A New Pup for Christmas?

A New Pup for Christmas?

There’s nothing more heartwarming than to see the excitement, smiles, and even tears when the family first lays eyes on the new pup that Santa brought them for Christmas. That cute bundle of fuzzy joy will bring years of joy for you and your family. But… they aren’t just stuffed dogs, right? A new pup for Christmas is still a significant responsibility. Feeding, brushing, potty training, vaccinations, obedience training all are going to have to be addressed. And some immediately when the pup enters the home. Here’s just a few thoughts to consider on bringing that new pet into the house.


Young pups need to be fed a complete and balanced food, labeled specifically for puppies. At the Rannals Small Animal Hospital, we always advise our clients to stick with the proven reputable companies that produce quality pet foods and have provided the bulk of research regarding what dogs and cats need to be healthy. You don’t have to buy the most expensive, but please don’t buy the cheapest. High quality ingredients cost more. And that pays dividends by letting your pup grow to his potential.

If he’s a large breed pup, be sure to pick a food labeled for larger breeds. They’re designed to promote a more modest growth rate and may help prevent certain joint diseases later in life. Small breed foods also usually have a smaller kibble that’s easier to crunch. If you choose a canned food to start your pup on, again stay with the name brands. And remember if you start your pup on canned food, it may be hard to shift over to dry food later in life. Habits form early. And PLEASE… don’t feed your new pup people food! Dogs eat dog food, people eat people food.


We recommend your pup have his own crate and bedding to sleep in, to be his own bedroom, where he feels secure and comfy. Choose a size that he can stretch out in, but not too large. We want the pup see the crate as his “den” and learn not to use it for his bathroom. A crate that’s too large can make this more difficult. Toys in the bed can make the pup feel more at home. And I myself use Science Diet training treats when I put my pup to bed, giving her a couple as a positive imprint on the nightly experience. In fact, now she runs to the crate and jumps in when she sees me head to the treat shelf at night.

Speaking of sleep, here’s hoping the pup does sleep and let you sleep that first few nights. But it’s really common for pups to cry especially the first night or two, or three… It’s part of that separation from mom and the rest of the litter. Take heart, that will pass as he gets used to the new routine and the new family and home. Some use a ticking clock, or a radio on low, or a night light to try to help.

House Training

Two words: patience and consistency. It takes time for the pup’s body to mature to be able to hold it and for the brain to know what and where is appropriate. For some pups, it’s a matter of days. But for most pups it takes weeks to months be fully house trained. Potty pads are fine, but remember you’ll usually want to eventually have pup go only outside. So potty pads make for a 2 step training process. Best time to take pup outside is after naps and after meals. Chapters could be written on this but mainly be consistent in taking him out often. And don’t expect too much at first.

Obedience Training

Again, books are written on the subject. And it’s not a bad idea to buy one, especially if you haven’t had a dog in a while. But mainly, you want to teach your pet to sit, stay and come. Everything else branches out from that. Keep training sessions short (5 minutes or so?). And use tons and tons of praise. Be consistent with short commands. Say “sit”…. not “I told you to sit, don’t you know what sit is?” Small training treats are okay, especially if your pup has trouble keeping focus.

Vet Visits

We always like to see our clients’ new pets fairly soon after they get them into their home. That first visit lets us discuss some of these issues and get that first physical exam done. The doctor will want to listen for a good heart sound, look for good body tone, good gum color, healthy ears, etc. We like to check a stool sample for parasites, and if old enough, to get them started on our vaccine protocol to get them protected against viruses as early as possible. And your pup will normally get a first month’s heartworm prevention sent home as well.

Well, that’s just the preamble to the introduction. Take time to learn how to be a good pet owner. And call us at the Rannals Small Animal Hospital at 903-839-7235 to set an appointment for your great new pup.

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