I’m pretty sure that by this point you’ve already done it. You’ve selected the puppy and you are eagerly awaiting the moment you can bring that sweet little ball of fluff home and video the delighted squeals of your children. You will be the hero of the day, you bringer of the Christmas puppy.
That is, unless your child distraughtly bemoans, “I wanted a cat!” Not that I know this from experience or anything.
But do you really know what you are getting yourself into?
It will all work out okay in the end. I can say these words because I absolutely ADORE the dog we got for our girls two Christmases ago. He snuggles in my lap every morning whilst I have my quiet time. He’s the happiest, softest, fluffiest, sweetest dog I’ve ever met. He treats the girls like they are his puppies and he doesn’t think twice about the way they grab and hug him all over.
However, heed my warning before you bring your little guy home: it took us a full two years to get to this point.
Alright, so let’s face it. The timing was not ideal. The girls were 4 and 2 at the time. I knew this would mean potty training a child and a dog simultaneously. I did not anticipate quite how difficult that task would be.
I think, deep down, I knew it wasn’t the best time for us to get a dog. But you see, the thing is, my husband HATES dogs and getting one for Christmas was HIS idea!!!! Please understand, when your husband of 10 years suggests getting a dog for the first time in your marriage, you push aside any logic and you go write a check.
Due to hubby’s deep aversion to all things canine, I gave him full reign over the type of dog we would get. He requested the same breed as our neighbor’s dog, a shih tzu, since it was the only dog he had ever halfway tolerated.
Shih Tzu’s are notoriously hard to potty train. I’d say it took us a good year and a half before I felt really comfortable calling him potty trained. Even now, I have to leave him in his crate when we leave the house so that he doesn’t have an accident.
But do you know what it’s like to potty train a puppy in the middle of winter when you have a toddler???
First, notice just how small this puppy was. Rule number 1 of potty training a puppy is to lavish love and praises and treats whenever they tinkle outside. However, the grass was taller than he was! It was very difficult to tell if he had accomplished something worthy of such grand celebration, or if he was just fascinated by the nearest leaf. We spent a lot of time outside and it was cold.
Also, keep in mind that while I was spending all this time outside praising and watching puppy, my kiddos were back inside the house. Think about this for a moment. My choice was to either leave my little ones, inside, by themselves (bracing myself for impeding disaster), or wait the half-hour it would take to get them ready to come with me. By that time, puppy would have an accident. No matter what I chose, the two-year-old was often in tears.
Potty training a puppy also meant getting up in the middle of the night to take him outside. It was like having a newborn all over again, except I didn’t have to nurse him and I could shove him in his crate when I went to bed. So, not really much like a newborn at all except for the lack of sleep part.
And did I mention, the dog would eat his poop? Yeah. There was that. His favorite thing to do was sneak off, poop when I wasn’t watching, and clean it up himself, which was so considerate of him. I still have to monitor this.
And potty training was just ONE of the issues we dealt with. Before buying your Christmas puppy, please consider all of the following:
-puppy chewing up your children’s toys
-puppy chewing up your children’s pants’ legs (there was a while there when every single pair of pants had holes in them)
-puppy having random bouts of diarrhea or vomiting
-buying special food to avoid the diarrhea or vomiting
-puppy running away when outside without a leash (avoidable if you have a fence)
-puppy greeting every single guest by jumping all over them
-paying for training sessions that may or may not be successful
-accepting that training your children how to work with the puppy may be even harder than training the puppy how to deal with your children
-boarding/dog-sitting fees when you are out of town
But of course, you’ve already met that sweet little puppy, haven’t you? And he or she is SO cute and you’ve already picked out a name.
In that case, ignore everything I just said and ENJOY your sweet little house mate!! And please, show me the Christmas video!