Christmas dog westie

We all have heard the slogan "A dog is for life, not for Christmas" an unlimited amount of times, but why is that so? Why shouldn't you buy a dog in this time of the year? And what are the alternatives to buying a dog at Christmas? With dog I refer actually to puppies in this article, but the same arguments are also valid for buying, or not buying (sic!), an adult dog. Let me first clarify the reasons why I don't think iot is a good idea to buy a new dog around Christmas time:

Potty training
A new puppy, and also many adult dogs, need to be potty trained, means they need to learn where they are allowed to obliged and where not. If you live in the northern hemisphere, winter, i.e. the season Christmas is in, is not the time you want to walk out dozens of times a day with a puppy, standing in the cold and encouraging it to "do his or her business". And then the cleaning of the muddy puppy paws... Winter is really not the time to potty train a new puppy, unless obviously in the southern hemisphere! That one is a biggie for me, as it is so much easier, and more pleasurable, to potty train a puppy during the dry and warm season!

Noise / fireworks
Apart of all the visitors that pile in and out of our homes over Christmas, there is also New Year lurking around the corner. The last thing a puppy needs is to spend its first New Year away from its mother and siblings in a new environment. Nothing is more reassuring for a frightful puppy facing the noise and smells of New Year then the familiar company of its mother and litter siblings. Don't separate it from them at this crucial time of the year. Enjoy your Christmas visitors and the fun with firework at New Year, and get your puppy after Christmas, when things have quietened down a bit.

A lot of choice after Christmas at the shelters
Perhaps the strongest reason to get your new puppy / dog after Christmas. The shelters are bursting with animals dumped after Christmas and you will have a great selection of ever so thankful and deserving dogs and puppies that would do everything for a good forever home! What a pity you only can / will take one home! Going to the shelters after Christmas to select your new family member will give you not only more selection, it will also give you the reassurance that you haven't supported a puppy mill. Which brings me to my next point:

Don't support puppy mills
Puppy mills are maintained by reckless breeders who don't care about dogs, they only care about money. Every time you buy a puppy from such a puppy mill you encourage them to continue with their business. By denying any support to puppy mills and buying your dog from a responsible breeder or adopting a dog from a shelter, you actually help to stop puppy mills. Please, don't fall for their "sweet" advertisement, stop puppy mills by not buying from them! If you are unsure if you are in contact with a responsible breeder or a puppy mill ask some simple questions like "Can I see the parents?" A responsible dog breeder is happy to show you ALL his dogs, the parents of the litter included. If you only get shown the puppies be very, very aware! The conditions the rest of the dogs are kept in might scare hell out of you. The other question you want to ask is "Do you ship?" A breeder who agrees to ship a few week old puppy over half the continent is not worth the wacking of a dogs tail. Always make sure the puppy can be picked up by a real person that takes lovingly care of it!

Alternatives to buying a dog at Christmas
Nothing beats the shiny eyes of children spotting a puppy under a Christmas tree, but you can get very close to this experience by using the method of vouchers. It was something we did extensively in our family. We kids would give vouchers to our mother for "10 times cleaning up the kitchen" and our parents would give us vouchers for for "10x going to the cinema with you to a film you choose". Vouchers are also a great solution for the dilemma of buying a dog for Christmas. Instead of having a puppy with a bow under the Christmas tree, you could have a succession of vouchers in a box. First voucher: "Spending time as a family to decide what kind of dog we want." Second voucher would be about "Choosing a good breeder / place to buy a dog from." Third "Choosing the actual dog / puppy". You could put this vouchers in three boxes that fit into each other, increasing the excitement as your children open one box and voucher after the other. And you can also place a book like the "Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds" to the pile of gifts under the Christmas tree. This way you kill two birds with one stone, first you encourage your kids to read, second you provide them with some sound information about the different dog breeds and which one to choose and why.

Now, I hopefully have to convinced that Christmas is a real bad time to choose and / or buy a dog, I'll going to tell you what would be a good time to buy a puppy. Because, remember, there is a time for everything ;-) Here we go, my suggestions on when it is a good time to buy a puppy / new dog.

A good time to buy a puppy
The best time to get a new puppy is in my opinion directly before the big summer holidays / vacations, when you do have a lot of time. But you have to stay at home! If you schedule your family holidays / vacations, so that you pick your new dog / puppy up directly before the holidays / vacations start then you can make the most of the first weeks of your new puppy / dog being with you. You have time to get acquainted with each other, to lay a sound foundation in its training and remove a lot of stress of the beginning of your relationship.

Oh, and did I mention that the animal shelters are overflowing with great dogs at this time of the year? Dogs that have been bought as a "puppy for Christmas" and are now dumped because they became too much and disturbed the holiday / vacation plans of the family.

Do yourself a favor, wait until the summer and then go to a shelter and pick up your dream dog. I am sure you will find your companion for life --- in summer, but not under the Christmas tree!

Did you enjoy this article about dogs and Christmas? Then you might also enjoy reading what I wrote about one of my favorite breeds, the West Highland White Terrier Please feel free to check it out!