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Never owned a dog before, how to choose breed and prepare?

(25 Posts)
ReadTheWholeFred Wed 21-Sep-16 11:52:30

We have decided we would love a dog to complete our family. I had agorheous Springer as a child but my parents did all the care, DH has never had a dog. We babysat our friends' pug for a week at our house and that's our only experience.

How do you test that you are really ready for a dog? How do you prepare?

And how do you choose a breed? We live in London with a decent garden but walks will mainly be in smallish perks with fenced off dog areas. We have young children (youngest 3). The dog wil be alone from 9am-1pm 4 days a week. We want a very affectionate dog. Any ideas?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 21-Sep-16 11:56:51

We looked after our friends' huge lab (that needs two hours walking a day) for three weeks, in January. I think that's the only way you 'know' if you're up for it and if it will fit in with your lifestyle. We now have a black lab x and he's ace.

ReadTheWholeFred Wed 21-Sep-16 12:11:25

I love labs but I know for sure that we can't have such an exercise intensive dog.

We borrowed our friend's pug and that was easy but he hated being walked. I know I don't want a pug, I would prefer a bigger dog with less bum hole on display!

phillipp Wed 21-Sep-16 12:11:33

We were really anal about this.

For a month we wrote down what time we left and came back home. We work for ourselves so it varies day to day. To make sure we weren't out too much.

Thought about evenings since they would be no longer relaxing ( at least for while), sorted times we felt we could fit in walks then etc.

We knew we wanted a cocker, having had them before. So knew lots of exercise was a must.

It's hard to find a breed that will fit perfectly. Can you say what your are looking for a bit about you and your family? Then people can maybe suggest breeds?

ReadTheWholeFred Wed 21-Sep-16 12:13:41

In terms of what we are looking for I think we want a dog that's good with kids and will play with them, a dog that doesn't need hours of exercise off the lead, an affectionate dog that will sit on the sofa with us at night, a dog with lots of character (my springer was like a little human). Ideally a dog that doesn't malt loads.

Soubriquet Wed 21-Sep-16 12:14:09

Sit and look at any breeds you like the look of

Then do intense research into their main breed characteristics. How much exercise they need, their temperament etc

See if you can find anyone who has the breed you like and meet them face to face to gauge how you like them

Then look at breeders

Or cut through a lot of that and look at rescues. Much specifically adult dogs as they are fully formed and you can decide from there whether they are a fit or not

ReadTheWholeFred Wed 21-Sep-16 12:16:55

Do rescue centres ever let you trial a dog that you are considering taking home?

Soubriquet Wed 21-Sep-16 12:19:40

Some might if it's a small enough rescue

One I worked at used to let you (long closed down now)

Others will let you meet the dog as many times as you want during your application process. You can walk it too and see how much you enjoy it.

Plus if for any reason it isn't working once you bring the dog home, they are happy to have the dog back

alleypalley Wed 21-Sep-16 12:22:16

We are also in London, we have a 10 month old mini schnauzer. She is beautiful, and very affectionate with us. Not so much with other people though. We are looking to work with a dog trainer to help us at the moment, if I was to do it again I would make sure we had proper training classes from the start, we did puppy socialisation classes but we're still struggling.

She was easy to toilet train, doesn't moult but does need reasonably regular trips to the groomers and gets on well with our two dc (11 & 6). She loves chasing her football around the park but is also happy going on long walks with us if we're out and about. If we can get her fear of strangers sorted out then she'd be the perfect family dog.

Floralnomad Wed 21-Sep-16 12:23:59

What about a retired greyhound , they are generally affectionate ,love sofas and don't mind not walking loads .

SissySpacekAteMyHamster Wed 21-Sep-16 12:24:03

Go to the rescue centre and speak to them regarding your wish list.

We have 2 rescues who are brilliant with the kids and are happy to be left for parts of the day as they sleep lots.

Best thing we ever did getting the dogs.

Isitjustmeorisiteveryoneelse Wed 21-Sep-16 12:35:28

Vitally agree with everyone that is saying rescue is the way to go. Although checking breed characteristics is a good start, you can never really be sure how an individual dog will turn out re things like exercise needs eg. I've got two Labs and most people assume they need a lot of exercise. One does, he can go like a train for six miles+ and still want more playing ball/fetch etc when we get back home but the other one barely gets to the end of the lane before she becomes a dead weight on the end of the lead looking at me as if to say 'I've had enough now thanks' and back home we go - she does however need a lot of 'brain' games to keep her happy. So getting an adult dog from rescue would be a very good choice.

Isitjustmeorisiteveryoneelse Wed 21-Sep-16 12:35:58

Or even 'totally' agree....

NeverGoOutOfStyle Wed 21-Sep-16 15:11:21

I agree with isitjustme when it comes to labradors and golden retrievers, some of them can just go and go and go and others are really quite lazy, but they're very intelligent dogs and generally really like being part of a family. One of ours will walk days if we let her but she's also quite happy to just relax in the house, if the whether is truly, truly awful or I'm not very well, she's happy with a shorter walk that day, one day of a half an hour is fine and she's still happy but generally we give her an hour a day and two little 'wonders' for 15 minutes or so. The other will not entertain outside if it's raining, she has to be serious lured out of the house with food to go! They do only have roughly 3 minutes a year when they're not shedding hair though.

Our first family dog (with my parents) was a cocker spaniel, she was beautiful and lovely, they're not difficult to train and are a nice size too, not a small small dog but they're not big either, and have quite sweet natures and ours and a few others we know had wonderfully long life spans, our little girl passed away last year, aged 16.

Lurchers and Greyhounds are also very loving and quite quiet, but the love a good walk or run too and are often in need of homes with lots of them finding themselves in rescues. My mum adopted one earlier this year and she is so affectionate, when she's out she loves to run, but when she's home she is almost permanently horizontal.

ReadTheWholeFred Thu 22-Sep-16 11:56:52

I think the truth is that I really want some sort of spaniel. That's what I had as a child and I just live their intelligence and affection. Every time you guys mention another breed I realise I feel a bit sad because it's not a spaniel.

Do cockers a need a lot of exercise? Sprinters definitely need more than I can give. Or some sort of spaniel cross maybe.

We are going to start looking in reduce homes. Any recommendations in London? Is Battersea the best?

Soubriquet Thu 22-Sep-16 11:58:02

What about a cavalier King Charles spaniel?

It's still a spaniel breed but much more low energy than a cocker spaniel

Still needs exercising and entertaining but it's a lap dog too

ReadTheWholeFred Thu 22-Sep-16 12:03:06

Sorry my last post was full of typos. It should say "springers" not sprinters and "rescue" not reduce!

RachelRagged Thu 22-Sep-16 17:45:53

King Chares Spaniels are lovely.

If you want a bigger type of dog OP I heard lurchers are a pretty good bet , but you want to avoid that type of dog if you have cats at all . I have a GSD but that is hard work I find but probably not for others. Good Luck in your search .

littlemissneela Thu 22-Sep-16 17:53:57

I have a show cocker who needs less walks than a working cocker (similar needs to a springer). Id never had a dog before and orginally wanted a border terrier (I still would) but we had chickens at the time and terrier and chickens do not mix! I then started reading about cocker spaniels and found one near me. She was a lot of money, but totally worth it. She is 4 years old now and feels like she has been here forever; in a good way.

Ylvamoon Thu 22-Sep-16 20:26:52

You like a spaniel ... I still want to suggest a lovely family dog that has spaniel size, has a sense of humour, loves to be part of the family, does not "hunt", is very hairy (= might be the deal breaker!), very forgiving if you can't take him out for proper walk, is a loving couch potato, loves playing with the kids (as he is one of them!!), very intelligent and a bit cheeky at times, easy to train (as with any dog you have to invest the time) and will always make you smile! Have a look at Tibetan Terriers... they are not Terriers but utility dogs... I am lucky enough to be owed by 3 of these amazing dogs.

phillipp Thu 22-Sep-16 20:34:24

A relative has 2 Tibetan terriers. They are adorable. I love them.

A show cocker maybe an idea. Great family dogs and not as much walking requires as the working strain. Although the one we had required a lot of grooming as she did shed a lot.

We kept her coat short all over do it wasn't that much of an issue.

Tulips1 Thu 22-Sep-16 20:39:20

If you want to see lots of breeds and chat to breeders there's Discover Dogs at Londons Excel in October. Loads of dogs to see and some rescues are there.

Wolfiefan Thu 22-Sep-16 20:42:34

You can do a breed selector quiz.
How much walking?
How much grooming?
How big or small?
You also can't leave a puppy for 4 hours a day.

Salutarychoring Thu 22-Sep-16 20:50:53

YY to Tibetan terriers; they are lovely dogs!

Having adopted a dog, I hope you don't mind me saying op that I would wait until your youngest was older before getting a dog. It depends on the temperament of the individual dog of course, and it can work well, but generally speaking, I don't think dogs and very young children mix very well.

It's better if children are old enough so that they can be taught not to lean over a dog, not to stare at it straight in the eyes, not to pat it's head or hug it (better to stroke it's chest from underneath or from the side, not from above) not to pull it's ears or tail and not to shriek or be boisterous around it or disturb it when it's eating etc. These things are particularly important if you opt for a rescue whose early background is unknown.

Good luck with your choice op!

SometimesPeopleAreDicks Fri 23-Sep-16 14:41:02

We have a GSD and a Boxer Cross.

The GSD can walk for miles but is equally as happy lying on the couch sleeping.

The boxer likes to spend at least 20 minutes a day bouncing off the walls.

Lurchers and greyhounds allegedly don't require huge amounts of exercise.

There was an excellent programme on the BBC a few months back about choosing the right puppy full of really could tips, see if you can track it down on iplayer.

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