Updated: Nov 13
We all know the infamous slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ but it doesn’t stop people continuing to buy puppies around Christmas time and inevitably, rescues are overrun with rejected dogs and puppies in the New Year.
Why is it still such a prime-time for puppy buyers and why does it go wrong?
Just like the school summer holidays or Covid lockdowns, people often see the Christmas break as a good opportunity to bring a new dog or puppy into their home. They have more time off work and therefore more time to settle the puppy in and enjoy the early weeks with them. In theory, it makes sense, in the early weeks puppies do need a lot of time from their new families and it’s much easier to dedicate time to them when you don’t have the additional pressure of work.
However, this is often a very short-sighted decision, and soon enough everyone is back to the work routine and life carries on as normal, leaving you with a juggling act trying to balance the continued demands of the puppy as well as day-to-day life.
If you decide Christmas is the right time to bring a puppy or new dog home, make sure you’ve thought ahead to the New Year and made plans for how your dog will fit into your normal routine.
It can take much longer than a couple of weeks for a puppy to settle in and the puppy phase doesn’t necessarily get any easier, so hoping for a calm, easy puppy by the New Year will only leave you feeling disappointed and frustrated.
The Christmas Chaos
Christmas is a notoriously hectic and chaotic time, we’re often under pressure to fit in many social events, we may have frequent visitors or be travelling to visit others. Even at the best of times, Christmas is likely to bring some stresses, simply because the routine is different.
With this in mind, is it really a good time to also be handling the stresses of a new puppy?
Many people can probably agree that taking on a puppy or new dog was far harder than they anticipated. Even people who have owned dogs for years can struggle with the shock of a new puppy. They are demanding, needy and exhausting at times. Sure, we love them and they quickly become bonded to us, but that doesn’t remove the difficulties.
If you’re already looking at your Christmas plans and feeling the pressures and stresses, then consider whether it’s right to add in a puppy too.
It might be a great opportunity for socialising your puppy and getting them involved in lots of new experiences, but remember socialisation isn’t as simple as throwing your puppy into new situations and letting them work it out. It requires a lot of careful consideration and management to keep experiences positive and ensure the puppy isn’t overwhelmed.
If you’re busy keeping Christmas under control then you’re less likely to be able to manage and monitor your new puppy too. The early weeks are crucial to give your puppy the best foundations possible, and early mistakes or bad experiences can have life-long consequences, so think carefully about how much time and energy you’ll be able to dedicate to a puppy at Christmas.
Although it has become a commonly used slogan, there is so much truth behind
‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’.
Puppies can be adorable gifts which provide huge joy over Christmas, but it can turn sour quickly if the puppy isn’t quite what everyone was prepared for. This is a living being who will be in your life for the next decade or more, it has to be thought out beyond the exciting days of Christmas.
If a puppy is a gift for someone…
Is it what they really want? No, REALLY want… many people think they want a dog, the idea is a long-term dream, a fantasy and a hope for the future. But that doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean gifting them a dog will make their dreams come true
Puppies are a huge amount of work. They aren’t born as blank slates, they already have personalities and traits which will be formed long before they arrive with you. What someone may imagine as their ‘dream dog’ may not match the puppy they end up with
A gifted puppy may not be what someone needs, perhaps the genetic traits don’t match their lifestyle, or the puppy had a poor start to life and struggles to cope in daily life
For anyone deciding to take on a puppy, making those decisions and doing their own thorough research is vital. Giving a puppy as a gift is a risk which may result in them giving the puppy up later on
Who sells puppies for Christmas?
Puppy farms and backyard breeders operate all year round, they disguise themselves well and they’ve become experts in covering up the shocking conditions the puppies are born into. Where they can exploit the market is when demand is higher than supply…
Many reputable breeders and rescue organisations are hesitant to home dogs and puppies over the Christmas period, they’re all too aware of the New Year surge in dogs being rehomed, and they understand how the pressures of Christmas can make life with a new dog or puppy impossibly difficult.
When these trustworthy sources for puppies and dogs are increasingly careful about homes for their dogs (and rightly so), there is even more opportunity for the backyard breeders to fill in the gaps.
These puppies will be much more readily available, there may be very few questions asked and very little waiting time for a puppy. The price of the puppy is likely to be just as high, perhaps even higher, but people will pay a higher price for the simplicity of a no-questions-asked puppy.
Be cautious of any breeder advertising that puppies are ready to leave on Christmas Eve
The downside is that these puppies are rarely well-bred. There’s no consideration for the mental or physical wellbeing of any of the dogs involved, meaning any puppies are likely to have some genetically defined challenges. Not to mention the importance of the first 8 weeks of puppyhood, before you’ve even met your puppy, they will have developed a huge amount of their personality through their early experiences. If your puppy has grown up in a stressful or sheltered environment, they will be impacted by this. They may be more fearful, more prone to anxiety disorders, and at higher risk of aggression issues, because of the limited exposure or early stress they experienced.
Far too many people think a puppy is a blank slate, ‘it doesn’t matter where it comes from because you can always change them once you get them home’ but that’s not true. It’s so far from true.
There will be some things you can never change. Is it really worth it? The puppy is easily available but do you really want the life-long consequences of a badly bred puppy?
Before you think you’re saving a puppy from horrible conditions, just remember there are plenty more where yours came from and saving one only leaves a space for the next. Again, is it worth it?
While Christmas may provide the perfect time for some people to bring a puppy into their home, for the vast majority of people it really couldn’t be a worse time. If you’ve planned it for the long-term, you’ve chosen a trustworthy breeder and you’re ready to face the commitment and the additional stress over Christmas then it could be a great time.
However, if you’re making a quick-decision or you’re just thinking of how much fun a puppy will be at Christmas, then perhaps you need to think again. Don’t be another person who reaches the New Year and decides they can’t do it anymore and the puppy ends up in a rescue centre with hundreds of other unwanted Christmas puppies when people realise that puppies aren’t all fun and games.
Written by Naomi White
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