Bringing a new dog into the family at Christmas may be naughty or nice.

Here are the reasons it may not be the right time for your new addition…

  1. DSC06604A new pet requires a great deal of time and attention from his new family and the holiday season is crazy enough. In addition to the usual hectic daily routine of school, work and other activities, end-of-year festivities mean even more demands on your time and energy. Extra shopping, cooking and cleaning chores are usually involved, plus trimming the tree, decorating the house, gift wrapping, parties, overnight guests, trips away from home to visit family and friends, and so forth. With all that going on, it’s probably not the best time to introduce a new canine member of the family when everyone is out of their mind with holiday cheer. Dogs don’t get that this is an annual aberration to what their life will be. They will be confused by the multitude of people, the lights, the sounds, and the indoor tree.
  2. Puppies and many adult dogs must be house trained upon arrival in their new home. The short days and cold, wet weather around the holidays are far from ideal for this chore.
  3. Surprising a loved one with a dog on Christmas morning is often misguided. While the recipient may be extremely excited and happy with the thought, it can be a risky thing to do. Caring for a dog is a big responsibility and the new owner must be committed to the tasks now at hand.
  4. At holiday time, pet stores, backyard breeders and puppy mills are pushing popular dogs. Some are healthy. Many are not. Some shelters and rescue organizations shut down adoptions this time of year to prevent problems associated with giving pets as gifts, so there is a greater tendency to buy a dog from disreputable individuals and businesses.

On the other hand, a dog can be a wonderful gift if your family is ready for one…

  1. How old is everyone and what are their schedules like? If you have teenagers, remember that the dog will be with you when they head off to college.
  2. Are you committed? The family must realize and commit to care for the dog for its lifetime. This includes being financially able to provide vet visits, food and supplies as well as being physically and emotionally able to spend time with and love the dog.
  3. Are you educated about what caring for a dog entails? That means routine, training, play, exercise, hygiene and cleaning up accidents inside and out.
  4. Are you off from work or school on an extended low-key vacation? This extra time at home may allow you to work on potty-training, and getting to know the routines of the house. Be sure to have some planned time away from home, so your dog is able to adjust to your return to work or school.


Planning the Surprise

If you’ve thought it through, and you feel that everyone is ready and committed, the surprise can be no dog under the tree Christmas morning!  Instead, purchase some equipment like a carrier, leash or bed and place a gift certificate from a shelter with it. Attach a note saying everyone will go together to choose their new pet after the holidays.  Before you go, get your family involved in deciding what type, size and breed you’d consider. Read up on which breed’s characteristics might fit in best with your family. Participation in dog training classes is an excellent learning opportunity for everyone.  Select a class or two to attend with your new dog.

It’s fun to surprise, but it’s as much fun to be a part of the process.  If you subtract Christmas week from the rest of the year, you still have 358 days to bring a new furry loved one into your home and heart.  Chances are if you visit a shelter in late January or February, you’ll have your pick of dogs who’ve already worn out their welcome as Christmas gifts.