Am I being an idiot getting a dog?(60 Posts)
Apologies if this is long..
I've been wanting to get a puppy/dog for a long time, seriously thinking about it for about a year. I've done a lot of research on types of dogs, and I think I have seriously considered the effect it will have on my lifestyle. I live in a decent sized house with a medium garden and a big field out back, in a little village in the countryside. Lots of woods/beaches nearby. I am a lone parent with a 4 year old DS who is used to dogs from his fathers side. I am aware that I cannot leave the puppy alone at all and that I can't go on nights out etc for a long while. I don't work at the moment, but will be aiming to start part time work soon after the new year (or a few months after if I do get a puppy so it can settle etc). I rent but I have permission from my landlady to get a puppy.
On the flip side, my entire family thinks I am nuts and that I am making a mistake. I have never owned a dog before. I don't have a shedload of disposable income right now, but I have taken into account when I do start work I will pay for doggy day care/dog walker/insurance etc.
Is there anything I should know that I may not have considered? I consider myself to be pretty responsible, I've raised DS so far on my own so I don't think its a giant leap to think I could raise a dog too! I'm not sure why everyone thinks I'm being stupid. It has compelled me to come on here to ask opinions because if I do make the choice to get one, I really really never want to have to give the dog up or anything. I want it to be for life so I'd love to have all the information I can get!
Any advice or thoughts would be wonderfully helpful. Also, Ive not settled on a breed yet so any suggestions would be nice
Wait until you have your job and your lifestyle is settled. Until then there is no way you can know if a dog will be possible, if you can afford the money, time or even head space. You've not had one before so thinking through the changes is theoretical at this stage. Limiting your options before you even have a job could prove a costly mistake.
We have a lovely natured black lab, who is very gentle with our 10 year old, very biddable and dog friendly.
Do not underestimate the cost of a dog (we did!).
Pet insurance £30/month
Health plan covering flea/worming/health checks £11/month
Food at least £25-30/month (any less and you are feeding the dog crap)
Treats variable/month (we probably spend ~50p a day)
Training Classes ~£6-£10/week
Vet bills - in first year we have spent >£200 (that's in bills either below insurance excess, or paying insurance excess for bigger bills)
You will also need collars, leads, toys, shampoo, crate etc
Annual Vacs ~ £50
Neutering/Spaying if needed ~£200
We have also spent a shedload on wellies, waterproofs etc for long walks in the cold and rain.
Sounds as if you could give a dog a good home, but I would wait until you are more financially able to have a dog.
I bet your DS would love a dog. It almost sounds like an ideal set up, OP.
But why rush? Why not wait until spring/summer, at least until you have gotten into the rhythm of your new job before seeing what your time and finances are like?
The way I was approaching the decision was that it would be better to get a dog before I started work? I thought the dog would be settled by the time I would be out for a few hours a day.
Am I wrong then? If I am working I can' get a puppy then hop off to work the next day can I?
I'm in no rush to get a dog, I want to make sure Ive done all the research possible. But I was assuming getting a new puppy and having to go off to work wouldnt be ideal.
Actually, you have a point!
I guess I would probably get settled into work, then get the puppy over, say, the summer and have a couple of weeks off and get it used to things. But your way sounds better! Honestly, I can change my mind about things at the drop of a hat. One thing is though, you do sound like you have thought this through, which is a better start than many dogs have.
Having a puppy is a bit like having another child...ok not quite as full on, but, honestly, not far off it in terms of how much time and effort it takes up. thankfully that stage doesn't last long but, it is hard work. Puppies bite, a 4 yr old used to dogs isn't a 4 yr old used to a puppy...they're a completely different thing. (a horrible, bitey, chewy, peeing thing, lol)
They cost more than you plan. (see above)
Walking - you really do have to be able to do it, even if your DS isn't well, even if you aren't well, even if it's pouring down, freezing cold and your DS doesn't want to, can you fit in walks before your DS's bedtime? (as it's just you I mean) The minimum I'd do for any breed of dog is 2 x 1/2 hour walks for lazy breeds and twice that for more active ones...and on top of that you want to do training and playing sessions (though to be fair, they're little and often not huge stretches of time).
They are worth it, but, it can be too much work and that's what you need to think about really, whether you do have the time and energy to take one on at this point.
I definitely have the energy. As someone said upthread, having never had a dog all of this is theoretical I suppose, but I am a pretty outdoorsy person and I'm often out on a long walk thinking a dog would love to be out with me now!
I can do a long walk in the day when DS is at school, then take the pup out for a shorter one before DS's bedtime. Thats the plan anyway. DS could use the excercise too
It is a toss up on timing I guess. I'd have more time for a dog if I got one right now, but more money if I wait until I start work. I just don't know which is the best choice I suppose.
You're right that it's better to be off work for a while with a pup!
Look at some figures,remember pups are cheaper to feed.Insurance,I've never paid £30 a month for one dog! The essentials can be shipped around for.While you need to consider potential vets fees they aren't general and if you are on benefits until you start working you can use the PDSA,so don't let that put you off when the timing is probably the best time for you.
Have a think about it,why you want a dog,what you can manage and also the breed.Remember that a good breeder has a waiting list and they are also more expensive due to what goes into the breeding by and rearing.Pups available quickly and cheaply,without a waiting list,are backdoor breeders,which can come with problems,that includes health
I'm going to have a budget of around £500 for the puppy in January. I wanted ideally to be able to keep around £150 of that for jabs/supplies etc but I suppose that doesnt leave a huge amount to pay for the puppy.
Its such a tough call. I'm not against rehoming a dog, but Ive not come across any that will be given to a home with a 4 year old, probably for good reason. I've looked after a few dogs in the past for a few months to around 8 months and while the majority were fine, one of the dogs was a nightmare due to having had no training. She was about 1 and a big staffie. Lovely dog but I didnt have the experience to train her out of all her bad habits.
If it's definitely a puppy you want and you want it nowish (and I agree you'd be better in with a puppy even if financially it's a bit tighter) look at rescue ones, a responsible breeder takes a while to find and then you'd only be on a waiting list anyway.
Some rescues are iffy about puppies and children under 5, but lots aren't.
It sounds as if you have done your homework well, and I think your son will love having a doggy companion.
I am wondering whether you have considered getting a rescue dog rather than a puppy? A good rescue will make sure you are well matched, and also you may find it is less work than having a puppy (housetraining and chewing etc).
Many tears always have loads of puppies, all over the country and I got my puppy from them when dd was 3.
oodsocks - I have actually been to a rescue centre (granted only the one) and they practically laughed me out the door. no chance of giving me a dog with such a young child. Ive looked online a lot and they dont seem to offer dogs to homes with young children.
I wasnt aware they had many puppies in rescue centres though. Worth looking I suppose. But all the research Ive done makes me believe there arent a great deal of breeds ideal for my situation.
Ive been focussing on labradors (although the internet says theyre notorious for chewing) golden retrievers, or something smaller like a pug cross or a pomeranian cross or soemthing.
Definitely look into a rescue pup if you've considered rescues.Sadly,after stupid people who buy puppies as presents,shortly after Christmas,I'm sure there will be a few around
There are a whole litter of lab crosses at many tears at the moment
Rescues have puppies. We just paid £80 for a 9 week old staffy/jack russell cross. In the month since we brought her home, to my knowledge the rescue has had a litter of GSD/collies (stunning looking pups), black labs and a patterdale/poodle cross pup. Probably quite a few more I haven't heard about.
Beauty of getting a rescue pup is it comes de-flea'd, wormed, vet checked and will be neutered later - any one of those things might cost the entire cost of pup or more. You'd still be a few hundred quid ahead for insurance, excesses, food, training. We got our dog from Dogs Trust and they also do puppy training classes and give you loads of info and support from behaviourist/trainer for the rest of the dog's life. Not many breeders do all that!
We were on a waiting list but in the end only got pup when I kept ringing up to see if they had any in. (Worth going in to jump through hoops and get on list well ahead of time). Someone else who got a pup from the same litter as me just turned up on the day when pups happened to be there and managed to reserve one so it is first come first served and you have to be persistent. Friend of mine really wanted a black lab and missed it by a day, I think.
but bear in mind that, although puppies are undeniably lovely, there will come a point in hisorher training where you want to cry
because everything smells of shit
also, every time hisorher paw hits the vet's table, it will cost you at least thirty quid
good luck to the three of you
Thank you all for your kind words
I will definitly check out some rescue centres then. It is true after christmas there may be more puppies available
With a pug,even a cross,you are looking at potential health problems which can end up costly.
With your budget and possibility of crosses you're likely to be using backdoor breeders.Pugs can have awful breathing problems and 'breeders' (backdoor) like to make their money with designer crosses and would probably still be out of your budget with that one.They also likely wouldn't have carried out any health testing etc either.
I'd try the rescues first as you aren't too set on a breed and also consider what you want from a dog.The breeds you have given are quite varied.
What do you want from future doggy and what don't you want? People may then be able to give suggestions and pointers
Think about the breed if you will be working part time, labs like company and terriers will eat your skirting ! Lurchers are great !
I'm not really set on any breed. I have done a lot of googling on dogs that are good with young children and that are good for first time owners which is where I am basing most of my preferances. But dogs personalities vary a lot and Im starting from a place of almost no knowledge!
What I want from a dog is:
-good with young children
-not too needy a breed so can be left alone for short periods without too much distress
-good for a first time dog owner (so probably not a working dog breed)
thats it really! I dont really like little lapdog dogs, they are very cute but im not really into bichon frise type dogs.
but then again not one thats going to become massive because of cost of feeding etc.
In a dream world I would have a newfoundland, but thats way way out of my price range for cost and maintenance!
Staffy, retrievers, something sighthoundy...um a spaniel not from working lines? They should all be ok.
I'd avoid terriers (I don't count staffies as I'm sure that terrier bit in their name is a fraud, lol) as they can be a bit well, determined...that's the word I'm going to go for, lol, for a first time owner and nothing originally used for herding/guarding livestock is probably a good idea. But that still leaves a lot of breeds.
A well exercised lab should be fine with part time hours, especially as you've already mentioned a walker or daycare.
I love staffies, my sons father has one and she's the most amazing well trained dog i have ever met. I'm scared though that I wont be able to train one as well.
I considered a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but many people have told me they are xtremely needy.
(I apologise for my typing there are four keys missing on my keyboard!)
Staffies are usually very trainable, eager to please and really motivated by food.
Cavaliers are nice little dogs, but they're a breed where the only ones easy to get hold of are badly bred and they're a breed with huge health issues.
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