The holidays can be a wonderful time to add a puppy or dog to your family, but the holidays also present plenty of challenges. With a little preparation and thought you can get a holiday puppy and take advantage of all of the benefits while avoiding all of the potential pitfalls.
Of course I can’t talk about getting a holiday puppy without the usual disclaimers. Raising a puppy is a lot of work and a big commitment, and so it’s really worhwhile learning about puppy training BEFORE you decide to get a puppy, so you know what you are signing up for.
One of the best ways to learn about puppy training before you get a puppy is to read my Dad’s two free puppy training eBooks: BEFORE You Get Your Puppy and AFTER You Get Your Puppy, available for free on DunbarAcademy.com.
Or, for even more in-depth information about puppy training, check out our all new Essential Puppy Training Course on Dunbar Academy, on sale now for 50% off.
In addition to learning about puppy training in advance, the other really important advice we always give people is to never get a puppy on a whim, and never get a puppy for someone else as a surprise.
Also, if you are planning on getting a puppy for your child just remember that you will be the one responsible for training and socializing the pup, regardless of any promises your child has made to you. Most children are not capable of fully understanding the amount of work or commitment that comes with getting a puppy, so it’s not realistic to expect them to do all of the work. By all means, have your children take on some of the responsibilities and training, but don’t get a puppy thinking that your kids are going to take care of the pup themselves.
When you get a puppy, make sure you get it from a responsible breeder who puts thought and care into mating dogs, and does a good job of preparing their pup for life as a pet dog with some basic desensitization, socialization, and training.
There’s High Demand for Puppies Over the Holidays
This is one of the first drawbacks of getting a puppy over the holidays. A lot of other people are interested in getting puppies over the holidays as well and a lot of the puppies from good breeders will already been claimed. If you don’t already have a puppy reserved by November, you might not be able to get a holiday puppy this year.
In fact, a lot of good breeders will have waitlists going back many months. You might be able to find a puppy from another breeder by lowering your standards, but you’re much better off waiting a little and getting a puppy from a breeder that you feel good about. Remember, this is a huge commitment, so you don’t want to rush the process.
Why The Holidays Are a Good Time To Get a Puppy
There are a few really wonderful things about the holidays that it a good time to get a puppy.
First, a lot of people get time off from work and school during the holidays, so it’s easier to have someone at home with the puppy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which is really helpful for the first few weeks a puppy is home.
Second, there are a lot of parties, visitors, and big social gatherings, so it’s an easy time to introduce your pup to lots of new people and places.
Third, there’s a lot of decorations that will be new and unfamiliar to most pups, so it’s easy to expose your pup to a lot of novel things, which will help them learn that there’s no need to be afraid of things they haven’t seen before.
All of these upsides come with some potential downsides. WIth a little preparation and planning it’s possible to avoid these downsides, but first you have to know what they are.
It’s wonderful that people are around during the holidays, but all too often, holiday puppies will get showered with unlimited attention and affection for the first week or two of their lives, when everyone is taking time off work and school. But then, when the holidays end and everyone goes back to their normal schedules, the pup is totally unprepared to spend any time alone, let alone many hours every day.
That’s why it’s essential to build alone-time training into your pup’s routine, even if there are people who can spend time with the pup all day throughout the holidays. You’ve got to prepare your pup for what regular day-to-day life is, othewise it will be really upsetting when they get left alone for the first time.
Parties and social gatherings are a great way to introduce your pup to lots of new people and get your pup comfortable being held and handled by a variety of people. However, parties can also be exciting and overwhelming, for puppies and people!
If you are hosting a social event, make sure that there is someone whose sole responsibility is the puppy. It’s hard to be a good host and attend to a young puppy at the same time. Someone should be on-duty to make sure that the pup is getting taken to the potty regularly, isn’t running loose or getting into trouble, and is supervising and intstrucing people who are meeting the puppy, so they can do so safely in a way that will improve the pup’s socialization and help them feel comfortable around people, instead of the opposte.
In general, it’s great if your pup can see and meet all sorts of people, but use your judgement when it comes to letting people hold or handle your pup. For example, young children and intoxicated people probably shouldn’t hold your pup.
Your Pup’s Crate to the Rescue
When it comes to raising a puppy, a crate can be a real life-saver. If you take the time to teach your pup to LOVE spending time in their crate, it makes it so much easier to manage your pup, train them, prevent from getting into trouble and keep them safe.
This is even more true during the holidays. A crate makes it possible to give your pup some practice with alone time, even when your home is full of people. A crate is also a great way to keep your pup safe and help them settle down when you are hosting people or attending a party. By all means, you should have your pup out and about to meet people, but after a little while your little pup will get tired and be in need of a nap. Settle them down in their crate and you’ll know they’re safe and secure while they rest.
For More Information
If you’d like more information about raising and training a puppy, check out Dr. Dunbar’s 2 Free Puppy Training Books, or enroll in our all-new Essential Puppy Training Course, on sale now at Dunbar Academy for 50% off.