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How much work is a lab? Help me decide if we should get a dog. Please!

(26 Posts)
treedelivery Wed 03-Aug-11 15:26:36

Hi.

So this is a new bit of mn for me grin My mum's lab has had some rather fine pups and my dd1 (6) is really really wanting one. Of course. I have done and pro and con list, if any experienced soul would look at it and give their opinion I'd be grateful.

Pro
DD1 is a lonely soul, finds it hard to make friends and hasn''t the greatest social sense. Her little sister is a bonkers toddler and not really delivering on the tender loving sister front hmmgrin

That's it really!

Oh - we have a great park at the top of the world with a huge field.
I need to loose weight.

Cons

I don't enjoy walking or being out of the house particulary.
I am not that keen on dogs.
DH isn't that keen on dogs.
We have a 3 storey house that I struggle to clean as it is, it has 40 steps in 3 flights!
DD1 is busy as it is with clubs, school and so on. Will she commit and have time for a dog?
I have a loony toddler who is pretty full on.
I work 3o hrs a week shifts.
I'm knackered.
We have a 24k income with about £150 disposable a month. Surely the dog would swallow a good bit of that?
We visit friends, take days out and so on. Would the dog be lonely or need kennels for overnight stays?

Oh this is a no brainer isn't it?

But is it worth working through these issues to help dd1 develop a soul mate?

Help!!

treedelivery Wed 03-Aug-11 15:35:00

Oh and we have an 8yo cat. I think he'd be ok though, he just sleeps on top of the wardrobe all day anyway.

tabulahrasa Wed 03-Aug-11 15:40:14

A 6 year old can't look after a dog, if the adults in the house are unwilling/unable to commit to training and walking a dog then don't get one.

smurfling Wed 03-Aug-11 15:44:16

You need to look at it from the perspective that it will be you who owns and looks after the dog. It won't be your 6 year olds and is likely that she will only be interested in for short periods of time.

You will have to get used to walking for long distances in the rain and mud, and then cleaning up the rain and mud that you bring back in the house with you.
.You will have to get used to clearing up poo.
You will have to get used to arranging for someone to have the dog when you are out for the day or overnight.
You will have to get used to hoovering all the time or living in hair.

Dogs are fab but they are hard work.

treedelivery Wed 03-Aug-11 15:52:01

No I fully realise it will be me being the dogs main care provider. I am lazy though, the thought of mud and hoovering all the time. Not helped by the fact that the hoover fell off the top step just now and hit me on the side of the head whilst I was doing the stairs. So so many stairs.

What I'm wondering is if it's worth getting on with it and doing the work for the comfort and companionship the dog may bring her?

smurfling Wed 03-Aug-11 15:55:41

How often do you see your mums dogs? Can you borrow one (an adult rather than a pup) for a week so you can see what it envolves?
I need someone to dog sit mine for a few days in a couple of weeks - do you want to try with her? grin

treedelivery Wed 03-Aug-11 16:01:23

Can she be fed-ex'd? grin

I lived with mum when her first lab arrived and it was ok - but then they live in a rural location on a private road. Her dog is never on a lead or trained and has tonnes of room to fly about it. They have 3 outhouses she can access and a safe yard. Plus chicken for entertainment. The dog knows not to chase the horses that pass and that's the extent of the restrictions on her.

We have a terrace and a paved large yard.

On the plus we have a fab fab park 5 mins away, probably nearer.

Sigh. DD so so wants one. She is there now looking after the puppies. She has really bonded with one and seems very attached to it..

PurpleFrog Wed 03-Aug-11 17:06:52

Have a look at the "new pups" thread to see what bringing up a pup might entail!

Lab pups are big, bouncy and can be very "bitey" until they get their adult teeth. Our lab is coming up for 14 months old now and I am really glad my dd was older (12) when we got him. I could not have coped with small children and our pup.

Pups are very hard work for the first 6 months or so....

Labs are lovely dogs and wonderful company - we have a 2-year-old chocolate lab bitch who I love dearly. I, like you, do not enjoy going out of the house, and I hardly ever walk the dog BUT dh walks the dog every day, twice a day at the moment, and ds1 walks her too, plus our neighbours have a lab who is her best friend, and they will take her out when they take their lab out (and we do the same), so she is getting enough exercise.

She was hard work as a puppy - she chewed everything, had loads of energy, and needed lots of entertainment and stimulation. It is good fun, but it requires an awful lot of commitment.

I would say that I wasn't desperately keen on getting a dog (I grew up with cats and was really iccckk about the idea of picking up dog poo, and about the 'doggy' smell), but Coco has entirely converted me. She has calmed down an awful lot, and is a wonderful companion for me - the boys are all at senior school, so I am alone in the house a lot, and she follows me round and snuggles up to me wherever I am. She is just a solid bundle of love, and I couldn't be without her now - and I can't imagine being without a dog either.

We have a cat who is about 6, and he really does not like the dog - but although the cat is the size of the dog's head, the dog is scared of the cat, and will back off if the cat looks at her. She will even refuse to go close to the cat to get a dog treat or food (and if you know labs, you will know that not gobbling up food that is offered when it is offered, is practically unheard of behaviour). However she does love the cat's food, and we have put a stairgate at the bottom of the stairs, so the cat's food is upstairs, and therefore safe from the dog (as long as people coughcoughdhcoughcough remember to shut the gate).

We also cage-trained Coco, and that has really helped - her cage became her safe, comfort space, so she was always happy to go in there. She went in there overnight, and after the first couple of nights, she never soiled her cage, so it was a big help in housetraining her - plus she learned she could go out through the cat flap whenever she needed to wee/poo. I did think I'd find her stuck in the catflap as she got bigger, but she somehow realised when she reached that point, and now instead of going out through the catflap, she rattles it with her paw to tell us she needs to go out.

I also have to say that I am utterly envy with jealousy, as I would adore to have another lab puppy (or even just a litter of pups that I could go round and play with until they went to their forever homes). Please don't post pictures, as I will become unbearably broody!!winkgrinblush

treedelivery Wed 03-Aug-11 17:27:12

Oh well there are 6 (5 now one is sold) and they are black or yellow and just big piles of fat and rolls of more fat. Utterly lovely I must say. They have excellent parents....can I flog you 5 one??

Thank you very much David's girl. My mum was actually frightened of dogs before sort of inheriting her first, and was completely smitten and in love in hours.

maybe that would be what happened to me too?

Thanks PurpleFrog. DD1's chosen fav has already given her a good few nips, she is very understanding and doesn't fuss. She has to be as her sister (2) is the yorkshire terrier of the toddler world and pretty much beats her big sister daily.

The whole thing has left me feeling very low. The girls have awful, fussy, limited diets, issues with friendships and anxiety in the eldest, both are allergy prone and have poor skin.....and now here is another thing I either deprive them of or get but do badly (never enough walks, never enough cleaning etc etc). The thought of feeling guilt about a dog as well as everything else. Sheesh!

Could you afford a dog walker? Our neighbour (the one with the lab) works part time, and when she's at work and the dog is alone in the house, she has a dog walker who comes in and takes the dog out with other dogs for a good 40 minute run - and I tend to think that if a dog is running round with other dogs, it will get more exercise than just on a walk. I think it costs around £7 per day, so if you could afford that a few times a week, that would help.

I will admit that our dog doesn't always get all the exercise/walks that the books/experts say she needs, but she adapts to this and you can wear out a young dog by doing training with them (because it wears them out mentally) - and that can be done without going out of your house/garden. What I am saying is that you don't have to be perfect dog owners to raise a dog that is happy and healthy - I know for sure that I am not a perfect dog owner, and ddog is very happy and healthy.

If you did take on the puppy, would you or your parents know someone who would adopt the dog me me pick me pleeease if it really didn't work out with you? Not that I am saying a dog is something to take on casually and give away if you change your mind (before I get flamed) but that it might make things easier if you knew there was a safety net (I think that, sometimes, knowing there's a safety net makes you that bit more relaxed about things, and might actually help make things work).

WynkenBlynkenandNod Wed 03-Aug-11 17:49:12

I really think you need to put the guilt aside. I know it is easier said than done but part of being a parent is knowing when saying no is the right thing.

My dog is a crossbreed, her father is part lab. She's two now and massively calmer but she was incredibly hard work and DS who was just 6, really struggled with the bounciness. We live near woods so she can have a good off lead walk each day, walks on lead just don't touch the sides with her. Without doubt I am never doing a puppy again, the children were hugely easier as they didn't eat the sofa, didn't have sharp teeth, jump up or poo in the garden.

If you are tempted to get another animal, what about a kitten? Easier for cat savvy toddlers to cope with, cheaper to keep, easier to get looked after when away and generally the kittens who have grown up with the DC's have made really good family pets who have bonded well with them. A couple have been tolerant enough to be pushed around in toy prams which obviously I didn't encourage but did occasionally occur. If you get one from a house with young children they should be pretty bombproof. If you decide to get one see if you can find a local litter where the DC's can see them from a reasonably early age.

treedelivery Wed 03-Aug-11 17:56:06

I have to weight watchers now - just to make sure I am sufficiently bowed down with concerns hmm - so I'll digest all these excellent points whilst I am there pondering my huge ass.

Thank you. I have no idea what to do for the best/least worse.

So true what you say about being a parent Wynken. It all feels a bit lonesome at the moment.

Hey maybe I need a pup to cheer me? grin

minimu11 Wed 03-Aug-11 20:01:31

Without a doubt don't do it

Of coure most children look at puppies and think they are cute and want one. Little girls also tend to want to be a princess when they grow up but WE as parents know better.

Tell the children no the puppies all have homes to go to - there will be a grumpy whiney few hours, take them out to something they enjoy and all will be forgotten.

Otherwise you will have 14 years at least of all the cons you have listed above it is a no brainer DO NOT DO IT!!!!!!!

A pup will not cheer you up it will pee on your floor, chase the children, jump up at your daughter that is already anxious whine when you put it out of the room,
anymore reasons for against..........

By the way a mother of 5 DC and 5 dogs I do know what I am talking aboutgrin

Bella32 Wed 03-Aug-11 20:56:39

Crunch point for labs - and most dogs - is about 6 months old. That's when many of them are handed in to shelters. They've lost their puppy cuteness, they weigh pretty much what they will weigh as an adult, and training (even if it's been worked on fastidiously from day one) is very much work in progress. And they have heaps of energy.

So picture yourself in January. You get home, cold and wet after a shift. Puppy is about 20kg now, and looks pretty much like an adult lab. Except on Red Bull grin. Even if the dog walker came in at lunch time, pup is still raring to go. What do you do first? Tend to your dc? Make dinner? Clean up the mess from the pair of shoes pup ate this afternoon? Walk pup? Feed pup? Train pup? Clean the paw prints off your work clothes where pup has jumped up on you?

Pretty much any child (and many adults!) will fall in love with lab pups. Very few people can cope with work, family and a lab for life. My dogs are my life, but there are days when I have found them very hard work. I don't think I could do it if I wasn't so mad about them. A puppy is not the answer to your dd's problems - attractive though it may seem.

Labradorlover Thu 04-Aug-11 00:34:02

No....

saffronwblue Thu 04-Aug-11 07:15:06

Have a look at Solo's thread below. I have been amazed at how much work having a puppy ( half lab) has been. She is now 8 monhts old and still chewing even when exhausted. I love her dearly as do the DC's but DH gets very grumpy about the state of the house. I always said I would not get a dog until I had forgotten what it was like having a toddler. I could not have managed with young children
What about a dear little kitten? Much less bouncy and destructive and your dd will have lovely cuddles and fun.

MrsDistinctlyMintyMonetarism Thu 04-Aug-11 07:25:34

Honestly, no. You don't sound like you are in the right place to own a puppy.

They are tons of work and effort - very much like raising children, except that children can be reasoned with. In 8 years time when your daughter is a teenager, the dog will still need walking, still need clearing up after, still need love and affection.

I love my labs from the bottom of my heart, but easy puppies they aint.

You have to bear in mind the cost of dog insurance and vaccinations too.

My honest suggestion would be to get your daughter something smaller like a guinea pig. They are cute and fluffy, make cute noises, can be trained to do simple tricks and will sit on your lap and be cuddled, without needing walks, huge amounts of food, lots of extra housework.

We have 4 (eek) guinea pigs as well as the dogs, they are fantastic pets for kids.

Ephiny Thu 04-Aug-11 07:49:40

I would not get a dog 'for' your 6 year old. Only if you (and DH) want to welcome a dog as part of your family. And it doesn't sound like you do.

The dog might end up being a 'soul mate' for your DD - or he might not, there's no way of knowing especially when they're both so young. She might be desperate for a dog now, but are you sure she won't have lost interest in a few weeks or months or years? It's just not the right reason. A dog is for life.

Think about what you'd do if things just didn't work out. If you found further along the line that you couldn't cope, especially as he becomes bigger and stronger - didn't have enough time, couldn't afford the vet bills, there was some conflict with your DDs - and you felt you just couldn't keep him? Would your mum take him back? If not then what would happen to him?

gemmummy Thu 04-Aug-11 07:56:21

i would say no don't do it. I have a beautiful black lab and we were lucky she never jumped up or nibbled but she CHEWED EVERYTHING. She's grown out of it now (nearly 3) but they are hard work until they are settled. Also, you need to insure your dog (about £10 a month) and then food (decent stuff about £40 a month) so thats's £50 a month straight away. If you aren't keen anyway you will resent that a third of your dispsable income is gone. Get her a gerbil.

newpup Thu 04-Aug-11 08:24:12

No! For all the very sensible reasons listed by everyone else.

My advice. Tell your DD that these puppies all have homes BUT that if she still wants a puppy when she is ...... age you will think about it again. Take a year to really consider whether a dog is for you and not an impulse decision based on your DD spending time with your mums puppies. You can read some dog books, listen to others advice and take a long considered approach to dog ownership. You do not have to say no just not now.

One thought - would your mum hold onto the puppy and raise it for you to the age where it would be easier to handle and more able to be left at home alone whilst you work?

A friend has done something very similar for her adult daughter - she is raising the puppy to a year old, during which time it has spent weekends and holidays with the daughter, and it is going to live with her fulltime when it is a year old.

If you did something similar, your dd could spend time with the puppy, working with it and training it (assuming your mum lives close enough), and the dog could come and live with you when it is a year old - at which point the chewing will be improving, and the dog will be better able to spend time alone in the house, with a dogwalker coming in.

treedelivery Thu 04-Aug-11 20:31:09

Hello all and thank you for some sage words of advice.

We are not getting a puppy <<phew>> but nanna has decided she will keep the puppy and it will be known as dd's. We have agreed it can visit and stay overnight when it is settled. I guess time will tell how well dd and the dog get on. She is a sensitive soul so I can see a fairl y deep friendship developing.

My dear old mum to the rescue!! Dd is happy with the plan too.

Thank you for pulling me back from maddness. Be sure if we had got one we would have commited 100%, I could no more send it away or fail to treat it as it required anymore than I could the children. Mind you...

Thank you! Wise women of the doggy world.

Nanna is now also on about a pony. That's a whole other thread!

PurpleFrog Fri 05-Aug-11 09:15:14

That sounds like a great compromise! Let us know how it goes.....

treedelivery Fri 05-Aug-11 09:24:50

Will do smile

They have bought it a lead and a collar and all that jazz. Oh and the all important crate. It is called Tremble for obvious reasons and she likes it because it never pushes to get 'boobie' and always gets left behind. I think she relates to her. Bless.

But there will be no pony thread. I refuse to even give that thread space. Sometimes I think nanna may be slightly unhinged grin

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