By Gina Spadafori Pet Columnist Christmas Puppies Are a Very Bad Idea This year, I'm giving you ample warning: If you're thinking of a Christmas puppy, just stop it, right now. No matter how much your children want one, the holidays are just about the worst time possible for most families to get a dog. Christmas puppies are often a parent's headache by February, when the animals are still not house-trained, the kids are tired of the responsibilities involved in caring for a pet, and it's still too cold and dark outside for dog-training after work and school. Too often, these animals are a shelter's problem by summer, when their cuteness is long gone and their untrained boisterousness has lost any semblance of charm. Despite the warnings of those in the know, every year parents give in to the begging of their children and pop for a puppy. It's too easy to imagine the Christmas puppy as the most precious Norman Rockwell snapshots ever, the puppy in a box, the puppy with a ribbon, the puppy giving such a perfect kiss to the oh-so-happy face of a child. The attraction is understandable: Who doesn't love a puppy, and who wouldn't want to delight a child? But there are reasons why shelters, rescue groups and responsible breeders are uniform in their advice to think twice about a Christmas puppy. Puppies are not toys. They are living, breathing (not to mention eating and urinating) beings who need a lot of attention. Who has time for a pup during the holidays, that stressful season of socializing and shopping? With a houseful of guests and a holiday dinner to prepare, who will make sure the puppy isn't being mauled by overly enthusiastic children and guests? Who has time to get house-training started right? Let's back up a little and look at another Christmas reality. Many reputable breeders and shelters flat-out won't cooperate with your Christmas puppy lust. The sellers who have puppies for Christmas delivery are often motivated by money. Such breeders are not likely to cut into profits with pesky screening for genetic diseases, nor are they likely to care about the importance of socialization. These attitudes may cost you in the long run, both in dollars and in heartbreak. But say you find the right puppy anyway. It's still a bad time to get a puppy. Doubt me? Try house-training a puppy when it's cold and stormy. Are you really so keen on the idea that you want to be out on winter nights, shivering while a puppy carefully contemplates whether he'd rather sniff or pee? What about the rest of the training? The first few months of a dog's life are crucial: Bad habits are far easier to prevent than they are to break later. Will you really feel like training your pup when the holidays are over, the days are short and the kids are back in school? And how will you socialize your young dog? Dogs who grow up unhouse-trained, unmannered and unsocialized too often never get a chance to grow up much at all. From summer to fall, I get dozens and dozens of letters from people who are tearing out their hair over their now-adolescent Christmas puppy. Some people work with the dogs, but many just dump them. Sad for the families; tragic for the dogs. Dogs can be great for children, and children can be great with dogs. But Christmas is not the best time to launch such a promising relationship. Somebody has to be the grown-up here, and if you're the parent, it should be you. Wait until late spring or early summer to find the perfect pup and get your pet off to a great start.
I agree, I don't think you should ever give someone a dog as a gift, unless they actually said they wanted/were getting a dog, and said specifically what breed they wanted. My grandparents had a terrier for 18 years, and when she passed, they were so upset. My mom had a terrier mix that was a few years old, and she asked them if they wanted her. They said that they did. So my mom gave her to them for christmas. So it was a christmas gift, but it wasn't a surprise. They knew they were getting a dog and were okay with it. See, with me, I wouldn't mind being surprised with a puppy for christmas from my hubby, but only if we had a bigger house with a bigger yard and it was a mastiff. And my husband knows that, so I doubt he would just go out and buy me a dog. I hear these situations cause a lot of dogs to end up in shelters....
I think its a bad time for a pup to get acclimated to a new home. Too much going on, not enough time to devote to getting the pup used to its new home and pottytraining. Too many people around the house. It should be a quiet time so the pup can gradually get used to its new home.
Emphasize to the pup buyer that the dog will NOT be "little and cute" in just a matter of weeks. They will have to clean up it's poop everyday. It is not a potted plant to be put in the yard and will be happier living in the house. It is a 10-15 year commitment. Just like a child, they will always need to care for it. The kids will maybe not give a darn about it a month from now. It is potentially going to destroy everything it comes in contact with, inc. all the vegetation in the yard and the hose that you water it with...... If they calmly answer "Oh, I know, we've had Labs before..." Invite them to come look at your pups. You may be surprized how many people have good intentions. They are just a bit clueless...
I got Oscar as Valentines day present, but I picked him out a month in advance and I was prepared for a dog. I think maily this topic is about getting young children pets for Christmas. I know I would never get Kaitlyn a pet thinking she would take care of it. Plus there is so much going on around that time of year the excitment may be too much for a pup to handle. I know its too much for me to handle going to four different places for X-mas. I don't think I even get to sit down that time of year.
Good point! Nver buy kids a dog for birthday, x-mas or any time of year for that matter unless they are really mature enough to handle it like Allie for example. After x-mas break kids go back to school and the mother (usually) is stuck doing all the work. So unless she is 100% on board, don't think she'll come around fast. I always get a spring baby, easy to train outside!
Everbody makes me feel weird because I like to get my dogs in the Winter. It's my favorite season and Oscar also like the cold. I do live in TX though but it still gets pretty cold. I never like potty training when it is 115 degrees out not my idea of fun.
Very nice TOTD, ltlgto! Thanks, Aisha! And my birthday is in January, not June, so I couldn't have waited that long!!! LOL ---Allie the Chihuahua http://www.dogster.com/?41063 ---Mönica the Kitty http://www.catster.com/?57596
i think the best time to get a dog for your kids is right at the start of summer! thats when we are getting our dog! weve planned it and all: what shelter, when, what breed... i think its the best time because then ur pup can get used to ur home and you and u wont be doing hw or going to school so u can give all the time ur pup needs!
Paige-If I lived where you do, I would feel the same way. Here, winters are 0 degrees, sometimes ice and snow, very, very windy. However over 100 degrees sounds just as bad. Can I come and live with you in the winter if I let you come here in the summer?
iwannadog: be sure you make time for the dog year round. If you don't normally have time for a dog w/ school etc. maybe you will never have that time. Read my note above. 15 years of daily dog care. Not 3 monthes.
I agree. Never get a child a puppy during christmas/or birthday. During christmas the child will get sick of the puppy becasue of other "funner" things going on. Just like a toy they will get tired of it. I also dont beleive in getting someone a pet for a present w/o them knowing it. You dont know if they can take care of it.