You Got a Puppy for Christmas, Now What?
So, You Got a Puppy for Christmas. Now What?
by Jody Hanulya
Research shows that puppies, kittens, fish and birds are the most popular pets as gifts for Christmas. Further research shows that a great many of these gifts are not thought out. When choosing to give an animal as a gift, it is imperative that one truly consider the recipient. The delight on the child’s face on Christmas morning, as it is licked by the new puppy makes a wonderful photo. The look on Mommy’s face, as she cleans up the mess the puppy made out of the trash bag in January, is somewhat less photogenic.
If this was a surprise from Santa, you’ll probably need to pick a few things up. Collar, leash, bed, kennel (large enough for the full-grown dog), food and water bowls, grooming implements, potty training spray (aka, Bottled Pee), dry puppy food, treats and lots and lots of toys. Puppies are babies – they need to teethe. If you don’t give them something to chew – they’ll find something on their own. Please remember, this is a dog – he won’t know the difference between an old shoe you gave him to chew on and your new Ferragamos. Puppy toys only!
Next comes training. Please don’t say “He’s just a puppy, I’ll train him later.” It is much simpler to train him the right way from the beginning instead of after he’s had six months to pick up all sorts of fun habits. Plus, it’s a lot easier to handle a five-pound puppy than a 30-pound dog. He IS a puppy so you have to work with a short attention span and give him plenty of time for naps. If you are kennel training, keep him in there any time he is unsupervised. He will soon learn that this is his safe bed and you can leave the door open or take it off. Periodically, take him out of the kennel and directly to the door you want him to use to go into the yard. Set him on the floor and nudge him across the threshold. He’ll learn much faster than if you carry him across. The three most important commands the puppy needs to learn are Sit, Stay and to Come When Called. Sit and Stay help in everything from carrying food to the table to opening the door for company. Come When Called can save the life of your dog or your child. If the dog should run into traffic, your child may chase after him without thinking. These three can all be taught in the house and the back yard, with treats and lots of praise. When it comes to treats, please remember: to a dog quality matters more than quantity. It is NOT necessary to give them the whole treat each time they succeed. If they get two or three licks of the treat, they think they’ve gotten something great.
Having the right tools and toys, a good book on your breed or dogs in general and a patient outlook, this puppy could grow into one of the best parts of someone’s childhood.