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Dog owners, please come and share the good and the bad

(47 Posts)
Dancergirl Sun 02-Nov-14 17:56:50

Thinking about getting a dog. Our only pet at the moment is a beloved 3 year old cat. We've never had a dog and I wasn't brought up with dogs so it's completely new territory for me.

I want to think it over very carefully before we get a dog so what do I need to think about? A cat is obviously a very easy pet, she comes in and out as she pleases, doesn't need walking etc. I realise a dog is a much bigger responsibility.

I'm a SAHM at the moment and we live in a quiet road with a garden. Lots of open spaces nearby for walks. What do you do when you go out and about at the weekend? How long can you leave a dog alone for in the house? What do you do when you go for a longer day out where you can't take dogs, e.g. a theme park?

Do all dogs need you to be up at the crack of dawn to take them out?

I've seen from friends how much love and companionship a dog can give, they really are members of the family. I just want to make sure I understand the commitment involved.

basildonbond Sun 02-Nov-14 18:34:51

I love my dog and think that he's a wonderful addition to our family but dogs do demand quite a few adjustments on your part

Apart from the first week when one of us slept downstairs next to his crate he's slept the whole night - he's 15 months now and will start zonking out at around 8pm - I'll put him in the garden at about 10:30 for a final wee (I usually have to wake him up for this) and then won't hear a peep out of him until I go downstairs in the morning. In the week I'm normally up at 6:30 but he's fine to go until 8 or so at the weekends.

You can't really leave a puppy for long periods, up to an hour or two is fine but you may well need to build up to that gradually depending on your puppy's temperament. Older dogs can be left for longer - we've left our dog for just over 4 hours on the odd occasion and he's been fine but any longer than that and we get the dog walker to come in

Dogs are messy (hair, mud) will chew things when puppies

tabulahrasa Sun 02-Nov-14 18:41:05

I wouldn't plan on leaving a dog longer than 4 hours without arranging a dogsitter or someone to pop in and let it out to the toilet at the very least...so that does limit days out without a dog. But, you can pay for that if you don't have someone who can do that for you, you get things like doggy daycare.

Most adult dogs will be fine if for instance a shopping trip goes over the 4 hours, it's not an exact thing, just that's what my plan would be...if you see what I mean.

You do have to plan things more than for a cat, much much less than for a child, lol. Dinners out, cinema trips things like that are all fine, I just go, days out can often include the dog, holidays have to be planned round dogs as well. Either one suitable for them or suitable care.

I've never had a dog that needed me to be up early, they fit in with my morning - if I need to walk them early because I'm out that day I do, if I have a lie in they wait till I'm up. I don't walk at the same time every day anyway, so he might only go out in the garden and not be walked until afternoon. They do tend to like to be fed first thing and go to the toilet, but first thing for any of my pets is just once I'm up, they don't go by actual time.

Walking can be hardgoing in winter - that might be something to consider, when it's cold and wet and dark and you still need to walk anyway.

tabulahrasa Sun 02-Nov-14 18:41:59

Oh yes - that's all a dog, puppies are different, a puppy is pretty full on in terms of care and time.

basildonbond Sun 02-Nov-14 18:50:41

Gah - pressed post too soon ...

You simultaneously have to be really tidy (and make sure dc don't leave anything precious on the floor) and accepting of more mess than you might ideally like - dogs aren't really for the house proud ...

Dogs can also be more expensive than you think - it's not just the original purchase price or rescue donation, you also have to factor in insurance (essential IMO), routine vet care eg vaccinations, worming, flea treatment, training classes, food, toys, bedding, dog walker if you need to be out of the house for a while, dog boarding if you go on holiday without the dog

You also need to be able to put the time in - dogs don't train themselves and a lot of natural doggy behaviour is incompatible with how we'd like them to be. Sometimes people do a course of 6 or so puppy classes and think the job's done, but getting a well-trained dog takes months and months of consistency - but is well worth the effort. You also need to factor in the time needed for exercise and this is where researching breeds pays off as some dogs are happier with much less exercise than others. My lovely dog is a high energy working breed - today he's had 1.5 hours in the morning of running off lead, playing fetch and playing with other dogs, games of fetch and agility in the garden with the dc and another off lead walk of nearly an hour this evening - both of today's walks were in the pouring rain. He's also had games of tug indoors and a few brief ad hoc training sessions. He would quite happily have had another walk in the middle of the day but I simply didn't have the time. However I have friends with a lurcher the same age - she has one big walk in the morning (1-1.5 hours) and that's her done for the day, she's also not keen on going out in the rain so on a day like today she'll have just gone round the block a couple of times, so choose breed or mix of breeds wisely!

CMOTDibbler Sun 02-Nov-14 19:31:20

I have two dogs. We spent a very long time thinking about the first, we'd both been brought up with dogs etc. It was a hard, hard change of thought process when we got the first one.

My dogs wake up when the household does (which is 6.45 give or take), and need to go outside straightaway into the garden. They aren't too bothered as to when they go for a walk, but are a couch potato type (lurchers).

Ours are OK to be left for 4 hours in their crate, so they are left while we go shopping, but longer days will include places we can take them with us, or we have to arrange for someone to come and let them out, or longer days need them to go to day boarding

Dancingyogi Sun 02-Nov-14 19:50:45

We have have had a pup for a few months now, the cost is eye watering! Training will take much longer than 6 neat lessons, I expect to be going once a week for the first year - at least.
They bloody well chew on everything, so far we have avoided major expense but chewing on glasses and remote controls seem a favourite.
Walks in the rain are a bit miserable, walks in the cold freezing rain will be a struggle but there is no get out - I am glad my dcs are old enough to state at home while I walk Dpup because they'd go crazy if they had to walk with me twice a day.
He is not an early riser though, we're all up before him, he greets us enthusiastically but without drama or a toilet run will return straight to his bed till 9.00am at the earliest.
We haven't explored the leaving him for long periods yet, we have just adjusted our activities to suit his needs but it goes without saying that life with a young pup is very restrictive.

EvenBetter Sun 02-Nov-14 19:53:38

Puppies are hell, so I'll just not talk about that aspect. Look on the facebook group Dog Training Advice and Support, in their files at the top of the page for how much work is involved in basic training (come back, don't drag me along the streets, don't be frightened of that, pee outside)

Me and DH are incredibly antisocial, so there's no problem there. We take our girly on Walkies in beautiful areas. She gets up at about 9am, goes for a run, has breakfast (you can't feed dogs for an hour after exercise because of Bloat. Also grapes, raisins, chocolate and a load of other stuff is highly toxic to dogs), then sleeps/gets cuddles till afternoon walkie time, maybe a visit to a relatives house, then dinner, sleep, wants a fight at witching hour/ play find the toy, then a few hours of snuggling before bed.

Dogs are utterly hilarious, you'll love your own fiercely, think they're the most beautiful dog to have ever existed, they'll make you laugh many times a day, they embarrass you in public, listen seriously to your woes, let you cry into their necks and sniff their lovely sweaty sleepy dog smell. All too quickly your un-exhaustable bouncing young dog gets a grey face, slows down, and gets a knowing, wise look about them. The absolute worst part is not the occasional diarrhoea/puppy biting/bin raidings, but when you have to say goodbye forever to your best friend and favourite family member and come home to an empty husk of a home which has lost it's soul.

Dogs are a shock to the system of you're a new owner, and not for the fickle or faint hearted, but if you're willing to put in the hard work you won't believe how much pure love and joy they'll give you in return.

Dancergirl Sun 02-Nov-14 23:37:21

even your post about dogs letting you cry into them reminded me of when I was 16 and been dumped by my boyfriend just after starting 6th form. I was in floods of tears for days on end. One day I was visiting my friend whose dad was a vet and they had loads of pets including two dogs. I remember sitting with my friend sobbing and her bigger dog (not sure of breed, mongrel probably) kept nuzzling up to me. My friend commented that he knew I was upset and it was very comforting to have him there even though he wasn't my dog.

Dancergirl Sun 02-Nov-14 23:39:12

Thanks all, some great advice.

One question - how often do dogs generally poo? And do they get into a routine or do they go as and when?

kickitoutoftouch Sun 02-Nov-14 23:41:05

Go and visit your local rescue centre. You could go a long to start and maybe volunteer to walk dogs there and see how you get on. There are so many wonderful dogs needing new homes. Plus you wouldn't have to do the puppy stage which can be very demanding. Good luck

tabulahrasa Sun 02-Nov-14 23:56:48

Pooing seems to depend on what you feed, how often and the dog.

Mine goes twice a day and prefers to go on walks, so he'll hold off if he can depending on when we walk. (My last dog was once a day)

You can train them to go on command, I've only ever managed peeing with this dog...he's particular about surfaces, lol, but picking it up while on a walk is in some ways easier I think than the garden, so once he was going where I wanted in the garden I gave up on getting him to go when I wanted him to as well.

So mostly he goes on walks and he has a bit of the garden if he needs it.

Being a boy he will pee anywhere and as often as possible though...but I can send him to pee if I'm about to leave him, which is handy.

Again adult dogs, puppies go more often.

basildonbond Mon 03-Nov-14 00:00:56

Re poo - it can depend on what you feed them - lower quality food tends to result in more poo

Ddog usually poos once first thing, then again on his morning walk hen he may poo during his afternoon walk but not always, so two, possibly three, times a day. When he was very little though it was a lot more frequent ...

Dancingyogi Mon 03-Nov-14 09:03:52

The whole poo thing was no where near as bad as I expected. He poos once a day on average.

pigsDOfly Mon 03-Nov-14 11:28:31

Even your post brought tears to my eyes.

All the hard puppy months and the expense, the lack of freedom and so on that is your life once you own a dog all pale into insignificance against the pleasure of having this amazing, funny creature in your life.

friendofmine Mon 03-Nov-14 11:38:14

A house isn't a home without a dog.

Mine is currently flat on her back in the study snoring like a fat old man. I need a wee but I know if I leave the room it'll wake her up and she'll be grumpy with me.

r2d2ismyidealman Mon 03-Nov-14 12:55:31

Friend I know what you mean! Mine are soaked from a morning walk in the rain and then, as they got into some mud, had quick baths. So they are exhausted and are curled up by the radiator, which I have on high for them. I creep about in order not to disturb their warm sleep!

Even, good post. Mine are rescue and I would add that I also look at them sometimes and wonder who they've loved previously, what they've known. They're so generous in offering their love!

EvenBetter Mon 03-Nov-14 13:40:21

Awww, sorry Pigs , we lost our old girl just over a year ago, she was such an amazing girl, it was the worst day of our lives. Getting this little one from the pound a month later helped hugely, and now, one year on she's reaping the benefits that our old girl taught us-cherish them while you still have them, their lives are so short, the years pass so quickly, let them on the sofa, be good to them, the hole they leave in your lives is hard to bear and there'll always be someone important missing.

Sorry, er... I wouldn't be without a dog ever, theyre our home's heartbeat, your most loving friend, no one will ever be as happy to see you as your dog, they are 39degrees so are handy hot water bottles, super intelligent, joy filled darlings. Nothing on earth looks happier than a dog who has just got off the lead, or is standing helpfully beside you as you strip a chicken, or see you come through a door, they live their lives to the max. I'd go through the horror of losing her any day of I could rewind time and spend even just one day with her again.

The poo isn't bad, mine goes 2-3 times a day, and its picked up with a bag, or a shovel (again, not the case for puppies)

pigsDOfly Mon 03-Nov-14 13:50:06

Sorry to hear you lost your precious girl Even.

My lovely girl is just three and a half and I suppose it's always at the back of my mind how short their lives are - lost my 2 old cats over the last couple of years.

I'm pretty indulgent with my dog - sleeps on my bed, on the sofa at the moment.

She's my first dog and I have to admit I'm totally smitten.

Whatever you take from this thread Dancergirl and there's a lot of good advice, just be aware that once you get a dog it will steal your heartsmile

LoathsomeDrab Mon 03-Nov-14 14:07:01

The absolute worst part is not the occasional diarrhoea/puppy biting/bin raidings, but when you have to say goodbye forever to your best friend and favourite family member

I can't read that without tearing up a little, it's so true.

The shredded books, the destroyed remotes/console controllers, the slightly chewed furniture, the times spent on my hands and knees scrubbing poo out of the carpet or sick out of the car, the sleepless nights, the hair in my food/on my clothes, the fighting for space in my own bed, the times spent trying to wash fox poo/dead animal stink out of my dogs' coats and never seeming to quite get the last of it out......

Totally worth it just for the sheer joy I get from being around them, they make me laugh every single day and my life would be so dull without them!

Tootyfilou Mon 03-Nov-14 14:13:29

Even I am in the hairdressers and you have made me cry... Twice.
Such a lovely post and utterly true.
Dogs are the best thing in the world. Fact.

JoffreyBaratheon Mon 03-Nov-14 15:30:45

Two months ago, we had our beautiful, gentle, sweet natured 14 year old dog put to sleep. She'd been blind for many years but at the end also had dementia and went deaf. I still miss her incredibly. My first thought when I wake up, two months on, is that she's gone. The grief is horrible. She was stunning to look at, and even more beautiful personality; a quiet, gentle little soul we got from a breeder when she was 2 (she'd been kept in a kennel in a garage for the first two years of her life - only brought out to be primped and preened and win shows). So I always considered her essentially a 'rescue'. My 12 and 14 year olds grew up with her. They can remember no holiday, and until she was elderly and ill, few day trips without her in tow. She is in our photos, our memories and the heart of the family - as are the other dogs that went before her.

The same week she died - maybe the same day; I don't know the precise date - a dog had an unwanted litter of puppies (more likely, a backstreet breeder had one too many lagers some time before and thought it was a good idea to have some pups to flog on Gumtree). Snoring on my knee right now is a 2.5 KG, 9 week old puppy. She's already desperately loved by the kids! She is not my beautiful old dog, but a totally different personality. But the house is 'home' again (despite the little 'accidents', the dog toys scattered liberally and the loud snoring!)

whattodoforthebest2 Mon 03-Nov-14 16:48:54

Our puppy arrived 4 weeks ago, has now been out 3 times, is nervous of trees and bins (never mind other dogs) and seems to be quite easy to train famous last words

It's been much better than I expected - I've been thinking about getting a dog for about 5 years (seriously) and wish I'd done so ages ago now. She's getting used to being in the car and has been handled by all and sundry and is very friendly. She does chew any shoe she can find and anything noisy, but is learning "no" and is leaving things already. She'll sit and come back to me and responds to my voice (to the DC's envy). I'm going to train her myself and resort to classes if things go awry.

I've been very lucky. I've only had to get up twice in the night in the first week, other than that she's slept through and I let her out into the garden at 6.30 am.

I'm already wondering if I should have got two blush.

I'm supposed to be a mature, sensible, business-like person, but suddenly I'm all lurved-up over a small bundle of claws and fur. smile

VivaLeBeaver Mon 03-Nov-14 16:54:09

I have to get up at 7am every single day to let them out in the garden.

We have a dog walker on the day when I'm at work all day and she will do weekends if needed as well. So we could go to a theme park, etc.

The house looks like a bombs hit it when I get back on the day they're left. They're left for six hours, maybe seven and the dog walker comes in the middle. But house is open plan and older one wouldn't be crate trained. They get everything and anything they can get their paws on and drag it rou d the house.

The rugs are dragged round and chewed, they've shredded the weekends newspapers, found a bra of mine and dragged it round the house, some of Dh's trainers. That's just today. But that's my puppy who's doing that and she should grow out of it. Older dog used to pull coats off the coat rack and chew the zips. He's stopped that.

whattodoforthebest2 Mon 03-Nov-14 17:04:59

Ah - started puppy in a crate on the first day, spent the first night in my bedroom, second night onwards in the kitchen. I couldn't have done it any other way as I have a lovely new hall/stairs/landing carpet that WILL NOT get wrecked

Thank God for crates.

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