We’ve all seen the pictures and TV commercials of the cute puppy sitting under the Christmas tree with a big ribbon around its neck and the joy in the little boy or girls face when they see their wish for their first dog come true. It’s a heartwarming idea that plays on your emotions, but that’s about all it does. It doesn’t show the puppy peeing on the carpet, or chewing up the new toy your child just got for Christmas.
I’m totally for introducing a new dog into the family, but it must be done responsibly, and it’s just not responsible to bring a new dog or puppy into your home in what is arguably the most hectic time of the year. There are several reasons why you should wait to introduce a new family member to your household until after the Christmas season. I will briefly discuss just a few of these reasons below.
Why Is Getting a Dog or Puppy for Christmas a Bad Idea?
- Too much going on. Christmas time brings lots of lights, sounds, smells, people, etc. While you and your family may see this as festive, a new dog or puppy will not. This is a very stressful time to bring a new pet into the home, and could trigger unwanted behaviors and fears that can last a lifetime.
- Pets are not toys. While you may feel like giving a new puppy or dog to your child for Christmas is a great way to teach responsibility, in many cases the dog ends up being mistreated. The boy or girl may not have been properly taught that a pet is a sentient living thing and needs to be cared for and treated with respect. Often times the child will quickly get bored with your new family member, just as he gets bored with a new toy.
- Pets are for life. Dogs and Puppies are not just for the Christmas season. They should not be treated as a cute photo op for next years Christmas cards. They should become a part of your family. It’s not uncommon for dogs given as Christmas gifts to be surrendered a month or two later to the local animal shelter. When you and/or your child don’t want to take care of your dog anymore, you just can’t tie him out in the backyard and ignore him.
- Not what you were expecting. Dogs, and especially puppies are a LOT of work and you need to provide for their needs and comfort. That cute little puppy will not know that the carpet is not where she should potty. That dog doesn’t know that the plate of food on your kitchen counter is off limits. They don’t naturally know that greeting dear old Aunt Agnus by jumping on her isn’t acceptable. The list goes on and on. Are you prepared for all of the unwanted/unexpected behaviors that come along with being a dog owner?
- Pets are expensive. Are you prepared for all the expenses that come along with owning a dog or a puppy? It’s not just the initial cost and food. You have to consider veterinary costs, which can add up very quick. Then there’s training. A responsible dog owner should start training as early as possible. I recommend training a puppy starting at ten weeks of age. Then of course there’s the ongoing cost of equipment, bedding, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love dogs, and I believe they can be important members of most families. You just have to be prepared for what you are about to get yourself into, and Christmas time is probably not the best time to get yourself into it.
If you want to give the gift of a dog or puppy to your child, how about wrapping up a book about dog ownership. Then you can explain after reading the book, and after the Christmas season is done and things calm down, you can all go to the local shelter and pick out an appropriate dog for the family. This will give you and your child time to learn more about becoming a responsible dog owner and prepare for your new family member.
Once the Christmas season is over, and you are ready to bring a new dog or puppy into your family, you should consider professional training. There are several options available to you when it comes to good dog training. There are group classes, private lessons, socializing opportunities. There are different training options for puppies and adult dogs. Puppies may benefit from group puppy classes for socializing, while adult dogs may do better with private, in-home training.
When you do decide it’s time to bring a new dog or puppy as a family member into your home, I would be happy to help you pick the perfect dog and get you started on the most appropriate dog training program. I own and operate Good Buddy Dog Training. My specialty is private dog and puppy training. I work closely with the family and teach important skills, as well as addressing many common unwanted behaviors. Part of my mission is to help build the bond between dogs and their owners through a fun, and positive dog training curriculum.