Tis The Season For Puppies...Or Tis It?
What could be a more wonderful gift than getting a puppy for Christmas?
Many people cannot think of anything better. A puppy is perhaps the perfect gift for the person who seemingly has everything. A puppy popping out of a box or waddling in from the next room … it’s a scene right out of the movies.
It is no joke that the dog training business has seasons, with the busiest time of the year being spring. But unfortunately, this is also when the new owners of those Christmas puppies begin to realize that a little basic obedience training might make a better life for everyone in the household.
It is when some owners begin to feel overwhelmed by the never-ending biting and
chewing, cleaning up, and the general commitment of having a young dog, and thoughts of
giving the dog up to a shelter come to mind. The Christmas buzz has worn off, and the reality of the responsibility begins to set it. The kids who promised to feed the pup, take it out for potty breaks, play with it, and said, “it won’t be any trouble,” have given up their promise. The young couple who brought home a puppy so they could raise it together “as a family” did not foresee their favorite shoes or perhaps their sofa being destroyed. Maybe the spouse who received the “bundle of joy” was not ready to sacrifice their time to oversee a dog and prevent all potential issues that might arise with a young dog leaving the giver “holding the leash.”
There are many reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters, but failed Christmas gifts are
Imagine the poor dog that was adopted from a shelter as a Christmas gift and ends up
being returned to the shelter later after it did not work out, just like we might return an
Christmas is a wonderful time to begin a relationship with a dog, but getting a dog should never be an impulse buy. It should never be the sudden “best idea ever” because you cannot think of anything else. There are good life stories that begin with getting a puppy for Christmas. I have two of them lying beneath my desk as I write right now. In fact, my wife gave me a homemade “coupon” last Christmas that read “For one free Border Collie puppy.” My pup was born three days later, but we had discussed it, researched the breed, and planned it with a breeder beginning the summer before. So I knew what I was getting for Christmas, and when it comes to getting or gifting a dog, that is how it should be, with no exceptions. There should be no surprises. A dog is a living, breathing, feeling, and sentient being. A dog has fears and gets bored. It needs to play, and it needs to eliminate. It needs food, water, love, and understanding. A dog will go through many stages in life, and it needs proper, positive guidance and support, much like a human child.
Dogs in their present form have been beside humankind for more than 30,000 years. They were the first domesticated animal, even before horses and cattle. In fact, they likely helped in the domestication of other animals. As such, they are born with some expectation of and even some social dependence on a relationship with humans. As a result, they are “equipped” to live around us and with us. They are unlike fish in a bowl where a person can drop in some food a few times a day and tap on the glass occasionally.
If you are thinking of gifting a puppy for Christmas, here are some things to consider. If you are just now getting the idea to give a Christmas puppy because you are reading this article, give an Amazon gift card instead because the time has passed to really do it properly.
Do Your Research!
All dogs are not created equally. Trust me; I know this because I live with a big, high-
energy puppy and a small, well-mannered senior dog. Puppies all start out as cute, but things will go in different directions in a few months.
If you want a specific breed, know everything you can about the breed’s tendencies. Even
then, realize your new dog may still grow up to be different, but generally, understanding the
desires and needs of a breed will help you prepare. For example, some breeds are barkers,
diggers, biters, pullers, independent, very dependent, etc., because they were bred for those traits in the jobs they may have been required to do for humans in centuries past. Join a social media group related to the dog breed and talk to breed owners to learn more.
If you are considering a mixed breed or a shelter pup, learn as much as possible about all
the potential breeds in the mix. You will get various percentages of the qualities inherent in all
When getting a new dog, you’ll need a few things, and it’s best to have them before
bringing your dog home. These items include things like beds, collars, leashes, crates, baby
gates, pens, training pads, toys, food, bowls, grooming supplies, enzymatic cleaners (without
ammonia), and, of course, treats. Remember, all products are not made for dogs of all ages; look for items safe for your dog’s age.
Book A Vet Appointment!
Knowing and planning to bring your dog home on a specific day will allow you to set up
an appointment with a veterinarian in advance so your new friend can get a health checkup as
soon as possible. All dogs need to be checked for parasites and other health issues regardless of where you get them. This is especially true for puppies. You’ll want to do this before you introduce them to other pets in your house.
Make A Schedule!
This can make your experience with a new puppy so much better for both humans and
dogs. Writing down a plan can force you to think about all that needs to be done and when. Our daily schedules before a puppy will undoubtedly conflict with the program a puppy will need, and making a plan will help you spot potential problems.
For example, puppies are not physically able to hold their bladders for more than a few
hours until they have reached about six months of age. Therefore, to help them not soil their
enclosure, someone in the household will need to have the responsibility of taking them out of their pen every few hours to relieve themselves – even overnight. Not doing so will set back your potty training and create potential health problems such as a urinary tract infection.
Puppies should typically eat three times a day, have plenty of opportunities for sleep, time
for play with humans, and have some supervised free time. Getting into a routine will satisfy
humans and dogs. If this sounds like a lot, it is, and that’s why having a written schedule will
serve you well.
Puppies Change Your World
Another thing to consider is that this little fur baby will make you do things differently
than you were doing pre-puppy. In addition to chopping up your sleep for potty breaks or
cleaning crates if you are too late, you have to decide things like where your puppy is going to sleep. Probably not the best idea to put them in bed with you or the kids just yet! Again,
advanced research will pay off.
You may find the need to gate off certain areas of your house, which will undoubtedly get
annoying if it is one of your usual thoroughfares. There could be toys or pieces of jagged chew sticks scattered about. Imagine the scenario of a late-night trip to the kitchen for a snack. Puppy is sleeping soundly for the time being … finally. Perhaps, you are used to slipping out of bed, quietly walking through the house, and having some milk and cookies. Now, you must clear a gate or two in your slippers and avoid random squeaky toys, and, if you step on one or the gate rattles as you go by, puppy is wide awake again and wants your attention. Seems trivial, right?
Trivial things add up to dogs going to shelters.
More questions to think about:
Where is your puppy going to be when no one is home?
How long can I leave puppy alone while I am gone?
Will he/she get along with our other pets?
How can I get my work done/TV shows watched with that puppy crying all the time?
Why does he/she keep biting my hands?
Female dogs don’t mark as males do, right? (Wrong)
What is marking?
Why aren’t the kids cleaning this up?
Won’t rubbing his/her nose in it teach him a lesson? (Not the one you want to teach)
How long is this barking going to last?
Where is my other sock?
Have you seen my shoe?
What will the neighbors think?
Is it time to take the dog out again?
How did you get so dirty when you were only outside for 5 minutes?
Why are you eating your poop?
It’s the 4th of July. Where is the dog?
Educate Yourself and Your Dog
Some human training and dog training is essential to know how to communicate with
your dog. Dogs don’t come into any house knowing the rules, and what we humans like and do not like in their behavior, so it’s best to have a reliable dialogue. With puppies from a reputable breeder, mom and siblings will have gotten the good behavior ball rolling, but for dogs where their origins are in question. You may have to help your new dog learn to trust and become confident, as well as teach appropriate behavior.
For puppies, their little brains absorb information about their world and their place in it
from the time you bring them home. So it’s already time to start training and socializing them. At Awesome Dog Academy, we teach a 1-hour new puppy class where we educate you on all you need to know about making life good for you and your pup right from the start.
As your dog gets a little older, or if you are taking in an older dog, we encourage you to
look at our beginner’s obedience class, a 6-week class offered several days a week to suit your schedule. In this class, you’ll get a great start showing your dog what you want in the behavior and rewarding them for it.
Many dog owners are great at telling their dogs “no,” but it is equally important to tell
them what you would like them to do instead of something undesirable. Positive reinforcement dog training lets your dog earn rewards for doing the things we humans like, creating a “buy-in” because both humans and dogs suddenly want the same behavior.