First time dog owners - just HOW much work?

(99 Posts)
Wannabe2015 Tue 09-Feb-16 09:55:34

We have decided to get a dog. It won't be until next year but I've started doing some reading and research. We don't have a fixed idea regarding breed or whether to get a rescue or a puppy from a breeder.

I have it in my mind that the decision to get a dog is similar to the decision to have a baby and that for the first year or so we won't really have much of a life whilst everyone adapts.

Alot of people I speak to suggest I am really over-thinking this, that getting a dog is not comparable with having a baby at all.

Am I right to think like this, yes? To expect it to be hard and exhausting to start with?

For those of you with dogs and children, which was harder work?

Thanks Doghouse ppl!

RudeElf Tue 09-Feb-16 09:59:48

I would describe it as having a toddler that never stops being a toddler.

The first few weeks are an adjustment that's for sure. If getting a puppy (or a rescue that has no house training) then it's a case of mind the wee! But patience is key. Cant stress that enough and everyone in the family has to be on board and agree on rules and training. Good idea to start talking about that stuff now. I got the idiots guide to dog training at the start and found it really useful. Lots of youtube tutorials for training too.

Annarose2014 Tue 09-Feb-16 10:08:10

I find having a toddler easier as at least you can entertain them indoors on rainy days. Dogs don't understand and go up the walls and so you have to trudge out in all weathers.

RudeElf Tue 09-Feb-16 10:10:16

^good point! Although one of my human children is very dog like in that respect! He is drawn to wet and muck. grin

RoseDog Tue 09-Feb-16 10:13:34

We took in a 5/6 year old rescue staffy when the dc were 8 & 10 having never owned a dog before, only cats, she is a staffy cross and huge and I remember the first day thinking omg what have we took on by the end of day 2 it's like she had always been here. She needed to learn the house rules not that we have many and can be a bit stubborn, we needed to get in a dog behaviourist to help us understand how her mind works and to teach us to teach her. It helps that she is quite lazy and likes the simple things in life!

Costacoffeeplease Tue 09-Feb-16 10:16:43

If you've never had a dog before, it's much harder than you think.

If you get a puppy you will probably hate it for several months - just have a look at some of the threads on here from new pup owners who complain about having done all their research and shock horror, an 11/14/18 week old pup is biting/weeing/pooing/jumping up - and, depending on breed, it might not 'grow up' until it's about 18 months old

Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best

Dieu Tue 09-Feb-16 10:23:42

I have a pup, and in the earlier days would absolutely liken it to a baby with no nappy on. Who follows you everywhere you go.

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 10:25:58

If you get a puppy, and you want a good well socialised biddable dog, expect the first 18 months to two years to involve a lot of training. I would always rescue, partly because I think it's morally right but also because I've just always preferred adult dogs to puppies (even as a child, and even though I will be the first to cuddle and coo over a puppy if offered the chance).

You can to some extent control what's involved by being realistic about what breed is likely to work for you and being very choosy about the dog. You might love collies or GSDs or Rottweilers, but if you work full time and/or do not want to put 3-4 hours a day into exercising and training your dog, you should steer clear of working breeds and look for something with a reputation for being chilled out that is unlikely to be destructive when you're not around.

Bear in mind also that small working dogs have as much capacity for exercise and are as demanding and intelligent as big ones!

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 10:28:01

PS if you do buy from a breeder (boooo!) insist on seeing and interacting with the mother and if possible the father. Be very cautious about adopting puppies who are older than 12 weeks and/or who live outside in a run with each other rather than in the house - they will probably not be very well socialised and you'll be playing catch up.

JennyBunn Tue 09-Feb-16 10:35:59

I am a first time dog owner and spent over 1 year reading up about dogs, visiting shelters etc.

We adopted our boy when he was 5 months old. The toilet training issues were a lot easier than I anticipated, probably because he was an older pup. I have to say that I found the whole thing much easier than I anticipated, but then I had probably REALLY over thought it all!

We went to training classes which was really useful, particularly for a novice like me.I also occasionally use a dog-walking service if I have a really busy day or will be out of the house for a long time. On the odd occasion when I was concerned or surprised by his behaviour, I found more experienced owners on Mumsnet/in the park were great for advice.

We've had him for 18 months now and I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the times I regretted getting a dog. That includes the time in the second week of September that he destroyed 2 pairs of new Start-Rite school shoes angry!

insan1tyscartching Tue 09-Feb-16 10:36:01

I found the first, probably, year hard work. I find babies and toddlers so much easier hence I have 5dc but only one dog. He's two now and it's much easier of course he needs a couple of walks a day and the muck he brings in needs sorting and he needs a bath every couple of weeks in winter but I see more of the joy of having a dog in our lives now. I'm not sure we will ever have another though, Eric is expected to live to fourteen,Dh will be pushing seventy can't imagine him wanting to do the walking and training and muck cleaning and I know I won't want to either.

Wannabe2015 Tue 09-Feb-16 10:49:54

Wow, so I'm not overestimating the work then. We have done a few weeks dog-sitting here and there for friends who went on holiday. But their dogs were both 10+ years old and really placid (a black lab bitch and terrier cross dog). We didn't find it difficult or even inconvenient really and we had 3 children under 6 at the time.

But a puppy...yes I can see that there will be a massive difference.

AnUtterIdiot, do you oppose buying from a breeder because it's difficult to find a reputable ethical one, or it is an ideological standpoint? Genuinely curious...

Costacoffeeplease Tue 09-Feb-16 10:54:28

I would never buy a dog - always rescue, even if you want a pup there are litters born in rescues

Wannabe2015 Tue 09-Feb-16 10:58:43

I'm open to the idea of buying a pup as it's possible to know it's lineage and health screenings can be done. Getting a rescue, it's more of a gamble regarding the health and temperament of the dog. I have children. I want to make sure we get the right dog.

I'm perfectly open to getting a rescue. I just like the idea of knowing exactly where a pup has come from, meeting the dam, seeing the pups in their first home. Ensuring an ethical breeder is another thing altogether I grant you...

Annarose2014 Tue 09-Feb-16 11:03:11

Just a note that my local rescue won't rehome dogs 2 yrs + with families with kids. They have had a few bad experiences.

Tbh unless you're very outdoorsy, look into local dog walkers. Twice a day is tough. Especially when it's sleety and icy rain. Even on Christmas Day!

Next time I'm getting a rescue greyhound. A lovely cuddly lump who won't need 5 miles a day!

Wannabe2015 Tue 09-Feb-16 11:14:16

Yeah, looking at a lot of local rescue places, our options are very limited due to having young children.

GloGirl Tue 09-Feb-16 11:16:23

I found having a puppy harder than having a baby. You've got a muh shorter timescale in to put them on the right track. He's a teenager by 12 months so you need to be out every 15 minutes toilet training etc. Letting him bite you too long whilst playing means he could take ages to train out of.

That said, by 2 you have a faithful companion who is just happy and content with you forever (just the usual expense and chores!)

Insurance is 20-30 a month so start setting that aside now, you'll get used to it and will help with initial spends.

Read each breeds VERY wisely. Find the breed you want, find that breed specific forum and then post on there and ask them to talk you out of it.

Costacoffeeplease Tue 09-Feb-16 11:19:30

How old are your children? I wouldn't get a dog if you've got under 5s

Annarose2014 Tue 09-Feb-16 11:58:18

I wouldn't either. Mainly cos it's too much additional work in itself, though the level of supervision needed would also put me off.

Hoppinggreen Tue 09-Feb-16 13:23:55

It's about twice as hard as you ever imagine it would be.
I love my dog but if I could turn back time I'm not sure I would have him.
Mind you, hes still a puppy so maybe I will come not to regret getting him as he gets a bit older.

BigginsforPope Tue 09-Feb-16 13:38:28

To go against the grain I think having a dog is so much easier than children and we have had two puppies over the last three years. Admittedly they are whippets so natural couch potatoes!
I would definitely recommend dog training classes if you have never owned a dog before. I learnt so much about how to "talk" dog and felt so much more confident afterwards.
I've got two dogs and four dcs but we waited until the youngest was four before getting our first dog.
If I got the dogs first I would never have had children.

KittyBeans72 Tue 09-Feb-16 15:14:42

we got our first ever dog on 4 December and i spent the first two weeks in shock. it was WAY more work than I anticipated, partly because we can't just open the door and let him pee so I have to keep walking him to give him a chance, and partly because we have 4 cats so we can't just let him roam the house. I love him to bits and am totally committed to him but if I knew then what I know now I wouldn't have done it.

sign yourself up for dog training classes to start the day you get him, or even before if they'll let you come and watch! and start sourcing dog sitters so you can be ready with them as soon as you get him.

As a trial run, you could sign up for Borrow My Doggy and have a couple of dogs come do stays with you.

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 16:02:38

Wannabe both, but more just the huge number of dogs that are put to sleep or in rescues. Plus specific issues with breeding for e.g. GSDs with hip problems, and over breeding of breeds like greyhounds (so many put to sleep because they don't make the grade).

Having said that, rescues are wary of rehoming with kids under 7, and people with cats often need a puppy for the best chance of animals getting along.

I don't think it makes you a terrible person to get a puppy from a breeder, I just think people who can rescue should.

BagelfortheNewYear Tue 09-Feb-16 18:02:56

I've fostered 2 dogs over the last 2 years and looked after friend's and brother's dogs. I enjoyed it very much but, honestly, I'm not sure I would want a dog full-time. I'm obviously not a "natural" dog-owner otherwise I would have taken the plunge as I love dogs very much.

For me, it was the "I can't go to the shops for a few hours, pick up kids from school, take them straight to swimming/other places and come home 6/7 hours later, because the dog couldn't be left that long. Ditto for days out in London, theme parks, cinema plus a meal after. It's that kind of thing that puts me off. It's not something you have to think about every day but it does mean you can't be as spontaneous as you might like to be. Obviously, you can do different activities which include your dog, but I found it was something that bugged me a little bit. BUT if my family were more into the idea of having a dog, it's probably something I would have done by now! And, however much kids are mad about dogs, you will end up with the vet visits, poo picking, feeding, and walking!

I only had to consider it for a few months each time, but you would have 10+ years. Having said that, if you have younger children, look at smaller rescues. They're often more flexible, have dogs in foster as no money for big kennels. Then dogs can be assessed in family environments, meet children, other dogs/cats etc.

For example, Heathlands Animal Sanctuary, Balkan Underdogs, Silver Fox Dog Rescue, Black Retriever X. They all have FB groups. When you do go looking, always join FB groups as often a lot more up-to-date than websites. More "popular" dogs don't even get to the website as they're snapped up beforehand.

Wannabe2015 Tue 09-Feb-16 18:28:11

The DC will be 8, 6 and 3 by the time we bring a dog home. Too young? I had hoped the 3 year old would be trainable by that age and could be taught how to treat and respect the dog.

Hmm...you know, the more I read the more there is I find to read, IYKWIM. It seems such a complicated thing and yet every day I pass dozens, maybes hundreds of people walking dogs.

UtterIdiot, I respect your view. And you're probably right. Breeding probably can't be an ethical choice. But it seems safer somehow (good breeder permitting).

Oy. I think I have alot more thinking to do. We haven't committed ourselves to this any time soon. It had always been something we hoped to do, to make our family complete.

It's odd that so many people I meet/know seem to make this decision so lightly. People with children too. I'm being accused of being neurotic by taking time to research and plan ahead!

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