Originally published December 2016
Picture it: A fuzzy, yellow puppy with a big red bow, under the tree on Christmas morning. The kids run down the stairs (in their matching plaid pajamas, of course) and squeal with delight.
“A puppy! A puppy! Eeeeeeeeee!!!!!” Mom and dad smile lovingly at each other. Success, they think, reveling at the cries of joy from their children.
Google “Christmas puppy” and you’ll get a whole slew of picture and videos depicting this scene. But is it reality? Let’s go over a few things before you decide to add a furry friend to the mix.
Can You Commit?
Dogs can live 10-15 years, depending on breed and size. That is a decade and a half of attention, exercise, vet visits, food and care.
And making such a far-reaching commitment at Christmas time can lead to a not-so-festive scenario. Think about it: The holidays are a busy time, with shopping, cooking, baking, family gatherings and trips. That doesn’t leave much time for supervising the puppy, who is likely a bit shell-shocked at being in a new home. And winter is not an ideal time for potty-training.
If you’re dead set on a surprise -- it may be better to wait until it gets warmer, and the family has time to devote to training, supervision and care.
A Lifetime of Care
So, you still want to get a Christmas puppy, or dog. There are ways to make it work. Here’s how:
Make sure the WHOLE family is on board -- and understands the responsibility.
Many breeders and some rescues won’t send a puppy home at Christmas time because of the stress it causes the dog. Consider bringing your pup home the week before or week after. Follow the advice of the breeder and your vet. Make Christmas as stress-free as possible for your new bundle of joy.
Most animal shelters, however, WILL send home dogs at Christmas. Have a serious conversation with the adoption counselor there. They are a great resource and can help you pick the perfect time to bring home a new dog. Shelters and rescues tend to have a lot of pedigreed, purebred dogs starting in February. Yep, you guessed it, Christmas puppies that didn’t work out. If there’s a certain breed you want, that’s a good time to look.
A Different Kind of Gift
Another idea is gift wrapping a collar, leash, toys and a gift certificate for puppy training classes. Then watch the excitement and anticipation grow as your family unwraps each one, then dropping the big news - we’re going to go get a puppy soon!
You could also consider an adult or senior dog. They have just as much joy and love to offer, and are often already house-trained! Bonus!
When and if you do add a four-legged friend to your home, Delightful Dog is here for you! We’re happy to help you make the transition as easy as possible for both you and your new pup. In particular, you may want to check out our Nursery Day Program for dogs under 16 weeks. It’s been called “The Montessori School for Dogs” -- and the only program of its kind in the Southeast. By focusing on several areas of enrichment, we give your puppy the tools to handle life in a calm and confident manner. Our goal is to work closely with the whole family during this critical development period, to produce a confident, well-mannered family dog.
And if your pup is over 16 weeks -- not to worry. We have training programs for them, too. We offer small group classes, so you and your dog get that individual attention from our expert trainers.
We also have two different kinds of day care, to meet you and your dog’s needs:
For dogs who just love to play with other dogs, we have group day care. Our day care stands out for a couple of reasons: First and foremost is safety -- for the dogs, for you, and for our staff. Our camp counselors are trained in canine body language, pet CPR and first aid. Our counselors interact with the dogs, along with supervising and encouraging appropriate play. We are a force-free facility, meaning we use science-based, positive teaching methods.
If your dog does not like other dogs, we offer what we call individual play, where your dog plays one-on-one with a camp counselor. We stimulate their bodies and their brains, with games & puzzles and basic training cues, like “leave it,” “take a break,” and leash management.
We also have private training, here at our facility, or in-home. And if you’re heading out of town, you can sleep easy knowing your pup is being cared for physically, emotionally and mentally.
Hit the Books
There’s so much more to learn -- check out these links for more information on puppies and adding a new dog to your home: