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Giving a Puppy for Christmas? Here’s How to Prepare

Thinking about giving a puppy for Christmas? The holidays can be the best of times to welcome a new pet into your home. Or they can be the worst of times. While the emotions and warmth of the season can inspire you to share your home with an animal, the distractions can also make this a terrible time to bring home a furry friend.

There’s no shame in being honest. Most households are too preoccupied with the festivities to take on the responsibility of a new pet. Beginnings are important. When you welcome a pet into your home, you promise to keep him for life. You must make him a priority until he feels comfortable as a member of the family. The holiday season — with its shopping, entertaining and general confusion — rarely leaves you with time, energy and attention to spare.

On the other hand, people communicate almost intuitively with animals, and some people can get to know and appreciate a pet in the best spirit of the season. People with time to spare are great candidates for getting a puppy near the holidays. Can at least one adult take time off from work for about two weeks? Can you give large chunks of time to your new pet, playing and getting to know his personality, his likes and dislikes? All new pets need extra attention, but puppies and kittens eight to 16 weeks old need intense socialization at this phase of their lives.

Tips for Giving a Puppy for Christmas

One thing you have to remember in any dealings with puppies, especially very young ones in the two- to four-month window of age, is that they are very impressionable.

In the first few months of their lives you can set them up for success or failure based on your interactions with them and your ability to guard them against psychological trauma. If you care for them when they need care, have reasonable expectations for them, and set limits of acceptable behavior and protect them from adversity, all should be well.

Raising puppies properly is an active process that requires you to understand how they might interpret your behavior toward them, including how you address them and how you handle them. If we largely ignore them, rarely speak to them, and hardly ever pet or touch them, they may grow up to be overly needy or withdrawn. On the other hand, if we burble at pups constantly, and pinch and prod them as if they were produce in a grocery store, that too can have negative consequences. Pups so treated become desensitized to human speech and averse to handling, and this can lead to problems down the road.

It is far better to meter speech and handle the pup in a way that it appreciates, so that it comes to enjoy human company, understands our utterances, and appreciates petting and physical contact.

What to do First When Giving a Puppy for Christmas

Even if the breeder has done everything right and you adopt a near perfect puppy, it doesn’t take long — if you are not careful — to undo all the good work and create problems that will trouble you and perhaps your pup for the rest of his life.

The first month or two after adoption is the most critical although the juvenile period that follows is also important. Let’s suppose you adopt your new puppy at 8-weeks of age and let’s suppose you’re heading home with your new dependent to a household that you have carefully prepared to accommodate the youngster’s needs. You have purchased a dog bowl, puppy food, various chew toys, a doggy blanket, an X pen, a crate, a dog bed, and a collar and lead. “Now what?” you may think to yourself as you pull into the drive and carry your new pup across the threshold.

As you step across the threshold, your first thought should be for the wee mite. He has just finished a mysterious journey in a jolting jalopy and now finds himself in an unfamiliar den, full of unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. It must be a disturbing time. For that reason, some quiet time, down time, should be first on the agenda. Perhaps you could bring the pup through to a quiet room and introduce him to his blanket or dog bed, to his water bowl and food bowl, and stay with him for awhile until he becomes curious and starts to investigate. Then other individuals in the household can come along and introduce themselves peacefully and slowly, bearing in mind all the time the pup’s best interest.

How to Bond After Giving a Puppy for Christmas

There are two types of new puppy owners: Those about to embark on dog ownership for the very first time and those with previous experience. For the latter “repeat” owners, what I am about to say may be old hat or, perhaps, it might help them to understand why they developed such a strong bond with their previous pets. For first time puppy owners, this account will inform them what they have to look forward to as their puppy matures and develops into a fully-fledged family member.

The bond that forms between a new puppy owner and their pet develops rapidly though it may take many months or years to mature. People who have owned a new puppy for a matter of days may find it difficult to return that puppy to the breeder even if they find out that the puppy is flawed in some way. A couple of weeks after the acquisition of a new puppy, most families would choose to keep their new charge despite veterinary predictions of trouble and expense down the road. As time goes by, the bond usually strengthens between the growing pup and family members as the youngster assumes a significant role in its human family. Affections develop for the pup’s cuteness both because of the way it looks and the way it behaves. Nature designed us to fall for this old trick. But later, experiences shared, both happy and sad, anneal the developing bond to virtually shatterproof strength.

Here’s What Not to Do When Giving a Puppy for Christmas

When you acquire a new puppy, things that you do, or don’t do, can make a big difference to the way the puppy turns out. Happy and confident adult dogs don’t just happen but are the product of good decisions and correct treatment of the puppy from birth right up until the juvenile period (around 6 months of age).

A pup’s genetic makeup may be out of your control once you have selected the right breed and individual for you, but you can sculpt or distort the raw clay of the pup’s genetic legacy by how you look after him and act toward him. If you do the right things – and, most importantly, don’t do the wrong things — the pup will turn out to be (as the US Army jingle goes) “all that he can be.”

The so-called sensitive period of development for puppies is between three and 12 weeks of age. The sensitive period has been defined as a time during development when the puppy is dependent upon (the correct) environmental influences for its development to continue normally.

This is a time when primary social relationships and emotional attachments develop between dogs and people and between dogs and other dogs. Note that only half of this sensitive period has elapsed at the usual time for adoption, which is why it is so important for owners to get a grasp of the essential features of proper puppy socialization and training.

How to raise a good puppy has been discussed almost ad nauseam by numerous authorities though the message has still not penetrated to all new puppy owners. In essence, for training a new puppy, new owners need to concentrate on being patient and considerate while using primarily positive reinforcement with, if necessary, negative punishment (withholding benefits) as a consequence for any deliberate, unacceptable behavior. But even informed owners sometimes fail to appreciate the absolute no-no’s of puppy raising. True, some of the biggest of them are simply the converse of what should be done, but it doesn’t hurt to include these items in the list for even greater clarity.

Resources for Giving a Puppy for Christmas

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