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Should we get a dog? How do we ensure that it's the right thing to do?

(20 Posts)
1234ThumbScrew Wed 29-Dec-10 20:17:31

Dh has wanted a dog since he was a boy, we have three dc's ranging from 8 - 11 dds love dogs ds a little wary. We had lots of dogs when I was a child and always said I wouldn't have a dog myself. We had four GSD's and a lab in a three bed house with three adults and five children oh and a couple of cats- it was a squeeze and I don't think it was great for any of us including the dogs.

Dh and the dc's are keen for us to have a family dog, it will of course be mostly down to me to walk and look after it. I think it's a huge undertaking and need to be sure that it's the right thing to do before we go ahead. I don't want to find that it's not for me as I feel that if you take an animal into your family you have a responsibility to look after it forever in just the same way you do with a child.

I am a sahm with school aged dc's so I have time and the house isn't left empty for long lengths of time (how long can a dog be left?).

What factors do I need to take into consideration? What do I need to know?

Alouiseg Wed 29-Dec-10 20:27:47

You need to know that however much they want a dog it's you that will be responsible for everything.

We got a dog because I wanted one desperately, dh was against the idea as he thought he was allergic to dogs hmm.

I've had him a year now and I'm so, so glad we have, he's my little mate, I spend loads of time with him and have accepted that the house is rather more lived in than it was pre dog.

You have to want and take responsibility for a dog. Fwiw, mine has never been left for more than 3 hours, and that's only happened a couple of times in a year. I'm with him pretty much all the time.

Good luck grin

minimu1 Wed 29-Dec-10 21:01:54

Can I ask why you want a dog?

May seem a stupid question but when I speak to people the reasons they give can be fulfilled by other things.

Do you mind if you house has dirty footprints and hair in it.

Do you mind booking and paying for care for the dog if you go out for the whole day or on holiday

Do you mind getting up even at the weekends and going for a long walk in the rain

Do you mind having a big soppy head lying on your lap when you are watching telly

Do you mind having beautiful big brown eyes looking at you all the time especially when you are having a bad day

Do you mind having only the one member of you household (the dog) doing what you ask of them

Do you mind having a great fluffy furry mass of excitement greet you every time you come back into the room

Do you mind having to spend £25.00 a month at least on pet insurance

Do you mind spending time in pet shops and not clothes shops

Do you mind that the most exciting item of footwear is you new dog walking wellies

Then I reckon you know the right thing for you to do

dogs needing new homes

Seriously though they are a commitment, they do make work, they do take up a lot of time and money. You can foster dogs for rescue centres or make a commitment to walk one regularly and see how it fits into your busy life.

Alouiseg Wed 29-Dec-10 21:12:28

Do you mind picking up steaming piles of dog crap and carrying them for miles in warm plastic bags? grin

minimu1 Wed 29-Dec-10 21:18:29

Forgot that ALouiseggrin

How can I have forgot the steaming bags! Also when you put them in your car to put them in the bin don't put then near the air conditioning vents. One dog owners top tip to another.

Joolyjoolyjoo Wed 29-Dec-10 21:24:31

I'd say the main factors in getting a dog or not are time, finances and personality.

Dogs can be hugely rewarding (sometimes!), but they can also be hugely expensive, time-consuming and even break your heart if anything goes wrong sad

Word to the wise- don't get beagles! Unless you enjoy storming around the woods at 1am muttering obscenities and trying to find them. Or watching them eat poo while you eat breakfast. Joy. wink

Alouiseg Wed 29-Dec-10 21:28:07

Oh and £25 a month for insurance is vey reasonable, our little chap has just gone up to £79 a month. Its cheaper to get health insurance for a family of 4 than it is to insure a Bulldog!

kid Wed 29-Dec-10 23:18:35

I already have a dog as you probably know minimu1 (and Alouiseg) and I am nodding in agreement to your list of wanting a dog with a big grin on my face!
Everything you say is so true.

I also have to share the bed with my dog, but I guess thats optional grin

I did have to put a steaming bag in the car once. I kept it away from the airvents but did have to open all the windows a little bit. It was a real stinker!

Scuttlebutter Wed 29-Dec-10 23:32:33

Typically, a dog can easily live 10 - 15 years, so will still be with you when the DC have left home. Were you planning to return to work outside the home when DC were older, as this could impact on the dog?

You have lots of options. Why not start by contacting the Cinnamon Trust and offering to walk a dog for an ill or elderly person in your area? This is a wonderful example for your DC too of helping other people, and will be a good experience for you of making the regular time commitments.

You could also talk to your local dog rescue about volunteering - most kennels need dog walkers and other help, and as your children are older, you could do fostering for them. They provide you with the dog, pay for food and vets bills (and any equipment) - you provide a loving home while a permanent home is found. Charities are generally desperate to get foster homes with kids as if a dog does well with a foster family it can then be placed with a forever home with kids. The charity will also provide you with full backup, behavioural advice etc etc so support every step of the way. Fostering is incredibly rewarding and deeply satisfying. It is also an excellent way to dip your toe in the water as a family.

If you do end up as a doggy family, welcome to many years of happiness and dog hair as a condiment. It's not for everyone but if it is you, it will make you happy in ways you never imagined. smile

Oh, and please please choose a rescue dog when or if you decide to get your own.

1234ThumbScrew Fri 31-Dec-10 00:09:55

Sorry it's taken a while to come back, but thanks everyone you've got me thinking.

For years I've said no to a dog because I felt I had enough on my plate with the dc's, but Now they are a little older. I am getting a little bored being a sahm and could do with the exercise that comes with being a dog owner. Dh is away a lot and I do get a bit jumpy when I'm alone at night so though a dog would be good company.

However I do like a clean and tidy house, my mums house was always covered in dog hair and I had to spend ages getting hair off my uniform everyday. I worry that could be an issue for me. Can't say that steaming bags of poo fill me with glee either.

Big brown eyes and a shaggy cuddle sound lovely though.... I've got a lot to think about. None of my dc's were planned, this decision must be what it's like when you decide to start a family.... Big commitment.

KPee Fri 31-Dec-10 09:34:18

I suggest making a list of all the things you want to get out of having a dog, as well as a list of things you don't want - and stick to it.

Think really carefully about the type/size of dog you'd want, whether or not you want a specific breed, a rescue (either charitable or breed specific) a puppy or adult. If you're going for a breed there's a load of research you'll need to do to find a reputable breeder. At crufts there's a 'Discover Dogs' section where you can meet every type of breed of dog and thier owners - it's a great way to talk to people about different aspects of dog ownership.

Re mess around the house - get a Dyson Animal at the same time you get a dog. They. Are. Amazing.

Ephiny Fri 31-Dec-10 10:16:57

We have that Dyson, it's very good!

You said your mum had GSDs when you were growing up, they do seem to shed a lot of hair (though they're really amazing dogs in other ways of course) so not every dog will be quite as bad as that. I can just imagine what it must have been like with all those dogs and cats in one house shock.

I think you have to accept a bit of wear and tear on your house with any dog though, some shedding, a bit of a doggy smell when they get wet, muddy paw prints etc. Maybe some chewing or scratching, or if you get a puppy there will probably be some little 'accidents' at first. I thought I'd really hate picking up poo but really it's not an issue. a bit like doing nappies and wiping bottoms when you have a child, I guess - not the nicest thing but it has to be done, so you just get on with it, and by the time you've done 100+ it really isn't a big deal any more!

GrimmaTheNome Fri 31-Dec-10 10:28:26

If you don't want a hairy house, don't get a hairy dog! My shorthaired dachs is really not a problem, hardly smells either.

If you use a good quality dry food the steaming piles are much less objectionable to deal with.

A dog is good company - we got our first when I started working from home and DH was travelling a lot. Even though he's not a big dog I know that no-one would ever get in the house without me (probably the whole neighbourhood!) knowing about it.

KPee Fri 31-Dec-10 10:32:09

Good point about feeling more secure, regardless of the size of the dog. Mine go doolally if someone comes to the front or back - not something I would discourage since I'm pretty sure that's why I'm one of the few people who hasn't been burgled in my area.

iloverhubarbcrumble Fri 31-Dec-10 10:52:37

Hi Thumbscrew, you are being so sensible in talking about this with this lot. We got a puppy and THEN discovered this thread...

It sounds like your childhood experience with dogs was rather extreme in terms of numbers of dogs and children. Bringing one dog into your house will be very different.

I grew up with large, hair shedding, bouncy english setters, usually two or three at the same time, completely untrained, and a father who spent (and still spends his time sad) shouting at them at the top of his voice, 'No Cinto, you stupid dog' etc. It made walks with him impossible, and the house unpleasant some of the time. It put me off dogs - I always asked for them to be hauled off me when I arrived to visit. It was known that I 'didn't like dogs'.

DD v v keen to have a puppy. Aren't they all. But I realised I love dogs. We finally got a springer (kind of small setter!) My parents are flabbergasted by how much time I now spend discussing my dog. I obviously take a modern approach to dog training - love and treats! My dog comes when it's called straight away! I think my point is, you don't need to replicate the way your parents chose to have dogs.

An added bonus is that your DH is v keen - even though have no doubt that the major time taken up will be yours. My DH was not keen. He has grown to be v fond of our pup but is not a natural (gets stressy when trying to find a poo bag, doesn't get the clicking right (!aagh), forgets he is in charge on a walk....) But he loves being greeted at the door by joyful dog.

Others have given lots of sensible tips - I'm not saying yes yes, get a dog. The first two months - if you choose to get a puppy - is CRAP! Just adding in a rambling ode to my puppy...

1234ThumbScrew Fri 31-Dec-10 20:06:07

Thanks again everyone this is so helpful, I've just had a thought though... We have some guinea pigs that live indoors during the cold months how would this work with a dog?

I'm fairly sure I'd want a rescue, I have a neighbour who fosters dogs and she has some heartbreaking tails to tell.

smoggii Fri 31-Dec-10 23:22:32

Scuttlebutter I was going to suggest Cinnamon Trust as well. Me and DH have talked about the day we could get a dog together since we met but we lived in rented (in England) for the first 3 years so we walked dogs for the Cinnamon Trust - rewarding on so many levels, the owners loved it because they knew that the doggies needed exercise and the doggies would get so excited to see us because they knew we meant walkies.

We eventually settled in Wales where we bought our own home and i miss those doggies but fortunately other walkers were able to take over when we left.

The week we moved into our house we went to Dogs Trust and got an 8.5 year old Springer Spaniel who'd had a rubbish time the last few years, we've had Bella for nearly two years now and she is the light in our life.

It's had it's ups and downs, there were some training issues, we still have some recall problems occasionally (but i think that's just because whe's a willful Springer and doesn't want to come back when she's having fun) and she has no road sense so we have to exercise her in enclosed areas and lead walk. We also had a little bit of toilet training to do - didn't take very long and now she is brilliant she jangles her collar tag when she wants to go for a wee!

For every down there has been a million ups, she's so loving and happy, we are healthier because we walk more (we're also hardier because we have to walk her in all weathers) My whole family have fallen in love with her (even my parents - lifelong Cat people) and scrap over who gets to look after her if we need to go away.

I'm looking over the other side of the sofa at the moment with Bella cuddled into DH both look utterly blissful and it makes my heart smile.

It hasn't been without it's expenses, we have insurance but there are still regular vet visits which are not covered but that is part of pet ownership.

For the record my Springer doesn't shed even though she has a longish coat.

Please please please get a rescue xx

LotteryWinnersOnAcid Sat 01-Jan-11 19:26:31

You get used to the picking up of poo. I feel it has prepared me well for dealing with dirty nappies (DC1 due this month)! grin

I have two dogs (staffies) and a guinea pig, they exist happily alongside each other, although obviously I wouldn't leave them unattended. If you wanted to rescue then you could discuss with them the possibility of a dog who is proven to be good with small furries.

You will never have an entirely clean and tidy house again, but my dogs are short haired which makes it a bit easier. Friends of mine with long haired breeds have more trouble with this. Also short haired breeds require less grooming.

Good luck!

vjg13 Mon 03-Jan-11 12:18:38

Another vote for being a Cinnamon Trust dog walker. I walked two lurchers for their owner for over three years and fell in love with them. When the owner sadly died we were able to offer them a home and they are a delight (most of the time!) smile

fruitshootsandheaves Mon 03-Jan-11 16:59:39

Don't get a springer if you want to feel protected, mine greets everyone as if they were his long lost friend and the only people he tried to frighten off were the police!confused

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