Pet care for new pet owners

Should You Give a Puppy as a Christmas Gift?

We tell you why it’s better to wait a few days before bringing your Christmas puppy home

In the eyes of an 8-yr-old, nothing compares to getting a puppy for Christmas — a soft little ball of love and puppy kisses happy to be at their beck and call; a forever friend to have tea parties with or play catch with and to greet them when they get home from school.

But a puppy isn’t a gift that can be hung up in the closet when you’re done with it, or even lost in the pile of toys accumulating on the closet floor (or not very often, at least!) A puppy is a full-time responsibility — another living being that requires care and feeding and attention and love on a daily, hourly, and momentary basis. In return, though, you’re rewarded ten-fold.

If you’re considering a puppy for your child (or for your spouse or yourself) as a Christmas gift this year, we suggest that you keep this in mind. And we also suggest this:

Wait.

Make your Christmas puppy a late gift

One of the best ways to ensure that your Christmas puppy is the miraculous gift you want it to be is to simply wait.

Wait until the travel and toys are past. Wait until your child has beaten the new PS3 game they got for Christmas, or at least reached an acceptable level.  Wait until you have the time and — let’s face it — the energy to focus on this new life you’re bringing into your family.

Sure, go ahead and put down a deposit on your puppy. Go ahead and buy the dog toys and yummy snacks they’ll love. Go ahead and plan on how you’re going to pick them up from the breeder. Get them a snazzy leash that glows in the dark for those late evening walks. Get them a cozy plush bed or, better yet, steps to climb up into yours. Let your list be endless! Wrap all these things up and put them under the tree.

Then get up on Christmas morning and have a ball. Play the new video game. Teach your kid to ride the new bike. Play with the RC cars littering the floor. Have breakfast with Aunt Frannie and then head out to Grandma’s. When the kids want to stay at Grandma’s and build a fort with their cousins, let them.

And when you put your doggie deposit down, make arrangements to have your new bundle of joy delivered or picked up after Christmas.  (Or even better, after New Year’s.  If you have a big shindig for New Year’s Eve, your new puppy will just get lost in the shuffle, after all.)

Even the most wonderful Christmas is chaotic, and bringing a new puppy into the mix is tough on everyone — especially the puppy. There will be a lifetime to enjoy your new puppy. Let it wait a few days.

Christmas is stressful, even for puppies

The worst thing your new puppy encounters — barring any illness, of course — is stress. Yes, dogs do suffer from stress. And for tiny toy breeds especially, stress can be very debilitating.

Dogs can be stressed by any number of things, just as people can. Stress can be caused by too much noise (hello, Christmas morning with children), unfamiliar smells (hello new house, new people, and Christmas dinner). Stress can come from being too hot or too cold; to missing a meal or eating too much turkey under the table. A puppy can be stressed by being locked in a back room alone to keep him safe, or even from playing too hard for too long.

Yes, fun things can cause stress too — and stress is a puppy’s worst enemy. The smaller your puppy is, the more vulnerable it is to stress. Stress can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and dehydration which, in a tiny puppy, can mean a trip to the emergency care hospital or even worse.

Whether you’re eight or 80, in the end there’s nothing more thrilling than a Christmas puppy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. But if you want your furry gift to give its all, wait until the day itself is over before bringing your new furry friend home.

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