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Dear Santa, I want a puppy...

Christmas is the time of the year when so many families get puppies. It is one of the most common gifts that parents get their kids, who may or may not have pestered them all year around to get them one. Before impulse purchasing a puppy for under your Christmas tree, consider the following things and then decide if you’re ready for this commitment.

Know what you’re getting into

Many families don't realize that getting a dog should be a planned decision, not a surprise. A puppy or a grown dog needs a lot of time to get it settled in a new house, especially around the holidays when it’s busier than usual. When a dog enters a family, it changes the environment around the house. It needs your attention and free time. Children may initially want to be the primary caregivers, but their puppy fever may wear off within few weeks or months, so the lifetime commitment you’re making is between you and the dog.

Puppies come with a lot of bills, far more than you think. Not only do you need to get the puppy new bowls, food, treats, a bed, collar, leashes and so many toys, but puppies also need four sets of shots in their first 5-6 months, spay or neuter, heartworm medication (for their entire life) and even potential medications like de-wormers, allergy medications or antibiotics. Make sure you have the time and money to take care of a puppy's health before Santa brings one home.

Research your options

If you and your family really want a dog, there are different options you can choose from. If you choose to go with a breeder, steer clear of puppy mills and backyard breeders. Suppliers have to keep up with ever growing demand of puppies around this time of year and some ignore the proper breeding plans to do so. Unfortunately, these puppies are often inbred, poorly socialized, and more prone to genetic health problems like allergies, bad hips or to behavioral difficulties like compulsive barking or chewing. An experienced and ethical breeder will make sure that a dog won’t have these problems and will ask questions about you and what you need to determine the best match for you and your family. Also, check out our blog post from last month which discusses what age a puppy should go to their new home.

You should also consider getting a dog from established shelters and rescue groups. It will not only save you from initial struggle of raising a puppy from a very young age but will also give a caring home to a dog who may not have been treated well in the past. The time and money you may have spent on getting and raising a puppy could be invested in caring for a dog from shelters. A rescue dog would not only give you a sense of fulfilment for saving a life but they will also be a grateful, loyal, and unconditionally loving companion. We provide discounts to our training classes for rescued dogs which is extra savings for you!

Research the breed

Many people who decide to get a puppy choose the dog based on how they look, without considering what the breed was designed to DO. Dogs were changed through domestication to have jobs, to do something within the realm of the human world. Some breeds are higher energy, while other breeds love to chill and relax. Some breeds are made for hunting, others for pulling sleds, for herding, or even for getting vermin underground. Put these things into consideration when Santa is choosing a puppy for the family.

  1. Do you have young children?

  2. Do you have time to exercise the puppy regularly?

  3. How large is your yard? Is it fenced in?

  4. How do you feel about a house full of dog hair?

  5. How much space do you have in your house for a dog?

The American Kennel Club has a fast and easy quiz that gives you some breed recommendations if you're not sure.

Remember: Mixed breeds are generally healthier than pure breed dogs, so we strongly suggest you check out your local rescue or shelter. You can also find a lot of pure breed dogs in shelters or rescues too!

Prepare your house

Once you’ve chosen your dog, make sure that they get proper care and attention when you bring them home. Unusual noise, activities and extra demands upon the household can make it difficult for any pet to settle into their new homes so Christmas is not always the best time to introduce them to the house. If you or your family are busy or your house is chaotic during the holidays, consider dog boarding or doggy daycare. That will not only give them company and allow them to properly socialize with other dogs, but they will also experience as loving an environment as they get at your house. However, for some people, Christmas is a calm, quiet time and may well be a good time to introduce an animal into the home as families tend to be around the house with more time to spend with them.

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