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Tell me about life with a high energy dog

(16 Posts)
mmmuffins Wed 07-Jan-15 10:44:23

DH and I are finally going to be in a position to get a puppy in the spring. We will be first time dog owners. I am very attracted to Irish setters, which I know are a high energy breed.

Can you tell me what a typical day/week is like with a high energy breed dog?

Also, we would like to start to TTC in the spring as well, with the idea that us and the dog will be well bonded and in a routine by the time any DC come. How did you find life with your dog once a baby came?

And since I'm sure you will ask: I am very keen on animals, and work on a farm with livestock. As of the spring I will no longer be working. We live in a smallish house with smallish garden, rurally located. Already resident are two bengal cats.

Thanks in advance!

insanityscratching Wed 07-Jan-15 11:59:25

No real advice on high energy dogs although Eric walks about five miles a day (not including running off lead with his friends) which is enough for me and he isn't considered a high energy breed.
I would say though that a young high energy breed and a baby don't seem really compatible to me. Early on you will be lucky to get a couple of hours at a time to get out of the house to walk. If you conceive quickly dog will be at the particularly tiresome adolescent stage and will need even more of your time and training than ever.
I'm sure others will have more knowledge but for me it would never work sorry.

Hoppinggreen Wed 07-Jan-15 12:53:50

I wouldn't do a baby and puppy/young dog combo from choice.
You may be underestimating the noise and mess both babies and puppies make. At the end of the day it's your choice and Lots of people do it but I would wait until the baby is older before you get a dog

MostAmused Wed 07-Jan-15 15:34:05

As an aside, if you're planning to have a baby in the house with the dog get him used to baby crying noises from youtube videos from an early age so it's not a stress when he's older. Same for fireworks etc. Start low volume then increase.

ender Wed 07-Jan-15 15:56:09

Bear in mind that you won't be able to get into much of a routine for the first year or so if you get a puppy.
Irish Setters are a large breed prone to hip dysplasia so exercise needs to be restricted for the first year. You'll have a high energy bouncy pup and won't be able to tire him out with long walks, will need lots of training games instead which is time consuming, but enjoyable as long as you've got nothing else to do.

mmmuffins Wed 07-Jan-15 21:20:14

Thank you for the responses. ender I did not know that restricted exercise was used to prevent hip dysplasia, thanks for that info. What would you describe as restricted exercise? I've just read a bit about hip dysplasia on, which advises against stairs and jumping. I presume by adulthood it is safe to allow your setter to jump?

Buttholelane Wed 07-Jan-15 23:06:04

I have a high energy breed and my advice goes against the norm.

Get the dog used to the idea from day one that sometimes life is boring!

Some days my dog is walked on lead, some days off, some days we walk for hours, some days we walk for 10 minutes, some days we play ball, sometimes we do training and some days, we do nothing at all and she is expected to mooch around the house and keep herself entertained with a toy or chew.

Do not fall into the trap of exercising to wear them out, the more exercise you give the fitter they become until eventually you create a dog that NEEDS that 10 mile run a day or it will go stir crazy.

It is not, in my opinion, healthy for a dog to expect a walk everyday without fail.
Life doesn't work like that.
You can bet there will come a day when your kids are sick, there's a blizzard or some minor emergency happens that means you can't walk the dog that day and for your own sanity you need to know that the dog will cope.

tazzle22 Wed 07-Jan-15 23:25:59

I agree with Buttholelane as well.... I have collie x springer ! Variation is the key , if you create a routine it gets expected and can cause stress when not kept to for whatever reason. This wil be even more important when baby comes as routine will be disrupted * grins. My dogs have always been habituated to "down " times and that may also help (( along with other things) to prevent the chewing / barking issues some dogs have when not getting the attention they want.

imo keeping a dog mentally fit is just as important if not more so than physically fit... but that does not have to involve personal human attention all the time. Those toys that dispense treats when roll around or any other object, some of which can be home made, where dog has to work to get food are great. There are loads of ideas on things like you tube... google is ones friend here ! You can also reward trin dogs to "be calm"

Walks and training are still important when DC comes along ...I found a sling ( then back pack) invaluable as could do more than with a pushchair as could carry on walks / training most days.

I also feed raw food diet which even makes dog work for its nutrituon rather than it being gulped down in 30 seconds flat :-)

Good luck with both dog guardianship and TTC

a2011x Wed 07-Jan-15 23:27:47

I have a high energy dog and a very busy life. Ideally I wouldn't of chosen a dog with such needs but she was sort of dumped with me and I fell in love with her! I have to walk her every day and not just around the block, I mean to fields with a ball and a ball launcher and let her run for a good hour our two. I also take her for a fifteen minute walk round the block in the evening because by the evening she can be a little bit bouncy again. If she is not walked Shes pretty much bouncy round the house, jumps everywhere, find her walking round the kitchen sides, jumping over 6ft fences which have now been extended to 8ft and she still tries her luck. There's the cat chasing around the garden, sniffing under the gate and barking at anyone who walks past, running up and down the garden at speed smelling things, digging up the flowerpots, walking on the BBQ, fishing in the pond, running round the house with her ball, running from room to room with my daughters teddies, jumping over stair gates, going through the bin, excessive barking, chewing and general destructiveness. Running round the house in the middle of the night, Whining to go outside every five minutes, putting her ball by my feet everywhere I go, chasing my daughter round the house which my daughter thinks is hilarious (she's the ringleader of this game). If she's walked and stimulated with training at home she's a beautiful ,sleepy , cuddly ,well behaved little thing that I adore. She calmed down a huge amount after being spayed but this may be an indication of how bad she was when I first got her. Unfortunately she was treated terribly in the time before I had her, she had never had a collar or a lead, seen a ball or another dog and was a nightmare that barked all day every day, she lived with a man who had no voice box and couldn't speak so she didn't know a single command , would panic everytime I sneezed or coughed and had also been beaten many times (the dog belonged to my mothers neighbour). Her early life means she has been very hard work which means she's an energetic dog with all of these issues on toP. I guess what I'm trying to say is I really would recommend a low energy dog for your situation. The last thing you need is being up all night with a baby and then running around after your dog who is jumping all over your baby seeking attention from you that it may not always be possible to give. Of course having the dog from a puppy will help but a dog will be a dog regardless. Sorry it was so long but I covered everything I thought you might want to knowsmile

Staffle Thu 08-Jan-15 09:22:03

Initially my dog (2yr rescue) WAS high energy, anxious and very attention seeking but now - 2.5 months later has calmed down a lot. Personally I could not have coped with him long term being so high energy and for a first dog would not recommend it as the shock was massive and he's not even a puppy! No dc's so no comment there though...

TheWomanTheyCallJayne Thu 08-Jan-15 09:27:16

We have a one year old collie (and an older dog) and I agree with buttonhole and Tazzle. If for some reason I can't get out (like when I had kids with chicken pox and DH was away) I would spend more time playing mentally tiring games with him.
It is constant though. We waited until dc4 was five before doing the puppy thing. I've found him harder work than any child and my older children were not easy by any stretch. I really wouldn't say that it was good time for such a breed for you.

ender Thu 08-Jan-15 09:40:04

OP - re restricting exercise, the "5 minute rule" is a way of making sure large breed puppies won't put undue strain on their joints before muscles have grown strong enough to support them.
It means 5 minutes per month of age exercise a day for the first year, so a 3 month old pup will walk for 15 mins a day. Not everyone believes in it, if you google you'll see lots of interpretations.
It was "invented" by John Weller, a gundog trainer.
See his posts explaining it (as JohnW) on
the labrador forum

lemisscared Thu 08-Jan-15 09:44:01

i had a high energy (although the breed is stereotypically lazy) dog with issues (rescue) when my dd2 came along as a lovely surprise.

It was really bloody hard work.

honestly? wait until you've had the baby. i had pnd the dog didn't help!

lemisscared Thu 08-Jan-15 09:44:29

oh and ive owned dogs all my life and was a vet nurse

CoraCora Thu 08-Jan-15 09:58:53

I've had Irish setters and I've had babies - but not at the same time. And I honestly wouldn't. At least wait until you've had your baby and are some months into parenthood.

Irish setters are a bit like children; they have an extended adolescence, until about three years or so. They're lovely lovely dogs - and very good with children (subject to the usual caveat of never leave dog and small child alone) - but do not underestimate the training and time you'll need to ensure you have a well-mannered dog who is a pleasure to be around.

Unless you go for a rescue dog, you may find your hand is stayed anyway as most breeders will have a lengthy waiting list.

mmmuffins Sat 10-Jan-15 21:26:10

Thanks everyone, lots to think about. Some good advice here.

CoraCora how would you describe your experiences with the breed? I have been searching other forums to read people's experiences with irish setters, and opinions are extreme - either they are described as bonkers and dim, or incredibly clever and well-behaved. confused

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