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Could you talk to me about the practicalities of having a puppy?

(22 Posts)
Banananananana Fri 30-Sep-16 19:49:25

Honest but gentle, please!

We're considering getting a puppy, probably a lab. We have not owned a dog before. I am an animal lover (have had guinea pigs, rabbits and horses for most of my life, but never a dog).

I have two DC: 6 years and 10 months. We have a large house with a totally enclosed large garden. I am not returning to work after maternity leave so the dog would have company for the vast majority of the day and would have plenty of time for walks, training, cuddles etc. We live semi-rurally. We are willing and able to devote time and money to training, insurance, good food and anything else the dog requires. We have a car which will allow the dog to be comfortably and safely transported along with the four of us. We rarely go on holidays.

I have started to research puppy ownership and looked into local breeders. I want to go into this as informed as possible; if it's not right for us we won't be getting one.

If anyone could tell me what it's really like owning a puppy, I'd be grateful. My DC are both placid, calm and loving kids. Am I mad to consider getting a pup with a 10 month old? What does a 'settling in' period typically look like (appreciate this will vary per dog). Where should I be looking for reputable breeders? Any red flags to watch out for?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Wonderfulworcestershirelady Fri 30-Sep-16 20:51:00

We took the plunge earlier this year. It was four years after we lost our last lab. We felt DS was old enough at 11 to take ont the responsibility of walking the dog etc, he had grown up with a dog. I don't think there is a particular problem with a lab pup with young children as long as you follow the cardinal rule which is never to leave a child alone with a dog of any age. Read up on children a puppies. Neither are very good at reading the others body language. I would say it has been harder to train my DS than the dog.
There are some very good online sights re children and dogs, so read, read and read before you make up your mind. Mouthing and biting is likely to be your biggest problem but by 5-6 months it is pretty much sorted, again read up on it, it is normal behaviour but can drive you round the twist.
Puppies are like babies and your maternal instinct will be just as strong as with your children. I remember my sister rushing back to her car in a multi story car park because she was worried the car fumes would seriously harm her new puppy ( he was perfectly OK!).
Labs need very little excercise in the first 6 months. The breed is prone to joint problems which many vets consider to be due to overexcercise. Stairs are a no no as are long walks. Ours was quick to learn she was not allowed upstairs although I have now relaxed the rule in the morning - I have trained her to wake up DS!
Labs will eat anything, so far ours has eaten the plastic handles of a pair of scissors, 2 dog beds, pruned several bushes in the garden, numerous pens and her favourite is to shred any notes or lists we leave around. She also had a go at a few phones. This behaviour tends to be lifelong. Our last lab had a penchant for dirty socks and underwear. However they are also natures hoovers and you'll never have to clear up food from the floor after a meal.
Dog owners are very sociable people. When you are out walking with your children have a chat with any Labrador owners you meet. They are often a good source of info regarding local breeders. All our labs have been from families rather than breeders so I have had no experience of breeders. We prefer working labs but they are more lively!
Good luck with your search. Don't rush into anything. Oh and read up on crate training. We crate trained our latest lab and it has saved our sanity early on. She now only goes in the crate in the car and when we are visiting family (to sleep in). Settling in can be hard but if your consistent it's short lived. Unfortunately everyday is a bit of an adventure with a lab.
We are now at the 8mnths stage and her hormones are kicking in but unlike teenagers it will be over by Christmas and she will be a bouncy young adult. Just a shame my DS's hormones won't be settled by Christmas.

CreepingDogFart Fri 30-Sep-16 22:31:27

I have a lab who is 16 months old. He is extremely tiring and has changed my entire life. Don't ever expect a lie in- seriously - and expect to be walking in any weather and taking him/her out for a walk when it's dark in the evening if they need to go to the toilet. Expect serious damage to property including your home.

Expect to have your heart swell every time he/ she looks at you- they are the best thing you will ever do IF you can give the same effort back.

CreepingDogFart Fri 30-Sep-16 22:32:29

Oh and get a good vacuum- they moult a LOT.

Banananananana Sat 01-Oct-16 09:47:08

Thank you guys. I hadn't thought about them eating everything!

Lie ins are a thing of the past for me anyway so no problems there grin

kilmuir Sat 01-Oct-16 09:50:15

My next door neighbour has a Labrador, dog never seems to tire.whereas my Great Dane and greyhound sleep a lot!

kilmuir Sat 01-Oct-16 09:50:59

Please please avoid back yard breeders. Are there any Labrador livers Facebook pages??? You know what I mean

Hoppinggreen Sat 01-Oct-16 10:36:49

I have always had Golden Retrievers but when my lot one died I was pg so I didn't get another one.
We finally got one at Christamas and to be honest it's been very very hard work. My DC are 11 and 7 so old enough to be left in the room with the dog while I go in the kitchen ( although he usually follows me around anyway) and they are big enough to hold their own with a large boisterous dog. I can also leave them briefly in the house while I take the dog out so no need to drag small children out in the rain and snow.
We love our dog and he's 10 months now and after a lot of hard and ongoing work he's turning into a lovely member of our family but if my DC had been smaller it would have been a nightmare.

Banananananana Sat 01-Oct-16 10:52:10

hopping Thank you - that is very helpful. I am concerned about the age of my youngest DC. But then I also know several people who have gotten dogs with young DC and not had any major issues. I need to ponder it some more.

kil How to avoid BYBs is exactly the kind of advice I need. You say avoid but what do I need to look out for? Where should I be looking?

Banananananana Sat 01-Oct-16 10:53:01

And no, I don't know what you mean re Facebook.

Veggiemomma Sat 01-Oct-16 10:58:48

On actually getting a puppy- go and see it with its mother. A good breeder will have worked it and maybe vaccinated and will not let them go before at least 10 weeks of age.
Just think of a puppy as another baby. You will have sleepiness nights as it settles in. Puppy classes are also a must.
Good luck!

Hoppinggreen Sat 01-Oct-16 11:22:11

I think I'm especially cautious as we had a friend who's baby was very badly injured by the dog knocking them over accidentally.
Also, puppies can be very bitey and even our 11 year old found it a bit much so I would be very worried about a child where the dog was face height as even while playing injuries happen. My DD had some nasty scratches on her arms from our puppy .
Plenty of people do it and have no problems at all I know but it wasn't something I wanted to do. Puppies are hard, I ended up in tears thinking I had made a horrible mistake quite a few times and from what I've read on here I'm not the only one. The thought of having to manage a puppy and small children fills me with horror!!
However, as be said lots of people do it and they are fine but I'm very glad I didn't!!

Costacoffeeplease Sat 01-Oct-16 11:22:56

I would wait until your youngest child is 4 or 5, I don't think puppies and toddlers are a good combination really

Brokenbiscuits86 Sat 01-Oct-16 12:54:52

I did the puppy and toddler combination (ds3 was 18 months) and it worked fine for us, although my pup is a whippet so maybe a bit different to a lab. There is a lab puppy at our training classes and she is lovely but absolutely mental and very very bouncy, she could definatley hurt a toddler without meaning to! However saying that she has been very quick to pick up all the training commands, more so than my whippet.

phillipp Sat 01-Oct-16 13:52:55

We waited until ds was five before we got a dog. 2 years before that mum got a puppy and heavily involved the kids, so he had some experience.

Tbh, we trained both kids (the oldest is 12 so it was easy with her) before we looked at puppy's.

Puppy's mouth a lot. Sometimes quite hard and can get nippy when playing. Ds knew that if dpup started nipping the game had to stop and he should ignore her for a little while.

Dpup is 6 months and grown out of biting or nipping, but it can take a lot longer.

The first few weeks were hard as someone had to be i the majority of the time. Couldn't go out for a long lunch when we were both off, like we used to. And no laying in bed for both of us.

We crate trained but it was still about 3 weeks before she went every night without us having to get up to let her out. First few nights it was every hour - and hour and a half.

It was very hard work. Still is. But not as intense now.

tinymeteor Sun 02-Oct-16 11:59:14

With a 10 month old, I'm afraid I think you'd be mad to try it. You're lucky having two calm children. Getting a lab puppy would be like having a third child, but not a calm one!

They're great dogs when mature but the first two years will be all consuming. Your daily routine will be dominated by tiring the dog out, not by whatever lovely child-centred stuff you'd prefer to do. I speak as someone who had a beagle puppy and a baby within a year. I love that dog but it was so bloody tough, and I think having a dog who was younger than the baby would have been even worse.

neonrainbow Sun 02-Oct-16 12:19:54

Puppies are a bloody nightmare. They bite, poo, wee everywhere keep you awake. Can't be left for very long if at all, are hyperactive and into everything.

Labs are great family dogs but need a ton of training and socialization and stimulation. Other people's puppies are awesome. Your own, not so much. If i was in your position id go for a rescue dog of 1-2 years who had been character checked, toilet trained, and grown out of the biting stage. Mainly because your younger child is so young.

Tokelau Sun 02-Oct-16 12:41:57

I agree with neonrainbow. Puppies are very hard work. They are lovely, but it's like having a toddler, you have to watch them every second. They grab things, chew them, knock things over, in fact I think a toddler is easier! I wouldn't get a puppy while I had a baby.

We have a one year old neutered Labrador cross. He is lovely, never been aggressive or nasty, but is very excitable. He chews everything and anything. He barks if he's outside and wants to come in. He gets extremely muddy in the garden and we have to wash and dry his paws in a bowl each time he comes in. We walk him and play with him every day, and go to dog training once a week.

We have a large cage that he sleeps in at night, and he goes in there when we're not home. We couldn't leave him alone out of the cage, he would tear the house apart. Hopefully when he's older, we can stop using the cage. He can open doors using the handles!

I could not cope with him as well as two young children. If I were you, I would get a slightly older Labrador. I know someone who had a Labrador who was trained as a guide dog, but didn't make the grade. He was a fantastic well trained family dog.

Banananananana Sun 02-Oct-16 14:48:12

Thank you all so much for the advice. It is very gratefully received and has made me realise that now is not the right time for a puppy.

I love the idea of a guide dog who didn't quite make the grade - I'm going to research that.

Thank you flowers

neonrainbow Sun 02-Oct-16 14:51:54

A rejected guide dog should have excellent basic training so definitely worth looking into. Most labs/retrievers are very food oriented and easy to train. There really is no advantage in my opinion to getting a puppy as opposed to a slightly older dog in your situation as long as it had plenty of early socialisation and training.

Banananananana Mon 03-Oct-16 14:26:04

After doing some more research on the subject, I've just posted my application form to rehome a retired or withdrawn guide dog.

Again, thank you all.

tinymeteor Mon 03-Oct-16 14:33:42

Great outcome! Hope it works out for you when the time is right.

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