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Pets

Is your family ready for a puppy?

Introducing a puppy into the family home can be a very exciting time, but it definitely means some life changes and possible sleepless nights.
It's very easy to gush over a new little puppy, but before you introduce one into your life, home and family, it's best to consider a number of questions first.
Veterinary expert Dr James Ramsden shares his tips with us on the best way to introduce a new puppy into the home, how you can adjust your lifestyle, what you need to consider and what to do if it doesn't work out.
Dr Ramsden says before bringing a puppy home, it's essential to consider whether you can commit to it or not. If you don't have enough time as it is, it's probably not a good idea to add a puppy into the mix.
"You need the room in your life to commit to raising a puppy and you need the interest. Raising a puppy is a busy process, similar to having a baby," Dr Ramsden says.
"Consider your daily schedule, how much time you can spend with your puppy and what activities you can include your puppy in."
If you can safely say that you have the time to bring a puppy into your family, you should also consider whether you can care for the new addition financially allowing money for food, toys, shelter and vet costs.
It's not only important to consider whether you can care for a puppy, but which dog is right for you family is also a big decision. Dr Ramsden suggests finding out the temperament of a breed of dog and matching it to your lifestyle.
"The nature of the dog is the most important consideration," he says.
"Look for dogs that have the nature that you want. For example, if you want a dog that's good with kids and family, choose one that is docile and happy to play quietly."
Before purchasing a dog you can ask a vet for advice on the best breed for you. There are also a number of websites, such as www.puppy.com.au, that provide selection tools, advice and tips on what is most suited to your situation.
Children can be introduced to a puppy or dog from an early age, even as a baby. However, if children are going to take an active role in caring for the new puppy they need to be around eight years of age or older. Remember, you should never leave a child under the age of five alone with a dog — any dog.
Introducing a puppy into the home can be exciting, but it can also be stressful for the family and the puppy if you aren't prepared. So in order to make the transition as smooth as possible, Dr Ramsden suggests having the following essentials ready to go to make the initial introduction period a success:
  1. Set up a puppy area using a crate or a puppy fence. This can be indoors.
  2. Ensure all fences are secure and there are no gaps.
  3. Lock away all poisons.
  4. Make sure the bins are inaccessible — especially those in the bathroom.
  5. And secure all live electrical wires out of your puppy's reach.
Dr Ramsden says that while it's distressing when the introduction of a puppy to a household doesn't work, it does happen.
"Most of dogs found in pounds are there because 'it didn't work out'. That is, because of behavioural reasons or lifestyle implications," he says.
"There are contingency options that are available, which include seeking help from your vet and trainer, as many puppy issues can be solved with good training and intervention."
However, for those who can't seem to fix these issues, Dr Ramsden suggests re-homing the puppy by seeking advice from your vet on the best local organisation that can assist you.

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