It’s that time of year when well-meaning parents consider bringing a new puppy home for Christmas. They mean well, but things don’t always go as smoothly as hoped. If you’re thinking of a puppy as the perfect present for your kids (or yourself), follow these five tips as you bring a new companion into your home.
Tip #1: Don’t actually bring home a dog for Christmas. Yes, an adorable puppy popping out of a gift box makes for a memorable picture. But what’s cute to you might be stressful for the animal. Christmas is chaotic enough in most homes, and not an ideal time for bringing a new pet into the mix. Instead, wrap up a photo of the new pet along with a collar and leash, and head over to pick up your new pet a few days after the holiday. The anticipation is fun for kids, too, and they’ll have plenty of other toys to keep them occupied in the meantime.
Tip #2: Research breeds. It’s common for new pet owners to choose a puppy based on how cute it is, or because they like the idea of a specific breed. Remember when Game of Thrones first aired, and everyone ran out to buy dogs that resembled wolves? But pretty soon, many realized they couldn’t handle their new pet’s needs… and those unlucky dogs ended up at shelters. Research breeds carefully, including their behavioral needs, to make sure your new pet will fit with your family’s home and schedule.
Tip #3: Consider a shelter dog. Shelter dogs need loving homes, too. You’ll be doing a good thing, and the shelter workers can help match you with a dog that suits your family’s lifestyle.
Tip #4: Ask yourself if you’re ready for housebreaking. Housebreaking a new puppy can be quite a commitment, and not everyone is up for it. Adopting an adult dog might be the better option, or you could enroll in a puppy “kindergarten” with a professional dog trainer.
Tip #5: Get your new puppy checked out by a veterinarian. A check-up will help you uncover any health problems that need to be treated right away. While you’re here, we can discuss behavior training and the right diet, so that your new puppy grows up healthy and happy.