I’m sure if you are on facebook (and have lots of friends in the dog world) you have seen at least one of the photos in a public awareness campaign against buying/adopting puppies/dogs as presents for the holidays.
Well, I really like this campaign a lot. One of my first blog posts was about Christmas puppies… Christmas Puppies Become Summer Teens . I’ve started to see more and more “Christmas Puppies” or “Ready in time for Christmas” adds on places like Craigslist and it is so concerning to me. Puppies and dogs are not pieces of property that should be given as a surprise to anyone since so much can go wrong and most of the time when it goes wrong, it’s the dog that suffers most. IF the dog came from a pet store, back yard breeder, craigslist ‘re-homing,’ pound, neighbor down the street, or guy in a parking lot and things go wrong, the dog will likely end up in a shelter where they could easily face euthanasia. Or the dog could be rehomed to someone who is less than ethical with animals and could live a life of misery.
I dont’ necessarily think it’s a bad time to get a dog if a family is low-key and stays at home. Having the family home can help with the initial transition but it’s incredibly important to put a lot of time and thought into adding a new canine family member before bringing one home. Instead of picking a puppy because it will be ready to go home in time for it to be decorated with a bow and placed under a tree, pick a dog/puppy because it is a suitable fit for your family and you are ready for the additional work.
One service offered by trainers that I don’t think people are aware of is that many offer new-dog selection counseling of sorts. It can be as simple as a one on one consultation with the family to determine 1. if the family is ready for a dog and if all members really want a dog 2. what types of dogs would be most appropriate and 3. provide information so the family can prepare for the new addition. Some trainers offer a service where they go to the breeder or the shelter/rescue to help evaluate prospective dogs to help improve the chances of a successful matching. It’s like having your own personal Garmin GPS guiding you through the process.
This type of counseling can be so helpful for families thinking about bringing a new dog into the family. They have the benefit of an knowledgeable outside source giving perspectives and specific information as it pertains to their situation. It’s not an online quiz that asks about the size, shedding, grooming needs, activity level of a potential dog and spits out 10 different breeds (of questionable compatibility) for you to choose from. Plus the added bonus is that you are already connected to a trainer and can get to work with the puppy right away and have a head start with a socialization game plan.
So, this holiday season, if you know someone who is planning on “buying a puppy for the kids” please suggest to them that they may want to, instead of buying the puppy, buy a puppy-prep session from a trainer to help guide them through the process. The money is more than worth it to be guided to finding the dog/puppy best suited for your home. It helps the family unit feel confident and secure in their ultimate decision while helping ensure the puppy/dog is truly in their forever home–because, unlike sweaters… not all puppies/dogs can be returned and those that can’t, could face a death sentence.
We trainers may not be as cute as a little puppy wrapped in a bow sitting under your tree, but we can make the process go so much smoother and help lead to a happily ever after for BOTH the family and the dog.