Q: My husband and I have a son, 4, and a daughter, 8. What is the best way to introduce a puppy to our family?--H.M. A: Getting a new puppy should be a planned event. When you arrive with it, have everyone sit on the floor in a circle and place the puppy in the middle. Take turns petting and cuddling the dog for about an hour, taking breaks to place it outside to urinate. A ball or toy will divert the puppy's natural tendency to bite hands and clothing. At the end of this exercise, feed the puppy and place it in a confined area for a long nap. Repeat the circle play or have one person play with the puppy until the next nap time.
Begin to develop a routine as soon as possible. Schedule feeding, play and rest for the same time every day, and introduce collar and leash training. Establish outdoor exercise periods to accommodate the puppy's elimination needs, which usually occur after it naps, eats, drinks or plays hard. Within a week, a puppy's schedule can usually be modified so that it coincides with yours.