Beginning to think about getting a dog...(25 Posts)
We have been talking about getting a dog at some point in the next year or so. We are very much at the beginning of the conversation, no decisions have been made and we are just trying to find stuff out at the moment.
I will be at home so available for company. We are myself, DH and DS who is currently 3.5 but I wouldn't expect to get a dog until after he's four at least. We have a small courtyard garden and a small semi-detatched property but may potentially move in the next few months.
I'm inclined towards getting a rescue rather than a puppy from a breeder.
So questions I have are: what sort of dog might suit us? Clearly something which is good with children (although obviously we'll be training DS about how to deal with dogs too) and nothing massive. I like golden retrievers and springer spaniels but suspect they would need more room than we have currently. I have also developed a bit of a fondness for scottie dogs. If I get a mongrel, am I opening myself up to a world of unpredictability? Does that matter?
Holidays: is it ok to put dogs in kennels when you go away? It seems a bit mean but I also do want to be able to have a foreign holiday every now and then.
Food: I know lots of people are into raw food but I've read it's not such a good idea. Ultimately I want to make sure that I'm feeding him/her as healthily as possible.
Basically if someone could just write me a quick idiots guide I'd be grateful!
Have you had dogs before or will this be your first dog?
You need to think through the logistics. Eg a springer would need loads of mental and physical stimulation.
If you're going for an adult rescue, breed really isn't an issue.
It's been assessed they know what it's like so it doesn't matter at all if it's a breed that's usually really full on when that's not what you want because you'll be looking at an individual dog not potential breed traits.
Kennels - they're fine, but there are other options too, home boarders - they look after dogs in their homes or pet sitters who look after them in yours.
Food, everyone has preferences, in general if you can buy it in a corner shop it's rubbish is pretty much my rule.
Food, everyone has preferences, in general if you can buy it in a corner shop it's rubbish is pretty much my rule.
I agree with this!
Decide how much time you have to walk the dog? How long the dog would be alone? Shedder or no shedder?
I don't leave my dog in kennels as she would hate it (as with someone 90% of the time) and I would be uneasy. We use a home boarder and she loves it, also isn't much more expensive then kennels round here.
Food - I do a dry food but make sure I use one that is grain free and a good quality, anything from a supermarket is usually not great quality.
Ours is a working cocker and is usually walked for 2 hours a day split between 2 walks with playtime in between. Mental stimulation is important. She is a loving dog and very rewarding but hard work as she is a typical spaniel - velcro dog! If you want a spaniel maybe look at Spaniel Aid however most of their dogs they recommend for older children like most rescues.
This is all really helpful - thank you. Are rescue dogs generally not recommended to houses with small children then? That might be a bit of a deal breaker.
I like the concept of a spaniel but I wonder if I'm being realistic with the amount of exercise they need. Part of my thinking is that getting a dog will be good for our health and exercise as a family but since we are naturally quite lazy it's probably not a good idea to get the most demanding breed!
This will be our first dog. Neither of us have ever owned dogs before - hence I'm taking the whole thing very slowly and no decisions are going to be made for a long time. I know I like the idea of a dog, now I need to get my head around the reality.
I think I would probably prefer something that doesn't shed too much but I'm assuming that a certain amount of hair is inevitable. I'm not so house proud that that's a problem!
Wolfiefan you are right. That's what I'm trying to get my head around now. In my (completely ignorant) head I'm assuming that most dogs need a couple of walks a day and generally like some play time and attention at other points. I'm going to be home so can do the "attention" part while I'm assuming we'll split the load of walking him/her.
A show cocker spaniel will need less walking then a working cocker or springer spaniel or perhaps consider a King Charles or similar if you like spaniels. Quite a lot of rescues won't home to places with young children, some of the smaller rescues may do.
Before getting a dog I barely left the house as I worked from home. I now walk at least 4 - 5 miles a day easily and feel SO much better for it. Just make sure you aren't going to be a fair weather dog walker like quite a few round here who won't walk their dog if it is raining. Make sure you can afford the food, insurance and vet bills... Mine in 18 months has had a sickness bug, A respiratory infection and torn a piece out of her cornea and had a lump removed plus the vaccines, worming and flea treatment and being spayed. I would say her vet bill so far have been about £550 - £600.
Thanks nmg85. Financially I don't think we'll have an issue. Would you say that your 18 month experience is fairly typical?
As for the "fair weather" walking; I have a highly developed sense of guilt so I suspect that, while I might not always want to, it'll always happen! :-D
Let's assume that I don't go for a rescue then because they might not home with a child (why is that by the way?) What breeds might be happy in a small house with a small courtyard garden? We've got fields and parks to run around in nearby obviously.
No I would say we have been unlucky with our adventurous monkey!
I do love spaniels so maybe a show cocker or a kings Charles. If not then maybe a bichon frise or similar. Perhaps a whippet as they don't excessive amounts of walking and are usually good with kids.
The thing is, if you go to a rescue saying you want x breed who you are willing to walk this amount of time and will be happy in your set up and is good with children - you're fairly unlikely to find one, because by picking the breed you've ruled out all the dogs of a different breed who would fit in your household happily.
What you really should be concentrating on is, how much time can you walk for, how much grooming are you ok with doing...because anything more than that realistically with the fact that it needs to be good with children will take a very long time to find.
That's what I'm saying Tabulahrasa - it sounds like I need to abandon the rescue option as they generally don't house dogs with small children.
I met an adorable bichon frise mix a while ago but I can't for the life of me think what it was mixed with!
No, they do rehome to homes with children, but obviously they have less dogs available that are suitable for small children because if there's any doubt they'll rule them out.
But if you add breed into your requirements then you narrow your pool too much.
Many rescues do rehome to families with children. Especially those rescues who foster out dogs (like black retriever x)
I think you need to research carefully any breed you think of. Springers need loads of exercise. Not all dogs are suitable for a first time owner. Cavaliers can have major health issues.
I agree with researching any breeds to find what their traits are and what their requirements are. Most rescues here won't rehome to a house with under 5's.
See my point is that if you're getting a puppy, yes you absolutely need to research potential traits because it's all you have to go on.
With an adult dog, it's already got traits or not, you get lazy springers and hyper pointy dogs, labs that hate water and don't like retrieving, collies that are perfectly happy to just chill with you all day instead of doing things.
It's an actual dog with an actual personality and you can judge on that whether it suits you or not rather than having to decide if breed traits that may or may not show up will suit you.
Ah I see what you mean. So rescue homes might be the best bet. How do they work then? Do you get to meet a dog a few times before committing? Can you have a sort of practice run or overnight stay?
Wolfiefan as a first timer, what do you think I should specifically avoid?
With a boisterous little boy also, I would be thinking about a staffie - they're brilliant dogs to have with kids and incredibly lovable and soppy.
They are also excellent first dogs as they're pretty much bomb-proof as long as they get lots of affection.
If you go down the puppy route, research your breed by speaking to the relevant breed clubs first. They will be more than happy to chat to you at length, explaining the pros and cons of each breed.
They will be able to explain about the relevant health testing required for the breed - genetic tests to try and rule out common inherited conditions, i.e. not a once over by a local vet!
If you do find a breed you like, the breed club will likely to able to put you in touch with a breeder who will have puppies coming up in the next few months. You are very unlikely to find a "good" breeder with puppies ready imminently who are not all reserved. So it is good to start looking several months in advance.
yes, if you are near to a guide dog centre, that's an excellent route to go down
the pups are socialised within an inch of their lives by puppy walkers...they are placed in their families at 7weeks usually, taken out into every day life, they tend to go into the centres for the specific training at 12-15 months and then advanced training for any particular needs for a possible person match. They would be a fully fledged guide dog at 18-24 months usually
Those who fail can be sidetracked to an alternative career but often are rehomed.
Also there's an option to rehome for retired Guide dogs...our first pup was retired at just six as he had an issue with one of his knees, so really plenty of life left in him!
Yes they let you meet the dogs, often they encourage you to do things like take them for a walk...
Some rescues will let you foster with a view to adopting if it goes fine, but a lot don't - they don't want dogs messed about too much.
They will of course though take them back if it went drastically wrong.
Where are you in the UK? Look at smaller rescues, they are usually more flexible than larger, esp re. younger children.
Join all FB groups run by the rescues that you like the look of. FB groups usually a lot more active and up-to-date than websites, due to lack of manpower to update sites. Also, more popular family dogs will almost never get as far as websites, so FB groups even more essential to join.
Look at rescues who work abroad. Often they will foster dogs in UK. If they are good rescues, you will see that they spend time working with dogs in rescues abroad, often they will have some in UK foster homes, so they can be assessed with other dogs/cats/children etc.
Be patient! They're all run by volunteers so they don't get round to answering emails, phones etc. Again, that's why FB groups are good, you can usually post/message and get an answer more quickly.
Some to have a look at in the meantime, just to give you an idea of rescues and variety of dogs:
Silver Fox Dog Rescue
Pro Dogs Direct
Help Pozega Dogs
Oooh I like the guide dog idea, I do love golden retrievers and labradors. Thanks for the tip about the dogs homes Bagel - I'll start looking at facebook now. I'm in Wiltshire but would go to Hampshire, Dorset or Somerset.
I second the idea of a rescue, and you will be limited to choice of breed if you want to get a rescue because of having small children, but the shelter will know the dog well especially if they are in a foster home (often with children). Also, if you really want a puppy, puppies do come up in rescue centres as well, you just have to wait longer/travel to them. I would specifically reccommend considering a staffy as there are so many in rescue and they are lovely family friendly dogs, or a sighthound, again there are so many lurchers and greyhounds in rescue and they are usually very calm, placid dogs that spend most of the day sleeping and don't need tons of exercise. There are ex-racing greyhound rescues all over the country, other sighthound rescues are EGLR, Lurcher Link, and Hounds First.
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