Many of you will consider bringing a puppy or dog into the family at some point, and often this happens around Christmas time. I would like to suggest that you think about bringing the newcomer in now, during the summer. I suggest this for a fundamental reason. There is a lot of chaos during the holiday season. Your child may beg for a Christmas puppy, but families are often so overwhelmed with activities and celebrations that time of year that new animals can be easily neglected in the shuffle.

Frequently, the gift of a holiday dog is not extensively thought out and, unfortunately, the family may be absolutely unprepared for what is involved with having a puppy or even an adult dog. If you are considering getting a dog, summer may be a better time to do it. There are several reasons why.

During the summer, while out of school, your youngster will likely have more time to spend with the new animal. They can take the time to engage and bond with the dog, and you can plan activities for them that incorporate the dog. Even before you bring the dog home you can enroll your child in a short summer program that teaches children how to care for animals.

For example, a 4-H group or a Camp Paws at your local Animal Shelter. These programs give kids the opportunity to work hands on with dogs, teaching them the responsibilities needed to ensure that its needs are met. They may have an opportunity to be responsible for feeding, walking, and picking up poop. They may even get some dog training and or grooming experience. These activities will be extremely useful for them (and you) once they actually have their own dog.

Summer also provides an opportunity to free read. Not being obligated to academic reading or homework gives kids the chance to read for pleasure. You can motivate and encourage your child to read up on puppy/dog care by going with them to the local library and gathering information about what kind of dog will be best suited for your family and lifestyle, and what kind of training they can do. You can take the books with you if a family vacation is planned so that all can be involved. The shelters are full of loving, lonely and needy animals waiting to be adopted.

Even if you decide that you prefer to give a holiday puppy, there is still time to get your child and the rest of your family prepared now.

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