Many people want to get a puppy for Christmas. They are wonderful companions, but they are NOT, repeat, NOT a good toy for Christmas!
You have all seen the photos and videos every year of the (usually) young child getting a wiggling bundle of puppy for Christmas. It’s adorable and everyone gets a tear in their eye. They just know that there’s going to be a happy ending for everyone.
Never a Surprise
The reality is quite different. Shelters are overwhelmed in the spring because of people surrendering their puppies because they cannot handle the puppies’ habits of urinating and defecating in the house, chewing on everything in sight, and needing to be fed and walked all the time! Oh my! Who would have thought that it would be like this?!
Because a puppy is going to need a lot of time and training to be a good canine citizen, a gift of a puppy at the holidays should never ever be a surprise. Everyone in the family should agree that adding a puppy member to the family is something that everyone wants. Then they should plan, and plan some more for the arrival of the new member.
The first thing you should do with your new puppy is to find a good veterinarian and have your new friend examined from head to tail, and ensure that your pup has received all her shots. If your puppy is old enough, you should then schedule when you will have your puppy spayed or neutered.
Pure Bred or Rescue
This is a decision that is up to each person, but there are people who will only get a purebred dog. Still there are many, many wonderful dogs available in a shelter. You can go in the spring when others are surrendering their Christmas present puppies and find a pup in need of a furrever home. You can be a hero to that dog!
Before you even get your new puppy home, you should schedule him for a new puppy class. Your local shelter is an excellent place to start. This class is more for the human handling the puppy than for the puppy.
If there are other family members who will be sharing the care, you may consider engaging the services of a private trainer, or see if the class can be attended by others in the family.
It is important that the primary caregiver maintains the lessons at home and spends time each day refreshing the training commands for the new puppy. The most important commands are SIT, STAY, DOWN, and RECALL.
The SIT command is obvious. It requires the dog to sit when you command. This helps your dog refrain from jumping on you or other people.
The STAY command is used when you want your dog to remain in a location and not enter another location. This can be used to keep your dog out of the dining room, for example.
The DOWN command is helpful for calming your dog down when she is excited. It is usually executed after a SIT command to calm down a dog who is in a highly excited state and allows the dog to get herself under control.
The RECALL command is necessary when you are outside with your dog and you need your dog to return to you. One use of this command is to keep your dog from running into a busy street with a lot of traffic.
Training allows you to establish boundaries for your dog within your home. You may allow your dog to have the run of your house, or you may block of parts of your house. Training allows you to do this in a positive way with your new dog.
Some basic accessories that your new dog will need are:
- Feeding dish and water bowl. These need to be sized for your dog. If your dog has a tendency to wolf down his food, you may want to get a slow feeder bowl to keep your dog from experiencing the problems associated with eating too quickly. These can include choking, vomiting, and bloat. Bloat is when your dog’s stomach fills with gas and air; and gastric dilatation volvulus is where the bloated stomach twists pinching off the blood supply. This condition requires immediate treatment by a veterinarian.
- Harness and leash. I use a harness instead of a collar so that my dog does not experience choking when we go for a walk. A harness is good if your dog pulls on her leash, but if your dog is a strong puller, you can find special harnesses that help to check this condition. As for the leash, there are regular leashes and leashes that are retractable. Rely on your trainer to let you know what the best on is for your situation.
- Coat or sweater. If you live in a cold weather area, your dog may require a coat or sweater. Yes, dogs have fur coats, but they can get cold, also. I have chihuahuas who wear nice sweatshirts in the winter when they go for walks.
- Toys. If you have a puppy, he will be teething! This means that he will need something to chew on and on and on. Start with a couple of good chew toys. Your dog may or may not like squeakers. My chihuahuas love squeakers in toys. My daughter’s huskies destroy squeaky toys in a day. Try out different toys for your dog. I recommend avoiding toys with stuffing. One of my chihuahuas loves his toys and is very careful with them, but will still eventually de-stuff a toy. Check out some good toys here.
Besides following the veterinary care schedule provided by your veterinarian, you will need to establish a daily care schedule within your family to establish who is responsible for feeding and watering the puppy. Who is responsible for walking the dog and when? If you are house-training your puppy, you need to have a good schedule for walking the dog to teach potty habits as well as who is going to clean up the used puppy pads, and who will clean up after the puppy.
You can set up a calendar to establish the basic housekeeping tasks of feeding and walking, but the most important thing that everyone in the family needs to establish is the time to interact and work with your puppy, or even just to snuggle. Puppies and dogs need to interact with everyone in the family. Puppies need to be socialized with people outside the family as well.
Puppies are a wonderful Christmas gift if you take the time to prepare everyone in the family for it. Puppies are not toys, they have a life span of 10 – 13 years. My chihuahuas have the longest life span at 20 years. This is how long that Christmas gift will last. That puppy will treat you as her family and is expecting you to treat her the same way. Please don’t disappoint your puppy this Christmas!