By Lisa Ellman
Many people consider bringing a puppy or adult dog into the family at some point, and regularly around Christmas time.
I am suggesting that you rethink your timing and bring the new dog in at the end of the school year instead.
The fundamental reason for my suggestion is that during the Holidays there is an awful lot of distraction and chaos. Your youngster may be begging you for a puppy, but families are often so overwhelmed with activities, company and celebrations that the new animal can easily become neglected.
Frequently, the gift of a new holiday dog is not even extensively thought out. The family and the youngster(s) may be totally unprepared for what is involved in bringing an animal into the human pack. If you are thinking about bringing a dog into your family, summertime is probably a better time to do it.
My reasons are as follows:
• Summer provides an opportunity for you and your child to spend some time reading up on what kind of dog would be best for your family and lifestyle. Motivate and encourage your child to read books and get information on what you’ll need before you bring the dog home by going with them to the library or doing research online. Not being obligated or pressured with academic reading or homework, your child can learn from pleasure reading.
• If planning a family vacation, take the books with you and read them together as a family so everyone can be involved.
• Before bringing a dog home, you can enroll your youngster in short summer programs that teach them how to care for animals, such as 4-H, and a Camp Paws Program. These programs will give your child the opportunity to do hands-on work with animals, teaching them how to care for, and be responsible for, another living creature, to ensure that its needs are met.
• While out of school, your youngster will have more time to spend with a new dog. They can take time to engage and bond. You can plan activities for them that include the new dog, like training classes or group walks with friends or neighbors that have dogs.
• An older child can volunteer time at a local shelter, pet store or boarding kennel. There they learn how to feed, walk and clean up after the dogs. And they are exposed to many different kinds of dogs, which may give them a clearer idea of what they can handle. They may even have the chance to get some grooming or training experience.
These experiences will be extremely useful to them and you once they get their own dog. The shelters are full of loving, lonely dogs that need homes as soon as possible.
And if you decide that you still prefer to give a holiday doggie gift, take the time to get your family prepared before you bring it home.
Lisa Ellman has been working with a wide range of animals for over 20 years. Her passion, however, is dogs, and in 1996 she founded Good Dogma Obedience Training. With a foundation built on positive reinforcement, Good Dogma provides basic obedience training and behavior modification for the family dog and human members of the pack. Lisa’s comprehensive theory on training is a simple one: “Train the human, condition the dog.” Good Dogma is a monthly feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media.