Working cocker spaniel - first dog

(31 Posts)
CircassianLeyla Sun 13-Oct-13 21:44:47

We have the opportunity of getting a puppy from a friend who's dog has just had puppies.

We have never had a dog before and have three DS aged 3, 6,8.
DS1 (8) is scared of dogs which seems to rule out a dog.
DS2 (6) dreams of having a dog and is extremely affectionate and I have absolutely no fear of him not looking after the dog. I know we all say that.
DS3 (3) knows the mother and loves her.
We have loads of outdoor space around where dogs can run free.
DH and I have jobs that mean we can be home a lot of the time. Possibly one day where we are both out but we can try and work around that.
We live in a flat - this is my biggest concern. We have a reasonably sized three bedroomed flat. We have a very suitable space for a dog, but also space for the dog to roam around (a little).

Selfish reasons:
Am I being over zealous in thinking the fact that the dog is a puppy that this could help DS1 overcome his fear?? We don't want to traumatise him or the dog.

DS2 is a loner and I really think a dog could help him.

These are not the sole reasons, i do think we could give the dog a good home but don't want to do anything that might not be right for all involved.

Apart from whether we should/shouldn't I would like some advice on if we do what we should consider.

I am going to have a coffee with my friend, the owner and go and see them so will pick her brains and if we are not suitable then she won't let us have one anyway.

BikeRunSki Brazil Sun 13-Oct-13 21:52:45

My mum had one. He was a about 5 when DS was born, and DS loved him and played with him and the dog was great with DS. But he was completry dim and totally nuts. He was expelled from 2 training classes as untrainable and I was never comfortable taking him out by myself as I was never convinced that he would behave/come back when I was with him. His behaviour was hit and miss with DM, but at least he was her dog and she could take the flak a bit. WE only realised how thick he was when DM got a lab too.

CircassianLeyla Sun 13-Oct-13 22:03:17

Thanks. I guess my main concerns are about whether we would be a good home. I feel like any issues with the DC can be worked through unless DS1 persists to be absolutely petrified then it is probably a non-starter but it would be so good for us as a family.

AliceinSlumberland Sun 13-Oct-13 22:04:53

How often do you plan to walk it? Working cockers need A LOT of exercise and stimulation. They are lovely dogs but are from working lines and used to working all day.

Have to admit, getting a dog worked like a charm for getting DB and DS over fears of dogs, they bothove them now!

Floralnomad Sun 13-Oct-13 22:06:59

Do you have a garden for house training purposes ? What do you mean when you say you have a suitable space for the dog and also space for it to roam around a little ?

CircassianLeyla Sun 13-Oct-13 22:10:30

We would walk it on the school run as the school is by Marsh land so it would have a big walk then. Easily at lunch as we have lots of accesible space. We could leave for the school run early and have another run about on the marsh. Walk after dinner locally and DH could do a night walk before bed if necessary. Would that be enough do you think?

I am pleased that you have said that about your DB and DS as I have been reading things that say you shouldn't get a dog at all if you have a child who is scared.

CircassianLeyla Sun 13-Oct-13 22:13:08

Oh x-posts.

We don't have a private garden but do have access to a communal garden about 20 seconds away. I mean in terms of where we could put a basket and the dog could sleep - it is possible that the dog might chose its own space though I imagine. Roam is probably the wrong word, what I mean is our flat isnt the sort where every room comes off a little square that isnt even a hallway, the dog could walk around.

I wouldn't entertain the idea of a puppy in a flat. Nor a dog of working origin either, I'm afraid.

House training will be very hard indeed - it needs to be taken outside every half hour or so to start with - and as it grows up, the dog won't be able to mooch around outside without one of you being there. That'll be hard on you and hard on the dog.

A working cocker will have bags of energy, stamina and brain. It is bred to be trained to think and respond to instruction and to work all day long, in challenging conditions. I am honestly not sure it's the right sort of dog to live in a flat. Sorry. A show cocker - maybe.

CircassianLeyla Sun 13-Oct-13 22:30:02

Thanks Daisy, that is very helpful. My friend will not let the puppies go to any unsuitable homes and I am more than happy to respect her far more experienced ideas on this.

There are two other families with dogs in our building and I have always thought it was a bad idea, but in their defence I am always seeing them outside with them.

We will be sure to give it proper thought and take advice from the current owner.

Oh god no don't get the dog

Sorry but a working dog in a flat with first time owners = really bad idea

If you have a large property would you consider regaining a greyhound ? Lovely friendly dogs that are really lazy and easy going

CircassianLeyla Sun 13-Oct-13 22:41:54

Our home is a reasonable size but I don't think it is big enough for a greyhound.

I think this process is showing us that even if we don't take one of these puppies that as a family (bar DS1 at present) that we would like to get a dog now, providing we get a level of support from DS1.

We would like something of a similar size to the cocker.

I assume we would go to a rescue home to find one then, but presumably this comes with its own issues.

BikeRunSki Brazil Sun 13-Oct-13 22:46:48

DM used to walk her working cocker for about 2 hrs a day, with lots of running around.

AliceinSlumberland Sun 13-Oct-13 22:49:01

It's worth looking in rescues - the dog that 'cured' my fb and DS was a 6 yr old dog from the RSPCA who was just the sweetest, calmest dog ever. Her elderly owner had died, so she ended up there. She lasted until she was 16 and we lost her this year, the whole family was devestated. An older, calmer dog could really suit you.

Otherwise I would suggest a cavaliar King Charles spaniel or a show lines cocker. The cav would be my first choice, they tend to have lovely temperaments and need less walking, two school run trips with the marsh would be enough in my experience. If you have a son who is scared I think it's very important to make the experience a good one. A manic working dog bouncing up at him all the time would not be best. I would suspect a calmer dog would work better.

AliceinSlumberland Sun 13-Oct-13 22:49:25

DB that should be.

I would think very carefully about getting a puppy if ds1 is frightened of dogs. I don't mean don't get a dog, but I think anything under 4 or 5 months runs the risk of putting your ds off the dog.

Puppies have to be taught bite inhibition as for them it is normal play. It is not difficult (just repetitive) but for a few weeks we had savaged clothes, blood and tears shed by pretty much the whole family. Our pup is a small breed and from 4 months onwards was a sweetheart and has never bit since. But those early weeks were hard and my ds (who had begged for a dog for years) grew weary if it. You literally couldn't put a foot on the floor without the land shark attack.

Toilet training will be harder on you in a flat but not impossible if you are prepared for the reality of running outside hourly or more.

I'd second what has been said about a working dog in a flat though.

I'd seriously think about an older pup or young dog though for the sake of your ds 1.

CircassianLeyla Sun 13-Oct-13 22:57:36

I see, I think we had thought that a puppy might be easier for him as we would be training it iyswim, but I see what you are saying and that makes perfect sense.

Foxred10 Sun 13-Oct-13 23:04:36

I think it sounds as though you have a perfectly suitable home for A dog, but not this dog. Working strain dogs (especially spaniels) are a whole different kettle of fish to 'house' or pet dogs. They are lovely animals but very full-on, as they have been bred to have the energy to work all day long. (I say this as someone who has owned 10+ working dogs of various breeds) Rather than taking this puppy because it's presented itself, have a good look at the different types and breeds of dog available and see what might suit your family best. Something like a retired greyhound (gentle, like short bursts of intense exercise but generally very laid back) might well suit. Happy dog hunting smile

Sparklysilversequins Sun 13-Oct-13 23:08:24

I wouldn't get a working dog. However I have had a small terrier in a flat for ten years and it's fine. He's let out every hour into the front garden and walked 2-3 times a day for 15 - 20 minutes a time with walks of two hours or more at least four - five times a week. He's happy and content and enriches all our lives. I don't think a dog in a flat is an issue at all but it needs to be the right dog.

CircassianLeyla Sun 13-Oct-13 23:15:47

Another question then, given that the puppies that have presented themselves may not be the most suitable for us. How do you go about buying a dog/rehoming a dog? I think DH has quite clear ideas about the sort of dig we would like, based obviously on our limited knowledge so I imagine we just take our time regaular checking the rescue home databases etc.

What about if we wanted a very specific dog, e.g. a cavalier king charles has been suggested here? How do we go about getting one, ethically?

topbannana Mon 14-Oct-13 00:36:41

We have working cockers and for an experienced owner who can provide the right level of mental and physical stimulation they are amazing little dogs. Without the experience and with 3 DCs in tow you may well bite off more than you can chew hmm
Living in a flat will present you with issues for housetraining, not insurmountable ones but the process is likely to be lengthier than if you had direct access to a small outside area.
Also as echoed above, if your eldest DS is truly fearful of dogs then a puppy of almost any breed is the wrong way to go. The constant nipping, yapping, peeing etc is enough to drive the most seasoned dog lover to the brink grin
You sound sensible and as if you will make the decisions needed with your head rather than your heart so don't be put off, an older dog sounds like it will suit you better.
Contact local rescues and also look online for breed specifics. A word of warning though, there are some rescues who will dismiss you out of hand as you live in a flat with no garden (normally the larger national rescues) Take it on the chin and move on, every family should be assessed on its individual merits smile

AliceinSlumberland Mon 14-Oct-13 07:11:54

Check out your local RSPCA, dogs trust would be your first step. See what they've got. Is your garden secure? That's the main thing they will want to check, is it fully fenced in.

Also try many tears (google) and dogsblog (again google it).

You could also look at local facebook pet groups, sadly I've seen quite a few dogs for rehome on there.

VivaLeThrustBadger Mon 14-Oct-13 07:18:48

Greyhounds don't take up a lot of space. They spend 23hours a day curled up asleep..

Can I just jump in with the greyhound plus points too. We adopted ours on Saturday and we live in a house BUT I would bet our house is significantly smaller than your three bed flat. We have a lounge and a kitchen diner downstairs. That's pretty much it. Our grey is a big boy and honestly since we had him we barely know he is here and he is just AWESOME. I couldn't recommend them highly enough

VivaLeThrustBadger Mon 14-Oct-13 07:49:50

I have a tiny, small mad dog now ( and yes I've still got him for anyone who remembers, lets not go there) grin

He takes up 10x more space than my old greyhound as he never stops. He's racing round the house 24/7.

blue2 Mon 14-Oct-13 08:00:55

We have a working cocker who is now 7, but she was a real handful when we first got her. Come about 7 in the evening, we'd have to put her in her crate - she was bouncing off the walls. She was unstoppable....

We love her to bits, but she still jumps up (Grrr) when I'm not around, and still needs plenty of exercise. She is soppy, bright and is a brilliant gun dog and family dog.

Think very carefully about getting a cocker puppy. Great dogs, but maybe not for you....

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