… what a wonderland of chew toys for a new puppy!
Are you ready for the added expense of a puppy on top of the expense of Christmas? You will need a host of supplies, equipment and food just to get started out on the right foot and that doesn’t even take into consideration vet visits, vaccinations and spaying or neutering.
Once you’ve thought it through, if a Christmas puppy is still in the plans, take some extra time during the holidays to get your puppy acquainted with its new home and for you to bond with your new puppy. Socialization to the human world (and potty training, see comment above) is the first priority, and a new puppy will have lots of opportunity to see new things and maybe meet lots of new people. Keep it happy and fun for the puppy and humans involved.
Contact KARE for a FREE in-home consult, either to get ready for your new puppy or once you bring your new puppy home.
Meet the Author: Leslie Anderson, Program Development