By Jodie Lynn
I promised my seven-year-old son a puppy this summer if he made good grades and didn't get into any other trouble at school. He has held onto that promise until the end. He made a big change in his behavior and grades were great. My question is what kind of a dog should I choose, considering my son's age and also that the dog will spend at least four hours a day in a crate?
ANSWER FROM READER:
If you decide to get your son the dog you promised him, let him go into the shop or area with you but ask if the two of you can spend time alone with it. You may have to do this several times to see how he treats the dog or puppy. I think some owners will actually allow him to take the animal out to use the bathroom and perhaps offer a treat. Some even give families an opportunity to take the pet home with the option to see how things go for thirty days. I did this with my two kids at least a couple of times before we made the decision to keep our dog. It worked out well. - Mandy Russ in Arlington, TX
Although puppies are amazingly adorable, they require training, time and expense. People also forget how they go through a chewing phase where anything in their path is an open invitation for their little teeth. It would be best if you wrote down some guidelines before making a choice. Do as much research as possible on the type of dog you are considering and see if it will eventually pass your criteria. Some things that might be of importance: the size of the dog when full grown, normal activity level (is the breed known to be especially energetic?), amount of shedding, maintenance and bills you can expect for teeth, coat, skin, grooming, food or special diet, etc. There are plenty of things to consider and by going over a list of them before you actually go look at dogs or puppies with your son, you will be better prepared to make a wise decision in the end. Sometimes, an older dog makes just as much sense, if not more, to get as a first time pet. So be sure not to leave them out of the equation. Most have already been through the puppy stage, love and understand children, are house-trained, enjoy riding in the car, may have experience with crates and so much more.
CAN YOU HELP?
Our two-year-old daughter empties out her toy box every day. If I pick them up, she immediately turns it upside down, laughs and runs away. It's driving my husband and I nuts! Is she too young to start showing her how to put away her toys and how do we begin the process so that she does not think it's a game?
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