Uncle Matty: ‘O, Christmas dog’

By From page A4 | December 21, 2012

O, Christmas dog
O, Christmas dog
O, why, oh, why did they wrap you up?
O, Christmas dog
O, Christmas dog
O, why, oh, why not a springtime pup?

Gonna buy a house? Location is everything.

Gonna get a dog? Timing is everything. And Christmastime is arguably the worst time to get a dog.


• Christmas dogs tend to be impulse buys. But unlike chewing gum, fashion magazines and Pez, a dog isn’t a whim to satisfy a momentary urge. Dogs have feelings and needs that must be met over the course of 10 to 20 years.

• Those on the receiving end of puppy presents aren’t necessarily prepared for the responsibility. A child who decides they have to have a puppy typically had to have something else only last week. Ditto for some adults.

• The person who will be responsible for the dog, who will be the dog’s primary caregiver, should be the person who selects the dog they will be caring for. This helps ensure a strong bond between dog and human.

• Christmastime means wintertime. Consider the climate in which the dog and his new person or family lives. Unforgiving winter weather will make multiple trips outside day and night for the dog to do his business feel like a hardship, not a pleasure. And walking the dog in such conditions? It’s good to know in advance who will be stepping up for that important job.

• Christmas is also a time of financial difficulty for some. The sudden bump in gift-giving, food-making and party-going takes a toll on budgets, and the addition of a new dog requires an initial monetary investment beyond the purchase of the dog, as well as an ongoing investment of time and money.

• For all its feelings of peace and good will, Christmas can be chaos. Overnight guests, constant cooking, parties at home, parties out, gift wrapping, music making, deliveries at the door, fires crackling, candles burning, lights flickering, kids hollering … It can be a crazy world to bring a new dog into, but more importantly, it’s not the real world you’re bringing the dog into. Whenever possible, bring a new dog home to life as he will most often know it, and maintain that for a while before introducing something as chaotic as Christmas.

If your child is begging you for a dog for Christmas, wrap a few books on dogs — breed books, training books, fun books on raising a puppy — and read them together after the holidays. Take the time to determine whether the wish is real or a whim, and be prepared to be the dog’s primary caregiver regardless. Raising a dog is a responsibility that most children — no matter how heartfelt their love for the dog — aren’t ready for.


Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at, and visit him at Send your questions to[email protected] or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs 95619.

 Copyright 2012 Creators Syndicate Inc. 

Matthew Margolis

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