The Gift of the Christmas Puppy

Conventional wisdom advises that the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is not the ideal environment in which to introduce a new puppy into a household with younger children.  I can’t disagree, considering the trajectory of most Christmases.

Special events and visits from friends and relatives shake-up the routine household schedule, complicating efforts to establish and manage house-breaking efforts.  Late nights and an excess of holiday treats combine to make kids cranky and less responsible.  And of course there’s the main event – the robo-unwrapping of piles of gifts that command the attention of young ones…well, until the next episode of Sponge Bob.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  When the proper groundwork is set, the introduction of a puppy into a dog-friendly family at Christmas can be a wonderful event that bonds a family uniquely, and memorializes that particular Christmas for a child’s entire life.

Here’s why it works:

  • Extra adults around mean extra eyes on the puppy.  Not just in extra cuddles and attention, but in supervision too.  Discovering the timing between eating and trips outside can become a shared project, alleviating some of the burden from the hosts.
  • Interactions between children and the puppy can be supervised and guided as well.  Children learn about the mechanics of puppy care from others who have done it before.  And if it’s too much for them to take on at once, there’s an adult backup who can work with them again on the next interaction.
  • The entire family is present at once, without the distractions of everyday routines.  This is a perfect time for a dog trainer to come for the first session.  Successful training is the result of consistent, 5 minute intervals of practice every hour….which matches the capabilities of most younger children provided they are prompted.
  • A puppy learns that despite the flurry of activity, there’s always a quiet space not too far away for them to nap or eat or play with a toy.  It’s a good way for the puppy to begin his socialization without leaving home just yet.
  • Most of all, kids discover that of all the gifts that come to them during the Christmas season, the puppy is the only one that gives love back.

And isn’t that the right lesson to grow up with?

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