This article is not intended to dissuade you from getting a puppy at Christmas time. It is meant to encourage you to think through your decision and take measures to prepare for a safe and comfortable home-coming for your new pup:
Four Paws for Christmas
Imagine a fuzzy-faced pup with his little white paws grasping the top of a white rimmed stocking while dangling on a fireplace mantel. One could hardly visualize a more fitting display of warmth for Christmas. Exciting are the joyous giggles from our children with the gift of a new puppy on Christmas morning and is the romantic scenario we all long for. But puppies are living creatures that require a huge commitment and a lot of forethought.
A transition to a new home is a stressful experience for these little ones, and much consideration should be given to make their new homes as stress-free as possible during their first days. Gifts, parties, food, and extra company compound the confusion of the home during the holiday seasons. Humans become distracted with festivities and excitement, and the forgotten little canine, feeling unsafe, cowers under the sofa wondering what’s going on and where he fits into all of this. This environment is typically just too overwhelming for a young puppy to endure.
Many puppies that are bought as holiday gifts go neglected and end up being returned to the breeder, shelters, or passed to someone else once the excitement subsides and the subsequent frustration sets in. New owners must think beyond the romantic idea of having a lovely stuffed animal. Puppies are much more requiring of attention than an inanimate fluffy toy. Well trained and happy puppies take work; they don’t just happen. Some call this the “Lassie Syndrome” – imagining the perfect dog (which doesn’t exist), but forgetting the work and time that it takes to make a wonderful, obedient pet.
A new puppy requires constant attention and supervision, and most of us simply don’t have that time to devote to these deserving friends during the Christmas and holiday season. New babies must be fed three to four times daily. Housetraining must start immediately and is a time-consuming process. Your infant canine will need to go out to relieve himself every time he eats, drinks, wakes up from a nap, and many times in between.
Most people will not be able to tend to the constant interruption to their holiday festivities or devote the much needed attention the new puppy requires. Puppies need to be the center of attention, and the holiday is just not the time most of us have to give the gift of time to our new canine friend.
To make matters worse, most people know the breed, gender, and coloring of the puppy they desire. Impulsive, last minute decisions leave few choices because their dream puppy isn’t likely to be available at the exact time they would like it. Shopping two months in advance – when the pups are born – could help, but it is still unlikely that the new owner will find the perfect pup at just the perfect moment.
A new puppy owner may need to wait for several months for their ideal pup to become available. Those who are determined to get a pup for Christmas may end up settling for one that isn’t exactly what they had wanted, later being disappointed. Selecting the puppy of their dreams takes time and patience and a lot of research, and a quality dog is worth the wait.
Maybe we could take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate the humanity of the holiday season by approaching the decision of adopting a puppy from a thoughtful perspective. Rather than giving a frightened puppy as a Christmas present, consider wrapping a hand-made gift certificate for a puppy or a receipt for a deposit on a puppy from the breeder. Wrap a stuffed puppy as a promise of a future puppy search. Hide training videos, books, toys and treats under the Christmas tree. Waiting to bring the new pup home until after the holidays when the home is quiet and the new owners are fully prepared,will bring great rewards to the new owners and give your new baby a safer, healthier, happier start.
Although Christmas is one of the most distracting times of the year, these same principles apply to Birthdays, Hanukkah, and Easter and other holidays that might take your time and attention away from the devotion a puppy needs. Likewise, adopting a puppy before a vacation, travels, or during a busy soccer season should be avoided.
Wait until you can provide your new baby with your undivided attention and get him off to a good start. Your new puppy deserves to be the center of your attention.