Holiday Puppy. A good gift or possible failure?

holiday puppyWith the holidays fast approaching I begin to think about gift giving and what to purchase for family, friends and furry ones. For many, that thought turns to a holiday puppy.

We’ve all seen the heart warming videos of cute puppies wearing big red bows. The look of excitement on the faces of children is the draw. Who can resist? Resisting may be a good idea.

We recently added a new puppy to our own home.  I was once again reminded of the amount of work that goes into raising a puppy.

If you’re thinking about a pup for your young kids this holiday season, you have to be realistic. Ask yourself, Am I ready to raise this puppy?” Know that the responsibility will ultimately fall on you, the adult in the house, no matter what the kids say. A holiday puppy has so many important needs during the first few months in your home, including socialization and early training. And house training is also a more challenging task mid-winter.

A Holiday Puppy – Never for Outside the Home

If you’re thinking about surprising someone outside of your own home with a new puppy, please think again. The gift of a holiday puppy might be well received, though the gift of a living, breathing, sentient being  certainly may not be welcomed. Being saddled with a 10 to 15 year commitment of time and money that one wasn’t expecting can be quite a burden.

My goal as a professional dog trainer is for the dog to live happily with its new family for its entire lifetime.

A big part of this success is having the entire family on board with the selection of the dog. Everyone needs to agree. It’s vitally important to consider the dog’s temperament.  Additionally energy level, exercise and grooming needs have to to fit the family’s lifestyle. Sadly I have seen fantastic dogs that were merely in the wrong home and great people with the wrong dog.

This is why doing research and selecting the right dog is so important.

If the family is on board or your friend has indicated that a new dog or puppy would be a good addition to their home, consider this. The holidays are very busy and may not be the best time to bring the new dog or puppy home. Instead, think about the surprise of a basket of dog toys and dog gear. Items such as a collar, leash, food bowl, bed, toys, crates and perhaps even a training gift certificate. Then, everyone can get together and select the exact right dog. If the pet is for someone outside your family, remember that choosing a pet can be a very personal decision. Instead, you could give a gift certificate to cover the cost of adoption, training, veterinary visits, grooming, boarding or daycare. Offer to pet sit for the recipient who will no doubt need a break from puppy duty.

There are lots of great dogs out there looking for their forever homes. Whether from the local shelter, rescue groups, or reputable breeders. We owe it to these dogs to make the right decisions as to which specific dog is right for our home and lifestyle. And when to best bring them home.

Brad Waggoner is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a KPA Certified Training Partner (CTP), a Dogbiz Certified Dog Walker, Faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior and Partner of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. He enjoys providing behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as offering educational opportunities for dog trainers and dog hobbyists throughout the U.S.



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