A Labrador puppy for Christmas? Your very own Christmas puppy?
It’s that time of year again!
What an amazing Christmas present a puppy would make.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to pour ten gallons of cold water over all your plans.
Because sometimes, a Christmas puppy can work out brilliantly
Both for the family and for the dog.
But hey, you’ve all seen the stickers – “A dog is for life and not for Christmas”
And they are there for a reason.
That reason is that quite often, things don’t work out so well for Christmas puppies.
So bear with me for a moment.
And let’s go through the Christmas puppy idea, and make sure it’s the right thing to for you, and for your new friend
My puppy will be ready to bring home at Christmas
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.
If you have spent a lot of time carefully choosing this litter from a breeder you like and respect, then the timing may be something that you’ve thought hard about.
But the truth is, most breeders don’t produce litters that will need to go home over Christmas period.
And if there is some unusual reason that they have done this, most responsible breeders will prefer to hang on to those puppies until after the celebrations.
Rather than send puppies to their new homes at such a turbulent time.
If you are buying this puppy on impulse, this is something you might want to consider.
You see, if your breeder by some chance is not a responsible breeder, there might be a whole raft of other duties that they have neglected.
Here are a couple of articles for you to read
There are good reasons why most responsible breeders won’t let puppies go to their new home just before Christmas.
Moving home is very stressful for a new puppy.
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.
He needs to get to know his family, at his own pace.
Filling the home with a sea of strange legs, and the inevitable disruptions in routine that accompany an extraordinary day like Christmas could add immensely to the stress of leaving home.
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 bit of a damper on your celebrations!
Puppies need 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, wrapping, entertaining and visiting take up.
Puppies and Christmas Visits
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.
Seasonal disputes are common over the Christmas break as we all adjust to spending more time together than normal.
Adding a fight about where to put a crate is not going to help.
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 yell and protest at night too if crated.
How will your fellow housemates 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.
But this isn’t necessarily a good idea.
Puppy days vs Christmas Days
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.
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 could have been sucked away by the strains and stresses of Christmas.
Okay, I said I wouldn’t pour cold water all over your plans.
So we must emphasise that there can be times, when bringing a puppy home at Christmas is a joyful event that works out perfectly.
Let’s look at that now.
When is it OK to bring a puppy home at Christmas?
If Christmas is a very low key affair in your home, with little in the way of entertaining or overnight stays.
And if you can ensure a predictable routine for your new friend, then a Christmas puppy could work out for you.
If you are a very experienced dog owner, and have raised several puppies in the past, and are convinced you will be able to put your puppy’s needs first this year, then a Christmas puppy might work out well for you too.
Basically, if Christmas is pretty much like any other day of the year in your house – then getting a puppy at Christmas is not going to be any more of a big deal than at any other time of year.
For anyone else, this is just not the case.
So, if you are planning a Labrador puppy for Christmas, please consider waiting until January.
Christmas is a big stressor for everyone.
One of the biggest causes of family fights and upsets for the entire year.
So is sleep deprivation, and very few puppy owners escape that.
By doing the two together, you are setting yourself up for a really tough time.
Wait for your puppy until after Christmas
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!
And don’t forget, Labradors are the most popular breed in the world, thousands of Labrador puppies are born every year
Many of these puppies are born to health tested parents and raised responsibly by knowledgeable caring breeders.
Do make sure one of these breeders is where your puppy is coming from.
The risks of failing to get the right breeder are serious ones.
Meanwhile, enjoy your Christmas shopping, and the festive season!
More information on puppies
The Happy Puppy Handbook covers every aspect of life with a small puppy.
The book will help you prepare your home for the new arrival, and get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialisation and early obedience.
The Happy Puppy Handbook is available worldwide.
Christmas Puppy was originally published in 2012 and has been extensively revised and updated for 2018.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website