My primary concerns with Holiday or Christmas puppies are 1) The puppy is well thought out, recognized as a 15-year commitment, and not a “present” 2) The puppy is from a reputable source 3) The puppy is raised and trained properly.

To put it bluntly, a puppy is a terrible *surprise gift* to give someone. “Merry X-mas, here is something that requires constant care, poops every 4 hours, and whines all night!”  If I was getting a dog, I would want to pick it out myself, because the bond you will feel with the dog you choose has to be there.  It also has to be the right type of dog to fit your lifestyle.  For example, giving Grandma a hyper Border Collie puppy would probably be a bad choice.  Getting a dog is something the whole family needs to be involved in.

Puppies also make poor gifts for children. Kids will beg and plead parents to get a puppy.  They will promise anything in the world to get what they want.  They swear they will wake up at 6am to take it out, they will feed it, walk it, and clean up.  “Pulleeeeeese get us a puppy!!!”  The reality is, you (the parent) will be the one standing outside in the freezing January cold at 6am with the puppy, while the children refuse to get out of bed.  You will be the one paying for vet care, training the dog, and buying supplies and food.  Recognize that as an adult, you are legally the owner and will probably end up the primary caretaker once the novelty of a new puppy wears off (and it always does).

Puppies are overrated. Take it from someone who’s had many puppies, the cuteness wears off… fast.  Plus, they are only a puppy for about 8 months after you get them.  Consider adopting an adult dog; it may fit your family better.  You can also evaluate their personality more clearly.  Adult dogs are already past the puppy stage!

Do NOT buy from a pet store or backyard breeder! The worst mistake people make is to buy a puppy on impulse, or go with whatever’s easiest.  Walking into a pet store, plunking down your credit card, and walking out with your little bundle of joy does sound easy, but it is a BAD choice.  Please research where pet store puppies come from.  They come from puppy mills.  They may be cute but they can be riddled with lifelong health problems, lack socialization, and the mothers of the dogs are used as breeding machines for profit.

A backyard breeder is someone who breeds just for profit, or for the heck of it, and does not do necessary health testing, does not show or title their dogs, and does not do it for the betterment of the breed.  They don’t care about producing healthy and stable dogs and will not take them back if there is ever a problem.  You will not get a quality puppy out of a newspaper classified ad or a puppy finding website.  To find a reputable breeder, start at the official breed club, e.g. the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America, and ask the advice of an experienced dog trainer.  Another option is to rescue a puppy or dog.  There are so many dogs that need a home, and what better thing than to give a homeless dog a new family for the Holidays.  You can find any breed by searching a website like www.Petfinder.com Another benefit is these puppies and dogs come already vetted, with shots and spay/neuter.  Any adoption fee you will pay goes straight to help other dogs, as rescues are non-for-profit.

Please do not hesitate to ask our advice before making a decision that is a long commitment.  We are here for you through your puppy’s growth.  We can advise you on proper nutrition, housebreaking, and beginning basic puppy clicker training.  A puppy has to learn a few key things:  Socialization, housebreaking, walking on a leash, and basic manners.  Socialization is extremely important and should begin ideally at the breeder’s home, and continue right after you get your puppy.  Do not wait until your dog has become a “problem” before obedience training.  A puppy class is not enough.  Formal training should begin around 4-8 months of age.

Jennifer Hack, Professional dog trainer, for Dynamic Dogs Inc, Chicago IL