3 Reasons Not to Give Your Children a Puppy for Christmas

By Amanda Baity

Before I start this post, I want to precursor by saying I am fully aware that many will not agree with me. As a co-founder of an organization that works exclusively with dogs, I am basing this solely on my experience at Semper K9 and my childhood when my family did breed our family pets several times close to the holidays. This was a source of income for my parents right at Christmas and while I am not in anyway disregarding those who do that I am simply offering tips based on my experiences. 

Your child has possibly been asking for a dog for Christmas for a while now, or maybe you just want to surprise them with a cute fluffy pup under the tree. Let’s face it, the holidays are busy, and even for my family, who has no family within 500 miles of our home, we are traveling, or people are coming to stay over. The holidays are such a chaotic time of year, adding a new puppy to the mix does not help…in fact, it makes it much worse.

Many times in January our organization gets contacted by people across the country looking to donate their puppy to our program because they ‘think he will be an amazing service dog.’ However, when we get down to the root of the problem, it was simply that they got a puppy during the holidays and now do not have the time to care and train for them. Read this article my husband wrote on where to start with training your pup. Here are my three reasons why you should not give your children a puppy for Christmas:

1. Time: Typically, the holidays are full of excitement and activities, which leaves little time to allow your puppy to adjust to their new environment. One of the most stressful times for any animal is a move, changing from one”home” to another is somewhat traumatic. Learning the new smells, routines and not to mention if there are other pets in the household to get used to. With all the chaos, there may be little time left to give your pup the attention it needs. Holiday hazards are also a concern, who will have the time to watch out for the wrapping paper, pieces of small toys and other items that are a health concern?

Another thing to think about is will you have time after the holidays to care for and train the pup? Once the children head back to school and you, possibly back to work, what will your new puppy do all day? Who will take him out to breaks, feed him lunch, etc.?

2. Responsibility: It’s probably evident that adopting or purchasing a new pup is a huge responsibility.  Have you discussed what roles and responsibilities each person in the family will have, specifically the children? Think about purchasing a book on dog care & training as a Christmas gift and after the holidays pick a time to look for a puppy together, after all, this is a new member of the family you get to pick…choose wisely. Here is another post we wrote about picking the right dog for your family. 

3. Housebreaking: I don’t know about you, but I hate the cold. Especially going outside in the middle of the night and early morning in the cold to let a puppy go ‘take a break’ as we call it at Semper K9. Another factor to consider is the snow, which melts and becomes a muddy, mushy mess and then dirty puppy paws all over the floor. This year, in particular, Virginia has seen record amounts of rain, which has had me mopping non-stop with all the puppy paw prints tracked through the house.

Amanda Baity and Semper K9’s Norman, the first dog rescued by Semper K9 and an Operation Paws for Homes pup.
Another factor goes back to the time, how does the housebreaking routine continue when you go back to work, and your children are back at school? Even older dogs you may adopt will need housebreaking although it may or may not be as intense as a new puppy.

With these three things to think about I end with this. Please, consider adopting for a local shelter or animal rescue before you purchase. Our favorite rescue is Operation Paws for Homes, but there are many others out there. Ensure that wellness checks are completed and that your pups are up-to-date on all their shots before you bring them into your home. While rescues are not for everyone, it should at least be something you consider. And if you do decide that a purebred puppy is what your family needs, do your research and find a reputable breeder for the breed puppy that works best with your lifestyle. Reminder, be a responsible pet owner, spay and neuter your pets!

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