While getting or gifting an adorable puppy for Christmas may be an exciting idea, there are many things to consider before adding a new furry family member to your household. A new puppy or dog is a long-term commitment, so keep reading to make sure getting a puppy for Christmas this year is a responsible choice and not an impulse purchase!
The Realities of Getting A Puppy
Think beyond the excitement of Christmas Day to everyday life as a puppy parent, and whether you (or the recipient) are up for the responsibilities.
- Puppies are a 10+ year long commitment.
A brand new puppy is tiny and adorable now, but a dog’s lifespan can range anywhere from 10-15 years on average. Think about where you plan or hope to be in the future and make sure having a dog in your family aligns with that vision.
- Puppies are not a one-time cost.
Unlike a new phone or a sweater, a puppy costs much more than the original purchase price. You’ll need to budget for food, supplies, training classes, vaccines, and spay/neuter surgery when they’re old enough.
- Your schedule and lifestyle need to accommodate a puppy beyond the holidays.
You may have time off now to spend with a new puppy, but will you have enough time when you return to work or school after the holidays? Your puppy will need a place to sleep, eat and play, and ideally spend time outdoors– can your current living situation accommodate those needs?
- Puppies can be a lot of work.
While absolutely adorable, puppies aren’t the easiest. A new puppy will need to learn a schedule, be housetrained, be properly socialized, learn basic manners, be crate trained if that’s what you want to do, and be supervised a lot of the time.
The Benefits of Getting A Puppy
For those who are ready to be puppy parents, the benefits absolutely eclipse any extra work involved!
- Puppies promote an active schedule.
Puppies require a lot of potty breaks and tons of playtime. This is great for keeping you active as well, and it adds structure to your day. Having a puppy can also help with socialization and get you out and meeting other dog lovers.
- Puppies can bring families closer together.
Adding a puppy to your home brings so much joy and can strengthen the bond between you and the other members of your household. Caring for a new puppy allows you to work together as a team and spend more time as a family.
- Puppies provide love and companionship.
Best of all, puppies are a source of love and devotion! Having a dog, especially a puppy who will grow up before your eyes, will enhance your life with loyalty, laughter, and endless fun.
How to Get a Puppy for Christmas
So you’ve weighed the perks and responsibilities and you’re all in– how exciting! Here’s how to prepare for this extra-special gift.
Do Your Puppy Research
Figure out what type of dog will suit your life best—or the life of the person you’re gifting a puppy. It won’t be a puppy for long, so make sure you or they will be happy with the dog it grows into!
While gathering information, consider things like:
- Size when full grown
- Temperament and trainability
- Energy and activity level
- Type of coat and expected grooming and shedding
- Compatibility with children
- Compatibility with your climate
- Genetic predisposition of certain breeds to specific health problems
You should also look into your state’s laws on dog licensing, and make a plan for ID tags and/or a chip.
Must Love Dogs
Besides researching types of dogs, you need to make sure the intended recipient wants to be a dog parent and is prepared for the responsibility.
If you’re planning on surprising someone else’s child with a puppy for Christmas, speak to their parents and get their blessing first. If you’re planning on giving an adult a puppy for Christmas, make sure they love the idea and are ready for the lifestyle adjustment.
Unfortunately, a lot of Christmas puppies get dropped off at shelters once the novelty has worn off. A thoughtful alternative is giving someone a gift card to cover the cost of a puppy and puppy supplies so they can become a dog parent when the time is right for them (Christmas can be a difficult time to get a new puppy since there’s already a lot going on).
Where to Find Puppies
Now that you’re confident in your decision to get or gift a puppy for Christmas, the next step is finding a puppy (or a dog of any age). Here are three ways to find the right puppy:
Contact your local animal shelter.
Ask your local animal shelter or rescue what puppies or adult dogs they have available for adoption. Schedule a meet and greet with one that catches your eye, or check visiting hours to stop in and see all available pups!
Search online adoption databases.
Finding a new member of your pack can be done from the comfort of your couch nowadays with online adoption databases! Try Adopt-a-Pet or PetFinder to search for a puppy matching your criteria across thousands of shelters and rescues.
Research and contact a responsible breeder.
If you are looking for a specific breed of dog that you cannot find in a shelter, do your due diligence when finding and selecting a reputable breeder to ensure that the puppy is healthy and behaviorally sound. Visit the national breed club for your breed of choice online and look for the breeder referral page on their website. This list will include breeders who have signed the club’s Code of Ethics.
Stock Up & Prepare Your Space Ahead of Time
Some stores are closed around Christmas, and the last thing you want is having to run around buying more stuff right after the holidays. Grab your new puppy essentials before the big day, figure out where the crate will go, and get everything settled before Christmas for a smoother transition into puppy parenthood.
You should also puppy-proof potential problem areas in your home: use cord concealers, remove choking hazards, put childproof latches on lower cupboards, get a gate to block off staircases, and keep other dangerous household items and foods that are toxic to dogs out of reach.
How to Hide a Puppy Until Christmas
After you’ve found the perfect puppy, you need to make arrangements for presenting it as a gift.
Some breeders or shelters will let you pick out a puppy or dog and then pick it up on a specific day, so start by asking if that’s an option.
If you can’t keep the puppy at your own home until Christmas Day (or if you’re trying to keep it a secret from your own family) you’ll need to find a responsible person who can care for the puppy in the meantime. Check with family, friends or close neighbors to see if they’ll let you keep the puppy with them for a day (or a few) so it can be a surprise.
On Christmas Day, keep the puppy in a spare room or somewhere safely out of sight. Make sure it has everything it needs, and check on it often. Before the exchange of gifts, stealthily take the puppy outside so it can use the bathroom. You can put a bow on the puppy’s crate or put the puppy in an oversized cardboard box with air holes and a bow on top. But don’t wrap the box or you’ll risk suffocation! Encourage the gift recipient to open the box promptly—you don’t want the puppy in there for very long.
As an alternative, wrap up a bunch of puppy toys and supplies and have them open those gifts – when they figure it out, you can bring the puppy out from the spare room!
Learn to Care for Your New Puppy
Use these tips to help your puppy make a happy start in their new home:
Give your puppy time to settle in.
Let your puppy safely explore their new environment. Introduce the puppy to each of the members of your household. Make sure everyone in your household is clear on the ground rules for the new puppy to make training easier.
Schedule a vet visit.
Find a vet if you don’t already have one, and schedule a wellness check. Share anything you know about the puppy or dog’s history, and use the opportunity to ask the vet for recommendations about food and feeding, vaccines and medications, microchipping, and anything else you’re curious about.
Feed a high-quality diet.
Growing puppies need appropriate vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to thrive and grow properly. Choose a puppy or dog food with quality ingredients that is complete and balanced for all life stages, like Raw Coated Kibble Cage-Free Chicken for Puppies.
Provide adequate exercise and enrichment.
Puppies have A LOT of energy and require physical activity and mental stimulation. Carve out an hour each day for playtime, make sure your puppy gets enough exercise on walks, and try offering a puzzle toy or other interactive toy to keep them busy and focused.
Train your puppy.
Everyone wants a well-mannered pup but it does take effort and should be started when they’re still young and actively learning. Take time to help your puppy learn basic commands or simple tricks. Learn more about training your puppy.
Keep learning about how to welcome a new puppy into your home with our guide for new dog or puppy parents!
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