If the puppy you are considering has just been born, it might seem too good to be true
Puppies born on or around the last few days in October will in theory, be ready for their new homes at Christmas time.
What could be nicer than a Labrador puppy for Christmas?
But the truth is, most breeders whose puppies are due at this time prepare themselves to hang on to those puppies until they are nine or ten weeks old. They won’t let them go to new homes just before Christmas Day. And there are good reasons for this.
Moving home is very stressful for a new puppy and one of the things he needs above all else is for his new life, at least at first, to be predictable. He needs to know where his den/bed is. He needs to know where he is allowed to go to the toilet, and how to find his way around in this new and strange home.
Filling the home with a sea of strange legs, and the inevitable disruptions in routine that accompany an extraordinary day like Christmas will add immensely to that stress.
In puppies stress often results in diarhorrea. Mopping up vile smelling liquid with a house full of guests is not fun for you at all. It is probably not much fun for the puppy either.
Puppies have immature immune systems. Moving the puppy to a new home exposes him to germs he may not have met before. This can exacerbate any sickness and diarhorrea. Visiting relatives or having them visit you increases this risk still further.
In other words there is a good chance your tiny puppy will be a little unwell over Christmas. This could put a real damper on your celebrations
Lack of time and attention
Tiny puppies need a lot of attention. Some puppies (not all) need to empty their bladders every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the day. This ‘frequency’ can last a week or more! It is a full time job just watching and making sure the puppy toilets in the right place.
You will have less time available over Christmas than you think. You might not be at work but it is amazing how much time cooking, present wrapping and delivering, and entertaining and visiting take up.
Visiting and overnight stays
Not so long ago I read a forum thread by a propective new puppy owner who was planning to spend Christmas away with relatives and to take her new 8 week old puppy with her. Various family members would be camping around the house and there would be no room for a crate. Not even a small one.
These are the sorts of scenarios that commonly arise over the Christmas period as we cram relatives into small spaces in our homes or pile ourselves into theirs.
I have had a lot of puppies over the years but I would never consider taking a young puppy to stay in someone else’s house at such a frantic time of year. Crate or no crate.
And I want to explain why.
Even if a puppy has had two or three weeks to settle in before Christmas, moving him again may well cause upset tummies. He will have to learn a whole new toileting routine, and be exposed again to all sorts of new challenges to his immature immune system.
A puppy with an upset stomach in someone else’s home, could well ruin Christmas for you and everyone else.
For those that go ahead with such a challenge, a crate is not optional, it is essential. Yet when many people are packed into a normal sized house, room for a crate is unlikely to be a priority.
Relatives may not agree with you on the best location for this large piece of metal in their home and you could well end up with your brand new puppy shut away and neglected.
At which point he may learn to howl the house down until one of the other guests picks him up and cuddles him (which they will). You will then have a puppy that has learned that screaming for attention works wonders. And he will be only to happy to scream even louder next time he is left alone.
What about night times?
A puppy may well scream at night too if crated. How will your fellow house mates feel about that on Christmas Eve?
Many new puppy owners think that they can simply pop their tiny puppy into bed with them at night.
Labrador puppies at eight weeks are quite capable of climbing/falling into and out of your bed. They may have little or no interest in remaining ‘tucked in’ for the duration of the night, and once you fall asleep you will have no chance of intervening when they chew through the cable on your bedside lamp or demolish your mobile phone.
Without a crate or something very similar, you will have no control over where your puppy goes or what he does in the room you sleep in once you have dropped off to sleep. If indeed you are able to go to sleep at all.
And it is also worth remembering that most of us like a little tipple on Christmas Day. Unfortunately a little tipple may lead to you or your partner rolling on and suffocating your precious new bundle. This happens to babies, so it can certainly happen to puppies.
For those that go ahead with their Christmas puppy there are other concerns.
If you are lucky your Labrador puppy will probably only destroy the christmas tree and any presents beneath it, and won’t swallow anything too toxic. But by the time you and the other house guests have trodden in a few poos in their bare feet, the novelty of the puppy will have worn off.
All the joy and excitement of this new life in yours will have been sucked away by the strains and stresses of Christmas.
If you are planning a Christmas puppy please reconsider waiting until January. Christmas is a big stressor for everyone. One of the biggest causes of family fights and upsets. So is sleep deprivation and very few puppy owners escape that.
You are setting yourself up for a really tough time.
You know it makes sense!
Any responsible breeder will be only too happy to keep your puppy until the festivities are over and you can give him your full attention. You can wait, you really can. And January will roll around soon enough.
You know it makes sense!
The Labrador Site is brought to you by Pippa Mattinson. Pippa's latest book Total Recall is a complete recall training programme for puppies and adult dogs