Q: I am considering adopting a dog from the shelter but I have young children. What type of dog would be best for a young family?

A: I am glad that you are thinking about this before you adopt a dog because adopting the right dog and being prepared will make this a much better experience.

First, with your busy schedule, you will need to consider what level and how much exercise you can provide for the dog. I would not recommend a high-energy dog if you cannot provide adequate exercise on a daily basis. Behavioral issues due to boredom and lack of exercise are a leading cause of relinquishment of pets to shelters.

Second, consider your household activities and how long the dog would need to be alone during the day. If a dog has to be alone for significant portions of the day then I would not recommend a young dog. Perhaps adopting an older dog that needs less interaction might be more appropriate.

Third, be diligent in evaluating the dog’s interactions with children. A dog that has not had exposure to children might not be the best pet to have in a house full of children. I would also caution you not to judge a dog based solely on its breed. It is important to meet with any dogs you’re considering and interact with them to see their individual personality.

So, the choice of dog that will be the best fit for your family is based on the level of exercise you can provide, the time that you can spend with the dog and preferably one that has had prior exposure to children.

When you get your new dog, it is absolutely vital that you slowly acclimate the dog to your household, and do not leave your kids unattended with the dog in the beginning. It is important to have a conversation with your children about the fact that this is an animal and can potentially bite if it gets hurt. Show your children appropriate ways to pet the dog and show them what not to do to the dog such as pulling on its tail.

Teaching your children about caring for a pet can be a wonderful way to teach them responsibility. Putting children in charge of feeding the dog will make the dog bond to the children as well as make the children feel more responsible for the care of the dog.

Adopting the right dog can make a wonderful addition to the family as long as careful thought is put into picking the right one!

Q: I found a bird’s nest on the ground by my house and there were 3 baby birds in it. They were not old enough to be out of the nest yet and I had no idea what to do! Any advice?

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A: It is spring time in Flagstaff and there a lot of baby birds around town. Unfortunately, due to wind and removal of trees, bird nests can be disrupted and fall to the ground.

With all wildlife, it is best to try to return them back to their natural habitat as soon as possible. If the birds are near a tree, I would recommend placing the nest back in the tree so that the mother bird can find them. If the tree that they came out of has been cut down, then I would recommend placing them in a tree close to the original tree.

A mother bird will not avoid the babies based on them being touched by a human like other species, so placing them back in the tree will allow the mother bird to find them again.

If these two options are not possible, then I recommend contacting the Arizona Game and Fish department for advice. www.azgfd.com.

Dr. Julianne Miller is a Flagstaff veterinarian. She can be reached at drmiller@canyonpet.com.

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