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What all do you need to think about when considering a dog?(29 Posts)
I always wanted a dog, ever since I was little. My parents didn't want a dog, so we had cats, and I married a cat person, so again, we've had cats. DCat is now getting older, and while I wouldn't introduce a new pet while she's around (since she's the feline bitch from hell to other animals), I'm starting to think about the future after DCat (as much as I dread the day we'll have to say goodbye).
Be honest, how hard is it really to be a dog owner? And if someone who has no experience with dogs was to get one, what all should we consider, and what all should we learn before actually getting one?
I remember all my parents' old lectures about what a chore it would be, how the dog would ruin the house etc. My DB defiantly took a dog, but he's a large-ish breed and very boisterous, and while I love having belly rubs and cuddles with him, I wouldn't even be able to take him for a walk, as he pulls so much and is so strong, so I'm doubtful. Definitely a slightly smaller breed for me!
We're a childless couple, and I'm home most days, apart from the odd hour or few. We live near several parks that are full of neighbourhood dogs (several of whom I am in first name terms with) and good walking grounds in general. We have an enclosed garden, although small, and would need to do some work to make it properly safe. DH could be persuaded to love a dog, I'm sure. We could both do with more walkies, and there's space on our couch! I'm not extremely houseproud, and cat hair and the odd scratched up furniture doesn't give me fits. Our current neighbours at least are dog friendly. I think we could be dog owners, right?
You need to consider cost. Not just food, toys, bed, leads etc but also flea/worm treatments, vaccinations/boosters, boarding if taking non dog holidays, training classes etc.
Lack of spontaneity. I no longer just wander around shops for hours or have a really long meals out unless it has been planned so I know the dog is ok or being looked after.
Whilst lots of pubs are now dog friendly not everything is so depending on what you like to do this may impact you.
Are you thinking of a puppy or adult dog?
Apart from the expense, before you get a dog read up on training. So many untrained dogs around with owners that haven't got a clue how to control them properly. There's no reason to have a dog that pulls when walked, that bothers people in pubs, that makes a mess inside, that doesn't have good recall. It takes time, consistency and determination though. You need to consider whether you want to do the amount of training required to have a well behaved dog that doesn't negatively impact on those around them.
Thanks both. I don't have my heart set on the puppy/adult front, although in theory I like the idea of adopting more.
We'd need to sit down more sums before commiting, it seems. Food, toys etc wouldn't be an issue, but at the moment I don't even know what the insurance costs would be, and what kinds of training classes exist. I'm making a note to myself to investigate.
We're kind of homebodies, and our favourite cafe is currently dog friendly, but these things do change, dont' they...
Our current pet sitter (for the cat) does dog walking and pet socialising, too, so I have been kind of assuming these things would be possible, in the rare occasion when we need to go somewhere. DB's dog goes to a "dog hotel" type of place when his family travels, but again I don't actually know what's available locally, or the costs.
Very thankful. I'm definitely going to try to think about as many things as I can before making any kind of decision.
For insurance if you know the breed you are after you can get a few quotes to give you an idea.
Vets often do well pet plans which include vaccinations and flea/worming treatments amongst other things. I pay around £16 per month for a medium sized dog.
To give you an idea of classes. Often a series of 6 weekly group classes can be around £60. However, I prefer 1-1 and I have paid £30 to £50 for those as you get so much more out of them than group classes. My dog is 2 years old and we still do training including agility which is around £8 per week.
Food depends on how much you are prepared to pay.
My dog walker charges £10 for group walks but I pay £20 for dog day care and £25 for dog boarding.
If you are considering costs it's amazing how the little things add up especially for a new dog owner. Towels, walking shoes and wellies, waterproof coat, head torch for the winter.
I also forgot things like grooming if you get a dog that needs to go to one on a regular basis unless you are brave and do it yourself
my dog would never forgive me if I came at him with clippers
Thanks, Bitey too. Our town does seem to have decent doggy facilities from day care to grooming to hydrotherapy and -play. Our nearest vet is very good, and seem to offer schemes, too.
Feels a bit silly to get all into this now, when hopefully DCat will be around for a good while still, but since I'm such a dog novice, I figured there's no harm to learning as much as I can now!
Walking. Sounds lovely. But how I have to drag myself out the house on a week night , In the cold and rain. It's turned into a real chore then.
Dog poo. Cleaning it up. Walking with it in bags. Grim and smelly.
Not being able to stay out too long. Shopping in town followed by cinema can't happen. Etc. you are always factoring in getting back for him/ her.
I love my dog but it heavily impacts on what you can do.
Mine digs and her wee kills the grass as a result my garden is a mess.
I also discovered I have a few friends who are allergic to dog hair and even if they take antihistamine they still feel uncomfortable in my house.
I feel like I'm being so negative. I love mine to bits but I had a romanticised idea of what it involved. Wouldn't be without her but it was a huge reality check in the beginning.
Not being able to go out all day unless to a dog-friendly venue (Wedding plus evening do becomes a no-no) - unless you have someone reliable to dog-sit.
Dog hairs and mud.
If you do it, please think about adopting?
Go and visit a shelter and give that spot on your sofa to a doggy who really needs it.
We adopted from abroad and ddog is awesome. He hates the rain and getting wet so that's cold rainy walks avoided!!
We have a lurcher type cross he's not massive - think collie x lurcher size. A half hour walk if I'm pushed for time and he sleeps all day.
He hasn't really chewed much, doesn't mind being left if I go out as he's so lazy...
But it does change your life and it's a pain if you want to go out all day somewhere they can't come, shopping lunch and cinema means dad has to go round to let him out a couple times.
But that's fine if you have plans in place and it sounds like you do.
It's the best thing ever getting dog cuddles every evening. My own furry hot water bottle.
The rescue centre will give you advice on breeds and you can meet the dogs several times and walk them etc to see if it's a fit.
Don't get something like a collie or a lab for your first dog; something a bit more chilled out would suit you I think.
You sound the perfect candidate to adopt a dog OP - there are so many lovely dogs out there. My rescue dog who's now aged 11 costs me €30 per month for insurance and about €35 for food. He's only small, a JRT cross. I work 4 days a week, give him a good walk before I go to work and a shorter one when I get home. He's enhanced my life so much and keeps me fit!
You need to seriously consider the 'bad' traits you and cannot live with - this is key to choosing the right breed/dog.
For example, it's not much good choosing a retriever if you cannot live with losing a few, untidy and unchaperoned shoes.
Not much good choosing a visla if you cannot live with it taking a long time to get the dog used to being left.
Or choosing a terrier if you cannot live with a few holes in the garden or barking at the doorbell.
Or - as another thread shows - getting a spaniel if you cannot stand mud in the house, up the walls, on the doors
That's not to say ALL dogs from those breeds definately exhibit those traits or that training would not help. You may get lucky bu if you don't then there will be a certain amount of 'living with it' until training is effective. That seems to be the nub of many of the threads here , when things go wrong - people with poodles who need more mental stimulation than they want to offer, or labs that need more exercise, or huskies that need MUCH more exercise.
Also, really think about what exercise you can offer... as pp said, dragging yourself out in the cold and wet, across windy fields, coming back soaking and filthy and needing to constantly wash floors and trousers etc. Getting yourself nice and dry only to do it again later in the day. Doing all this at 5am in the dark some days because you are have plans later in the day that mean walks need to be done at odd hours. For clever, energetic breeds this walk might have to be long (at least an hour) and interactive to keep them focussed on you - when all you want to do is plod along in silence. None of this is fun all the time, even when you love the dog.
Obviously there are also plenty of lovely things about having a dog, but rose-coloured spectacles don't help anyone
Definitely opt for a smaller dog and preferably an older already trained dog as your first dog. House (and other) training of puppies is hard work and better done when you have clear understanding of what to expect from a dog.
If you choose a dog from a shelter they should be able to give you full details of its character and training and I have nothing against mongrels if you get the right dog.
Breeds I have personal experience of and would not recommend to a first time owner are vislas (all highly stressy and wound up IME of the four I know), pugs (great fun but stubborn little creatures who love to rule the roost), collies (just no, super bright and need to be working dogs or they use that brain to cause mischief - I have many collie stories from both a dog I had as a child and friends' dogs), Jack Russells (again, very bright with a strong prey instinct and a tendency to run rings round their owners).
TBH as you are around a lot I would recommend a miniature poodle (biased I acknowledge). I currently have two and they are the easiest dogs I have ever owned. No shedding, smart and highly trainable (I taught one of mine to pass me the pegs when pegging out laundry in about two minutes for example, she was desperate to help), not greedy, weak prey instinct, good with other dogs and people. They do need people around regularly but would happily be left for 5 hours or so (the most I would ever leave a dog).
Agree with those who say dogs are a huge tie in a way cats are not, but the unconditional love you get from a dog is a unique and very valuable thing. They are always pleased to see you, love to cuddle and are never too bored to do stuff with you - mine love a bit of DIY . Also the sheer pleasure of making someone so happy merely by taking them for a walk is not to be underestimated!
I also have cats BTW.
Second the poodle. Everyone wants to cross them with everything else and charge stupid money for the result, but the are strangely under appreciated as a breed in themselves. You do not have to give them a silly haircut either.
Third the poodle. Cannot understand the current obsession with crosses when straight poodles look like the crosses if their fur is not shaved over their faces and feet.
The thing I find hardest in the winter months is not the cold or the wet but the lack of daylight hours - being dark at 4.30pm can be a pig if you have daytime commitments.
There should be a sum for miscellaneous dog-related expenses in your budget sheet. For instance, I have recently had to spend £119 (sale prices!) on a new pair of walking boots after the soles of the last ones had worn through (and I'd glued them back together several times too). Parking and petrol for taking him to a further flung beauty spot. Wellies that split. Head torches. Gloves. Random bits of kit you turn out to need (treat pouch, dog coat, shampoo, nail clippers, seat belt...).
Public embarrassment is to be expected to a certain extent. I've become almost immune to it really, though I do have a dog with ishoos.
I have a border collie (first dog) and I would say:
Hair - double coated breeds, whether long or short coated produce an awful lot of it and the non shedding dogs like poodles and bichons arent really non shedding, they need a regular 6 week professional groom else you risk the fur forming painful matts.
Heel/loose leash walking - this imo should be the very first thing you teach a puppy.
Once they get a taste for pulling it’s incredibly difficult to break.
This is definitely my no1 regret with my dog.
Consider traits - what appeals to you?
For me, I like a medium to large size, good watchdog/some natural guarding ability, long coated, highly trainable, active dog so for me, a border collie or GSD is a great fit.
Think about what you are looking for?
There is no point in getting an ‘easy first time’ breed if the traits don’t fit.
Nails - keep them mega short, use a grinder to get them seriously short. Like nubs.
My poor dog got so many dew claw injuries as a youngster because they were too long and she was twisting and cracking them racing around.
Socialise - don’t be afraid to socialise, if it’s a puppy don’t wait until 12 weeks. Carry it in your arms on buses, trains, busy shopping centres, stables, everywhere!
Just don’t put it down on the ground until 12 weeks. Lots of positive introductions with puppy safe vaccinated adult dogs.
Thanks everyone! Lots of useful information here! I'll keep all this in mind, and will follow the doghouse in general, and do more research. I'm not set on any particular breed, and haven't really known any poodles myself, so that's very interesting.
It's an interesting observation that smart, working breeds will occupy themselves by other means if not kept busy. (I wonder if that's why DB's dog is overly boisterous, as it's a herding breed. and while he's well looked after, doesn't really get to run around as much as his breed would have in its original form.)
If you’re considering a pedigree could you make it to Discover Dogs at Crufts? Meet owners and dogs.
Grooming is a big issue for me. I didn’t want a dog that had to go to a grooming parlour every few weeks.
Exercise. I don’t mind doing longer walks but I couldn’t cope with three hours a day!
Do consider the pros and cons of each breed. If you end up going with a mix then consider the worst of each. Could you cope with that?
Don’t shop for a dog online. If you want a pedigree then go through the breed club. You may have to wait. Rescues are a good choice. But stay away from “designer” crosses. A puppy farmer’s dream.
I adore my dog. But as a puppy I literally couldn’t leave her or take my eyes off her for a second. She’s two and we managed a trip to the cinema without her the other day. But couldn’t stay out for lunch as we had to get back for the dog. They really do rule your routine!
Good to see someone doing their research. APDT are a good benchmark for trainers.
Smart working breeds don’t necessarily occupy themselves when bored.
A large part of it is down to inherited temperament and training.
Some dogs do need training to settle and be calm and if you happen to have a dog with inherited poor ‘off switch’ that is go go go and gets agitated when not doing something that is a lot more difficult.
But you can train them to be calm and settled!
As you aren't in any real rush I would get a ticket for crufts next year. Go early and go around discover dogs section. There is just about every breed of dog there with their owners who want to tell you all about them. You can get up close and I had many doggy cuddles when I went. It can help to narrow down some breeds that might be suitable if you are after a particular breed. Even if you rescue it will be a massive help to understand the typical breed traits you might encounter (for example mine is a hunting dog so comes with his own challenges around that).
I had to wait until retirement until I got my dog and she has changed my life. I never mind taking her out, no matter what the weather as she is such a joy. She came to us from a rescue and it took about 5 months for her to settle. Be prepared for lots of training whether you get a puppy or a rescue. You need lots and lots of patience, persistence and dedication, but the rewards are enormous.
I read loads, but the things that surprised me most, was the costs. I knew nothing about worming, flea treatments, injections, insurance, the costs of her food, toys, beds, leads and harnesses. So look at the initial budget for the dog and equipment (we paid £325 to the Rescue for her) and then the monthly costs.
I love my dog. She's my first and I was prepared for her in terms of buying things (bought far too much, have 2 unused dog beds just as an example). I certainly could have spent less on her. I already spent time outdoors so stuff to walk her, in the wet/dry/cold, hasn't been an issue for me. I also did a budget-there are loads of good ideas on here about things to include, grooming, insurance, worming etc.
What has surprised me is the mess. The kitchen floor is always filthy, and the paw marks on walls, the outside door, never mind the floor can grind me down, so goodness knows what it's like if one is houseproud. She comes in from outside wet and muddy and shakes off, the drips go everywhere. I also used to have a garden, and now have a collection of holes surrounded by muddy grass, surrounded by decimated bushes. I also used to be able to go away at the drop of a hat, and now have to plan, to making sure the dog is ok/looked after: if I pay for boarding the dog for a week, a holiday is £150 before you start. And I have a couple of slightly nibbled kitchen chairs.
But, there is nothing like the welcome I get when I come home, or in the mornings. She makes me laugh every day with her funny ways, and who needs an orderly garden anyway? I wouldn't be without her, and I'm really glad I got her. So for me it is totally worth it, there are negatives but they are far, far outweighed by the positives!