Dog’s Eye View: Puppies are for life, not just for Christmas
December 20, 2012
They took me away from my littermates and my mom. Now I'm pushed into a hideaway, isolated from everything that gave me comfort and helped me feel safe.
They're squishing me, passing me around and touching me all over. I don't know what to do. Maybe if I hold very still they'll stop.
"Oh!" they say, "he's so mellow, he just lies there, curled up in a little ball." "Isn't he just perfect?"
Finally they stop, and I can sneak away. But now I have to find a place to potty. This carpet feels familiar, like the grass at home. "Stop!" they scream. "No, you're a bad puppy! Go outside!" They yell and make me go outside, alone, closing the door behind them. At least they stopped screaming.
Now the family settles in to open the rest of the Christmas gifts. Soon Mom and Dad preach to the kids about how this puppy is going to teach them responsibility. It's their job to clean up after him, to feed and brush him — and they'd better do it every day. "Oh no," the kids think. "I didn't ask for a puppy. I don't even want one. I just want to ride my bike or play on the computer."
Meanwhile, the little puppy who was taken away from the comfort and safety of his littermates and mom now is isolated in the backyard because no one really thought about all the responsibilities involved with raising a puppy.
Puppies never should be given as a surprise or a present.
This is not the way to bring a puppy into your life. A living, breathing being is not a gift. It's a responsibility and a commitment. Adding a furry family member to your household requires much planning. It's a life-changing experience and should be cherished and nurtured.
Realizing that this little being will not know you or your household rules, have you planned how you will guide and teach him? Have you resolved basic issues like where he will sleep, who will feed him and how everyone will share the responsibility of teaching him to potty outside and making sure he has adequate play/exercise and training every day? Where will he stay that is safe and comfortable when you cannot be with him? And are you and your family prepared to teach him manners? If not, have you researched a knowledgeable family dog trainer who can teach you these lessons and more?
If you are thinking about getting a new puppy, you must plan ahead. Wait until after the craziness of the holidays. Spring break might be a good time while kids are home and the family can get a schedule started. Summer even is better, with warm days and people at home. If you really work on training this new pup, he can accompany you almost anywhere. You prepare for the arrival of a new baby for months, anticipating his or her needs, planning and arranging to have everything ready to help them thrive. Why should a puppy or kitten be any different? We nurture our children throughout their lives. A family pet needs that true bond and guidance, too.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with 25 years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC in Northwest Colorado.