1. Make sure you understand the pros and the cons of the breed you are getting (or have gotten). To make sure you get useful feedback, talk to a local trainer or veterinarian. These professionals have seen the good and bad of each breed and can provide balanced input.

2. When is the best time to get a dog? Ideally, bring your puppy home approximately three years before you plan to introduce children into the household.This will give the dog plenty of time to be trained and to mature. He will then be better able to handle the introduction of the children. The dog will also be less work for mom and dad by the time the children arrive. If you have young children and the household is determined to get a pet, try a cat or a fish. Cats require much less raising, care, and maintenance than dogs do. You will still need to kitten-proof and supervise your children with the cat, but this might be a better alternative.

3. Conversely, if small children are already in the household, waiting until the children are between eight and ten years of age is recommended. Children of this age have more self-control and maturity, and Mom and Dad have more available time for raising the puppy now that the children don’t require constant monitoring.

4. Never assume the children will care for your puppy or dog. Raising a puppy is not a learning experience for your children. Only bring a puppy into the household if the adult owners both agree that this is the right idea at the right time.

5. Introduce the leash and collar when the puppy comes home for the first time. Keep your puppy on a leash while she is out of the crate. Allow her to drag her leash around so that it will become a normal part of her day-to-day life.

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