So you got a new puppy for Christmas! What now?
It is Christmas morning. Your living room looks picture perfect with your entire family gathered around the Christmas tree. Your children are eager and ready to open the gifts left for them by Santa Claus. They can see that one box, with their names on it, that is wiggling around under the tree. They cannot hold back their excitement and take off the lid to find an adorable little puppy with a perfect little bow around his neck.
After months of petitioning from your kids, you and your partner have finally decided to give in and bring some additional joy and cheer into all your lives. This cute little bundle of joy is now a part of your home and family. Congratulations, you're a new pet owner!
Fast forward a few hours and the tender scene described above has now turned into a challenging surprise. With the excitement of Christmas morning slowly wearing off, the task of caring for this puppy begins. You feel are woefully unprepared and worry that things are only going to get harder.
Gifting a new puppy for Christmas is a long-term commitment. It comes with additional physical, emotional and financial responsibilities. Even if you have done your research, if you are a first-time dog owner, it is possible you are anxious and unsure about what to do now. Read on to learn how to prepare for your new puppy and how to raise him well. Follow these steps to take to make this lovely Christmas gift’s homecoming and his subsequent life with you a successful and happy one.
Setting up for success
Welcoming a puppy in to the family changes your life forever. Your responsibility towards ensuring that this Christmas puppy becomes a successful gift begins from the moment you bring him home. While there are some people who raise concerns about bringing puppies home for Christmas, it can actually be a great time for a new pet since your whole family has time off from school and work and can help the puppy adapt and settle in.
The key to adjusting well to a new pet during the holiday season is to prepare in advance. Even before you have brought home your children’s Christmas gift, you need to begin your preparations. If you make the necessary arrangements to give your new pup a loving and safe home to grow and flourish, he will bring constant cheer and joy into your family’s life.
- Vet visit - Start by taking your puppy to the veterinarian for a checkup and his vaccinations. Since most vet clinics are closed on Christmas day, you would need to do this before you bring the puppy home for Christmas.
- Stock Up - Make sure you have all the necessary supplies you will need for your beloved new pup. These include his pet food, dog bowls, bed and crate, leash and collar, toys, training treats, dog grooming brush etc. You can also consider purchasing a Puppy Starter Kit to make sure you are completely equipped with all you need for your new puppy.
- Puppy Proofing - Take the required steps to puppy proof every area of your home to make it safe for your puppy to explore and play in his new surroundings. Keep all cupboards locked, especially those containing food, medicines, toxic cleaning agents etc. Ensure all electrical sockets and cords are closed or hidden so your puppy cannot access them. Keep plants out of reach from your puppy so he does not end up entertaining himself chewing on their leaves.
It can be a very exciting time with a new puppy. Those big puppy eyes and that wagging tail can melt any heart and make you go… aww! However, it is important to make sure that all the new people, surroundings, noise, and things do not overwhelm your little pup on his first day home. While this does not mean you need to leave him alone, just make sure he has time to adjust and settle in. All the new smells, sounds and the general excitement can also make the little one tired, so make sure he has a safe place to settle in and sleep when he needs.
Some of the things that you can start with on your puppy’s first day at his new home are,
- Naming – One of the most fun and exciting things to start with once your beloved new pup is home and settled is to think of a name for him. Though some people suggest using names that are short and have sharp syllables, there are actually no rules to naming your dog. Pick a name that suits your dog and one that everyone in the family agrees with. Make sure to start calling your dog by his name from the first day itself. It will help him recognize his name and teach him to respond to it.
- Acclimatizing – Allow your puppy to safely explore your home. Attach him to a loose leash and let him guide you while he sniffs around his new territory. While he discovers new things and places in the home, make sure to keep him out of harm’s way.
- House Training – Start house training your new Christmas pup immediately. Puppies relieve themselves much more frequently compared to older dogs and need to be taken out once every half an hour and after every meal. If he pees or poops outside, be sure to reward him and give him lots of praise. You must, however, understand that it will take weeks, or even months, for your puppy to be completely trained. It will take time and continuous supervision and efforts from your end, but your efforts will ensure you don’t end up cleaning your pup’s surprise gifts from around the house. If no one is attending to the puppy, make sure he is in his crate, to prevent any unwanted accidents.
Catching them early
Now that Christmas is over and you and your family get back to your regular lives and routines, it is time to integrate your puppy into it. It is never too early to help your new puppy learn good habits. The sooner you begin, the lesser time you will spend correcting the bad ones he is likely to pick up without the right guidance.
- Routine – The first step to successfully integrating your puppy into your lives is to establish a routine for him, one that everyone can follow even when the holidays are over and all of you head back to your jobs and schools. Make sure everyone in the family understands the routine. Distribute the responsibilities and make everyone contribute. This way everyone gets to spend time with their new puppy while also ensuring all his needs are met. Organize how frequently he must be fed, walked and exercised. Also, separate sufficient daily time for your family to play and bond with your new pup.
- Obedience Training – Begin your pup’s training early. While Christmas can be a busy time for all of your family, take every opportunity you can to train your puppy for good behavior. At this early age, he will pick up the right cues quickly and over time these will become a set behavior for him. Signing up for puppy training classes after the holidays are over can further strengthen your puppy’s learning.
- Socialization – Slowly expose your puppy to everything. Take him to lots of different places so he can experience new sights, sounds, and environments. Ensure that he has positive associations with new people, animals, places and things.
- Alone time – While it can be exciting and fun to have an adorable little furry creature that only knows how to show affection, especially for children, it is important we do not scare the puppy or make him extremely dependent to be by our side all the time. Start leaving your puppy on his own, with a nice treat or a toy, for a few minutes. This teaches the puppy to be content on his own and prevents him suffering from anxiety at a later stage if you have to leave him alone at home for some time. That said, a young puppy must never be left unsupervised for long periods of time.
Final reminders about your new furry friend
As you and your puppy settle into your new lives together, there are a few things that you must keep in mind. Be sure that your puppy’s veterinarian visits and vaccinations are up to date. You should also discuss medication for parasite prevention with your vet. Along with this, you and your family will will need to consider things like pet insurance, microchipping and neutering your little boy when he is old enough.
While the first month will be one of many changes for you and your family, this adorable, playful, cuddly, affectionate little being that you brought home to your children for Christmas is sure to win the hearts of everyone he meets. With the right commitment, efforts, and love from you and your family, your new pet is sure to be on his way to many healthy, happy and love-filled holidays with his beloved family!