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What do I need to consider?(27 Posts)
Hello, I’m new here. I’m thinking of getting a dog for our family but have never owned a dog before. I’ve always had cats from kittens and enjoy raising them from young, so they get to know us as they grow. I’m thinking a puppy would suit us, as we’d be committed to proper training etc.
My youngest (13) has ASD and is nervous round dogs he doesn’t know and that aren’t well trained but he loves friend’s dogs and I think a dog would be a great way for us to spend time as a family, outdoors. I think he’d be more confident with a puppy than an older rescue for example.
We don’t have a huge garden, but we have a back yard and are close to gorgeous parks and walks. We have room indoors.
I work from home most days but there is a well regarded doggy day care nearby where I’d consider taking him to socialise on the odd day I’m out of the house.
In terms of breed I think small, sociable type eg Cavalier King Charles or one of the cross breeds eg Cavapoo. I know to watch out for puppy farms and check out breeders for welfare (my cat is pedigree). Would they get on with my cat ok?
Sorry for the loads of questions- it’s an idea that’s forming but I want to get as much information from experienced people before I decide whether we can commit to giving a dog the best life.
You might find this thread useful:
I become a first time owner 2 years ago and my son this year. My GD is very nervous around dogs,,she is 6 and her brother 8. They got a Working Cocker Spaniel puppy. He is a dream of a dog, he goes to puppy classes and learns and retains information well. He has given my GD lots of confidence and she now is happy to approach my, much, larger, and excitable Rescue.
The down side for my son is that the puppy is very destructive. He has not yet learned to “stay” and so will sneak into bedrooms and destroy soft toys, He jumps and licks but because he is small this is not such an issue.
Just from my own perspective, things I have learned about owning a dog are.
Quite expensive for things I was unaware of.
There is hair everywhere
The floors are having to be constantly cleaned
They are a tie I regards to being left on their own
My dog has changed my life so much, I adore her and I would have another like a shot. However, we are at home all day, have lots of spare time and are fit.
Hope this has given you a balanced view. I most definitely would advise you not to go for a Rescue. Even a dog like mine, who came from a loving home, took 6 months to settle in.
I’d be wary of a pup if your son is nervous of dogs as they are very unpredictable and jump, bite, scratch, nip, steal toys/clothes etc. This may be too much for your son to cope with
I actually would recommend a rescue, as you know what you’re going to get, personality wise, and it should be past the annoying puppy stage
Ok, so interesting to see the different perspectives on the rescue v puppy debate. I’m erring on puppy but maybe the thing would be to take DS to visit both and see how he takes to them.
What about crate training? Obviously that’s not a thing with cats/kittens. I’ve always just let them have free run. It might be a daft question but why and how?!
A crate can give a dog a safe space to retreat to, and can keep a puppy safe from chewing on electric cables, for example. Some dogs like them, some don’t, it’s trial and error to a certain extent
A rescue will be able to match you with a suitable dog, one who is calm and house/lead trained, and you could avoid the hard bits of the puppy stage (which is usually awful - just look at the amount of puppy regret there is on here)
Puppies can be very unpredictable, bouncy and quite unnerving for people who are unsure of dogs.
All pups (no matter how small) will jump, nip, leap up - and it hurts. Puppy teeth are like needles and they will draw blood. Of course with correct training they grow out of it, but it is hard when they've done it for the fifth time that hour!
Crate training has it's uses but it's definitely not necessary. Ours is one and he's never been crated - he has run of the kitchen when we go out and he's fine. He has access to water and we leave him with a chew. We also make sure he has a good walk and a wee/poo before we go as well.
However, I would be very wary with both dogs you've listed - Cavalier King Charles' have lots of health issues - heart and eye problems particularly. Cavapoos (and similar crosses) are a puppy farmer's dream - they're not breeds and therefore won't be KC registered or subject to proper health tests.
Please, please do your research and get a dog from a reputable breeder or go to a rescue.
We have a little Havanese dog he is 20 months now. The breed is nicknamed the Velcro dogs because all they want is to be by your side. They don't shed and he will just cuddle up to you all day. They are very good at training and although some say they take longer to toilet train we never had a problem. They are great with children and spend most of the day sleeping cuddled to you. They don't need much exercise (although we do) but we couldn't crate train him, he hated being away from us. So now he sleeps on the floor at the foot of the bed!
Our son was very nervous around dogs. We got a puppy and he learned about their behaviour and is now very confident around them. So different approach on that one.
A crate is great for the first 8 months or so but our dog eventually discovered the sofa, in spite of our efforts...
Do not get a puppy for an anxious child.
They bite. It hurts.
Consider how much walking and grooming you would be prepared to do so you can narrow down breeds.
Avoid Cavapoo and all such mixes. Bred only for money. If you want a cross or mongrel then rescue.
If you want a pedigree then go through the breed club. Be prepared to wait.
If you’re unsure on breed maybe get to Crufts? Discover dogs is great.
Don’t underestimate the commitment. You can’t leave a dog for more than a few hours. They need daily walking, training, grooming etc.
Nearly the end of the epic post!
For crate advice etc join dog training advice and support on FB. Run by positive dog trainers.
I'm another who is not convinced it's a great idea going for a puppy with a child who is nervous of some dogs. Puppies jump up and bite, they steal and destroy things and are pretty much the definition of dogs that aren't well trained! As a puppy one of mine used to literally launch himself at my face, snapping like a mad thing (he connected on a couple of occasions as well...), when he was giddy. He's the loveliest, gentlest thing these days but, my god, he was a complete shit when he was little. He wasn't remotely unusual either, plenty of puppies are equally objectionable.
Sometimes getting a puppy (or adult dog) when a resident child is nervous or scared of dogs works out well but also sometimes it doesn't. It's not that unusual to see puppies or dogs being moved on after fairly brief periods because the scared child isn't coping.
Bear in mind your DS will also need to be able to visit prospective dogs/puppies (reputable rescues and breeders will both insist on the whole family meeting any potential dog/puppy) which may mean being in very doggy environments. For example it's common for breeders to have multiple adult dogs who they want to see prospective puppy owners interacting with before allowing them to see the puppies.
I'd also recommend really doing your research into the breed/crosses you've mentioned.
The CKCS is highly prone to some very devastating health issues, mainly Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) and Chiari Malformation/Syringomyelia (CM/SM). Both are worryingly prevalent with UFAW estimating that almost 100% of CKCSs will have developed a heart murmur by the age of ten and that the proportion of the breed over the age of six with CM/SM visible on an MRI could be as high as 70%.
Screening schemes and breeding protocols do exist for both conditions (MVD and CM/SM) however the nature of the conditions mean that these can only reduce the risk somewhat, not completely eliminate it. Even if a breeder is doing all screening and following the breeding protocols to the letter there is still a risk of any resulting puppies being affected. The prevalence of these conditions within the breed can also make avoiding them whilst keeping inbreeding coefficients at an acceptable level very difficult and that brings its own set of problems.
Although the breed is in desperate need of some outcrossing it's important to be aware that MVD is also potentially a concern in miniature/toy poodles and CM/SM has been seen in mini/toy poodles, bichons and CKCS crosses with these breeds. This means that it's vital that breeders of such crosses are still screening at least the CKCS parent for both and is still following both breeding protocols.
It's rare to find a breeder of pedigree CKCSs who is really doing absolutely everything the should be to maximise the chances of good health in their litters and it's even rarer to find a breeder of crosses doing so and this is really not a breed you want to take any gambles with.
If you are still interested in the breed I'd highly recommend the following links:
Cavalier Health has extremely extensive amounts of information about both MVD and CM/SM as well as the myriad other conditions present in the breed.
Cavalier Matters is also good and a bit less overwhelming.
The UFAW CKCS pages covers some of the most common heritable conditions in the breed.
Clare Rusbridge (Professor of Veterinary Neurology at the University of Surrey and Chief of Neurology at Fitzpatrick Referrals) has a chunk of her website dedicated specifically to CM/SM with loads of great information as well as links to lots of other useful sites.
This is all really good and exactly why I posted. I get the awws when I see puppies but I need to know what we’d be taking on as a family.
There’s definitely lots to consider about their health.
Again, possibly naive question, but you have professional breeders and puppy farms, but what about say, a loving family who have let their pet have a litter, reared in a loving home? It certainly seems well intentioned but is it an ‘avoid at all costs’ or a case of ‘ask the right questions’?
I spoke to MIL today. She’s had dogs and puppies and knows DS and suggested trying to find a ‘bereavement’ rescue. I didn’t know it was a thing but she said maybe a well loved and socialised dog where the owner had passed away. That might be an option.
I’d avoid a back yard breeder like the plague.
Professional breeders make their money from breeding. Not sure how that’s any different from puppy farming.
A good breeder has years of expertise and selects a mate for their bitch carefully. They don’t just let two random dogs mate without knowing about pedigrees and having the relevant health tests done.
If you want a pedigree puppy then go through the breed club.
But a puppy really isn’t ideal in this situation.
There are dogs in rescue for all sorts of reasons that are not their fault, this is why I advised you to check them out as they can usually tell you the dog’s history and match you with a suitable dog with the right temperament, energy levels, that will be compatible with your family
There’s a post somewhere on here from someone who started on a similar journey, asking for advice, and who brought her rescue greyhound home very recently. IIRC she didn’t want a greyhound and possibly not even a rescue. Might be worth having a look for it, I think she’s had the dog a week or two?
I’ve assumed a BYB to be a puppy farm as opposed to a decent and loving family breeding a single litter.
Is the family in that scenario a BYB? And dodgy? Obviously with asking the right questions, seeing the parents etc.
People can be decent and loving but know sod all about breeding.
And seeing both parents. Generally not the done thing.
This is all really eye opening and interesting. Thank you all for not piling in on my naivity. I just want to do the right thing.
A puppy is really a non starter in your situation. I do a lot of animal rescue (not in the uk) and have had lots of pups, some we’ve fostered, some we’ve kept. At one stage I’d had 4 pups in 6 years - and every single time I forget what little sods they are. The last two I bottle fed from birth, and fostered them until they were about 12 weeks, and they were just getting to the boisterous, jumping up, nipping, scratching stage, where they seem hell bent on injuring both you and themselves in ever more inventive ways. This is about the point that you’d be taking on a puppy - and it could be a year or more before they settle down
TBH it’s a bloody minefield. Looking for a pup has made me horribly cynical. By far the majority of puppies bought are from a far from ideal start.
Please don’t underestimate how hard it can be. Puppies are bitey little fuckers and can’t be left for a moment.
Older dogs can have training issues, separation anxiety, be reactive etc. Consider what you could deal with and whether a dog is really right for you. Lots of research to do.
I’d visit some local reputable rescues and see the dogs they have for adoption, see how your son reacts, and if any are suitable
If you want a puppy, get one that's easy to train - designer breeds like cockerpoos seem very hit or miss, next doors is plain stupid, and cavaliers have loads of health problems.
Dd trained our collie and he was a doddle - he's a lazy creature btw, 45 mins walk is plenty
Puppy or rescue dog will all, most likely, have issues to begin with. My dog was a bereavement Rescue. Because of our age, we wanted an older dog. We were so lucky to find her. She had been with the same family for 8 years and was loved and adored. She was not without her issues though. Obviously being taken from her home and put in a Rescue for a couple of months and then placed in unfamiliar surroundings was upsetting for her. Also , because we walk a lot, we wanted a terrier and this particular breed is quite edgy and reactive. We struggled at first and sought the help of a behaviourist. If you go down that route I would certainly get professional help. I do wonder though how a child would have coped with her issues during those early months. Maybe you son would find it hard to attach to such a dog. You should avoid any terrier as they are not ones to like petting much.
My son found his dog through an advertisement. He too struck Gold. I suppose some might say the owners were breeding for money, which they were. However both parents were Kennel Club registered and lived with the owner. The owner asked lots of questions of my son and insisted on seeing the whole family. They visited the pups and the parents on four occasions during the weaning period and the owner offered them lots of advice. As I have said already the dog goes to classes and now they are having two 1 to 1 sessions with the trainer. All quite expensive.
If you like I will ask him where he saw the advertisement. For interest they paid £900 for the pup.