Christmas Puppies?

Xmas presents or part of a family?

The National Canine Defense League coined the slogan "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas" many years ago. Sadly even today the message goes unheeded by some. Like most breeders we get a sudden spate of enquiries for puppies in December, most from families with young children. Often these enquirers are at pains to point out that whilst they know puppies should not be given as Christmas presents THEY themselves are of course very sensible and genuine. It is a fact that such people have done no homework, for even a little understanding of what a new puppy in a household entails would cure them of any romantic ideas of smiling children doting on the surprise puppy under the Xmas tree on Xmas morning.
Like all responsible breeders we try to avoid having puppies ready to go to their new homes at Xmas, however dogs are not machines and exercise their perogative to do things in their own time so it does occasionally happened. Where we do have pups at Xmas we always keep them until the schools go back at the beginning of January before we let them go to their new homes. It means the pups are a little older but they are none the worse for that and it means that life in their new homes is settled and into a routine ready for their homecoming.

Puppies go to their new homes in a very vulnerable state

Why is Xmas such a bad time?

Puppies go home in a very immature and vulnerable state, they are used to having their mum around to tell them what they can and can't do, they have a huge sleep requirement, they need very frequent and regular feeding and considerably more frequent and regular toilet training. Developmentally puppies are at a learning and asimilation peak between 6 -12 weeks of age, this is when they learn fastest and when they integrate best into a new family, it is also when they are at their most receptive to new experiences. At this age good experiences are learned and enjoyed for life and bad or frightening experiences are leaned and avoided or feared for life.
All this means that the optimal time to bring a puppy into a new home is when there is a routine in place that accomodates regular times for feeding, playing, teaching, socialising, grooming, toileting etc. For a few weeks someone will need to be in the house pretty much all the time, if the puppy is to become quickly housetrained and bond with its new family. It also means that in the early impressionable and vulnerable weeks extra care and time is needed to make sure that a puppies experiences are managed and as far as possible controlled so that he is protected from bad and frightening experiences and introduced carefully to good and pleaseant experinences.
A new home is full of dangers or a puppy, trailing cables, unguarded stairs, toys and shoes left lying around, unfenced garden ponds and so on... A concerted effort is needed by any family especially in the first few days and weeks of puppy ownership if accidents are to be avoided.
The whole family needs to be aware of the changes they need to make to accomodate a puppy, learning to close gates and doors, not running around carelessly, putting away toys and shoes. Parents have to make sure these new practices are enforced and adhered to, so they have a double task on their hands, minding the puppy and the children.
Children need to be taught responsibilities, even if they are quite young they should have their allocated time to groom the puppy and help with feeding, cleaning up and general care. Children need to be encouraged to perform their duties reguarly and undertstand that they "own" certain aspects of the puppies care at predetermined times. This routine should start as soon as the puppy arrives home, if children don't get involved from the beginning they will never get involved later - that is certain.

A new puppy in the home needs a fixed routine
and constant supervision

At Xmas everything is wrong for a puppy!

Christmas such a busy, chaotic and unsettled time, the children are off school, the house is in a mess, everyone has to visit relatives, relatives have to visit, children are swamped with a collection of new toys, games and gadgets, the televison is schedules are crammed with popular films, the house is full of sweets and chocolates, cakes, nuts and other luxary food stuffs. Children's friends visit showing off their new presents, children rushing out to show their new presents to their friends. There is no routine at all at Christmas. Consider the following questions;

Which adult if going to dedicate themselves to the puppies care over the Xmas period, that is to say, which adult is going to make sure that puppy is watched for signs of restlessness and taken outside immedately to relieve themselves, ensure the puppy is safe at all times, make sure that the puppy properly accomodated and handled, etc.

Before your volunteer - You should note that - This will be the adult who will take the blame for everything when the rows start!

Which adult is going to ensure that puppy is left alone to rest for regular periods - and be the kill joy who won't let every visiting adult and child wake up the puppy for a petting evenever they come around?

Which adult is going to make sure the children are supervised ALL THE TIME they are with the puppy for the first couple of weeks and constantly nag them not to pick him up, not to hold him like that, not to feed him that chocolate, not to do that to him when he is eating....

Which adult is going to get up from the meal table, from watching the film, from the cosy gathering in the drawing room to take puppy out (in the rain) whenever he needs it?

Which adult is going to clear up the mess on the carpet because they didn't take puppy out when he needed to go?

Which adult is going to ensure that the children and their little freinds clear every toy off the floor, put away every shoe, hat, scarf and glove when puppy is around?

Which adult is going to explain to the parents of "little friends" that puppy tore "little friends" new scarf, unravelled "little friends" new bobble hat and chewed "little friends" new trainers.

Which adult is going to stay at home with puppy when the rest of the family visit relatives and friends who are scared of, allergic to or unaccomodating of dogs?

Which adult is going to be responsible for looking after puppy when everyone visits those family and friends who don't mind puppy visiting too (the kids would love to see him)?
This means clearing up the puppy sick in the car when you get there (and after you told the children not to give him Xmas cake for breakfast), walking puppy round and round their garden (in the rain), on a lead because their garden isn't dog proof, only to find that he won't do anything in a strange garden because he is anxious.

Which adult is going to Clear up the diahorea on friends/relatives carpet because puppy relaxed once he got in their house and found he could go! But by then he had beed hanging on for an half an hour (whist you got wet) and the Xmas cake didn't help either. The visit also means having puppy with you all the time because there is nowhere safe for him to rest and having to rush in and out every 20 minutes because he looks like he is going to mess or piddle again. It also means constantly having to nag at freinds/relatives children who have no idea how to touch, hold, stroke a puppy to "be careful" "not like that" "no don't pick him up" and then there is the little kiddie one who keeps screaming because he is scarred of dogs and friends/relatives nagging their kids to keep washing their hands if they have been near the puppy and attention seeking child poking puppy and squealing that he has bitten. Then, you miss the moment so that puppy piddles on the carpet again and everyone is getting tired and fraught and you are hugely relieved to get home even if you do have to clean more puppy sick out of the car (and you told the children not to give him the icing off the Yule Log). Puppy sleeps all evening because he is exhausted, stressed and still has dihorea but he wakes up just as you are desparate to get to bed and then he wakes wakes all through the night crying to go out.

Which adult is going to watch visitors like a hawk to make sure they don't leave the gate open, tread on the puppy, stuff him with rich human foods ("just one won't hurt").

Which adult is going to clear up the mess when the Xmas tree is knocked over and make sure that the cables for the Xmas tree lights are protected or unplugged whenever puppy is in the room.

Which adult is going to insist that the children leave their toys, computer games and TV programmes to help feed puppy, help groom puppy, practice putting the little collar on puppy (routine and responsibility should start immedately).

Which adult is going to make sure that the children don't get rowdy and over excited (at XMAS!!!),pull crackers or blow whistlers and that they only play with noisy toys away from the puppy (remember that a 6-12 week old puppy may generalise fears and anxieties learned at this age for the rest of his life).

Which adult is going to manage this chaotic and stressfull situation all the way through the school holidays.

Not much of peaceful family Xmas!

Even if there are no young children in the household much of the above still applies. The first weeks in a new home are so critical to a puppies long term development that you will never be starting right with a puppy at Xmas.

Young puppies have a huge sleep requirement

Consider the alternative.

You have decided to increase size of the family by welcoming a new puppy. No surprises, the children have been included all the way along, and learned a lot through the proceess, they understand why some of the exciting breeds they wanted are not suitable and why you have all ageed on the chosen breed. The children know that Xmas is bad time to have puppies, but that when they go back to school after the Xmas holiday the new puppy will be arriving. The children also know that the puppy will not be a present for them but a member of the household, a new baby, who will need lots of care, attention and love. You have all been to see the breeder and met the bitch who is the Mother to be, you have shared the excitement of the news that the puppies have been born, you have all poured over photographs of the litter the breeder has sent you. The whole family is equally thrilled at going to see the puppies for the first time and on the way home everyone talks excitingly about which puppy will be yours. The children are encouraged to buy small presents for the puppy and put them under the Xmas tree, a little collar, a brush some toys and in the week after Xmas you all go to see the puppies again taking his presents. The breeder tells the children how they must look after the puppy, no rich food or sweets, no walks yet, she reminds them how to hold the puppy safely and how to groom him. You been through this a dozen times with them but of course now someone else is telling them they are listening. The children go back to school, whilst you collect the puppy and bring him home. The children know that they must spend 20 minutes each day with the puppy before they can go out and play or start their home work. Of course they want to spend the whole evening with the puppy - today, but the routine is established, one to groom, one to help feed and so on with the duties swapped each day. Whilst the children are at school each day you and the puppy have time to establish your own routine, puppy learns to be confident if left when you go out. There are short training sessions throught the day, socialising expeditions and of course trips to the school gate so that the children can show off their baby to their friends. By the time half term comes puppy is happy to wait at home whilst you take the children out for an afternoon, he ir she will be just starting to go for baby walks and will know the rules of the house and everyone in the family will know the routine and their responsibilites, in other words the novelty has worn off and the puppy is be a little older and able to take the disruption of the holidays in his stride.

Sounds like a better option?

Caring breeders will never sell puppies at Xmas

There is one other important point and that is that ,


So if you find a breeder selling Xmas Puppies you know they are someone to be avoided. If they don't care about homing their puppies carefully they certainly won't want to know if you have a problem or need help later on.

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Puppies As Presents
How we home our puppies
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Xmas Puppies
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