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Holiday’s Are Done, Now What?

So, you got that new furry family member that you have been waiting for! It was so cute, so fuzzy, so sweet! Now it’s so loud, so destructive, so very energetic! The yelling isn’t working, the finger shaking isn’t working, and you are frazzled to the bone. Perhaps it’s time to consider giving the dog back. This probably wasn’t such a good idea.

You wouldn’t be the first to think this way. You wouldn’t even be in the minority. American Boxer Club said it best when they said, “Remember, an impulse gift over the holidays can last for 10 years or more.”[i] A gift of a pet is not one that should be taken lightly, and yet each year many people make that mistake. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until you start to hear some facts.

According to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey, pet problems are the most common reason that owners rehome their pet, accounting for 47% of rehomed dogs. Pet problems is the most generic way to discuss the standard issues that are given for giving up their newly acquired dog. Many times, the owner doesn’t want to admit the simple fact: It’s just too hard. Yet, those that are relinquishing their dogs seem to forget this: Each year, approximately 670,000 shelter dogs are euthanized.

Not everyone agrees that getting a pet for the holidays is a bad plan. In fact, a paper authored by multiple veterinarians believes that perpetuating the myth that getting a pet for the holidays is more likely to have the animal surrendered to the shelters keeps adoption limited unnecessarily. They continue, “We found that receiving a dog or cat as a gift was not associated with impact on self-perceived love/attachment, or whether the dog or cat was still in the home. These results suggest there is no increased risk of relinquishment for dogs and cats received as a gift.” [ii]

So, what changes whether a pet is kept in the home? It’s most often the training, or lack thereof. Many people bringing a new dog into their lives forget to budget for training costs. How much is it going to cost you to train your puppy or dog to fit into your life? She isn’t just going to know how to do what you need her to do. She has to be trained.

According to the ASPCA, the pet problems listed when relinquishing the dog were defined as problematic behaviors, aggressive behaviors, grew larger than expected, etc.[iii] This coincides perfectly with what most of us trainers hear from people looking for help.

My dog is so hyper! My dog won’t stop chewing/humping/jumping/nibbling, my dog won’t LISTEN! When I hear those words, spoken with the deep frustration that only new dog owners seem to understand, I nod. I look sympathetic. I tell them that I can help. And inside, I giggle madly. See, it’s always the same. No one knew how hard it was going to be. I am blessed enough to be able to show them.

Training your dog will take time. It will take effort. It will take patience. But, like I always tell my clients – if you put in some really hard work for a few months, and some consistent work for the first year, you will have an amazing dog that will fit into your life for it’s lifetime.

by Emily Weiss 1,*,Emily D. Dolan 2,Laurie Garrison 3,Julie Hong 4 and Margaret Slater 5

[iii] Pet Statistics by the ASPCA


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