Dog advice for a novice(9 Posts)
We are considering getting a dog. It doesn't need to be a puppy so rescue dogs are very much an option but I personally have very little experience of dogs and am not sure where to start. We have 3 kids (6, 4 and 1) and I don't work so no concerns there. We have a small garden and parks etc nearby. We don't have a very big house though so needs to be a fairly small dog although nothing daft looking which needs to go in a handbag. I can't seem to find much online about the best small dogs for families, can anyone offer any suggestions? I was thinking of a Westie but that's only because I knew a lovely one years ago. Family have/ had entirely unsuitable dogs such a springer (too bouncy and mad), a shizhu cross (badly looked after so fat and horrid) , a Labrador (too huge), a Labradoodle (ditto, a Dalmatian (ditto...). I definitely think that a rescue dog will be our preference so I guess we might be guided by what they have suitable for kids. But if anyone could make any recommendations of breeds or general useful sources info for me as a dog novice (DH has had dogs most his life) I would be very grateful.
I have kids and had never owned a dog so took on a rescue staffie, it has been the most rewarding thing we have ever done, she is calm, lazy and loves the kids. Ours is a cross and quite large but you do get little dinky ones.
As a novice dog owner I would seriously think about waiting a couple of years until your youngest DC is 3/4. Dogs and crawlers/toddlers can be a difficult mix.
Don't underestimate the amount of work a new dog will be. You'll have to take it out everyday, whatever the weather, so although your older 2 will be at school the youngest will have to go, what if they're poorly or when the older ones are sick? The dog will still need a walk. And in the school holidays remember there will be no more impromptu days out as you will have to make arrangements for the dog.
From personal experience my Youngest DC had just turned 4 when we got DDog1, she is a Mini Schnauzer, often recommended as a good first time, family friendly dog. We thought of rescue but it's quite hard to find a reputable rescue (not a pound) that will rehome to a family with children below the age of about 10.
Our Mini was a complete land shark when she was a puppy and I did wonder if I had done the right thing, but she grew out of that and has the sweetest nature and excellent bite inhibition. She is, however, the most excitable, nosiest, independent, confident mare of a dog with unreliable recall and a love of exploring - she's going to be 9 this year and showing no signs of calming down... (I believe she is not typical of the breed trust my luck to get a lemon )
Think hard but good luck whatever you decide!
Focus less on the size of the dog and more on their energy levels!
I have a greyhound and a lurcher (greyhound x staffie). The greyhound, although large, is the perfect small house dog as he curls up in the corner and sleeps for a good part of the day and very rarely gets under my feet! I know people who live in flats with greyhounds very successfully. The lurcher, who is smaller, is always getting in the way and seems to take up much more space!
Cesar Millan's website has some good info on choosing the right breed for your and your family's lifestyle and might be worth a squinty at.
Don't pay any attention to any of Milans training advice though. He is outdated and cruel and his methods have been roundly discredited.
I made no mention of using his website for training - just pointing out that there are some useful articles on choosing the right breed of dog for your family.
Training the dog when you get it is a whole separate matter!
Most rescues will not rehome to you if you have young children. As a result we ended up with a puppy. Our youngest child was just coming up to a year at the time, but I had worked out how to fit in walking the dog with the school run and all of that end of things worked out very well. It did mean I had to sacrifice half an hour of my evening down-time to give her an evening run, but the fresh air did me good.
What I didn't allow for was enough time to train her. Luckily she was very easy-going with the DC and developed a decent recall, but her lead manners are still rubbish (she is 12 ). However, if you are not in paid employment, you should be able to find the time you'll need.
As a PP said, focus on activity level more than size - a Jack Russell terrier might look tempting due to being small, but they cram a lot of dog into a small body, and need a lot of walking and activity
and can be little sods A small lurcher might suit you - perky enough to come on a long walk, but not manic enough to require an hour round the woods every morning. In my experience of them, most lurcher/whippet/greyhound type dogs are bone idle when at home.
Good luck with your decision. Lay in a stock of training treats and poo bags and prepare for a combination of fun and frustration.
I would second waiting a few years, and yes, most rescues won't consider a family with under5s/8s for very good reasons, so I would spend the next couple of years researching and meeting lots of dogs, maybe volunteer to walk dogs at a local rescue. so when the right time comes you'll have a much better understanding of different breeds, and have built up a relationship with the rescue so they'll know you'll provide a great home. Take the kids so they learn to be around dogs without the pressure of one in the house 24 hours a day. Good luck!
We have a shih tzu/poodle cross, I think he's probably got more of a poodle temperament if I'm honest in that he loves attention, has lots of energy, loves people of all sizes and loves to be in the thick of things. He's not yappy or a lapdog although he's happy to share the sofa if you rub his tummy and I think he is less placid than the shih tzus I know.
He would be happy in a family with small children (our youngest is 11 though) but I think that's just because of the dog he is as he's pretty bombproof rather than because of his size or breeding.
I think knowing how much time and energy is needed to keep him happy I'd probably advise waiting a while until your youngest is older as it really is like having another child to look after a lot of the time.
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