Published by Beth Schanou
During this time of year it is very common to see commercials or holiday movies with an adorable puppy or kitten as a Christmas gift. That scene and lasting image it leaves in our mind is very heart warming. While it may seem brilliant in that moment, gifting a puppy for Christmas is usually a bad idea.
Most puppies are separated from their mother and littermates to bond with their new family around 8 weeks of age. From about 7-12 weeks of age, the puppy is in a crucial development stage. This is a good time in the puppy’s development for creating new bonds, such as with the new family. It is also a very sensitive time. According to PetRescue.com, “It is extremely important not to over-stress or unduly frighten your puppy during this vulnerable time. Fears learned during this fear/avoidance period can be difficult to overcome, even with the best training or behavior modification techniques.”
Think of your typical Christmas morning scene. Would you characterize it as calm and stress-free? Or does it consist of lights, noise, busy schedules, visitors, gifts and wrapping paper littering the floor? Consider how that experience can be terrifying for a puppy entering a new environment.
In most areas of the country, December and January are not ideal months to spend outside trying to housetrain a puppy. If you do not want to be outside, think of the puppy. Most breeds do not enjoy the cold and snow. Housetraining is a challenge of its own without the added difficulty of being in the cold.
Animal shelters get a flood of dogs after the holidays. For a variety of reasons, the family decided the dog was not a good fit. Many times the decision to get a puppy for Christmas is made on impulse. Puppies are cute and cuddly, but they grow up to be dogs and require a lot of time and energy for care and training.
The decision to get a dog is not one that should be made swiftly. Having a dog and the responsibilities that come with are life-changing. With the right preparation, it is a positive change for most families. The key is taking time to prepare and researching for the best possible match for your family. Does this breed require a lot of exercise? Is professional grooming needed? What are the breed’s personality characteristics? If you have young children, is this breed suitable for children? Are you (not your children) committed to spending time and resources to train, feed and care for the dog?
Getting a dog as a puppy and raising it can be a great experience. My puppy is now approaching 11 years of age, and I have enjoyed the journey. Being involved in dog rescue, I also see how many wonderful adult dogs find themselves in search for their forever home. Our local shelters and pet rescue groups are usually maxed out with dogs looking for homes. If you want a dog, take time to do your research, think about how your life will change with a dog and consider your local shelter or dog rescue organization.
At our firm, we strive to make a difference in the community. Our employees volunteer and participate in fundraising opportunities for our local shelters and dog rescues. For more information on the team’s community involvement, click here.