Pros and Cons of Owning a Puppy/Dog(51 Posts)
We are giving some serious thought to getting a family dog and are considering a West Highland Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Poodle or a Beagle.
DS is 6 and has autism/learning disabilities and loves being with dogs of family and friends.
DH predominantly works from home (occasional travel), and I work 10 hours a week split over two days.
I want to make sure that I am doing the right thing for us and the dog, so I am writing a list of pros and cons. I have the standard insurance costs, food costs, kennel costs, dog sitting for days out etc listed. At the moment the cons are mainly financial, but affordable.
As experienced dog owners, what would be on your list?
Please give the pros too Ninja, I am sure there are many that I haven't thought of, not having owned a dog before.
Emotionally expect it to be hard work especially with a puppy. For the cost I would say it cost us about double what I had anticipated mainly because I use dog day care a few days a week and am going down the route of one person looking after him in their home when we go away compared with standard kennels.
Also factor in the cost of vaccinations and insurance excess as mine had two emergency vet visits, one of those on a bank holiday. Also cost of flea and worming treatments.
The pros though is I have a furry member of the family that is always please to see me and gives me great joy (now he is older )
company, excercise, meeting other dog walkers, always pleased to see you, cuddles and affection, easier to train than children.....
Cons dog hair.....everywhere!
I love my puppy. She makes me smile every day. I talk to people I wouldn't normally chat to. I get out every day. I love walking and having her company. The house never feels empty.
Toilet training was relentless. Couldn't leave her for a second and she didn't go through the night. Separation anxiety meant I couldn't leave her. Like ever. Someone had to watch her if I wanted a shower. It was bloody exhausting.
What makes you choose those breeds? Beagles are very high energy compared to a westie. Westies can have skin issues.
A puppy could be a problem if you can't take leave. Can't leave it for 5 hours. And a child with autism may find a bouncy puppy too much.
Pros- companionship, someone always cheerful and happy to see you, more fresh air and exercise for the whole family, fun training them and watching them learn, teaching them tricks is great fun, oh gosh I could go on forever!
Cons- Dirty paws, hair on the floor when you've just hoovered, barking (not all dogs and not all the time though), puppies need a lot of attention and training, damage caused by chewing (some breeds worse than others), going out to walk them in the wind/rain/early mornings and last thing at night, poo in your garden, picking up poo and having to carry it with you on a walk until you find the next bin...again I could go on and on!!
We have three dogs, and will be having a pup in April (Cocker Spaniel). Its a serious commitment, but we love having dogs. They're part of the family.
Thanks Bitey. We rarely go away anywhere that we couldn't take him. Mainly, day care would be needed for day trips out, theme parks and the like. Of course, circumstances could change, but this is the same for everyone.
Early days sound similar to having a new baby
I have two dogs, a ten year old collie and a 3 month old pup.
Literally is buying yourself a little friend
Great excuse to get outside
Forces you to get exercise as dog needs exercising
House is never empty
Makes home feel like home, lovely to return home to
Great way to meet new people, I still walk my older dog with the people I know through puppy class, have met up with colleagues for dog walk, see same people each day if I walk him in same place
Puppies are so so so relentless, need 24/7 supervision to begin with
Require input and time to train, not just how to sit on command but also things like being in house alone, not jumping up, not biting
Your son will probably find a puppy overwhelming - how would he cope with a puppy biting him before it's learnt not to? (This can take a while!!)
They need exercise every single day even when it's freezing cold or raining - who will exercise the dog in these circumstances? Could cause resentment/become another job that needs doing
They mess your house up, house needs cleaning more
You can't be as spontaneous eg need to go home to see to the dog
Can make visitors difficult if your dog is nervous or they don't like dogs
Visits to friends/family or holidays need more thought as need to think about what to do with the dog
Another thing to feel guilty about/worry about
That said I adore having a dog, and will never be without one. Puppies are so so hard though, please don't underestimate how much of your time they require.
We have a 10 month old labradoodle. I bought her for dd who has add and suffers from anxiety. She has been fantastic and helped dd a lot. Dd says she never feels lonely when she is with the dog and walks her for hours. I too love the dog. It amazing coming home from work to a waggy tail.
The main downsides are the cost - we work so she goes to Doggy day care - ouch! Also the mess - no matter how much I clean her, I can still see marks on the cream rug. And finally, she is undeniably a restriction on our ability to go for days out etc.
On balance, for what she gives dd, I am glad we have her but there are definitely days that I waiver.
Just like a new baby but babies wear nappies and don't tend to chew walls!
We chose those breeds as they came up on results for "finding the right breed for you" quizzes (eg Kennel Club), also DH who comes from a family of dog lovers has experience of them all, except the beagle.
We did look at rehoming a dog, but most are deemed not suitable for a home with a child.
I am also prepared that puppy training will be hard and it wouldn't be often that DH is away, so I am sure we can work around this. Whether I take leave or change my day.
Picking up and carrying warm poo is probably the worst thing for me, but I know it has to be done.
Thank you all. Definitely given me food for thought.
I really do appreciate that the puppy training will be very hard work and time consuming, but with a lack of suitable older dogs available for rehoming, it seems that it is unavoidable.
We have a puppy just 6 months old and it is very hard work. It is our first dog as I have been a cat person. He can be adorable but still nips, we are working on that! Our vet has a healthcare plan where we pay a set amount each month (cost depends on size) and this covers monthly flea and regular worming treatments (vet grade not supermarket), standard vaccinations and deductions on treatments plus twice yearly check ups. Working this out it we figure it is cheaper than paying for these things as they arise and we don't get a big bill at vaccination time. We crate trained our puppy which is a godsend, he goes in happily when we go to bed and when we go out. With hindsight I don't think I would have a puppy again, the house does smell doggy despite regular cleaning and baths, however it takes twice as long as he loves to chase anfpd attack the Hoover! Must admit it's no longer as tidy as I would like. Lots of rewards, today a glorious walk in the forest in the sun, but in the cold it's very muddy and wet! Kids also are a bit bored walking etc now so guess who does most of it!
Cezzy I would get a similar plan from the vets too. The walking would be split between DH and I. But yes, it seems to be all too common that the novelty of a pet wears off with children.
We rehomed last year from a smaller charity called Serbia's forgotten paws - not sure where you're based but if near London perhaps worth checking with them or other smaller charities. We adopted the lovely Max who was a year old and already toilet trained, but had been at the shelter in Serbia from tiny so they knew he was ok with kids (have a 7 and 5 year old). He can be a bit of a handful, but wouldn't change him for the world. Far too smart (has learnt how to open all doors in house - have now put locks where we need to keep him in) and definitely knows when he's pushing boundaries - guilty looks ahoy. But is so lovely to have someone who is always so pleased to see you..
A puppy is very much like having a new baby - no more lie-ins for the foreseeable!
Even with a child who loves dogs, a puppy is entirely different. Puppy biting is normal but can go on for months. It can take a while for a child to understand that quite literally anything left on the floor - toys, shoes, schoolbags - will be fair game for a pup to seek and destroy.
In your position I would contact breed rescues for your chosen breeds to see what dogs they have available or if they have waiting lists. Likewise, contact rescues local to you and explain your situation which may well be ideal for an older settled dog who likes a lot if company ( by 'older' I mean 1yr +, not necessarily elderly btw )
Well the biggest con is definitely the relative brevity of their lives, everything else negative just pales in comparison
Of course there's hair, poo (including the inevitable accidents inside, sometimes when they're not well) and other bodily fluids, general muck (mud, nose smears, slobber/licked soft furnishings, unspeakable things they've rolled in on walks, etc.), endless training (not just for puppies, it's a necessary constant throughout their lives), inevitable training failures and the associated humiliation, vet trips and illnesses (which may involve having to do or deal with some pretty gross things sometimes), "grass/hair bum", grooming (how much is very dependent on breed), the smells (whether it's doggy smell, again it's breed dependent, dog farts or a faint whiff of sheep poo because you missed a spot when you bathed them after a walk) the sheer relentlessness of puppies (house training, chewing, biting, etc.) then just as you're getting over that they turn into teenage hooligans, the dog(s) always having to be sorted first before plans can be made.
It can't be all bad though, I've got four of the damn things
Seriously though, if you're prepared for the hard work then the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. You will never be as adored as you will be by your dog. A good dog walk is a fantastic cure for a great many ills, as is a lovely doggy cuddle. The satisfaction of having a well behaved, well trained dog (even if it feels like it only happens occasionally!!) is amazing. Doing activities and learning together is so much fun, whether you do structured classes or just try things out at home. Just the simple companionship is absolutely wonderful and well worth all those cons!!
If you're going down the puppy route then I'd definitely recommend meeting and chatting to owners/breeders of your short listed breeds, as well as meeting their dogs. Dog shows can be great for this and there are also events like Discover Dogs (October in London) and also a Discover Dogs area at Crufts, though you've just missed it this year.
Definitely don't write off rescues completely though. Quite often smaller, independent rescues are much more flexible with their rehoming policies and also rely on fosterers rather than kennels so have a much better idea of how a dog fits into a family environment. There are also breed specific rescues, often run by people heavily involved with the breed club. Again they tend to use fosterers rather than kennels and it can be a fabulous way to find an adult dog of a particular breed.
If you go for a spaniel type dog have you also thought about grooming costs ??
Every person I know with a westie say they are nippy and not good around children ?? Not sure how true that is to every westie.
I have 3 dogs and had them all from pups, would not be without them. My 3 young children adore them to bits and the dogs adore the kids.
I would certainly go to puppy classes and find a good one, my trainer told me if you don't want an adult dog doing something, then why let a puppy do it. She was so right.
I spend about £200 a month on my dogs and that is for insurance, food, treats, toys, bedding,
I would also say crate train, never use as a punishment though, make there cage a nice cosy place, and I always taught my children to never go in the dogs own space and if the dogs go in for a rest they are to leave them alone.
Puppies are hard work, but the more work you put in the better your dog turns out. My dogs are only left for short amounts of time as I don't work and would also say that house training a puppy is easier in the better weather as there is nothing worse than standing in the mud and rain trying to incourage your puppy to go for a wee
Puppies need patients and lots of love and understanding
Good luck with what you choose to do xx
Well the biggest con is definitely the relative brevity of their lives, everything else negative just pales in comparison
This, with bells on. We lost our cocker last month, and it was just devastating. Yes, the puppy stage is hard work, but you have to be prepared for the other end of the dog's life too. Looking after them whatever old age may bring, and then making that inevitable heartbreaking decision when the time comes.
Pros: I have had both rescue and puppy dogs, and would always go for a puppy because they are a more known quantity. Even after having my rescue for many years they were still quite distant in many ways, but were the same sort of breed as the others.
Having said that, puppies crying at night and toilet training feels endless (usually just before it ends!) and the training is fun but hard work too.
One tip: always train to walk to heel before any of the easy stuff! I found walking at night with less distractions helped teaching heel. When I saw other people running after their dogs having their limbs ripped off, I was always grateful that I'd done it that way around.
Lord so sorry for your loss.
So much brilliant advice on here. I think I have got the financial costs covered, and with your help I have the practical pros and cons listed. We would rehome the right dog but I wouldn't want him to be much older than one or two.
DH grew up with two Westies and they weren't nippy, but that may have been the exception to the rule.
My personal favourite is a Miniature Poodle while DH would love a Cocker Spaniel. He thinks poodles are too poncy
Pros - company, excercise, love, my 8 year old Asperger DD has a very strong bond with them, meet new people
Cons- wet dogs coming in when it's raining outside, house training accidents, dogs #1s ability to chew through just about anything, cost of insurance, thought of loosing them with how dd will react.
Have a look at show cocker spaniels. Generally less bouncy than working though they are hairy so constant hoovering is required.
Lovely bundles to cuddle though.
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