Puppies and Christmas just go together, right? We’ve all seen the photos – the family gathered around the tree, Dad with his arm around Mom and both of them with glowing smiles as an adorable puppy with a huge red bow busily licks their kids’ faces. Their Christmas Day is warm, serene, and calm. Sounds like your house, right? Nope, not my house either.
Christmas is wonderful, don’t get me wrong – but it is usually busy and chaotic. And the noise and activity can be confusing and frightening to a young puppy. A frightened puppy is apt to soil on the carpeting, nip, or hide in hard to reach places. An adult needs to supervise the first interactions between the puppy and children, so that neither inadvertently hurts the other. These initial few days at home can be either a good beginning or the start of bad habits that can be very difficult to unlearn. Think of it this way – a puppy is about as demanding as any newborn baby and will require your time and attention.
Then there is the real possibility that while you are opening presents, welcoming guests and otherwise distracted, that curious puppy gets into something he shouldn’t ….. He finds some yummy food that will make him sick, chews on wrapping or decorations, or gnaws on electrical cords. The last thing you want to do on Christmas is make a trip to the emergency vet.
Puppies require planning.
(I’ll pause while you read that sentence at least three more times)
A puppy is a lifetime commitment and should be treated as such.
Selecting the right dog for your family should be a primary consideration. The fact is that all puppies come with vast amounts of cuteness. But what will the adult dog be like? Do you want a large dog or a small dog? Long or short hair? Shedding or nonshedding? High energy or a couch potato? Dogs come in an incredible variety of sizes, shapes, and dispositions and one of them will be the right fit if you take the time to investigate.
There are many other practical considerations; Where will the dog sleep? Who will be responsible for training? Are you experienced with dogs or do you need to learn how to train and socialize a puppy? Do you have time for training classes? Who will walk and exercise the dog? Who will get up in the middle of the night in the rain when the puppy needs to go “out”? (Just as a reminder, a puppy needs to “pee” every two to three hours) Is your yard secure? Will someone be available to take the puppy out at midday when everyone is at work or school?
And very importantly, is there room in your budget for a dog? Puppies require a series of vaccinations, dewormings, and neuter/spay surgery. Then for the rest of their lives, there are annual vaccinations and heartworm and flea medications. At some point, you will probably have a vet visit with a sick or injured dog. (Add to that planning list to look into insurance for the puppy.)
Having a dog can add so much joy to your family, while at the same time providing a real learning experience for children. It’s important that the children understand, however, that the puppy is not just another toy, another package to unwrap and discard, but a living, breathing, feeling being.
Instead of giving a puppy for Christmas, why not give a “puppy shower” with items that will be needed – a collar and leash, bowls, a bed, appropriate dog toys, a dog training book? Anticipating the day the puppy comes home will only add to the fun.