A great gift idea for families buying a new puppy after the holidays
We’ve all watched the scene in movies and on television shows. We’ve read about it in books since our childhood, and it plays out in countless advertisements this time of year. On Christmas morning, a family wakes up to find an adorable puppy under the tree with a bow wrapped around his neck.
Unfortunately, for both the new puppy and the new owners, this situation rarely moves forward in a good way after the unveiling. Why? Because the holidays are generally not an ideal time to bring a puppy home. There's too much excitement, commotion, family obligations, travel, and ingestible hazards all within puppy height, including food ornaments, and not to mention children's toys. The lack of routine dogs thrive on is non-existent, and even the child who wanted the puppy "more than anything in the whole wide world" is distracted by human visitors and their mountain of new toys.
“Calm” and “consistent” are two words in my mantra while housebreaking a new puppy. During the holiday chaos, bringing home a puppy starts them off on the wrong paw and doesn't let your puppy shine the way it could at another time of the year.
All this being said, there are occasions when responsible preservation breeders will let a puppy go to their new home over the holidays. I have found this situation usually occurs when the breeder sells to a family that has owned a dog from them before. I will also say that this is 2021, and with various gathering restrictions in place across the country, the holidays this year may be very quiet for many families, and it could be an ideal time to bring home the puppy they've been waiting for. I trust that my friends who are dedicated, experienced preservation breeders always do what is right for the puppy regardless of a family’s excitement. Please see my Christmas safety tips here for those bringing home a puppy this holiday season: https://www.ckc.ca/en/The-Dish/December-2018/Holiday-Safety-Tips.
BUT! Just because your puppy won't be in your home on Christmas morning doesn't mean you can't present something great to open and explore with your whole family on the 25th. For families waiting for a new puppy over the holidays, I recommend putting together a “Puppy Basket" and gifting it on Christmas morning.
Using a large basket, stuff it with a bunch of the essential items your new puppy will need when they come home. I find all these great items at my local pet supply shop. Most stores offer online shopping and can deliver these products straight to your door. The contents of the Puppy Basket will vary due to puppy size, breed, and coat type, but here are some items I like to put in:
- Matching Clip Collar and 6’ leash. These collars offer easy fastening for rushing out for a bathroom break, and the leashes are a perfect length for training. With tons of different designs, you can really get creative and colourful. If I know the colour of the puppy, I try to pick a contrasting collar colour to really make it pop.
- Beef Liver Chop Treats. Great for rewarding good behaviour. I’ve never met a dog who can resist a liver treat! I also like how they easily break down into smaller bits for puppies.
- Hollow Rubber Toy. These are great dog training toys, and most brands offer puppy versions that are softer for young, teething puppies. I stuff these with treats and let them entertain busy pups when I’m busy or need to distract them as I leave the house.
- Stainless Steel Bowls. Something shiny always looks good in a basket. I love how easily stainless steel bowls clean.
- Enviro-friendly Poop Bags. Include some colourful poop bags that open easily (essential for early morning/late night bathroom breaks in the dark), are compostable, and tough. I usually open the box up and stuff the rolls in between items.
- Plastic, non-edible Puppy Chew Toys. Choose durable bones and don't threaten your dog's digestive tract the way rawhide can. Be sure to consider the puppy's size (careful not to give a bone that's too small as it could be a choking hazard) and check to make sure it’s soft enough for a young puppy’s pin-like teeth.
- Mild Puppy Shampoo. Puppies get into everything, and not all of it smells great. A nice, mild shampoo will make your puppy smell as sweet as they are. It’s also a good idea to give your puppy some early, positive bathing and drying experience.
- Soft Slicker Brush. I love very soft slicker brushes for coated puppies because they are so gentle and come in various sizes. I like the small one for small puppies as a large brush can be hard to use on a tiny pup.
- Steel Comb. With both coarse and fine teeth, a comb is perfect for keeping tangles out.
Choosing a variety of brightly coloured items will make the basket memorable. I like to add a training book (my pick is "The Dog Listener" by Jan Fennell) or a breed book, and if you can find a stuffed toy version of your puppy's breed, it makes an excellent addition to the basket as well. I also like to include a gift card to a puppy kindergarten class you can take your puppy to after they've gotten the appropriate set of shots recommended by his breeder. It's also a nice touch to get a photo of the puppy from the breeder (or the litter if you don’t know which one will be yours yet), stick it in a card along with a message from the puppy wishing the family a Merry Christmas and telling them that they can't wait to join the pack.
A Puppy Basket is a starter kit that will surprise your loved ones on Christmas morning and include them in the preparations needed to welcome a new pet. I think it’s a great way to encourage your children to become responsible dog owners and give the incoming pup a strong start.