Thinking of getting a dog, how to decide

(22 Posts)
Mrsbclinton Sun 09-Sep-18 19:25:10

We are thinking of getting a dog problem is I never had one growing up & neither did my DH so Im not sure how to choose breed suitable for our family, go about training, where do they sleep, do you get them neutered etc .....
If Im going to get a dog I want to be a good dog owner & give the dog a good home & happy life so want to try and make the right choice regarding breed.
Live in a 3 bed semi d with medium size garden. One of us is nearly always at home and we live close to woodlands so pet would be walked at least once if not twice a day.
We have three children youngest is almost five. I always thought it would be lovely for them to grow up with a family pet & benefit them in many ways but didnt consider it until now as I wanted kids to be a bit older so we would be able to give the pet enough time to train etc & for the children to take on some responsibility regarding the care of their pet. I kinda see it as having another "child" in a way, or maybe Im just totally overthinking
Can anyone point me in the right direction?
Anyone with similar family setup recommend a breed?

OP’s posts: |
tinymeteor Sun 09-Sep-18 19:49:53

Sounds like you have a good setup for a dog. You say someone's usually home - is that likely to continue? Dogs live 15 years or so, and obviously job situations can change in that time so you need to think long term.

That aside, the first question is whether you want to buy a puppy or adopt a rescue dog. You'll get strong views on here both ways. Talking to reputable rescue centres might be a good way to start learning about breeds and seeing if the adoption route is for you. Be careful not to fall in love with the first dog you see though.

If you want a puppy, there are two main things to know. First, many if not most breeders are dodgy and should be avoided. Learn about puppy farming so you can avoid it, and don't buy dogs advertised on the internet. Go through breed associations and do your homework. Second, training a puppy takes months, not weeks, and they aren't the finished article for a couple of years. House training is the first few weeks, but behavioural training is a long haul and to some extent you're training them all their lives. It's worth it, and training a dog from scratch can be really fun and rewarding, I'm just emphasising it as some people have a vague notion that you can train a puppy over the school holidays or something.

Wolfiefan Sun 09-Sep-18 19:53:43

Consider how you will cope with dog walks and kids. Have you the time for training? Would you have time for grooming? Do you have days out? You can't leave a dog for more than 4 hours max. A puppy? Not at all. What about holidays?
If you want a dog consider rescue or contact the breed club or society. NEVER shop online. You will end up with a puppy farmed dog.
Also worth visiting Discover Dogs to learn more and see different breeds. Good luck.

bpisok Tue 11-Sep-18 11:49:31

We picked up our new puppy on Wednesday....and have been shattered ever since. Really really really hard work. I have one teenage DC and couldn't imagine doing it with small kids because you need to be 'on it' all the time (every single second)
Admittedly we are probably doing it the hard way. Puppy pad in the garden so no poo on the patio and all toilets being done outside (very few accidents after day 2). She has managed to get 'come' and 'sit' and 'no' already (assuming there's nothing more exciting to do e.g. chew a bit of cardboard) so we are mildly optimistic that it will be OK assuming we can make her stop eating leaves/twigs/stones and pretty much anything else she can get in her mouth. Distraction seems to have a 50% success rate 🙁

We have a similar set up to you- 3 bed semi with a decent garden backing onto woods and chose a Westiepoo. Because-
Small (didn't fancy a dog taking up the entire living room)
Low shedding
Fairly clever
Medium energy - will be happy with 40 mins walk a day (plus play/training sessions) but still sprightly enough to jog
Gets on with children and pets (we have a cat)
....and they are darned cute.

We are all banished to the kitchen with her (wood floor) 'just in case'.
Oh and did I say......puppies are REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY hard work!!!!!
(But worth it)

Egg Tue 11-Sep-18 12:40:23

We got our dog (terrier) as a puppy when our children were aged between 5 and 7. The first two weeks were hard but it’s nowhere near as hard as a baby. You can leave them in a crate when you need to pop out and they don’t need night feeds.

It sounds like you have a great set up. My kids totally adore our dog and wouldn’t be without her. They don’t help as much as I would like though...

Lucisky Tue 11-Sep-18 13:30:49

I can almost guarantee that your children won't be particularly interested in pet care once the cute puppy stage has passed (if you get a puppy as opposed to an adult dog)
Puppies bite, a lot, I think a 5 year old might be less understanding of this than an older child. It can be fairly relentless until the pup gets older.
Dogs are a terrific tie. You can't leave them alone for long periods, so any days out either have to include the dog or you have to make alternative care arrangements. Say goodbye to doing anything on spec. Holidays present another organisational problem.Yes, it is a bit like having another child, and I expect you will end up doing the bulk of caring yourself.
Having said all that, I wouldn't be without a dog, and our dog is very much a family member, but it can be hard work at times.
Yes, you would need to have your dog spayed or neutered.
Don't forget to think about costs like annual vaccinations and insurance.
Sorry, I've just realised this all sounds a bit negative! It's just they can be a commitment for 15 years or so, so it's a decision that need some thought.

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Tue 11-Sep-18 14:37:07

My medium-sized dog (Staffie cross) needs 3 walks a day - she has 2 one-hour (or more) ones and a round-the-block at bedtime. Otherwise, she just gets too bored and puts on too much weight. One is not really enough for any dog, in my opinion. Walks are the highlights of their days - all those smells and meeting other dogs. Also, consider vet's bills and dogwalker costs (if you are out all day at work or elsewhere, for instance, your dog will need one). As you have three children and one still five, I would think you'd get on better with a rescue adult dog (about 5-ish). My experience in UK has been with Battersea Dogs Home, who I thought were very good. As with most rescue organisations, the best thing is to register with them first and go and see what they have (usually more dogs than appear on their websites) and talk to the staff, who will be likely to be able to judge what sort of dog might be suitable for you. Don't rush into it - visit as many times as it takes until you "click" with Dog Right - I think you will know when you meet him/her.


mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Tue 11-Sep-18 14:39:41

And, re neutering - I think all dogs should be neutered - you won't be getting a dog to breed from so why not neuter them and make life easier for you and them? Many rescues will do this for you (Battersea neuter all dogs before they are adopted and you just pay the normal adoption fee for them).

carbuckety Tue 11-Sep-18 14:44:45

Visit a rescue without the kids and look at dogs. Possibly volunteer to walk for a rescue for a bit. Get an idea of what different dogs are like. Don't fall in love with a puppy. Prepare madly. Research costs ( insurance , decent food, vets bills, dog walker, kennels etc etc) research training. How much time does each type need for walking, grooming etc.

Dogs are fab for a family. We had our first family puppy when our youngest was 4. Puppies are bloody hard work but grow up faster than kids!

Rescue dogs can be wonderful family pets.

Think verybhard. What if x happened? ( life changing circumstances?) what would you do?


DogInATent Tue 11-Sep-18 15:42:45

Forget about the breed for now. Decide first whether you want a puppy or an adult. Many adult rescue come with issues (of varying severity), but every puppy comes with demands...

Once you've made the puppy/adult decision you can start looking at temperament and exercise requirements.

Two walks daily should be the minimum. Yes, there will be days when for one reason or another you only get one proper walk in - but those should be the rare exception.

Consider the total impact on your lifestyle - holidays, days out, non dog friendly activities/interests, etc.

Egg Tue 11-Sep-18 16:06:18

I know everyone is different but my five year olds were fine with the puppy. It possibly helped that the puppy was a small breed so didn’t knock them over. She did nip their ankles and jump up a lot. Visiting five year olds sometimes felt overwhelmed at first but we could always close a door to keep them feeling safe.

We do two walks per day. Normally one is around an hour and the other more often half an hour.

chocolatebananasss Tue 11-Sep-18 16:18:53

I would really think it through before you make a decision. We have a 9 month old dog now from pup and it's been a nightmare. We have DC age 5 and 7 and they're not terribly interested. It's a real tie, if we want to go out we have to plan everything! I work from home and the dog follows me everywhere and wants constant attention even now. If it gets bored it starts chewing stuff. If I had my time again I wouldn't have got one.

Vallahalagonebutnotforgotten Tue 11-Sep-18 19:55:46

Can I ask why you want a dog?

Really think hard about this question.

Do you want a dog just for your DC's - don't get a dog
Do you want a dog to show your DC's how to care for something - don't get a dog
Do you want something to cuddle up to in the evening with your family - don't get a dog

Do you want to have to get out and about every day of the year rain and shine to walk even when the DC's are poorly or it is dark - get a dog
Do you want to spend evenings weekend training the dog - go ahead
Do you want your house to be just a little bit muddier, dustier, - get a dog
Do you like hoovering - get a dog
Do you have time to pick up the poo before your DC's go out to play - get a dog
Are you happy to always make plans as to who will look after the dog when you go out for the day - get a dog
Are you happy to constantly supervise your DC and the dog -get a dog
Do you mind the smell of wet dog (i love it!) - get a dog
Do you mind taking extra care when DC's friends come around - get a dog
Are you happy to pay for behavioural help if you dog needs it - get a dog

Think long and hard about why you want a dog.

For complete non dog experienced parents getting a dog is a massive, scary, expensive, time consuming experience.

Are you sure you know what you are letting yourself in for.

Onlyhappywhenitrains1 Tue 11-Sep-18 20:09:22

You need to have a readily available dog sitter.

As others said, you can't leave them for the day, and alot of places arn't dog friendly, like the beech, theme parks, zoo etc.

My mum works from home and she's happy to take my dog if I'm going to be out for more than a few hours. Unless you have someone who can do that, don't get a dog.

Harrypotterfan1604 Tue 11-Sep-18 20:32:42

I have two dogs, one we got as a puppy and the other is a rescue although we rescued him at 1 so still very young.
They are very hard work for all the reasons other people have listed above but they’re also pretty awesome smile
They have been trained and are very happy alone.
nothing beats a cold night in by the fire with two dogs all cuddling up to you.
Mine sleep in our bedroom and are no trouble.
Both are neutered.
We walk in all weathers and believe it or not it’s much more enjoyable in the winter than the summer.
I have found a fantastic dog sitter who treats them like they’re her own and they love spending time with her. They go there anything from daycare to a full two week holiday.
Yeah they can be expensive but you adjust to it without realising and I don’t even think about the cost now.
I grew up petrified of dogs and wish I’d had the chance to have a dog as a child.
I don’t have kids yet but I am pregnant and have no concerns about bringing a baby into their lives, they are great with children of all ages and have been trained well.

It’s a big decision though but for me as a dog owner who’d never had a dog before in her life I wouldn’t be without either of them now!

Jenniferturkington Tue 11-Sep-18 20:42:14

We were similar to you in that neither DH or myself had ever owned dogs. Also we have three children and the youngest is five. We bought a puppy last October after much research and thought.

We bought a poodle from a breeder. We saw the litter with the mum, the breeder did all health checks etc She also kept one of the puppies which we took as a good sign!

Anyway, it’s been really great. The dog pissed all over the house for a few weeks but once that was sorted she has been no trouble. She has bought so much joy to the family- she trots around after the dc and barely leaves their sides. She has one or two walks a day. If we only manage one she wants to play all evening!

You will get a lot of people trying to put you off on here but i am so pleased we went for it.

Mrsbclinton Mon 17-Sep-18 09:53:13

Thanks everyone for your honest replies. Its exactly what I wanted. I need to think about it some more.

I wouldnt have anyone as in family that could dog sit if we were to go on a day trip so thats a serious consideration as I dont want to be tied down to the house.

OP’s posts: |
ATailofTwoKitties Mon 17-Sep-18 10:04:58

We were novice dog owners too, but took over walking next-door's dog for nearly a year before we got ours.

It's been mostly lovely and it's hard to imagine life without her now.

BUT at three years old and should-know-better, she has cost us over £350 in the past fortnight for emergency vet trips after eating things she shouldn't. Look up things they shouldn't eat. Then drill it into your children's head, your own, and your neighbours' (daft sod threw a raisin Danish into our garden 'for the birds'). Also note that leaving a dark chocolate brownie in an unzipped school bag is a really bad plan.

Ahem. Not that I'm bitter. But a less actively suicidal animal would be nice (she also thinks cars are for chasing). Whoever said that training is lifelong was absolutely right, and I can see a hell of a lot of Leave! and Stay! practice in my life for the next while.

adaline Mon 17-Sep-18 10:08:45

Dogs are very tying. You can't just go off for the day and leave your dog alone - you either need to take them with you (which you can't all day if they're puppies or if you're going to somewhere like the zoo) or arrange daycare or a dog walker for them.

Young puppies can't be walked on lead for long (5 mins per month of age, upto twice a day) so consider how you're going to manage things like the school run, doctors appointments and days out with a small puppy. You won't be able to bring them with you so you'll need to either get them used to being left for a couple of hours (and be prepared to come home to pee/poo on the floor if they're young!) or have daycare in place - either a neighbour/friend/local teen who will sit with them or an actual doggy daycare they can go to for the day.

They chew, bite and can take weeks to toilet train. Expect accidents, and them sitting/rolling in their mess! As they get older they'll need two walks a day, everyday (I personally don't believe one is enough unless it's a very old or very young dog), weekly training classes for at least the first year or so, daily training sessions at home and on walks and lots of changes to socialise with other dogs and people.

Ours is eight months now and I wouldn't change him for the world but it's hard to muster up enthusiasm for a walk when it's blowing a gale and pissing it down and you know both you and the dog are going to end up soaked and filthy!

chesterfieldsofa Mon 17-Sep-18 10:10:17

Do you have friends/family with a dog that you could look after for the weekend? I got my dog after having a friend's parent's dog for a fortnight as they didn't want her to go to the kennels. I'd been pondering for a while, but she really swung it and I got a dog from the RSPCA a couple of weeks later. Worked out really well.

Ask around - friends of friends, colleagues, there's always someone wanting someone to look after their dog during holidays. Make or break time.

Wolfiefan Mon 17-Sep-18 11:20:18

You would be. A puppy can’t be left. A settled adult dog shouldn’t be left for more than four hours max. You can get dog walkers and daycare.

adaline Mon 17-Sep-18 12:45:09

You will get a lot of people trying to put you off on here but i am so pleased we went for it.

Hmm, I don't think people are trying to put OP off, more trying to be realistic. So many teenage dogs/puppies end up in rescue centres because their owners can't cope with their behaviour, or because they've just not looked into it properly before committing.

You only have to read the hundreds of threads on here about puppy regret, about people who've gotten dogs then gone on to have more children and the dog gets rehomed because they don't have time to walk it and it's bored/aggressive/nippy because it has too much energy. Or simply people who didn't quite realise how tiring and tying a puppy can be. We have a beagle pup and I've read tons of horror stories but I think we've been remarkably lucky with ours - he's housetrained, happily goes off-lead, knows his commands and isn't particularly bitey or destructive.

But some dogs take upto a year to toilet train, can't be left alone, are destructive and eat your carpet, your walls and your sofas. You need to be prepared to deal with the worst bits as well as the best.

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