Getting a New Pet for the Holidays

Dec 5, 2019   Tracey Aston   Training

The holidays are right around the corner and some families are preparing for a new puppy or kitten as a present. We don't recommend surprising friends or family with a pet as a gift due to the preparation a new furry family member will require.  If you're one of the lucky families who will receive a new pet, the most important consideration is the lifetime commitment that comes with a new pet.

It's imperative all family members are on the same page and accept the responsibility of this 10-15 year commitment.  An unfortunate truth is that January and February are the busiest times for rescues and shelters because of the influx of pets given as gifts. Once the excitement of the new pet has worn off, many pets find themselves in these circumstances.

Our article Preparing Your Home for a New Pet lists some considerations that should be gone over with family before agreeing to bring a new pet into the family.

 • Who's going to watch the puppy - If you hire a pet sitter, make sure they are a professional pet sitter. Professional pet sitters are insured, bonded and have a clear criminal background check. 

Can anyone stay at home with the new puppy for the first couple days?

Who will take the puppy to the papers or the backyard when they need to go, as puppies have to use the bathroom every 3 hours?

Who's going to litter train a cat or kitten?

Who is getting up at night to let the puppy out?

Who will be in charge of feedings?

Who will make the decision on the vet you're going to choose for your new family member? 

Who will make the veterinary appointments and vaccinations schedule?

Where will the new pet sleep?

Some items that will be needed for the new pet:

food and water bowls 

variety toys –stuffed, squeaky, ropes, chew toys, stuffed mice, catnip toys

grooming supplies 


collar, leash or harness


a baby gate to block doors or secure them into a room. 

ID tags 

Litter box, litter and scoop

Scratching posts

Cat carriers

Travel carriers

If you are ready to accept the responsibility of a new pet, that's wonderful! Pets make a great addition to any family. In addition to the normal responsibilities such as potty training and teaching manners, getting a new pet at this time of year does have some unique challenges.

Puppies and kittens take time and patience, and both are those are often in short supply during the holiday and New Year's months. Holiday parties, visiting friends and running around town don't leave a lot of time at the end of the day. Older dogs are calmer, aren't teething and can go longer between potty breaks but they will still need adjustment time, a feeding and vet schedule and possibly basic obedience training. Older cats are litter trained, but make sure you have enough litter boxes in various locations of your house.

It's cold this time of year. Sometimes bitter cold, but a new puppy will still need to be potty trained.  A 2 month old puppy will need to be let out to potty every 2-3 hours. For every additional month add 1 hour until the age of 6 months when they only need to relieve themselves every 6-8 hours. It should be noted, just because dogs CAN hold it 6-8 hours, it isn't recommended. "Holding it" can cause muscles to weaken over time leading to incontinence later in life. Of course, this means you'll be heading out into that cold, snow and ice at least once every 2-3 hours.  Puppies have a ton of energy and will require daily walks and exercise to keep them healthy and out of trouble.  Expect to spend a lot of time bundled up. 

Many families have New Year's celebrations with family and friends visiting their homes. A new puppy or kitten who hasn't had time to fully learn manners or what is expect of them can rush visitors, try to escape the door or jump on people. 

Lastly, let's be honest, the holiday season is exhausting. All too often we are going on too little rest and too much stress.  Will you have the patience necessary for a new, mischievous puppy or kitten? For potty training a new pet? Getting up in the middle of the night? Teaching manners and basic obedience? 

A new pet is the gift that keeps on giving for their entire lives. Make sure you, and your family, are ready and able to accept that lifetime gift and all that comes with it.  

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