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Wed, Feb. 19

All About Pets: Proper pet planning for the holidays

Christmas pets are adorable, but there may be a better time! (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Christmas pets are adorable, but there may be a better time! (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Tis the Week Before Christmas and all through the house, every creature is stirring and hustling about. Family is running in every direction: decorations and gifts are all scattered about. The kitchen is filled with smells tempting to all, and Fido is hoping that some good crumbs will fall.

Here we are again in the height of the Christmas season. And very soon it will be a new year. How can that possibly be?

Many children beg for a puppy at Christmas time. It is a fun thought to have a cute, cuddly pup under the Christmas tree or in the stocking, but is it a good time to bring a new dog into the household? Obviously, it is a very busy and hectic time, with guests coming and going and the family coming and going as well.

If you are determined to grant your child’s wish and get a new pup, it might be a good idea to choose the pup at the shelter or the breeder, get a few good photos and then fill a stocking with the photo, leash and collar, puppy treats, a Kong and a top dog training book. Then after the holidays, bring the guy home when life has settled down again.

However, after everyone is back at work and school, any dog will be lonely. Certainly there are pups and kittens that need rescuing all year around. Naturally, the ideal time to bring a new pet home is when family members are going to be around to provide company, entertainment, comfort, spoiling and some training.

As mentioned before, a crate is an essential part of the equipment needed for a new pup, and might be a part of the Christmas gift package. The older dogs need one also. I prefer the wire folding type so the dogs can see out and feel a part of the family. Just leaving the door open with a comfy bed inside, you will see that your pup will seek the quiet and solitude of his cave whenever he just needs a break. And if there is lots of company and commotion around, having a crate with an open door allows the pup to find peace and quiet. Laying a sheet over the crate gives it much more of that cozy cave feeling.

Another advantage of the folding crate is that it can fit in the back of the car. Whenever you leave home, it makes it much easier to take the pet with you if his crate is there also. A few hours left in a hotel room or in strange surroundings is so much more relaxing if he has his own comfortable space.

One other suggestion, if you have a bunch of packages gathering under the tree, be careful if you have a paper-obsessed pooch or kitty. They can get in to all sorts of trouble by breaking into packages and ingesting things that they were not meant to eat. An Xpen (aka - exercise pen) is an invaluable piece of equipment for those occasions when confinement is necessary. They come in a variety of heights and provide a 4X4 space, or can be used to block off a room. If necessary, you can also have a top to totally secure their safety, and it might even contain a cat. Safety is key. Make sure your pet is supervised around food.

One final note, one thing to avoid any time of the year, is buying a pup from a pet store unless it is in conjunction with a pet adoption.

Puppies sold in pet stores most always come from puppy mills, and we know that these babies are not well-bred and healthy. Find a sweet rescue or search out a reputable breeder.

Happy Holidays. Careful planning leads to enjoyable holidays for people and pets.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at cpowerspak@gmail.com.

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