With the holidays fast approaching, you are probably considering adding a fur face to your family. Puppies are so cute and cuddly—who doesn’t love to just hold and kiss a tiny furball? The holidays tend to generate so much love and happiness that bringing a puppy onboard seems like such a fitting thing to do—in the moment. Remember, the holidays will come and go and the puppy will stay for the long haul. Often times, owners do not take into account that puppies require a lot of work and consistency to get them properly trained to function effectively within the family unit. Here are a few points to consider:
Be patient. A new puppy can test your patience over time. First, puppies have the attention span of a gnat. This gets better as they get older, however training needs to start right out of the gate. This just means the training periods will be shorter, but more frequent throughout the day. EVERY dog can learn; you just have to have the patience to work with your dog.
Be consistent. Consistency is key when training your dog. One inconsistent day can push your training experience back a 2-3 days! Setting up routines and providing repetitive training will yield fantastic results. Getting a trainer involved early in the process will provide you with the tools to continue your training journey with your new family member.
Be prepared. Getting a puppy for Christmas is more than picking him or her up from a breeder or the shelter, wrapping a bow around him or her, and putting him or her under the tree on Christmas morning. Here are some things to consider:
- New puppies need a good vet, vaccinations, appropriate toys, leashes, collars, kennels, bowls, food, etc.
- In addition, you will need to consider training needs. A trainer can provide additional resources that will help navigate your dog to develop good habits and help break bad ones that may have already set in during the holidays.
- Puppies have lots of energy. While this is cute at first, this energy can continue for years. Consider your activity level and the activity level of your family unit. As dogs grow, you need to walk them, take them to the park, play ball in the back yard, etc. In addition to physical needs, mental stimulation is equally important. Balancing both will address making your dog’s energy levels manageable, but you must consider if you are up to the task to leading that charge.
- Lastly, you should consider pet insurance. You are probably asking, “Why does my puppy need pet insurance?” Think of your new puppy as a toddler with a fur coat. For those of you who have children, you will certainly understand. As puppies learn to function and grow in this new world they are exposed to, they do not understand the dangers. As new parents, we do everything we can to protect our little ones, but sometimes, we take our eye off the ball. Accidents happen. Vet bills can be very costly—pet insurance can help take the burden off your wallet in the long run.
One last item to consider—adopting a shelter dog from the local Humane Society or Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals (SICSA). There are several advantages to adopting from these great locations:
- Most are already house-trained. One less thing to train.
- Many have the basic commands already instilled in them. Shelters have behavior modification departments that assist with basic obedience commands in addition to helping with modifying fear, anxiety, and aggression.
- Energy levels may already be at the management level. If you are a person who does not have a lot of time to spend taking long walks or runs or have a small back yard, a dog with a manageable energy level might be the right dog for you.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!