It is not a good idea to give a puppy as a Christmas gift.
Many times, the person (especially if your intended recipient is a child) is simply not prepared for the responsibility of house training and caring for a puppy.
Likewise, some people (like senior citizens) may not be able to handle the financial obligations of dog ownership. A gift that creates a financial burden and 12 to 15 years of commitment is not really a gift.
Also, the breed of dog that a person wishes to own is really a personal preference. Every potential dog owner should thoroughly research dog breeds, sizes, and energy levels in order to find the right dog for their personal situation. You picking out “the cutest one” is not a smart way to choose a puppy.
Christmas puppies are typically chosen hastily and given quickly, which results in a huge “wow” factor at that moment. However, the cuteness quickly wears off once the recipient realizes the huge amount of time that they must now devote to this puppy. It is not fair to the puppy or the recipient to impose such a responsibility on such short notice.
Though I am a dog lover and have always had a dog or two in my life, I still urge you not to give a Christmas puppy as a gift.
Instead, give a gift certificate or an IOU for a puppy. That way, the person can thoroughly research dog breeds, sizes, and energy levels and find the right dog for their personal situation. Your gift of a Christmas puppy will be much more appreciated if it can be brought home after the holidays.
Okay, but what if you’ve already decided to give a Christmas puppy as a gift?…
If you’re a parent and you’ve done your homework and concluded that Christmas is the right time to give your child a puppy, following are some things you’ll want to do to ensure that your child and the puppy will enjoy their lifelong relationship together.
Choosing The Right Puppy
Allow your child to be involved in choosing the puppy. The relationship will be more successful if the child and the dog take a liking to each other from the get-go.
To do this, take your child to an animal shelter and allow him to pick out the puppy of his choice with your guidance (based on the research you’ve done ahead of time).
Or, visit with a reputable dog breeder who will help you make your choice. Reputable breeders will not usually release a dog to be taken home for a Christmas gift. They will, however, often hold a puppy that has been purchased until the beginning of January.
Explaining this to your child, and involving them in the decision-making process will make your child a more responsible dog owner.
If your child is not old enough to understand and participate in this process, then you may want to get a puppy when your child is a little older instead.
Vet Care & Grooming A New Puppy
Once the puppy has been purchased, you need to take it to the vet right away to be dewormed and to get vaccinations. Some animal shelters include deworming and vaccinations in the cost of the animal, so be sure to check first.
After a visit to the vet, you’ll want to take the puppy to a pet groomer for a bath. Or, take the puppy home and bathe the dog yourself.
If you don’t have the extra money that will be required for regular vet visits and vaccinations, then you will want to postpone your Christmas puppy gift until you can better afford it.
Training Your New Puppy
Small children should not be expected to take over the care of a puppy. Therefore, if you are giving a puppy to a small child, be aware that the child will not have the knowledge to train the dog. You will have to do it. And if you don’t start training your dog right away, you will soon have an uncontrollable dog with behavioral issues on your hands.
If you don’t have the time to train, groom, feed and walk the dog yourself, it’s best that you rethink the idea of giving a Christmas puppy as a gift this year.
It’s A Serious Commitment
A Christmas puppy is usually a spur-of-the-moment decision. Your child may think the puppy is great on Christmas morning, but by February, the novelty may have worn off. That’s why everyone in the family must be willing to commit to caring for the puppy — before it comes into the house.
Too many puppies end up in animal shelters within 2 months of Christmas. Why? Because children think of the things they receive at Christmas as being objects that can be cast into a corner when the novelty wears off.
A puppy is a living thing and must be treated as such. Puppies are cute and cuddly when they are babies, but puppies grow into adult dogs. Owning a dog is a life-long commitment.
If the entire family is not on board with helping to train the new puppy from Day One — and each agrees to set responsibilities — then you may want to postpone the idea of getting a puppy at this time.
Timing Is Everything
A puppy that arrives in your home on Christmas morning will, naturally, be frightened. Not only are they in a new environment, but all the hustle and bustle of unwrapping gifts and your child’s excitement will make the puppy even more nervous. This is inevitable.
It may pee or poop on the floor. It may try to hide in the corner to avoid all the chaos.
In fact, behaviors learned at this time in a puppy’s life will be very difficult to overcome as the dog grows. As a result, you may find that the dog has a distrust of humans or have a fear of loud noises, laughter, flashing lights and a number of other environmental factors. He may even fear the child that is to be his owner.
If you’re not ready deal with a dog’s unpredictable behavior during the hectic holidays and you’re not equipped to train him how to properly behave during those first days in your home, then it makes sense to bring the new puppy home after the holidays instead.
You Can’t Wrap A Christmas Puppy!
Finally, you can not place a puppy in a box and wrap it.
Even if air holes are made, the puppy won’t get enough air. Plus, puppies urinate and defecate often. It would not make a good impression of the gift recipient opened the box only to find a limp puppy that is covered in urine and feces.
If you insist that a new puppy be present in your home on Christmas day, then the puppy should be given at least 2 weeks before Christmas so it can adjust to the family before the big day arrives.
And if you need something to wrap and place under the tree, wrap things like food, a water bowl, a collar and leash, or a stuffed puppy instead.
Reminder: Christmas Puppies Are Not The Best Gifts
Instead, I strongly urge you to give gifts that your puppy will use when you bring him home in January — after you’ve done some research and involved your child in the process of choosing the puppy.
An “IOU one puppy of your choice” is a great stocking stuffer. This alone will make your child’s day!
Placing wrapped dog toys and gifts underneath the Christmas tree (or a single dog ornament on the tree) will be the perfect clue for your child that a puppy is on its way and will be in your home soon.
You child will love it, and the excitement of having something to look forward to after the holidays is a nice bonus.