Do Puppies Make Good Christmas Gifts?

If you’re considering a puppy at Christmastime (Hanukkah, Diwali, Solstice, or Eidh), think again!

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #41

I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen a holiday card picturing a puppy and a toddler draped all over each other amid a sea of crumpled red-and-green wrapping paper. If I did see such a card, I would buy up the entire stock and burn it. Yes, the kids can have a dog, and I’ll give you some pointers on choosing one. But for everybody’s sake, take a pass on that Christmas puppy.

Despite the image peddled in those holiday cards I’d so happily torch, puppies and busy holidays aren’t a good fit. And neither, generally, are puppies and small children. Here’s why.

Housetraining Your Puppy Is Harder During the Holidays

Regardless of your newly adopted puppy’s exact age, you must meet certain needs if he’s to have the best chance of growing into a beloved and friendly companion. Housetraining is the first of these. Many young dogs lose their homes because they’ve never clearly learned where pee and poop should go.

Now, the key to housetraining success is to confine or diligently supervise your puppy in between frequent toilet breaks. The ideal is that your puppy never has a chance to eliminate in the wrong place. For the youngest puppies, “frequent” may mean “hourly” whenever the puppy is awake.

And wait, there’s more!  Excitement and activity--you know, like what goes on during holidays?--get that puppy bladder and bowel zipping right along. Furthermore, up to the age of at least four months, your puppy will almost certainly need an overnight outing as well. That is all sounding so compatible with going to Grandma’s house, and having the neighbors over for eggnog, and staying up late to assemble the … something or other. Isn’t it?

And oh yes--did I mention that the more times your puppy eliminates where you don’t want him to, the harder it will be for him to learn what you do want? 


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).