Getting a Puppy for the Holidays? Five Things to Consider

Adding a new four-legged member to your family is a great way to celebrate the holiday season, and this year thousands of wet noses and fuzzy paws will find their way into homes this season. However, getting a Christmas or New Year puppy isn’t all fun and games—it is an important event for your entire family.  Before you decide to get a Holiday puppy there are a few important things to consider. Read on to learn the top 5 things to know before getting a puppy for the holidays.

Determine if this is the Right Time

Before making a commitment to a puppy, ensure each member of your family is 100% on board with the decision.  Once the cuteness of a puppy wears off, you must be sure that you are committed to the dog he will become. Issues like pet allergies or upcoming changes within the family like a new baby, relocation or job change can create stressful environments for everyone; but especially a puppy. Puppies are adorable bundles of wagging tails, floppy ears, and to the dismay of thousands of allergy sufferers everywhere, fur and dander. If any family member has a history of allergies, you might want to consider a hypoallergenic dog breed or perhaps choosing a different pet altogether. And many well-behaved dogs find themselves re-homed due to changes in the household that may have easily be foreseen. Be honest with yourself and each member of your family so that together, you can make a decision for the long haul.

Understand the Commitment

The average lifespan of a dog is between 10 and 13 years, and when you bring a canine companion into your life, you must be aware that your commitment to her is for the entire life of your new friend. Bringing a new puppy into your home is a lot like bringing home a baby. Your new puppy will look to you to teach her how to behave, learn about the world and to love and play with her. Having a new puppy requires a time commitment of the whole family, and all members need to be dedicated to providing what the puppy needs, especially in the first few months. This includes:

  • Potty training
  • Crate training
  • Walks and exercise
  • Vet appointments
  • Feeding times
  • Play time
  • Basic Training & Obedience

Consider “Adopt, Don’t Shop”

If the idea of all of these needs is daunting, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a dog. Instead of a puppy, consider adopting an adult or even a senior dog into your home. Adult dogs demand less time and energy than puppies, are often already housebroken and may be an excellent option for your family. Even better, there are plenty of adult and senior dogs deserving of new homes through wonderful local organizations like Peak Lab Rescue and Paw Prints Animal Rescue to name just a few. Stopping by the SPCA of Wake County is a great place to start. Even if you don’t end up adopting, it is a great place to learn about different dogs and their needs, and help your family get ready to welcome a dog into your lives. The staff there is extremely knowledgeable and who knows? While you’re there, you might just find your new best friend!

Make Sure You Have the Proper Space

Deciding whether or not your home has room for a puppy isn’t just about the amount of space you have, but about the kind of space (and time) that you have. If you have a very small apartment with not much green space you may not want a large dog with boundless energy unless hiring a daily dog walker is within your budget. If you have a large home with a big yard to play, perhaps an energetic pup is right up your alley. Also consider whether the space inside your home is appropriate for a young puppy. Designate areas for your pet to rest, eat and play and cordon off spaces that are off limits by choice or for safety (including rooms with lots of clothing or toys to ingest). Set clear expectations for both your new dog and your family when your new furry family member arrives to make the transition into the new home easier on everyone.

Remember: An Exercised Dog is a Well-Behaved Dog

Many families getting a dog for the first time worry about managing behavioral or potty training issues that may quickly arise. One of the best ways to avoid nuisance issues is to set your new dog up for success with plenty of exercise and establish a solid routine from the very start. Veterinarians suggest that a new puppy will require a potty break at intervals equal to its month in age plus one (a three-month old puppy could go up to four hours, for example).  While well-exercised dogs six months of age and up can usually remain comfortably in a crate for the average work day, you may need to consider hiring a professional dog walker to relieve your new puppy at specific intervals in those first critical weeks.

If your family will need help keeping your new dog exercised or help establish a potty schedule, Peak City Puppy can help. Our New Puppy Service, starting at just $17 per visit, includes customized visit times to coordinate with your departure, GPS-timed email notifications upon arrival, and a personalized walking journal so you can remain up to date on your new puppy’s development. Best wishes as you consider bringing home a Holiday Puppy and learn more about this service and all the ways we can help make life with your dog healthier, happier and more convenient at

Lesley White is the owner of Peak City Puppy, a Triangle-based Dog Walking service now in its tenth year serving clients in Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Raleigh, Morrisville and now New Hill.