Gin's got one big Christmas wish: She wants a puppy. Specifically, she wants a collie.
Unfortunately, I've already had to tell her that's not going to happen. We live in an apartment, and we've already got a cat and a frog. Besides, an apartment is no place for a collie. They need room to run and play.
I also know that she's just not up to the responsibility of owning a dog. She can't keep up with the maintenance on her cat - which, fortunately, consists of little more than feeding, watering and scooping out the litter box - so I know she's not up to the requirements of puppy training.
If you're considering getting a puppy for Christmas, I advise you to check out the Puppy Training Guide. This clean, simple, user-friendly website is a great starting point for learning all the basic training needs of puppies, as well as learning how to deal with common behavioral issues you might experience.
You have to remember: there are few things in life quite so satisfying as the companionship of a good dog, but it's important to properly train your puppy early and consistently, or you're in for a long and difficult relationship. Most dogs have an average lifespan of 10-12 years, but it's not unusual for a dog to live to 15 or even 20 years of age. Buying a puppy is a long-term commitment, and it's vital that you get it right from the beginning.
The Puppy Training Guide makes this so much easier.
You'll probably want to start out with the one that your carpet - and your family - will thank you for: housebreaking your puppy. Plan to take some time with this one, as it requires consistency and dedication. But if you stick to it, you'll find that most puppies will pick it up pretty quickly. After all, your new puppy wants nothing more than to please YOU! As the Puppy Training Guide advises, stay positive and use lots of positive reinforcement.
It's also important that you train your puppy for a leash. You might have a fenced-in yard and find it easy to just put the puppy out to run and play freely, but chances are good that you will want to take your dog for a walk or out visiting, and that means using a leash. You have your dog's safety (and often local laws) to consider, so leash-training is a must! Again, the Puppy Training Guide will make this easier on you and your dog.
Another biggie is socializing your dog. Dogs are social animals, but you can't just expect them to automatically take to other animals and people. The Puppy Training Guide will teach you how to introduce your pet to social situations so they are comfortable and well-behaved.
In addition to these basics, you'll learn how to teach your newest family member how to sit, come, lie down, stay, fetch and heel, as well as how to prevent and eliminate such behavioral problems as begging, biting, whining and jumping on people.
With this guide, you'll be glad you welcomed a new puppy into your home this Christmas!