A puppy for Christmas! It sounds like a great idea, right? There are countless films where boyfriends surprise their girlfriends with a puppy, or a handsome bachelor realizes the error of his ways and purposes to his love interest on Christmas Eve by giving her a puppy with a big red bow tied around its neck, off which hangs a beautiful diamond ring.
There are two sides to the puppy for Christmas coin. Side A is where everyone involved knows that they want a puppy and are prepared and able to fully take care of another living being. Side B is where a loved one surprises another loved one with a puppy without discussing it with that person or with that person's family beforehand. The surprise of gifting someone an adorable puppy is great, but you can't allow that the overshadow the reality of expecting another human being to be able to fully care for another living thing, especially a puppy.
Puppies have a lot of needs; it's more than just feeding them two times a day and walking them a couple of times. Here's a list of everything a puppy will need from its new owner or temporary caretaker once he's been separated from his mother.
The First 24 Hours
The first 24 hours after you bring home a new puppy are a mixture of wonderful and incredibly difficult trials that will make you question whether this was the right decision to make. Your puppy will undoubtedly be adorable and possibly the cutest thing you've ever seen, but it will also be messy, sleepy, and scared. Fear is a very real thing for your new puppy at this time. He will be in a new place with all new smells without his mother or any of his brother or sisters. During this time he may cry out and try to find his family, but being properly prepared can make this transition easier.
These needs are why we stress the importance of everyone involved knowing about the puppy before you bring him home. Don't worry; there are still ways in which you can get the surprise factor you're looking for. Discuss getting a puppy with the person you intend to get a puppy for a couple of weeks in advance before the holidays. This gives you enough time to determine if your schedules and lifestyle are compatible to taking in a puppy. After thoroughly discussing the realities of getting a puppy, let the conversation drop for a couple of weeks. This way your loved one will still be surprised when you give them their puppy but will also feel secure in the knowledge that you are both fully prepared to give this puppy a wonderful home.
A puppy is a brand new little being of unlimited potential. This adorable, fuzzy bundle of joy will grab your heart and turn your world upside down. But the first twenty-four hours after you bring him home are often particularly challenging. He will be in a strange place with unknown people and may cry for his mother and siblings. You may feel overwhelmed and wonder if you made the right choice bringing him home. It doesn't have to be quite so upsetting for either one of you though; especially if you're prepared.
Before You Bring The Puppy Home
Just like human babies, puppies will get into anything they can get their little paws on, so you'll need to puppy proof before bringing your puppy home. Make sure that any space your puppy will be in has been puppy proofed. This includes placing cords, electronics, medicines, shoes, kids toys, or any other small or chewable items out of reach of your puppy. You'll need to puppy proof the outside of your house as well. If your puppy is going to be running around in your backyard, you'll need to make sure that the space is free of harmful items such as dangerous gardening tools and position plants. Additionally, if you have a fenced in yard check your fence for any holes or sharp projections.
Puppies need a lot of supplies. Use the list below to find everything a new puppy needs.
- Water bowl
- Food bowl
- Baby Gates
- Identification Tags
- Cleaning Product (For Potty Accidents)
- Puppy Shampoo
The Ride Home
While the person who picks up the puppy might not be a member of his forever family, they still need to care for the puppy and make him feel safe and secure for the time until he is given to his new owner. Ask the breeder or shelter you're getting your puppy from to feed him a couple of hours before you go and pick him up. This will help decrease the risk of your puppy getting car sick on the ride home. If you're going by yourself, then have the puppy ride in his crate on the way home, if you have someone coming with you that person can hold the puppy while you drive. Having a dog in your lap while driving is not only dangerous for both you and your dog but also illegal in most states.
Try to bring something from his last home with you when you leave the shelter or breeder, a blank he was using in his kennel would be a great example. The scents attached to the fabric of the item you select will comfort the young pup on his way home. If you're picking up your puppy from a shelter, bring a new blanket as a replacement for the one you're taking. Most breeders will require an in person meeting before they allow you to take home your new puppy. At this time we suggest that you bring an item from the home of the person whom you are gifting the puppy to so that the puppy can accumulate to the smells of his new home faster and still have something that smells like his family after you leave with him.
The Next Few Days:
Another reason why getting a new puppy for Christmas might not be a good idea is that the holidays are a hectic time. With the holidays comes an endless stream of parties, holiday functions, and family reunions, and this hectic schedule isn't very conducive to taking care of a puppy. It might be tempting to either bring your new puppy to all of your friends and family's houses or to simply leave your puppy at home while you go out, but here are some of the realities of having a new puppy that makes both of these courses of action impractical.
- Puppies Need to Potty. A Lot
- When you bring home a puppy one of the first thing you're going to realize is that puppies need to go potty; a lot. A good rule of thumb is that your puppy needs to go potty every number of hours that he is months old. Example: an 8-week old puppy needs to go out every 2 hours because he is 2 months old. Additionally, when you first bring your puppy home you won't know his “potty” signals, meaning that you're going to get some surprise showers and presents pretty frequently in the beginning. Your new puppy going tinkle on your in-law's carpet probably isn't the best way to get in the holiday spirit.
- Puppies Will Get Into Trouble
- If it's on the ground, it will go in a puppy's mouth. The holidays are an especially dangerous time for all pets, including puppies. Chocolate and holiday candy can be dangerous, even deadly to pets. You'll need to keep your eyes on your puppy to ensure that he doesn't get into anything he shouldn't, like wrapping paper, decorations, electrical cords, food, or bones.
- Your Puppy Will Be Noisy at Night
- When you first bring your puppy home, he is likely to cry in his kennel at night because he's lonely. Adding stuffies or a ticking alarm clock can help with his separation anxiety, but he's likely to still cry for the first couple of nights. Also, your puppy isn't liable to sleep through the entire night, meaning that he'll still need to go out every couple of hours. Both of these things might wake up your family and friends in they're sleeping over.
Are You Ready for a Puppy?
Bringing home a new puppy can be a wonderful and joyous occasion, but when everyone's not on board things can deteriorate quickly. Some sources determined every that 1 in 5 puppies given as a gift for Christmas are abandoned in the weeks following the popular holiday. We urge you to think realistically about giving a living thing as a Christmas present. If you're set on gifting someone a new furry family member we recommend you consider adopting an older dog from your local shelter as this more mature dog will be able to handle the holidays a little better. But don't be fooled, they'll still need lots of love and attention in their new home and might be scared just like a new puppy. If you're not yet sold on the thought of giving your loved one a puppy, then consider donating to a local shelter in their name as a gift. Whether you decide to bring home a new puppy or not, we hope that you have a very merry Christmas and happy holiday season.