With Christmas around the corner – and I do mean literaly “just around the corner”, I am always reminded of the thousands of Christmas puppies (probably even more) that are snuggled up in Santa’s bag waiting to go to a new home this coming Christmas Eve. More importantly, their wish is that they get a home where they will be taken care of and not forgotten stuck out in the backyard!
While Christmas comes but once a year, puppies are here for a lifetime. It is important to plan your lifetime with your new puppy. This should include:
- If buying a purebred puppy, make sure you buy from a reputable breeder who will, in writing, guarantee eyes, hips and heart and will have already begun desensitizing all the puppies to noise, human handling and all things that go “bump in the night”.
- Don’t accept puppies too young. Ideally, puppies should stay with their litter mates until the 8th week of age or their 49th day. This gives them time enough to learn their social graces like bite inhibition and how to play.
- When getting your new puppy from a shelter, you may not have the luxury of knowing the puppy’s past. Remember that the window of socialization closes between the ages of 3 1/2 to 5 months of age. This means that, to the extent you can, desensitize and socialize your pup to as many new distractions (his world as he will come to know it) as you can, to assure that he will be okay with people, noises, children, things. etc
- Your new puppy will need rules, routines, know what is expected of him and boundaries – all set on day one and designed to make him feel very secure in his sense of place, or where he fits in the family. Plan on devoting the time necessary for potty training, puppy training and of course dog obedience training as he gets older. Remember puppy training has changed, we have much better, kinder ways to train puppies.
- You can keep it very simple by consistently providing your puppy with an “earn-to-learn” program that will keep his expectations in the correct perspective. Everything he gets from you requires a sit and down. This will help to balance his work for the love and affection you wil be giving him now and in the years to come.
Merry Christmas to all! Jim Burwell