“Christmas puppies” are often impulse purchases, in the spirit of love, giving and generosity that goes with the season. Realistically and sadly, Christmas puppies tend to be older puppies at the pound a few months later. Every April dog trainers see frantic clients, at their wits end, with their now-adult sized dogs that are totally out of control. They have no leash manners, refuse to come when called, hyperactive from a lack of exercise, obese from too many treats, and unwilling to even acknowledge their names.

If you are absolutely determined to get your family a puppy for Christmas, consider this alternative: Purchase a leash, a collar, a bed, food and water bowls, a good book on raising a puppy, a gift certificate for a veterinary checkup, a gift certificate for a puppy socialization class and a book or DVD on how to select the right dog for your family. Wrap each up separately and put them under the tree. As family members unwrap the various pieces of the “puzzle”, their delight and anticipation will grow. They will gradually understand what this present is! Then, after the Christmas tree is taken down and the frenzy of the holiday season is over, the family can enjoy together the anticipation and excitement of discussing and selecting a breed, selecting a breeder, selecting an individual pup, and so on. This will increase the family’s mutual commitment to, and investment in, the well-being of the newest family member; it will be a project the family has done together. The waiting will not decrease the enjoyment of your new puppy; In fact, it will greatly increase it. In addition, it will be a better start both for the puppy, and for the long-term relationship between dog and owner. A dog with a good introduction to its adoptive family is much more likely to become a long-term companion rather than just another tragic statistic.