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Advise on getting a dog(5 Posts)
I'm (in the very early stages of) thinking about getting a dog. We have never been in the right situation before but now I work p/t (3 days) and my dh works shifts. We have two small children and would like them to grow up with a pet.
I know I would rather a dog than a puppy. The dog may be at home alone for 6hrs max for 1 day a week. Though I can come home at lunchtime to break up the day. We have a 3 bed house with a small enclosed garden.
I have had cats before but not a dog so need some insight. Does our situation sound like we could responsibly have a dog and which breed should I look at if so?
Your work patterns seem perfectly sensible, though in the event that you end up with a dog with serious separation anxiety, keep in mind the idea of a day a week at daycare.
How old are your children? It can be harder to adopt if you have kids under 5.
I would have a think about the sort of lifestyle you can offer with regards to things like exercise and grooming. Then approach your local rescue and see if they currently have any dogs that are suitable.
As you're looking to adopt a dog rather than buy a puppy, I don't think there's too much point in getting hung up on the specific breed - you could find the perfect dog that happens to be a totally unexpected breed, or mutt, and you'd miss out if you'd decided you'd only adopt one specific breed. When adopting, it's usually best to take the dog as an individual rather than assuming characteristics based on their genes.
You situation sounds pretty good to me, so long as you are sure you could fit the dog's exercise needs around the children and their activities even when it's bloody freezing and the wind is blowing horizontal sleet along the streets. Dogs do cramp your style: you can't suddenly decide to stay overnight if you've left Fido at home, and if you plan to be out all morning, you need to factor in the dog walk.
Also if your DC are very young, you might want to give it a year or two, so you have the time you need to devote to training the dog: you are unlikely to be able to find a trained adult dog with no issues in need of a home, though you might be lucky.
As for leaving the dog, my personal view is that six hours once a week with a visit at lunchtime is fine (I do this to mine; the old geezer is past caring and the younger dog is one of the happiest animals I have ever known). Do think, though, about the likelihood of future changes in your working patterns. If you were to go back FT, would you be able to find a dog walker, for example?
When it comes to breed, consider how active and fit you are and what you want to do with the dog. If you want a few games in the garden and half an hour in the park, get something small and low maintenance. Do you want to spend time hoovering up after a mega shedder or going to the groomers once a month? Meet a few dogs - talk to your friends, approach strangers in the street, go to something like Discover Dogs. Be aware that in some breeds, there is a marked split between working and showing/pet strains (the working cocker and the show cocker, for example).
Once you find some breeds that suit you in terms of temperament, exercise needs, health (please consider health, as some breeds have massive issues, especially those with flat faces) and overall look, contact the breed rescues. A lot of rescues foster dogs out and have a very good idea of the temperament of and issues with the dogs as a result.
But you might decide, after all that, that a crossbred terrier or lurcher from a local rescue will suit you just fine. A lot of rescues, though, will not rehome to families with young children.
And finally, don't forget that dogs cost money. Day to day it needn't be a lot, but a broken leg or a mystery illness can cost a fortune: if you don't plan to get insurance, have a savings account for emergency ops and so on. Oh, and kennels when you go away. That mounts up bloody quickly.
Some great advice upthread. I would also add that I think it's worth thinking clearly about
a) what traits you definately do want
b) what traist you absolutely cannot live with/work on
c) what you're not so bothered about either way
I think it's worth consideration because it's not as obvious as it might seem.
e.g. you might say you want a friendly dog. But friendly dogs can be easily distracted by others on walks, can pull in the street to greet everyone, can be over enthusisastic greeters etc. All can be worked on but just illustartes "friendly" is not for everyone. Some people actually might prefer an aloof dog that minds its own business a bit more.
e.g. you might say you don't mind barking but would hate a chewer. Or vice versa. I use this example a lot because I have low tolerance for barking but was fairly relaxed about losing a few shoes while training not to chew everything in the house. Not everyone would be, especially children with toys etc.
This can be especially useful for a rescue as they tend to be approached by people asking for a "good family dog, that walks nicely on the lead, has good recall, is good to be left alone, friendly to children and other dogs/animals" but this is neither specific nor particularly likely in terms of what they have to offer. Being clear about what is a deal breaker and what you're more flexibile on can really help them match you with the right dog.
p.s. also don't underestimate costs
Sounds like you would be able to give a dog a lovely home. We got ours (collie cross, probably a bit of lurcher in there too) from Dog’s Trust, definitely one of the best things we’ve ever done. Rather than thinking of a certain breed I would visit your local dog shelter and see what they have and if one of those would suit your family in terms of personality and temperament.
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