Am I making the right decision to get a puppy? Please give me advice!(48 Posts)
We have been wanting a pup for ages, DC are 10 and 7 and old enough to participate now, and I really want to be a dog family. We've found a good and ethical breeder (ages ago, we've been waiting for a litter) and she has a 6 week old pup available for us now. A friend has had a puppy from this breeder before and had a great experience.
We live in a village, surrounded by fields and I'd like us all to get out in it more! (We moved from central London just over a year ago)
DH and I both work full time but between us work 3 days from home. We have a live in au pair who would be around to help the rest of the time and will get a dog walker later on if needed as well.
So far so good, however these are my concerns and I'm just worrying if this is the right thing to do - any thoughts/advice welcome!
- we have busy lives, worried about taking on too much if the puppy doesn't settle/is needy. I've read about the puppy months and the puppy blues on here and feel a bit daunted.
- DD (10) is very afraid of dogs. I think this is the way to help her get over it, am I mad?
- are we around enough for a puppy?
- what if we can't train it (never done this before!)
It's a cockerpoo F1B girl for those who'd like to know, apologies in advance if you disagree with cross breeding
I’d always had dogs growing up, owned my own (although the last one I got as a young puppy was in 1997!) the others were a bit older and I’d rehomed them.
So I bought a puppy 5 years ago after losing the 1997 dog, OH MY GOD, do not underestimate how much your life will be turned upside down.
No lie-ins for months, no lounging around (puppies need constant supervision)
Quiet is NOT GOOD, if they are quiet and not asleeep they are doing something they shouldn’t be.
But if you think you won’t mind walking in all weathers, when you’re hungover, when you’re ill then go for it!
Thanks alpacages - sounds a lot like toddlers!
We don't get to lie in much anyway, and I'm assuming DH/DC will share some of the load , but yes you've pretty much hit on why I feel daunted. How long does it last until thing get easier?
All other significant lifestyle changes aside, if your Dd is terrified of dogs I don't think bringing a puppy into the house is going to help her. The cross you mention is likely to be high energy, mouthy and bouncy, which even dog loving children can struggle to tolerate.
If you were terrified of spiders and your OH decided to get a pet tarantula and proceeded to let it sit on the sofa and climb on you - would that make your fear better or worse?
If it's an F1B, which side of the family was it backbred to? You're going to be getting 3/4 one breed and 1/4 the other - be sure that you're happy with all the good and bad points of each side of the family, but it will most likely be more like the 3/4 side than the other. For reference, I have an unfashionable cross (50/50 mix) and when I got talking to someone with the same cross but a 75/25 mix we discovered that they were very, very different dogs! Mine needs literally 6x as much exercise, for one thing...
With regards to training, start reading now - other posters will be able to advise on puppy books (I started with an adult rescue so puppy rearing is not in my skillset!). As soon as vaccinations are complete, go to puppy training classes (you can sign up now so you can get started asap). There are some complete cowboys operating in the dog training industry, so go for someone APDT / IMDT accredited or Dogs Trust Dog School (they have locations all over the country and do separate puppy classes).
For your DD, how did she react when you went to visit the pups and see them with their mum? You also need to consider that it's not just going to be your dog you meet - when you're out walking your dog you'll meet other people's dogs, and if you have a dog with you people won't call their dogs back in the same way that they might if you don't have a dog with you - the fairly reasonable assumption will be that you like dogs, and that the two dogs would probably like to meet and play. It was only yesterday that I narrowly avoided being knocked over by a lovely but clumsy large breed young dog that was playing a somewhat boisterous game with my dog and forgot I was standing there (for clarity, the big dog did nothing wrong). How will you / she cope when this inevitably happens? If it doesn't work out, a good breeder will take the puppy back - but have you explicitly asked if they will do that?
I don't have children but DH and I work full time with me a mix of office and home.
My dog is now almost 20 months and it has been very hard. Totally what I wanted but getting here has been tough at times.
Totally had the puppy blues. I took over a month at home to settle the puppy in and I can tell you there is no way you can work from home and train a puppy unless you are happy for your work to suffer or working when the puppy sleeps. I know without that month at home I would have cracked trying to balance work and him. Having an au pair won't help as they need watching constantly to reinforce toileting. Forget about all the things you read about how people have toilet trained them in 2 weeks. Most of us it takes months, go and read the many puppy survival threads on here to see that is the norm.
Going back to the work. Mine is flexible so I can work round things but does yours involve anything ridged? For example, any calls?. What happens if puppy is crying or pooing and peeing during them? When all you want to do is sit after work how will you feel when puppy is zooming about trying to nip the children/eat stones/biting the furniture? Read all the puppy survival threads to see how hard it can be to manage the nipping, bad behaviour, anxiety, seperation issues and more.
Now to the breed, I have a cocker and you do need to understand the breed. Farmers had warned me of their traits so I thought I was prepared but I wasn't. They hunt with their noses. If you are expecting a nice walk through the countryside with a dog pottering beside you whilst you chat to the children then forget it. You have to manage their hunting instinct all the time otherwise they are off and I mean off. I have done gun dog training and all the instructors agree that you need to be constantly 'managing' their noses as youngsters in case they get a scent. I can walk with mine now but he has almost reduced me to tears in the younger months but even now with 100% recall which I have really worked at I am constantly scanning the horizon for any distractions 'just in case' and we have to play ball/hunt on every walk otherwise he's bored and will go hunting. Now add in a poodle to that mix. I don't know much about them other than they are intelligent which means lots of mental exercise needed. How much poodle or cocker traits you will get will be random.
Right have I put you off yet? I really don't mean to but it's much better to go into this with your eyes open.
My dog is the best thing I got. I cannot think how my life would be without him and I love every bone of him but it has been hard work. Would I do it again? The puppy thing probably not even though I know I would be far better prepared. But yes I would get a dog again because they are the best, most loving companion and really make a house a home.
Thanks all for the comments, making sure I've thought this through and can really handle it is why I've posted, and I appreciate the replies.
To answer a few questions, sorry if I've missed some:
- DD is not afraid of small dogs, puppies or dogs she knows. She hadn't been round dogs much just a few family friends. She dislikes it when a dog she doesn't know comes bounding up. Avocado's post made me realise by getting a dog I am inviting exactly this to happen more often! I want to help her get over her fear and feel this is a gradual way to do it nurturing a small puppy to adulthood. I'm worried I'm wrong and can't know unless I do it.
- we are meeting the pups tomorrow, obviously need to see how DD gets on before making decision
- I understand they are 3 part poo, 1 part cocker which is the mix I want. Friend who has one from prior litter has a calm and lovely dog. Need to verify all this with breeder tomorrow.
I'm ok with a tough time for a few months, not forever though! How do others manage if it's unsustainably hard? Not everyone I know who has a dog stays at home all the time...
Dd3 was afraid of ddogs after an over zealous spaniel and stupid owner bumped into us in the play area of a park - literally.
We bought a puppy and she sobbed for us to take it back the first day!!
She loved it the next day!!
At 11 she is a very confident girl and loves ddogs - and even horses now!!
The way I manage it is to pay for daycare for at least three times a week. Worth every penny but it's costly.
We also plan like mad. If I am going out straight from work then I increase the daycare from half day to full and my DH collects and looks after the dog.
If we both want to go out for a few hours then we have to choose our days carefully so he has been suitably exercised. Any longer at night and we pay a friend to watch him.
There is no spontaneity on going out anymore as we need to make sure the dog won't be left for long hours.
The issue is all dogs are different. Some dogs cope ok with being alone whilst others don't. Ours is ok for a couple of hours but I couldn't leave him for much longer (I view him live using a camera when I am out so I know exactly what he is doing).
I do know people who leave their dogs for longer but the risk is accidents and or destruction. I prefer to pay someone to watch him to avoid both .
A 6 week old pup seems a bit young to leave mum
Is your au pair happy to clean up indoor accidents/ pick up poo outside? It will be many times a day, housetraining can take a while ... How on board is she with the idea?
I've got a 14 month old pup - oh my god THE WORK!!!! So, so, so much work!
I think you need to be realistic about what the au pair can do because I can see that as being a huge source of tension if you expect them to take on too much responsibility.
I WFH and still have my pup taken out 4 days a week by a walker - very good for his socialisation and means I'm not always worried about making sure he gets a proper walk.
If you can find the time (and the money!) totally worth it!
oh yes also 6 weeks much too young to be leaving mum - should be at least 8 weeks!
We are just visiting the puppy tomorrow, not bringing it home sorry if that was not clear. We haven't reserved the puppy yet either.
I'm happy to pay for a walker/daycare, it's not the aupair's dog, but I do envision that the aupair will be company during the day and will take dog on the walk to school etc
I'm so very conflicted at the moment, and absolutely not going to move ahead unless I have a solid plan to manage the puppy times
April. That's just what I'm hoping for, instinctively feel this is the way to help DD, but without a crystal ball hard to be sure!
Puppies require CONSTANT attention - it is really really unfair on the aupair. Until I had a pup I had no idea about the constant need for attention. And its not just for company - its training. If you want a well behaved adult dog you need to put in the hard yards when they're babies.
As for taking the dog on the school walk - GOOD LORD - you might be lucky - but I would be amazed if you get a cockerpoo who happily trots next to your au pair and the kids from scratch. Lead training can be a nightmare. My pup has only just become good on the lead and I have done a lot of training. As said, you might be lucky and I hope so - but lead training was another one of those things I certainly hadn't factored in!
I think having a puppy is awesome for families - but I think that you might be going to put too much on to the aupair.
Other ways around it are things like puppy day care etc
puppy au pairs - its a real thing!!
And I'm not even joking!
I have a 13 month old DS and a 2.5 year old dog. I'm a SAHM and doggy still goes to doggy daycare 5 days a week because otherwise he would be at me for attention constantly! It's tying and makes life more complicated but I like watching them interact already! I hope they grow up to be good pals.
On the other side, I had a dog from the ages of 9 to 13. I didn't really help to look after him as much as I should have so I would be wary of hanging your hat on your kids helping out!
Aw is that a Rotti?? Please give him a soppy cuddle from me!
“but lead training was another one of those things I certainly hadn't factored in! “
That’s a big issue with the school run, but there are others, she’ll have to watch for children trying to strike it and children who are scared of it and manage that (random people stroking a puppy tends to lead to issues with over excited greeting later on as it’s self reinforcing)
Will your DC be ok with not getting walked into the playground?
It sounds easy enough, but actually there’s a whole load of stuff you have to figure out. It’s basically like parenthood, with extra fur and teeth.
Puppies need a LOT of time and attention.
They mouthe. Your child is scared of dogs? This could put her off forever.
They can't walk far to start off with.
Designer cross breeds like this generally come from puppy farmers. Your friend had a pup from the same person. So they breed often. What makes you think this person is ethical? Health tests? Sounds like a business.
Could you consider maybe getting a rescue - an older dog - rather than a puppy? As per all the previous posts, puppies are an enormous amount of work and they really do turn your life upside down. We got ours at 8 weeks and despite having read ALL the books and being as well informed as I could possibly have been, nothing could have prepared me for the reality of just how exhausting and relentless it is to parent a puppy and turn them into decent family dog. I wouldn’t change it for the world now and I’m so glad we put in all the hard work because he’s such a lovely dog, but it was really bloody hard, even with me working part time and us not having any children (although one on the way).
Honestly...I wouldn’t do the puppy thing again for a very long time and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with young children and a full time job. Not least because I don’t think I could’ve done right by the puppy in that situation and it isn’t fair to take them on if you can’t give them everything they need.
All that said, I have friends who have found wonderful rescue dogs and skipped all the puppy drama. Any dog is a lot of work, of course, but one that’s through the puppy/adolescent phase might be a better fit for your life.
Depending on how much cocker the cockerpoo exhibits lead training could be a nightmare as trust me walking spaniels (cockers/springers) nicely on a lead is a bloody nightmare . Don't assume that the mix will mean it's only exhibits poodle traits just because it's supposedly 75/25% as we all know genetics often throw up surprises.
Obviously it would be wonderful to have a dog growing up along side your children. However, have backup plans like daycare/puppy visits because I think an aupair might struggle as most of us do initially and you won't want to lose them just because of the puppy if they are good with the children. Think about training as you need to factor in making time for ongoing training which should last much longer than just the puppy months.
If you decide to go ahead join the puppy survival threads on here as it really helps to have ongoing support from others going through the same thing. Good luck OP.
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