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Mom, Can I Have A Puppy?

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In honor of National Puppy Day, some advice on how to answer that question.

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Many Mom know that starry-eyed look in kids' eyes when they see a puppy--and then that dreaded question follows. "Mommeeee, can I have a puppeeee?"

Scoopin' poop: Animal communicator Joan Ranquet says that kids should be out of diapers because "you don't want the mother cleaning up so much poop that she gets resentful of the dog."

Giving your kids responsibility: When a child is ready to accept even a little responsibility for the puppy, that is one sign that they are ready, Ranquet said. After all, you don't want to be the only one giving the puppy food and walking it, do you?

Be nice to the doggie: Prevent kid-on-dog violence by waiting until your child is old enough to understand sharing. "This will be another being that could take their toys," she said. "You don't want the child to hit the dog." According to Nancy Peterson of The Humane Society, experts suggest that children be at least six years of age before a pet joins a family with children, though that could vary depending on the maturity of your child.

And if you've decided to take the plunge, here are a couple of helpful hints:

Keep a watchful eye: The biggest mistake parents make with a pet is not supervising when it is around the children, says Robyn Wheeler, "Mom" to 24 animals. "Kids can be a little rough on puppies, they tend to hang on them and want to ride on them. Parents need to supervise their children, to make sure their not poking it in the eye, pulling the tail and roughhousing it."

Adopt: Wheeler recommends going to the local shelter and getting a mixed breed, which has "less health problems and better temperaments than purebreds." And give your puppy a lot of love, keeping it inside the house. She says they love to be with family. The Humane Society considers an adult dog a good choice for a family with young children, because "bringing a puppy home is like bringing home another baby," Peterson said.

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