Is there anything more adorable than a tiny, fluffy puppy wearing a red bow, sitting under the tree on Christmas morning? Your children tumble down the stairs, shrieking with glee at the sight of their new best friend—an instant match made in heaven. While this is what people often picture when they consider surprising their family with a puppy, the scenario rarely plays out this way. Instead, somebody may be unhappy they got a puppy instead of a pony, or that the pup is short-haired instead of long-haired. Plus, in the general chaos that fills homes around the holidays, the new puppy may become nervous and unsettled, develop stress diarrhea, and howl nonstop. 

Now, we’re not saying you should not give your family a puppy for Christmas. We are saying you should take steps to ensure everyone is happy with the new pup and they settle in well with your family. A new family pet is a momentous occasion that requires careful planning. Before you bring home a new pup, follow these three steps for a merry holiday season. 

#1: Discuss with the entire family what you’re looking for in a puppy

Getting the entire family to decide on anything, whether a TV show, a restaurant, or, more importantly, the features of a puppy, can be tough. Everyone has a different reason for wanting a pet, so you will have to choose one that ticks off most of your criteria. Ask your family the following questions to help narrow down your choices:

  • Do we prefer a small or large dog, and do we have the necessary space?
  • Do we want an active dog to take hiking, camping, or running, or would we rather have a laid-back dog for companionship?
  • Do we want a long- or short-haired puppy? How much time can we dedicate to their grooming?
  • Do we want a dog who will protect our family, or one who will greet anyone who walks through our door?
  • Do we like a certain dog breed?

Once your family has decided what they’d like, it’s easier to find the perfect pup.

#2: Decide where to find your new puppy

During the Christmas season, people are filled with goodwill, and they often perform acts of kindness, such as adopting a less-than-adoptable pet from the shelter. Although animal shelters are filled with great family pets, you may not find one who meets your family’s needs, and that’s alright. If none are the perfect fit, try social media. Many shelters and rescues have a Facebook page about their available puppies that may be in foster care and not housed in the animal shelter facility. You can also turn to a reputable breeder or breed rescue if your family is set on a particular breed, but you must do your research to ensure a puppy is healthy and from health-tested parents. If you don’t immediately find a puppy who fits your family, keep searching, rather than picking any puppy, simply to fill that four-legged spot in your home. 

#3: Don’t bring the puppy home on Christmas morning

Your home is no doubt a disaster on Christmas morning, with wrapping paper and gifts strewn about, shouts of joy, and everyone scrambling to get ready to travel to celebrate with family. If so, the commotion can overwhelm a new puppy, who is already nervous and unsure of the strange surroundings and people. Plus, if you’re traveling to spend time with loved ones, your new pup may immediately be left home alone in a strange place for hours, which doesn’t provide the best welcome. Instead, wait until the festivities are wrapped up, so you have plenty of time to devote to your new puppy and ensure they feel safe, comfortable, and welcomed into their new home and family.

If you want to surprise your family with a puppy for Christmas, consider instead purchasing essential puppy supplies and wrapping those as family gifts. Then, once the holiday season chaos has died down and a new puppy can be introduced into a calm environment, go as a family and pick out your pet. Choosing a new pet can be truly magical, and create a lifetime of memories for your children and family.

Are you planning to welcome a new puppy into your family this Christmas? If so, start your new pup out on the right paw by scheduling a wellness visit with your Southern Crossing Animal Hospital team.