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What's best for a family dog if you work?

(77 Posts)
PatTheHammer Sun 22-Sep-13 20:29:58

Just curious I suppose what everyone does when clearly lots of people who work also own a dog.

I've wanted a dog for a while, bought up with labs as hugely loved family pets and love other people's dogs. However, work and then babies came first when I was younger. I never felt it was fair to own a dog when I worked full-time and so did DH.
Since I had the DC I've worked part-time but I still work part of everyday. Now the DC are a bit older (7 and 4) and my youngest has just started school. At the same time I have taken a decision to cut my working hours significantly as I was stressed and DH was promoted so we were not under so much financial pressure.
The DC are desperate for a dog too (not that I'm silly enough to think that they would help at all.....they are far too little) but I really remember my dogs as a child being such a fundamental part of my childhood.

Anyway, cutting to the chase. My working days basically start early but I finish at 1pm. I then have 2 hours till I have to do the school run. These last few weeks I have been thinking that would be an ideal time to walk the dog, if we had one. DH had a back op last year and he is keen to incorporate walking in the evening into his exercise plan so he would be up for taking the dog out later too. We spend a lot of the weekends walking as a family too and it does feel as though we are missing a dog!

Is 8am till 1pm ish too long to leave a dog most days? Not sure we would have much time to do anything other than give a quick walk round the block in the morning so dog would have to wait till afternoon for main exercise. Is this healthy?

There are other practical issues, small garden, need a larger car (which we are getting in December), not really sure what we would do if we went on holiday (our in-laws who are local hate dogs and all my friends and neighbours have their own dogs to look after or small children). me out of it, it's a bad idea isn't it!

P.s: I have got time to commit to training and I don't really want a puppy or a pedigree dog. All dogs considered except overly large ones due to garden size!

Editededition Mon 23-Sep-13 06:57:58

I started reading, and was intending to say that the problem is not so much with having a dog, as with having a puppy....and then you said that you don't want a puppy!! smile

You will get a mixed reaction here, I think, as some people are adamant that dogs should not be left. However, we live in the real world and homes across the country have very happy family dogs who are left because the owners work; 5 hours is fine IMO, providing there is lots of exercise every day and the rest of their day is spent with the family. I would start talking to the breed rescues (Lab Rescue were inundated with dogs this spring, and I suspect not much will have changed). Be very upfront that you work 5 hours a day, so need a dog which is used to being left. I used to re-home, and would have been happy to move discussion forward on the details you have given here.

Leaving a new puppy for long stretches is very different, You have to be aware that training isn't happening when you are not present so pups learn to do their own thing - and that is when really bad or destructive habits can start, which are very hard to break. You wouldn't leave young children so don't leave young dogs, is a good rule.

On a slightly different note, it is very well worth chatting to dog-loving neighbours!! I do have to leave my dogs occasionally, but have a super neighbour who will always pop in and play with them in the garden, or feed if I have to be out over mealtime. Real dog lovers are a soppy bunch smile and will cheerfully help out in this way.....if you are happy to reciprocate now and then, and don't abuse the 'service'.

Best of luck in your search for the new family member

beachyhead Mon 23-Sep-13 07:07:55

On the days I work, we have a dog loving cleaner who lets them out in the garden, fusses over them and is just around. We also use a dog walker for long days.

We have someone move in while we are on holiday so the dogs stay at home.

littlemissnorty Mon 23-Sep-13 07:16:25

We have a fog flap for our lab and this summer he has loved it.

When I was on mat leave, the dog ignored me all day and slept in his bed.

Go for it.

aarrgghhwhatdoIdonow Mon 23-Sep-13 07:16:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

oohdaddypig Mon 23-Sep-13 07:24:16

I think edited's advice is excellent.

A puppy wouldn't cope but a balanced older dog would. I think it sounds like you have a lot to offer any dog.

On a bad day, our dog only gets garden time first thing and is then left till 1pm and he is fine. As long as the rest of the day is dog inclusive it's fine.

One thing to think about, which I didn't, is that it isn't just the walks you have to factor in but also what happens outside that time. A lot of people are anti-dog and so if you are planning on visiting them socially and mutt has already been shut in first thing, you have to work around that.

You end up seeing less of the anti-dog people. Some might say that's no bad thing [

Quodlibet Mon 23-Sep-13 07:30:10

Retired greyhound! They'd be happy to snooze from 8 til 1pm. They are large dogs but don't necessarily need a large garden, and lovely lovely temperaments.

VivaLeThrustBadger Mon 23-Sep-13 07:47:33

Inside a house greyhounds don't seem like a large dog. They're always curled up snoozing on the sofa in a corner.

So don't be put off by the size of them. They are lovely dogs.

PatTheHammer Mon 23-Sep-13 09:30:25

Thanks everyone, great advice!

I do love greyhounds, but I can see DH would need talking round. He is a bit against anything larger than a lab but also doesn't like small terrier type dogs.

I was sorting out the kitchen the other day thinking 'oh this quiet spot would be perfect for a cosy dog-bed' ....I shall start looking into things I think!

Unusually for us we have 3 long distance weddings to attend before the end of this year (we hardly ever get invited anywhere!). So I think it may be wise to think about the new year when they are all out of the way. This would also tie in with when DS turns 5 and I know some rescue centres are wary about rehoming dogs with children under 5.

I will certainly give my details to the local shelters though. We have a RSPCA, Dogstrust and 2 others locally.

Is it also worth telling them that I have school holidays off? i will talk to my neighbour who is a very experienced dog owner too as I'm sure she knows some dog walkers (Mondays may be an issue as although I leave later, 10am, there is nobody home till 4.30pm) and i'd like to talk to a few before deciding anything.

mistlethrush Mon 23-Sep-13 09:36:56

I would get (actually, we did get, last autumn) a lurcher. We got a lurcher because they can be a bit like greyhounds in enjoying their sleeping time - but also have the capacity to go a bit further too, on occasions. Ours gets a quick walk in the morning, a longer walk with a dog walker at lunchtime, and sometimes another road-walk in the evening depending upon weather and timings. At the weekend she has anything from one decent length walk to 3 or 4. On holiday she was perfectly ready to start rabbiting at 6.30am, back for breakfast, then out and about (walking and running (her)) all day, back for supper, then an hour's rabbiting last thing at night - so she was active for most of the day.

She's extremely loving, but quite laid back and prepared to sleep if there's nothing happening. She will play with DS whenever he wants her to. She doesn't shed much and doesn't chew - but those would depend on the lurcher mix you got.

She was a bit over 2 when we got her.

pm me for more info on where I got her etc if you would like it.

moosemama Mon 23-Sep-13 10:59:35

Hi Pat, long time no see! grin Can you believe our Jan '09 babies are all grown up and at school full time? Where did the time go?

I think what you are proposing is perfectly doable with the right dog, as you want an adult rather than a pup.

I have two Lurchers, one is nearly 8 and loves his walks and exercise, but is equally happy to snooze the day away and the other is only 16 weeks old so a work in progress so to speak (pics on my profile if you want to see them). My elder boy came from the same place as Mistlethrush's girl and it is an excellent organisation, run by really knowledgeable and dedicated people.

Lurchers come in all sizes, dependent on their mix. The elder of my two is part Deerhound, so scruffy coated and very solidly built compared to many Lurchers, but also has Border Collie in there, so isn't as long in the leg as some. Pip, my puppy is an unknown quantity, as he was found dumped in the road at less than 24 hours old, but he is very lightweight with legs that go on forever and almost definitely has Saluki in there, with probably some Collie and possibly terrier. Both can curl up into incredibly tiny little balls - basically, they fold up small. wink

Whippet crosses would be smaller than something like Deerhound, Greyhound or Saluki crosses and there are plenty around in rescues all over the country. Cinnamon on the Pointy Hounds thread has just had a trial weekend with a Whippet cross if you wanted to ask someone about what they're like.

I would advise you to go for a rescue from an organisation that has dogs in foster. Then you know what you are getting, as the dog will have been fully assessed in a home/family environment. Many of them rehome nationally and are careful to match the right dog to the right home, which takes a lot of the stress out of searching for the right dog.

PatTheHammer Mon 23-Sep-13 20:31:03

Awwww, Moose they are bootiful!

I think you lot might have sold me on the lurchers tbh. My neighbour has a friend that works at the Evesham rescue, so she's putting me in touch. I'm hoping we can arrange some settling in weekends or something nearer to the time when we have thought about it carefully.
I've even started putting the feelers out about dog-walkers and found there are quite a few locally. No shock really, as we are rural nearly everyone has a dog!

Dh still banging on about needing a bigger garden but we'll see wink

I think the fact that my 'baby' is going to school has made the dog-shaped hole in my heart even larger! Hope your DD is getting on well, Z has his first full week this week and I am most surprised by the complete lack of information we get from him. DD used to give us a full run-down of what the teacher was wearing and everything, we are lucky if we get 'it was good' now!

Quick question about the 'chase' instinct. We don't have cats so that doesn't worry us but is the chasing thing a bit of a worry when walking in the country? Do they chase livestock? We are quite rural and there are lots of fields around where there are sheep/cows etc near footpaths, or footpaths and common land where there are grazing animals.

moosemama Mon 23-Sep-13 20:45:12

grin Thank you.

Evesham Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue are fantastic they are in my top two recommended places to look for a rescue Lurcher - the other place being the one we got our older boy from.

As for the garden. My last house had a postage stamp of a garden and I had three dogs - one very large, one medium and one small-ish. As long as they had plenty of off-lead exercise every day they were fine and they still managed to have a good romp around the lawn, despite it's apparent lack of size.

I got a double whammy, as not only was dd starting school full-time, but I lost my old lady dog to Osteosarcoma back in April. We had said we wouldn't get another dog once we got down to one (we lost our other old lady Christmas 2010) but Lurcherboy had other ideas and simply couldn't cope with being an only dog. Between that, dd starting Reception and ds1 starting Secondary it was kind of inevitable that we would end up with a pup to give me something else to focus on.

The difference between boys and girls at school is amazing. My boys never tell me much (although all these years down the line I am now the master of drilling information out of them grin) but dd likes to tell me everything in detail.

Chase instincts vary from dog to dog. As with any dog, it's always sensible to keep them on-lead near livestock. Ex-workers or dogs from working lines are more likely to have a higher prey drive than some, but a good few Lurchers end up in rescue because they don't have a strong prey drive and end up getting dumped by people who want working dogs as a result.

mistlethrush Mon 23-Sep-13 20:58:29

My lurcher was probably a failed worker - and she definitely has a chase instinct, but she has not caught anything in the 11 months we've had her, and she has a clear idea that there are some tiny dogs that are smaller than rabbits and they really are dogs....

PatTheHammer Mon 23-Sep-13 21:00:48

Oh sorry to hear about your old girl sad. And I can't believe your eldest started secondary alreadyshock! I agree, an excellent time for a new pup!

Thanks for the chasing answer, just feel like I need to do some research really. My Brother's dog is a Lurcher cross but they have had her from a puppy and she has no chase instinct at all. They have a cat who she adores. She is an ideal family pet really, but she is massive. I did notice when I was looking at pics that they all vary in height quite a lot. Maybe one that wasn't so lanky would pacify Dh a little!

moosemama Mon 23-Sep-13 21:36:58

I didn't think Lurcherboy had much of a chase instinct, he's never so much as looked twice at livestock, but when confronted with a field full of rabbits a couple of months back he was definitely up for a bit of bunny chasing. Took me by surprise because he's such a lazy, passive lad in general, but fortunately I've always err'd on the side of caution when considering letting him off-lead. I don't think it would have been very different for a lot of dogs, regardless of breed in that situation though.

Pat, if you are looking for a smaller Lurcher, Whippet or Bedlington crosses will reduce the height. I have a soft spot for scruffy Whippet x Terriers (known as Whirriers).

PinkFairyArmadillo Mon 23-Sep-13 23:13:25

Another vote for whippets/whippety lurchers grin

I absolutely adore whippets. We have two and they're fabulous. Lazy little couch potatoes in the house and breathtaking to watch in full flight out on walks. They've both been easily trained to recall and although I wouldn't trust them loose around livestock they're trustworthy enough to spend most walks almost completely off lead.

They tend to be comical, charming and very, very cuddly. It's hard to sit down in this house without ending up with a whippet draped on you or resting up against you.

Scruples get loads of lovely whippets and whippety types in and they have the advantage of all the dogs being in foster homes (or still with their owners in some cases) rather than being in kennels waiting for their homes.

CMOTDibbler Wed 25-Sep-13 21:23:32

My lurcher is pretty small. We'd never let him (or any dog) off leash in a field/common where sheep and cows were grazing, but he has no interest in them at all.

ELGR are fine with rehoming to people with children, and as they foster they know much more about how the dogs are.

If you are in the Evesham area, you'd be v welcome to meet Cmotdog and see what he's like

PatTheHammer Wed 25-Sep-13 22:23:45

Ah, that's a very kind offer CMOT, I'm sure that would help immensely.

I'm trying hard with DH at the moment but he keeps on about not thinking about it till next year. Think he's just fobbing me off! My opinion is that if we want it to happen early next year then we've got to do the groundwork first!

PatTheHammer Wed 25-Sep-13 22:24:53

P.s Not in Evesham but not too far away, under an hours drive.

mistlethrush Wed 25-Sep-13 22:26:31

The Lurcher rescue we got ours from rehomes nationally too.

CMot's dog is a stunner and so friendly too.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 25-Sep-13 22:31:10

It is doable to raise a puppy in the circumstances you describe but you will need to enlist help and it's bloody hard work.Plus it's much better to rehome a rescue dog if you think you could do this.

An older dog will be fine - probably just catch up on extra zzz's while you're out.

If dogs were only allowed if there's someone home full time we'd have an even worse crisis with dogs needing homes.

BadSeedsAddict Thu 26-Sep-13 06:57:35

We have a collie and a whippet/collie cross, both rescues. We got them from dogpages (google it), one a private rehoming and one from a rescue on there. Both fine with being left for around that time. A lot of people want a puppy or younger dog; adopting an 'oldie' is a good thing to do as many are overlooked. An older dog might be more suitable to being left although it might be good to take a week or so off to settle them in? Old black labs are brilliant dogs smile

PatTheHammer Fri 27-Sep-13 16:19:05


the local dog rescue have a 2 year old Lurcher, she's quite small and apparently fits our criteria. We are going to have a look at her tomorrow, she's in foster care at the mo. Didn't think it would be this soon but will see what we can do, it won't hurt to look I guess.

At least DH seems fully on board now rather than fobbing me off......think he's secretly quite excited.


moosemama Fri 27-Sep-13 17:39:16

Oooh how exciting!

Good luck tomorrow and make sure you come straight back and let us know how it went. smile

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