Has your child been begging you all year for a puppy? Despite saying no for 365 days, do you find yourself starting to crumble? Your little angel promises to be responsible for feeding, watering, walking, and yes, even picking up poop. They PROMISE! And you think, "Oh it would make my child so happy, and a dog will teach them responsibility. Maybe we could do it."
Let me be the voice of reason here and tell you, "YOUR CHILD WILL NOT TAKE CARE OF A PUPPY!" no matter how much they promise to right now. YOU are going to be the one who will end up taking care of it in the end. Sure, maybe you will get a good week or two of your child making good on their promise, but ultimately, it will be your responsibility. And if after a few weeks/months of begging your child to help with the dog and not getting squat in return, you may end up doing what soooo many parents do come springtime and rehome your puppy, or worse, surrender the puppy to a shelter. It happens EVERY year!
So, if you are considering getting a puppy for Christmas, ask yourself, "Do I want a puppy?", and don't kid yourself. A Christmas puppy is a present for yourself, not your child, so be sure you are the one who wants it. And if you're not sure, here are some things to consider.
Do you have the time to spend with your puppy while he learns to sleep through the night, go to the bathroom outside, and entertain himself while you are trying to work from home? A puppy needs almost constant supervision if you don't want him peeing all over your carpet or chewing up your furniture. Think new baby. Remember how tough that was? It's pretty much the same thing with a puppy! In addition to training, you will need to exercise this little furball every day. At first, he will just need play sessions where he will demand your undivided attention throughout the day, but soon he will need a good long walk and a chance to run off-leash in order to release all of that adorable crazy puppy energy. Are you up for that? I guarantee, your child will not be!
Do you have the financial ability to pay for all the costs that come with a puppy? You certainly won't be getting any help from your kid on this one, so consider how much a puppy costs. First of all, there are supplies that include beds (they will need multiple because they will surely find a way to chew them up!), a crate, food bowls, harnesses and leashes, food, treats, toys, vet visits, vaccines, the cost of getting spayed or neutered, grooming (non-shedding dogs especially will need to see the groomer every other month), hiring a trainer when your puppy gets bigger and is still jumping on people and destroying things, doggy daycare or hiring a dog walker if no one will be home during the day, the cost of pet sitters or boarding when you go out of town, and countless other expenses that come up unexpectedly!
Also, consider your lifestyle. Does a dog really fit into it? Do you have a stable, steady income or do you always find yourself between jobs? Are you gone all day at work? Do you travel a lot? Are you a single parent or do you have someone who lives with you who will help with a dog (NOT your child)? Do you lead a sedentary lifestyle or are you actively hiking or walking every day? How stable is your living situation? Are you renting or do you own your home? Will your landlord allow a pet now and change their mind down the road? Will you be moving in the future and possibly not be able to take your dog? These are important questions to ask yourself before getting a dog of any age.
If none of these things is a concern for you and you know you can handle a puppy, then I am super happy for you because, for as much work and expense as they are, a canine companion is in my opinion the very best kind, and our local shelters are full of not just wonderful puppies, but adult dogs, cats, kittens, and other sweet companion animals. If you are ready to bring home a pet of any kind, please visit our local shelters or browse online at www.petfinder.com to find the perfect rescue animal for you. And as for your kids, get them a cute stuffed animal instead. That way when they have moved on to the next shiny new toy, you won't be stuck carrying the 'poop' bag!