A dog should always be a considered choice and NEVER an impulse buy. Please help us spread the word about this during this high gift-giving season.
This Holiday Season, Remember: A Puppy Is NOT a Present.
We all have them. The in-law who unapologetically keeps an "outside dog." Or the friend who thought it was cool to let the family retriever shack up with the dog down the street so her kids could witness the "miracle of life." Or the coworker who surprised his fiancee on her birthday with a Yorkie puppy from the pet store.
And let's be honest: They make us feel like complete failures as responsible pet people. Yes, our own dogs went to puppy socials, play with lead-free toys, and were "fixed" at an appropriate age. But maybe we didn't share that article on where pet store puppies come from enough on Facebook, or made our stance on the benefits of spay/neuter loud enough for those in our immediate networks to hear.
As the holidays approach, so does an opportunity to educate the people around us on a timely issue: that of puppies being given as holiday presents without too much though or planning beforehand. I don't know about you, but I cringe inwardly when I see stock photos of dogs with bows strapped to their heads displayed in wrapped boxes beneath Christmas trees. It's an image that's readily accepted all over the world. But that doesn't make it right.
Because a puppy should never be:
1. A novelty item. One that was a smash hit on Christmas morning, but an undesirable chore in the post-holiday world. A dog is at the very least a 10-year commitment, and if your intended recipients are not up to the task, you have no business gifting them with one.
2. A stuffed toy. Some dogs might resemble one (I'm looking at you, Boo!) but again, the responsibilities associated with toy vs. dog aren't remotely in the same region. And if your daughter is obsessed with Pomeranians because of Boo, there's a stuffed animal replica you can buy her.
3. An imposition. Just because you thought a puppy would make a great gift doesn't mean the recipient does. When your big "surprise" goes south, are you prepared to care for the pup for the rest of its days? We hope your backup plan doesn't involve dumping him at the already-overcrowded local shelter.
4. An impulse buy. If your family isn't up to the commitment, you can't just return that puppy to the pet store. It's not unusual for puppies returned to pet shops to be put down in horrendous ways, either. Please, please, please do your homework if you're adding a dog to the family. Research dog breeds to find the best fit. Find a breed-specific rescue group or a reputable hobby breeder if you must have a purebred. Or go to the shelter as a family and make an informed decision together.
To be clear: We are not opposed to you adding a dog to the family during the holiday season if the addition is one planned far in advance. We only ask that you make an informed decision and not a knee-jerk one that is bad for everyone down the line. This time of year is notorious for last-minute impulse buys, so I hope you understand the concern.
If you're a regular Dogster reader, you probably already know these things. But it's highly possible there are people you know who don't. You can help us reach those people by sharing this article, or using the graphics below on your Facebook and/or Twitter feeds. We hope they'll be a great conversation starter for your friends and family.
Many people use crates for housetraining their puppies or keeping younger dogs out of trouble when nobody is home. Often, once a dog is successfully potty trained, the crate ends up on Craigslist or Freecycle, ready for a new home.
Keep in mind that crates are not just for puppies, and that crate training, like all training, is a "use it or lose it" enterprise. Dogs should learn to be crated and practice crating throughout their lives. Even if you don't need your crate for potty training anymore, you will be glad to have it in case of emergencies.
Casey Lomonaco owns Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training in Binghamton, NY.
Between three and six months old, puppies can develop fear aggression around other dogs, cats, strangers, grandma...oh, there are so many triggers. And we are inclined to excuse it so readily. The nip is so small; isn't it cute to see how they run and hide behind their favorite human? No, it is not! This willful adolescent behavior is unacceptable in any environment and indulging it can lead toward adult problems that land that formerly cute puppy in the shelter. A stern "NO" and removal of the puppy from the group to a quiet spot where he will be ignored for a while are the kindest reactions.
Helen Fazio and her dog Raja are world travelers. Click here to visit their blog
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