You may want to think twice before giving your friend or family a puppy over the holidays. While holiday cards are filled with images of irresistible puppies poking their heads out of stockings, the reality of introducing a puppy to your household over the holidays can be quite different.
A puppy is not a stuffed toy. It will not take kindly to being ignored once a newer, brighter toy is discovered. Puppies need attention, discipline and a lifetime supply of love and care. Over-excited children may scare a puppy or worse, neglect it, especially after it chews up their holiday toys or has an accident on the rug.
Reputable breeders will advise you to select a puppy before Christmas, but bring the puppy home after the holidays are over and you have time for the new family addition. Most children do understand that their new puppy needs to stay with its family until after the holidays. The reputable breeder will allow you to bring your children to meet their new friend at the breeder's house but will keep your puppy safe and happy until the festivities are over.
Finally, please keep in mind: A dog is for life - not just for Christmas! Cute puppies soon become full-size dogs. Remember, an impulse gift over the holidays can last for 10 years or more. A dog will need training, food, shelter, medical care and exercise.
If you want to give someone a puppy, don't have it be a surprise. Consider a gift that will help someone choose the right dog for his or her lifestyle. The American Kennel Club publishes "The Complete Dog Book" and "The Complete Dog Book for Kids". Both make great gifts (and are easier to wrap than a wiggly puppy!) You can also get detailed information and photos about different breeds of dogs by visiting the AKC website.
It's always best to allow the actual owners to pick out their own puppies. The person taking care of the dog for years to come needs to carefully consider the adult dog's size, disposition, appetite and grooming needs. Attending local dog shows and finding and talking with reputable breeders will help decide what breed is best for you. The AKC publishes several free brochures on being a responsible dog owner. All are available through the AKC website - www.akc.org.
Finally, please keep in mind: A dog is for life - not just for Christmas!