A Puppy for Christmas? Some Important Points to Consider

Who can’t resist the urge to have your children or special someone wake up to a new puppy on Christmas morning? They look so sweet and it is such an exciting time to get to surprise someone with a warm, fuzzy puppy. But a few weeks later you could have puppy chaos instead. According to Google, a clear trend line in the search for “dog training” and “puppy training” in the two days immediately following Christmas nearly doubles.

The reason is that potential dog owners do not research pros and cons of acquiring a new furry addition. The first few days with the new puppy may be extremely exciting and full of joy for all involved, but the novelty of having the dog will soon kick in. Pets are a lot of work. They take a ton of time, money and energy. They also don’t stay tiny, fluffy, babies forever. More often than not, children who receive pets as Christmas presents don’t understand the responsibility that comes with them. This responsibility then falls to the already busy parents. It’s hard to resist the allure of these scenes, as kids and adults alike burst into happy tears at the sight of an adorable puppy wearing a big, festive bow won’t be long before that cute ball of fluff starts barking, pooping, and chewing off its bow, and the realities of new pet parenthood set in.

A new pet can be a wonderful gift, but it can also be a challenging surprise. Before you give a Christmas puppy of your own, consider the pros and cons of bringing a new pet home. Having a dog can be costly, both financially and emotionally.

Consider these questions before making a decision:

Do you have time/energy?

A new puppy requires a lot of attention. Puppies have not developed bladder control and will need to be walked/taken outside roughly every 4 hours until your dog is potty trained. Most dogs require daily exercise as well to keep them fit, as well as daily training. Remember repetition is key in dog training. The more you take the time to teach the faster your puppy will learn.

Do you have space?

Will your new dog run free in a fenced in yard, or do you live in an apartment and will leash walk your pet? Research dog breeds to see how much space they might need. Make sure you have an area that is puppy proofed until your pet is trained.

Can you afford a new pet?

Puppies need to eat 2-3 times a day to grow healthy and strong. Make sure you are able to afford a balanced diet for your pet. Now a Chihuahua may eat a 5 lb bag of dog food in a month’s time, while a Great Dane will eat that in less than a week. Animals also require frequent trips to a veterinarian for booster vaccinations, deworming and preventative medications. Consult veterinarians to inquire about prices and possible puppy packages. Also, consider pet insurance to supplement the cost of veterinarian visits and unexpected emergency situations.

Think of the resources needed to care for a pet involved:

  • Food/Water Bowl
  • Crate/Carrier
  • Puppy Food
  • Collar/Leash
  • Dog Bed
  • Dog Toys
  • Brush
  • Puppy Shampoo
  • Established relationship with a local veterinarian
  • Space that is pet-proofed and has no potential hazards that can be harmful to your pet

Most people think that cute little puppy that was under the tree on Christmas morning will stay that way. On the contrary, they grow up and they grow up quick. Think of it this way: could you go from the crib to high-school? No way! Puppies need exercise, discipline, and affection—in that order. The best gift you can ever give that Christmas puppy is obedience training. This will not only build a lifelong bond but give you the control, leadership, and routine that your dog so much desires.

Once your new puppy is home, figuring out where to put the crate will depend on what’s most convenient for you as well as their reaction. Many puppies don’t like to be isolated in one part of the house while their family is in another but some puppies won’t settle down in their crates if too much activity is going on around them. You might have to try different locations until you find that right spots that are best for everyone. Give time for them to get accumulated to its new surroundings and people.

Maintain a potty training schedule that is based on eating, sleeping and play times as that is when they will need to go most. Be persistent with the schedule, feed the same time every day and take your pet outside every few hours regardless of eating. Give praise and/or reward for eliminating outside but do not scold puppy when accidents happen, just bring puppy immediately outside to ensure pet knows where to eliminate. Remember to be patient because accidents do happen. Clean up accidents immediately and clean with appropriate surface cleaner to avoid recurring accidents in the same spot. While adjusting to potty training begin training a few simple commands.

Establishing a bonding relationship with your new four-legged friend is important. Consistency and repetition are strongly recommended for teaching your pup to learn commands. Be persistent with the command you are asking for and reward when they do it right. The more you practice the command the faster your pet will obey. Some people prefer a dog training professional, research companies in your area and find the best for your training desires.

As exciting it is to bring your puppy everywhere you go, it can be very risky to the health of your pet. Until your puppy has had all of its vaccine boosters they can be exposed to very serious illness and viruses. Continue to have frequent visits to your local vet for all vaccine boosters as well as dewormings to ensure your pet is getting the proper health program that is recommended by them. After proper vaccine protocol, you can start to bring your new pup around other dogs and people to enhance socialization skills. Exposure to new pets, people and surrounding can both be fun and scary to your pet. Pay attention to your pets anxiety and body control to maintain a fun experience.

And we can’t forget about the puppy or kitten that all this is revolving around. That animal is going to rely on the person for everything from food and a place to sleep, to guidance on behavior and love. If that person cannot provide this to the animal, what does that puppy or kitten do? They may suffer from lack of exercise or attention. They might also have medical issues that cannot be paid for. Worst comes to worst, that animal ends up in a shelter. From there, their fate is indeterminate.

Shelter’s across the U.S. see a huge shift in the number of animals they have coming in during the months following the holiday season. As puppies and kittens lose the adorable baby-ness they had on Christmas morning, some people find themselves less invested. As they get older, puppies are prone to causing more messes and damage (especially in the case of larger breeds).

Puppy training is not the easiest thing on Earth, and potty training takes its toll on every new puppy parent. If the new parent to this animal was unaware they were getting the pet, they may not be ready for the responsibility it entails. There only way out may be turn over their Christmas present to the shelter for someone else to take care of. Unfortunately for the puppy or kitten, in the week or months since Christmas, they have been growing. They not only lose the endearing qualities that get tiny puppies adopted, but they may have been developing some less-than-ideal habits. Both of these things make adopting the animals difficult. High numbers in the shelter during the first half of the year is just another challenge for each individual pup and kitten in their pursuit of a loving, forever home.

But the key to making a Christmas puppy a successful gift is to do your research ahead of time. Many prospective adopters are completely unprepared, for instance, for the hard work of raising a puppy. So the first step is to know what you’re getting into!

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