Why Puppies Do Not Make Good Christmas Presents
Each year, countless puppies are purchased on the spur of the moment near Christmas time. This decision is often the result of a child begging for a four-legged companion for some time. Parents are often further persuaded in giving in to the request, upon finding the word ''puppy'' listed on their children's Christmas wish list.
Of course, there are other factors that make puppies further appealing during this time of the year. The Christmas spirit, for instance, plays a primary role in this: everybody wants to be good and what better way to feel fulfilled than giving in to your child 's wish? Add to that, the many appealing newspaper ads of adorable puppies for sale just at the right time, or the sight of a puppy in the pet-store window imploring to be taken home, and very likely you wil end up with a under the Christmas tree.
Why Puppies do Not Make Good Christmas Presents
While the Disney scene of a child's eyes sparkling with joy upon unwrapping a new friend for Christmas is a priceless moment to any parent, the bubble is ready to burst sooner than thought. Not many puppies indeed make it past Easter. Indeed, according to a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population and Policy and published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS), most dogs are surrendered in shelters when they are between the ages of 5 months and 3 years. Careful thinking before putting a puppy on a Christmas gift list, is therefore a must. Following are some explanations why puppies do not make good Christmas presents.
- Potty Training Considerations
Puppies are adorable, but those cute bundles of joy are peeing and pooping machines at this stage. Potty-trianing a puppy can be quite a challenge but doing it in the winter can feel like a chore. Are you willing to take your puppy outdoors every hour? Applied animal behaviorists Patricia McConnell and Karen London in their book 'Way to go'', explain that young puppies between the ages of 7 and 12 weeks, may need to be taken out as often as every half hour ( or even more frequently) when they are active and awake. Are you willing to go out in the snow and blustery winds so often just to take Snowflake out?
- Socialization Considerations
All puppies require intense socialization once introduced to their new home and up to when they are 12-13 weeks. During this time, puppies are more open to absorbing all about the world around them. Veterinary behaviorist Ian Dunbar claims that puppies should meet at least 100 people by the age of 12 weeks. Are you therefore willing to take your puppy out in the dead of the winter just to meet all these people? Are you willing to take your puppy to puppy classes? Are you willing to walk your puppy to meet kids on bikes and teens on skateboards?
- Health/Temperament Considerations
Many breeders producing puppies during Christmas time are backyard breeders trying to make some quick bucks in the winter. You will see their ads on newspapers and bulletin boards. Backyard breeders breed for the main purpose of making money and have little consideration over the health and temperament of the puppies. This means you may end up with a puppy with a bad temperament or potentially affected by debilitating hereditary disorders. Even worse practice is purchasing from pet stores supplied by puppy mills: sick, poorly tempered puppies that are very difficult to potty train, is what you are likely to get.
- Growth/Size Considerations
As mentioned, a lot of puppy purchases during the Christmas holidays are impulse buys, in the same way puppies are purchased after a popular Disney movie comes out. Puppies may look like the perfect gift, but unlike other presents, they differ a lot since they require ongoing care. The cuteness factor quickly fades away once the puppy starts chewing on the Christmas tree cords and starts pooping on the carpet. Puppies also tend to grow fairly quickly, and it is not unusual for them to be surrendered once they hit the testing teen-age phase.
- Basic Care Considerations
Giving in to a child's wish to purchase a puppy comes with high risks. Parents falling in this trap should realize that the promises of taking the puppy out for walks and feeding it, will likely vanish in thin air. Parents, therefore, should come to accept that they will ultimately likely be the ones responsible for the puppy's care. Are you ready to be a puppy parent? The challenges may be many, especially if you are a busy mom or dad with a busy work schedule. Also, consider the financial implications of owning a dog: the costs for food, vaccinations, obedience training, collars and leashes, toys and vet care can easily sum up.
- Child's Age Considerations
Sometimes, parents are better off postponing the puppy purchase. Many children are not ready yet to take the big step of caring for a pet. It may help to have the child volunteer for the local shelter for some time, so to have a taste of what it takes to care for a dog. When your child is then ready, you may then consider opening your heart and home to a dog, possibly from a shelter. This may prevent the heartache of leaving a puppy alone in the yard all day, or worse, dropping it off to a shelter, simply because the child was not ready to care for it and the family was too busy to take over.
For very small children, a stuffed toy may be a better choice for the time being. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers recommends delaying in getting a dog until a child is at least five years old . If your child is very young, consider that he or she may not be able to tell the difference between a dog and a toy as of yet. Nowadays, Hasbro produces a line of stuffed animals known as ''FurReal Friends'' which are real-looking puppies that engage in a variety of puppy-like behaviors. They can be a good substitute for the time being, for children ages four and up.
A stuffed puppy is ultimately easier to manage: it does not pee, it does not poop, and therefore, it does not need to be taken out for walks. When the child grows tired of it, it can be easily be disposed of by placing it up a shelf. Its fate is far better than a real dogs', which may ultimately, lose its family and its life in a blink, once the holiday bliss is over.....
Great puppy substitutes for small children
With the FurReal GoGo My Walking Pup, your child can walk the dog as much as she wants, and GoGo definitely wants to go for a walk. The moment this remote-controlled pup notices your child in the room, she barks to let you know she's ready for an adventure. So leash her up, take her outside on the sidewalk or driveway, and have fun. Designed for children 4 years and older, GoGo is as realistic a pet as it gets, complete with all the barks, pants, and whines.
For further reading
- Study Reveals Children Likely to Fail Dog-Bite Test
Parents score poorly when it comes to teaching children when it is appropriate or inappropriate to pet a dog. Yet, parents appear to have a good basic understanding of canine body language.
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