It is that time of year again where we are all thinking of what to get our family members for Christmas! Christmas is such a great time of year where we can all spend time with family and be grateful for the lives that we have. We celebrate this by giving each other gifts to thank them for all they do throughout the year, and to show them how much they mean to us.
You may be thinking of giving a family member (child, parent, significant other, close friend, etc.) a puppy for Christmas! This is a great idea…..if you have done some research first. Many people will impulsively buy a puppy for Christmas without truly understanding the work that goes into a puppy. Let us analyze what it takes to care for a puppy so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not a puppy for Christmas is right for you!
1. Initial Cost of a Puppy.
The initial cost of a puppy can be expensive. Not only can puppies themselves be expensive (especially in the current economy), but many people forget to include the price of all of the first-time supplies that must be bought in addition! Here’s a list:
-Food and water dishes
-Bed or blanket
-A gate (if you have stairs)
In addition, puppies also have to go to the vet 3 times in their first 10 weeks of being in your home. This comes with vaccinations, as well.
Potty training can be hard if you cannot keep on top of it. Puppies around 8 weeks of age need to be taken outside at least every 2 hours when they are awake, in addition to directly after eating or drinking water. At night, puppies typically need to be taken out once in the middle of the night, so they don’t pee inside of their kennel. This is the same for the middle of the day since they are kept in the kennel while you are working. If you work from home, it shouldn’t be a big deal to let them once or twice. If you don’t work from home, you may have to come home to let your puppy out on your lunch break or ask a neighbor or friend to help you out. The more often the puppy accidentally “goes” in the house, the more likely he or she is going to think this is acceptable behavior.
Many feel that kennel training is unnecessary, especially for small dogs. However, we say that kennel training is extremely necessary. When potty training, your puppy will avoid peeing in their kennel as much as possible because it creates an uncomfortable environment for them. This teaches them to hold their bladders instead of going whenever they feel like it. Once they spend enough time in it, many puppies will start to view their kennel as a safe space, and may calm themselves inside of it. It is important for your puppy to understand how to soothe themselves, which brings us to our next point. For the first few weeks of kennel training, your puppy will more than likely whine, scream, bark, etc. Unless you believe that the pup has somehow injured itself in its kennel, or they are trying to tell you they need to go potty, do not let the puppy out. They need to learn to soothe themselves. If you take your puppy out while they are making any noise, they will learn to make those noises to get you to take them out. Kennel training is extremely important not only because of these things, but also because of the other places they will experience a kennel. When your dog gets groomed, they will be put into a kennel either before or after they are groomed. If your dog needs to go to the vet and stay, they will be put in a kennel. If your dog is boarded, or if you need to travel with your dog, it will most likely be kenneled. If your pup is not introduced to this at a young age, it can cause more stress and anxiety in these situations than needs to be added on.
Obedience training is also very important to introduce early on. Puppies are the easiest to teach because their brains are still in development. It is important to make sure that puppies are not allowed to chew on anything, object or human, even if it is cute in the moment. Allowing this behavior now is setting them up for problems as a fully-grown dog, when their teeth can do much more damage. Another important thing to teach puppies is not to jump, especially it is a large- or even medium-breed puppy. Other obedience such as sit, wait, stay, down, off, and no are incredibly important. These all take time and repetition to teach, however, which isn’t always in everyone’s schedule.
3. Consider the Breed.
Many people choose their puppy based on their looks. However, great care and research should be done when choosing a breed. Huskies are gorgeous, but if you aren’t a runner or at least willing to take them to a doggie daycare daily, these beautiful hounds aren’t likely to be the breed for you. They have a lot of energy, and can act out if their energy isn’t taken care of on a consistent basis. Pugs and bulldogs are awesome dogs, and great lovers, but if you have an active family don’t expect them to tag along. These brachycephalic breeds do not handle heat or exercise well, so they will need to be left at home on excursions.
Another thing to consider, especially if you haven’t been around many dogs before, is the possibility that you could have an allergy to dogs. It may be worth it to ask a friend if you could babysit their dog at your house for a week or so, or volunteer daily at an animal shelter or rescue. Keep an eye on your symptoms, and if you feel fine by the end of the week, great! If not, you may want to research breeds that have minimal or no shedding, such as poodle, shih-tzu, yorkie, maltese, or bichon mixes.
The idea of giving or getting a puppy for Christmas is a lovely one. However, many don’t consider these things before making the purchase. If you read this and still feel confident in your decision, great! If not, consider buying something else for yourself or your family member. Many puppies end up in shelters a few months after Christmas because people didn’t take the time to research the time, effort, and expenses that goes into a puppy. Make sure that you are making an accurate and informed decision to add another loving, playful life into your family!