With the holiday season coming up and all the outrage about the so-called Christmas puppies, I’m not wasting an article on this topic as it is covered enough. I’d rather focus on what actually is the right time of the year to get a puppy?
Let’s say it straight out, late fall and winter are the worst times to get a puppy and it has nothing to do with Christmas.
Rather it is the simple fact of lack of socialization opportunities available plus the busy holidays where everybody is bothered with everything else than potty training the new pup.
But there are puppy classes right? If you are lucky, you might find one that is running in the winter and I’d highly encourage you to attend one for sure, but it’s just not enough. I’m not saying whoever gets a puppy in the winter is set up to fail, not at all, but the opportunities for proper socialization are limited.
Socialization is not only considered meeting other puppies. It includes way more, such as meeting all kinds of different people and dogs (age, size temperament...applies for people and dogs), different surfaces, smells, environments, noises and so on.
In the winter you can’t have a puppy outside for too long because it's cold and there is not a lot of people out on the street and neither are dogs. Neither might there be a lot of different surfaces to explore if everything is covered in thick snow. That basically means that in the most important time of the puppies development, they’re stuck inside of their new home instead of exploring outside getting to know the world. Of course you can do a lot of things at home, but again, you are limited.
I often hear people say: “We have another dog at home, so the puppy will be socialized and be dog friendly”. WRONG! Meeting a couple of different dogs that live in the home with the puppy doesn’t mean at all the puppy is social and prepared for any other dog. I bet you yourself are very comfortable with your close friends, but you won’t trust every stranger or like them.
So what is the best time to get a puppy?
In my opinion it is spring and early or late summer!
In those times there are tons of opportunities for your puppy to explore the world and get properly socialized. People and dogs are out and about. The puppy can feel grass, gravel, sticks, mud and more under their feet. They can balance on a wooden log that is not slippery and dangerous for them in their learning phase and so on.
Early or late summer can also be a good time if you have vacation time and instead of going away; you can take time off for your new family member and totally focus on their development while enjoying this great season yourself.
While anytime in spring and summer can be a good time, I personally think that the middle of the summer again might not be in the puppies favour. Depending where you live, it might just get so hot that the puppy has a hard time coping with the temperatures (just like in the winter). It is normal that young and older animals (just like people) have a harder time with extreme temperatures. So if this can be avoided in the beginning life stages, why not, makes it easier for everybody.
So if you are craving that Christmas puppy, maybe buy a dog bed and a leash for Christmas to make a point of your commitment (maybe even to keep the “promise” to your kids that a puppy is on its way) and start informing yourself about possible training opportunities in your area to be prepared when it actually is the right time to get a puppy.
About the author:
Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna with result based dog training. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of as many dogs (and their owners) as possible. Your dog is my priority and I’m as committed to your dog as you are. But I can only help those who sincerely want to help their dogs and not only themselves.”