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Thinking of getting a dog - need advice

(39 Posts)
gailpottertilsleyplatt Sat 13-Aug-11 10:09:58

We have always been a cat family but our last cat sadly died a few months ago and we are thinking of getting a dog but are a bit clueless.

First off, we wouldn't buy one from a breeder because we think breeding pets is ethically wrong; some people might find that a bit pompous but at least you know where we're coming from!

DH thinks we should get a puppy because we have one DD, nearly 7, and she has only known old cats and he thinks it would be nice for her to have a young pet. Where's the best place to look for a puppy?

One thing I'm concerned about is that I will hopefully be getting a job before Christmas and this means the dog will be left at home all day, no problem with a cat but how would a dog manage? I will have very long holidays and, when we're not at work, the dog will come just about everywhere with us - will this be enough for her?


DogsBestFriend Sat 13-Aug-11 10:19:32

Unless you have a dogwalker/sitter and arrangements firmly in place for when they are ill/on hols then an adult dog is not for you.

Certainly a puppy isn't an option if you aren't going to be with him during the day to train/supervise/housetrain him.

Sorry, but that's just standard rescue policy which you'll find common amongst them all. Going just on what you've said there's no way this rescuer would rehome to you given your proposed work commitments.

gailpottertilsleyplatt Sat 13-Aug-11 10:26:51

Thanks DBF. Just to be clear, I understand you are saying we wouldn't be suitable for a puppy but would we also not be a good home for a house-trained young dog?

The dog would come on holiday with us and we do have someone who would look after her if she was ill but we couldn't really afford the £9 per day we have been quoted for someone to walk her whilst we are at work. Is that a typical charge for a 45 min walk, btw?

DogsBestFriend Sat 13-Aug-11 10:33:27

Sorry but no you wouldn't. You just CAN'T leave a dog on his own all day.

That house-trained young dog would soon become a messing on the floor, bored, destructive young dog. He may well howl or bark continuously, he may well chew furniture and woodwork... and he would, regardless of this, be bloody miserable.

Dogwalking fees depend very much on area, I find. Here in the South I charge £10 per hour and the dog will be my sole charge unless the owner specifies otherwise. Others charge more still (though to be fair I do live in a very affluent village and a few short miles from a hateful well-to-do city - not being boastful of where I live, I'm not affluent, just to give you an idea of price vs area). smile

gailpottertilsleyplatt Sat 13-Aug-11 10:46:29

OK but I'm not giving up on my dream just yet! Have just worked out that 5 x £9 is £45 a week not £90 blush so we could afford that if I was working.

So would we be a good home if dog got a decent walk in the morning, a 45 min walk with dog walker during the day and was part of the family - playing, walking, watching TV etc - for the rest of the day and all weekend and my 13 weeks holiday?

We will have (in new house) big enclosed garden so, if she'd be happier, she could spend part of the day, i.e. before or after dog walker takes her out, in garden with a nice cosy shed with dog flap for shelter.

Come on, DBF - throw me a bone!

Tchootnika Sat 13-Aug-11 10:50:41

If you really could manage that, gail how about a whippet or greyhound?

gailpottertilsleyplatt Sat 13-Aug-11 10:59:25

Yes to both, tchootnika. I know every dog has its own personality but do they tend to make affectionate pets? I ask this because it would be nice for DD to have a playful pet after being ignored by our cats for years smile

DogsBestFriend Sat 13-Aug-11 11:01:35

Yes and no. grin

Dog flap/dog in garden unsupervised - just PLEASE DON'T DO IT. We hear daily of dogs stolen from gardens, even with the owners in the house. Thefts are carried out for a number of reasons, a common one is to issue a ransom or claim a reward having "found" the dog, worse ones being for puppy farm or dog baiting use.

In case you don't believe me!

And also, I wouldn't suggest a young dog. There you are dealing with part-training often and with adolescent exuberance. Far easier to manage and fit in would be an older, already trained dog, say 4 plus.

Have a word with rescue, ask them to find a dog to suit you, go with an open mind. Be aware of the difference between a pound and a rescue and NEVER adopt direct from a pound.

A dog from a reputable and responsible rescue will be assessed, neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, matched to the new owner and vice versa, bringing with him a lifetime's support and an agreement that the rescue will take the dog back should the owner not be able to keep him, even if that's in 10 years time. A responsible rescue will also home check which is as much for YOUR benefit as the dog's, so they can identify and iron out any potential problems before they start and assess whether the dog you have chosen is right for your family and environment. Any rescue which offers or insists on anything less... WALK AWAY!


Shoutymomma Sat 13-Aug-11 11:03:42

Breed specific rescue sites tend to be more tuned into what the needs of a specific dog would be regarding being left alone. Also, the dogs they represent are more likely to have case history. And, of course, they are full of good avice.

I can't speak highly enough of sight hounds (greyhouds, whippets, etc). There are hundreds of greyhouds looking for homes. After a 20 min walk at breakfast time, many of them will happily laze about til school is out. Of course, I am generalising. Our current dog (whippet) needs a walk morning and evening plus we have a decent garden for him, but at only 18 months old he definitely takes less work than many other breeds.

Just think that sighthounds are built for speed, not stamina, so if you can offer bursts of good activity, that might be what you are looking for. Be careful with lurchers as they may be 'other breed heavy'. That said, we had a lurcher, largely greyhound, for nearly 13 years (had to be PTS this spring) and she was nothing but joy.

Finally, a puppy is not for you. You MUST be around to settle a puppy in.... anything else is a recipe for disaster.

DogsBestFriend Sat 13-Aug-11 11:04:38

Many ex racing Greys sadly don't know how to play when they come to a new home. Some never "get it" but are gentle, sweet-natured pets all the same.

If you want playful, you know what I'd honestly recommend? A Staffordshire Bull Terrier. They KNOW what play is all about and love the company and fun. Again, go for older rather than younger and let rescue guide you.

DogsBestFriend Sat 13-Aug-11 11:08:10

I'd disagree a bit with you, shouty, I think that because of the current climate all-breed rescue are starting to be on a parr with breed rescue when it comes to families dumping their dogs and thus rescue knowing the animal's background.

I also know of some breed rescues who take a significant amount of poundies.

Dunno, just my experience. smile

FellatioNelson Sat 13-Aug-11 11:16:51

If you are planning on going back to work full time then DO NOT even think about getting a puppy or young dog. Not only is it incredibly unkind and unfair to leave a young dog alone all day (they need company and stimulation - would you do that to a child, even if you knew he or she was 100% safe?) but on top of that your house will get wrecked/chewed through strees and anxiety and boredom, and the poor thing will struggle to contain its need to go to the loo, so you will end up feeling frustrated and resentful of it.

Depending on the kind of hours you intend to work, some rescue centres many allow you to take an older dog who is used to/happy to be left for 7 hours at a time, but it is never ideal, especially not day in, day out.

gailpottertilsleyplatt Sat 13-Aug-11 11:19:02

DH is thinking of a spaniel - any thoughts?

Tchootnika Sat 13-Aug-11 11:23:39

Spaniels are lovely - but really they're working dogs, so needs tons and tons and tons of exercise - perhaps not best suited to your situation.

A good rescue centre really will assess your family carefully, though.

Dogs point re. SBTs is interesting. I think there are quite a lot of older Staffs needing homes. They too tend to be very hyperactive when young, though.

Personally, I'd find a good rescue centre and see how they can match up family and dog.

Shoutymomma Sat 13-Aug-11 11:28:35

DBF, I can of course, only speak from my own experience. Scruples Whippet Rescue matched us so perfectly with our current dog and are incredibly (maybe anally!) particular about what goes where. I do know our old lurcher didn't know what play meant when she came to us at year old. We were able to teach her pretty quickly though. She rewarded us manyfold.

Spaniels have bags of stamina so will need good exercising. They're smart, too, so you will need to give them a) lots of guidelines and b) lots of activity.

gailpottertilsleyplatt Sat 13-Aug-11 11:39:55

Thanks for all replies. I know I'm coming across as clueless but we will definitely do all our research before making the decision - would not want to make a dog unhappy.

Agree we're not suitable for a puppy.

Good point about dogknappers, DBF, that was something I was going to ask about. (Bastards!)

I agree that leaving a dog for hours isn't ideal but thought it might be better than an indefinite period in a rescue centre as she would be part of a loving family. However, she might not appreciate that if stuck at home all day.

Looked at a whippet rescue site (Scruples) on line and they said they would not normally home a dog to a family who would be out for more than 4 hours every day. They also said they have a large number of applicants so I suppose they can afford to be choosy which is, of course, a good thing.

We'd be open to a mongrel if we have some history/details of temperament.

SBT scare me stiff - or maybe it's some of the owners they are often attached to (you know the ones I mean!).

Any more advice would be much appreciated.

Ephiny Sat 13-Aug-11 11:51:41

Would either you or your DH be able to work from home? This is how we made it work - DP asked for flexible/part-working-at-home (quite unusual in his industry but he pushed for it and got it), and my work is fortunately flexible enough that I can often be at home if needed. We also have a dog-walker/sitter, which is a big help.

I would agree with others that it doesn't sound like a puppy would be suitable. It's the same for us. Many older dogs would be OK being left at home alone for a few hours, once they've settled in, you shouldn't leave any dog all day though.

I think an SBT might suit you as well! Lovely playful affectionate dogs, and likely to be good with children. I'd keep an open mind about breed though, unless you really have strong preferences or particular requirements, and look for the individual dog who'd suit your family and lifestyle.

Shoutymomma Sat 13-Aug-11 12:09:23

Think about what you want from your dog before you go for a SBT. They are excellent people dogs, but I've known 2 instances where they have been over-protective of their humans, making them anti-social with other dogs. Again, my experience only.

Tchootnika Sat 13-Aug-11 12:30:13

Young SBTs probably aren't so good for 1st time dog owners, IMO. I say that only because they are incredibly energetic, and whilst they're generally quite trainable, they're often very excitable - which can be quite hard going. (I read somewhere that 'problems' with Staffs are mainly attributable to their 'over exuberance'! Bless! - but sadly I'd add to that that 'problems' are more likely due to people's misplaced fear of them.)
They do grow up to be gentle, loving, sensible, though... I see no reason why an older Staff shouldn't make a good 1st dog as long as it's been matched with you by a good rescue centre.
Any dog can become anti-social - and the aggro caused by tiny dogs can be just as destructive as that of bigger ones.

pintaloosa Sat 13-Aug-11 12:44:17

Come on, lets be realistic, thousands of dogs are left alone while owners are at work. Thousands.

Seriously, who can guarantee they will be at home for the next 15 years? SAHM mums go back to work. Work at home people change jobs. retired people die.

Sorry, but under the rule of the 'don't leave your dog' mafia, who can, really, get a dog? Nobody.

We got our dog when I was working from home all day. Perfect. Then I lost that job, and DH and I worked outside the home full time. should we have rehomed him? Then I went on maternity leave for 9 months - perfect. then back to work outside home part time, DH full time. OK. Now, DH and I currently both work part time, and dog has 2 days left alone in house per week. There is an older teen around outside school hours and in school holidays. That's OK, isn't it? But what if we both increase our hours, and teen goes to university? Whoops, better had rehome dog.

The point I'm trying to make is that peoples lives change and dogs are surprisingly relaxed about it, my high-energy-working-breed dog just lolls around on the sofa whether we are home or not.

OP, you sound like you will give a dog a lovely home.

huffythethreadslayer Sat 13-Aug-11 13:02:31

I have to say, we're considering getting a dog and I work school hours, school term time. DH works from home a few days a week, but this isn't consistent. I've read the 'don't get a dog if you work' comments and thought, how the hell do most people manage then? Cos most dog owners I know work.

In an ideal world I'd stay home all day, but that's just not gonna happen.

We have inlaws on hand who'll come and walk her every couple of days...DH and I will walk her the rest of the time then, at weekends and school holidays we'll be around.

Ephiny Sat 13-Aug-11 13:18:30

Plenty of people do leave their dogs all day - that doesn't mean it's right though. And if the OP wants to rehome a dog from a rescue centre, I can guarantee that one of the first questions they're going to ask is 'do you go out to work?' - and they will not rehome a dog unless there are suitable arrangements in place.

No one is saying 'don't get a dog if you work', that's ridiculous. Or that you can't ever leave your dog at all. Plenty of us manage to work full-time but still ensure dogs are not left for excessive periods alone.

QuietTiger Sat 13-Aug-11 14:53:25

OK Pintaloosa as a rescuer, I'll bite. Plenty of people do, as Ephiny says, leave their dogs all day. HOWEVER, I would also say that a HUGE number of dogs that rescues see with behavioural problems are because they are bored, understimulated, left alone for long periods and so suffer seperation anxiety, in turn causing destruction in the house. It is recommended (by virtually all rescues I know) that a dog is not left alone for more than about 4 hours.

That doesn't mean you can't have full time work, it MEANS that you have to make arrangements for the comfort of your dog. Even if it's just a neighbour nipping in at lunch time to say hello, give a cuddle and let the dog out for a wee & to check its OK.

All rescues want to know, is that you have taken the dogs needs into account. That means you have things in place like a dog-walker, or someone to come in and give a break to the dog.

As an e.g. If I wanted, my older BC girl could be left for up to 12 hours on her own. She's so consientious with regard to her toileting habits, she'd cross her legs and be in pain before she peed in the house. It doesn't mean that I should. OTOH, if I leave my younger BC boy for more than 20 minutes in the house on his own, he trashes it. There is no question that some dogs are able to be left. It doesn't mean that it's right to leave them. Infact, if it's day after day, it is grossly unfair.

huffythethreadslayer Sat 13-Aug-11 16:40:19

I understand your point fully QuietTiger. Having had dogs my whole life growing up, and having an only child, I have wanted to get her a dog for some time now, but have refused on the grounds that I'm not around full time.

The change in my husband's work, and the fact that he's around 2 - 3 out of 5 days, and the fact that I'm working locally, means we could work this without the pup being left alone day after day. I also think that having school holidays is a bit of a boon. We'll be dealing in 6 week blocks with good breaks inbetween. Walking early morning, lunchtime and evenings will be doable.

We're leaving it til after next years Florida holiday - from then on it'll be cottage holidays in the UK for the forseeable. What's the point of having adult/no-dog holidays??

Ideally I'd like to leave it til the summer holidays, so we have 6 weeks to get the pup settled...though I alternate between thinking that might upset him when we're suddenly not many things to consider. I don't think any intelligent prospective pet owner would enter into dog ownership easily or lightly. It's a lifetimes commitment, like having a baby. We're doing as much homework as we can before we plunge and views from people like yourself are helpful in reaching the right kind of decisions.

hephaestus Sat 13-Aug-11 16:59:51

Just to add to QuietTiger's excellent post, two of mine are rescues and both were given up by their owners because they were being left home alone all day resulting in serious issues. It's the same old story every time, I'm involved in their breed-specific rescue and the vast majority of dogs come in for this reason alone. You can see why rescues are anxious to avoid homing a dog to that situation again.

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