Getting a first dog...

(26 Posts)
SnoopyOrSweep Mon 14-Oct-19 08:17:56

I would like to get a dog, inspired by DD (10), who loves them and I think would benefit socially/in her wellbeing. Thing is, I haven't had a dog before, and feel a bit lost with where to start. I don't take this lightly - I know it is a giant commitment and will prepare properly and make sure we're good owners. From what we know, we'd like to get a whippet.

My main concern is that I'm quite nervous of big fighting-type dogs. I know dogs "socialise" on walks, so having a smaller dog will also attract larger ones. Do you think this is a huge problem?

Also, any good books to recommend?

And am I right that whippets aren't generally that's smelly?!


OP’s posts: |
Curlysurprise Mon 14-Oct-19 08:46:47

I only know a couple of whippets but they are lovely, if a bit shy ( at least to begin with). That said my male lab & a female whippet had a crush on each other in puppy class :-)
Other dog aggression can be an issue no matter which breed you go for but in my limited experience, female dogs are easier as they attract less and are less reactive themselves.
Can’t talk to the smell but it makes sense - denser oily coats tend to hang on to the whiff longer.

FLOrenze Mon 14-Oct-19 09:26:20

I became a first time dog owner 2 years ago. Your body language will help to keep dogs and owners away. Don’t make eye contact, keep the dog on a lead and walk purposefully away from dogs. My dog wears a yellow ‘Keep your Distance Coat’ which we bought from a Company called DforDog.

There is a colour code in the dog world and yellow coat and harness indicates nervousness. Most people when they see my dog will recall their own dog or put them on a lead. The coat has made my life much easier.

Wolfiefan Mon 14-Oct-19 09:29:13

Huge dogs aren’t necessarily “fighting” dogs at all. confused My giant breed is often beaten up by the tiniest dog in the park. hmm
What is your lifestyle like?
If you’re not rescuing then go through the breed club. Never buy online. And KC reg doesn’t mean good breeder.

missbattenburg Mon 14-Oct-19 09:56:04

Some good books to read...

The Happy Puppy Handbook - Pippa Mattinson
Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy - Steve Mann

Love Has No Age Limit - Patricia McConnell
The Rescue Dog: A Guide to Successful Re-homing - Vanessa Stead

A good training class can really help first time owners - even if your new charge is well behaved and mature. However, not all classes are good and a bad one can hurt more than it helps so worth choosing carefully and seeing a few in action before commiting to anything.

I don't think the attraction of larger dogs need be an issue. Sometimes they are the calmest of all. Someone near us walks a leonberger that is very sweet, for example. In a lot of cases, those with big dogs tend to have put greater effort into training them because of the risk an untrained large dog poses. However, I agree females attract less trouble than males but this is not a guarantee.

I agree you can influence the chances of another dog approaching you with your own body language and behaviour but it's also worth growing skin thick enough to ask (insist) someone recalls their dog if it's bothering you. When all else fails, my old favourite of pointing at your own dog and yelling "he's infectious" normally triggers a quick repsonse by the other owner. If you walk at regular times of day then you tend to see the same people and either get more comfortable with their dogs or they sometimes grow used to you wanting to keep distance and so do the same.

Off lead a whippet can outrun pretty much any large dog, I would think. Not that you ever want it to get to the stage where your offlead dog is running way, but still...

Scent habituation means you stop smelling your own dog. This is both good and bad grin

frostedviolets Mon 14-Oct-19 11:33:37

My main concern is that I'm quite nervous of big fighting-type dogs. I know dogs "socialise" on walks, so having a smaller dog will also attract larger ones. Do you think this is a huge problem?

My dog is nervous around other dogs due to bad behaviour from other dogs.

I have never, ever, encountered aggressive behaviour towards her from 'big fighting type dogs'. Ever.

The dogs that have picked fights with her have been:

- Whippet
- labrador
- Weimaraner
- springer spaniel
- poodle mix
- Shih tzu

frostedviolets Mon 14-Oct-19 11:40:06

Oh and some small terriers as well.
Never anything 'scary' like a staffy, bullmastiff, GSD etc.


adaline Mon 14-Oct-19 12:05:56

I have a medium sized dog and the only dogs to pick on him have been terriers!

MustardScreams Mon 14-Oct-19 12:14:47

You’re thinking about the wrong things before you get a dog.

What hours do you work? Puppies (if you want a pup) can’t be left for more than an hour or so for months.
Can you afford daycare/insurance/dog walker/behaviourist.
Do lots of research about good quality food.
Do lots of research about breeds and what health problems they may have, and how to treat.
Do lots of research on how to train.
Look into ‘puppy blues’.
Can you offer the correct amount of mental and physical exercise everyday without fail. Even when you’re horrendously ill?
Look into what happens when dogs go through their teenage years and forget every thing you’ve taught them!
This is the absolute basics, there’s lots more to think about.

Walking dogs in the park with other dogs is fine if your dog is well trained. I personally wouldn’t let a whippet off lead anyway unless their recall was bombproof.

SnoopyOrSweep Mon 14-Oct-19 12:51:49

Thank you all so much for your advice - hugely appreciated.

@missbattenburg - thank you - great info there.

@frostedvioletsfrostedviolets and @adeline - very interesting, and useful, to know that it's not the big ones you've had trouble with.
@Wolfiefan - yes, I know not all big types are "fighting" types. I'm not frightened of big dogs per se (my mum has a huge dog who is a giant softie). It's the big ones with higher fighting instincts I can get scared of, and I wouldn't want my fear to be transmitted to my poor dog...

@MustardScreams - thank you, that's helpful. Reassuringly (to me!) I've thought about most of these things quite a lot. There's someone at home almost all the time, we can afford a bit of support, walking him/her will be no problem... I didn't know about the teenage years though. Will look into that.

@FLOrenze, that's great to know about the coats.

@Curlysurprise, glad to hear the whippets you've known have been lovely. I really, really love the ones I've met too!

OP’s posts: |
Wolfiefan Mon 14-Oct-19 13:05:56

“Big ones with higher fighting instincts”? What do you actually mean? You seem to be implying that certain breeds will always be aggressive. Untrue. You need to learn a lot more about breed traits and dog behaviour before even considering a dog.

Chipsnchampagne Mon 14-Oct-19 14:12:55

I'd recommend reading these two free e-books if you are thinking of getting a puppy:

As for whippets, I think they are a good choice for a first dog. After the teenage years (which are problematical in most breeds) they usually become calm, easy dogs that don't require hours of stimulation or exercise. They enjoy a nice walk but if circumstances occasionally dictate a short 30 min stroll then they are unlikely to be bouncing off the walls with frustration! If you train recall properly from an early age then recall should be no more unreliable than most average breeds. (Ours is certainly more reliable to recall than our spaniel was). And yes they are generally clean, non-smelly dogs which is a bonus for me after years of having hairy, smelly beasts!

SnoopyOrSweep Mon 14-Oct-19 14:59:09

@Chipsnchampagne - thank you - those e-books look great. I'm printing them out not.

@Wolfiefan - not sure where we're getting our wires crossed.
You seem to be implying that certain breeds will always be aggressive. Untrue.
There are some breeds which were bred for fighting: I think it's quite uncontroversial that, statistically, some breeds of dog (some of which are large, and some of which aren't) are more likely to be aggressive than others. This by no means indicates that ALL dogs of certain breeds will be aggressive, just that some breeds have a higher probability of acting in this way. I'm a bit nervous of dogs from fighting stock, especially when the dog is larger. This in no way means that I think all such dogs are aggressive.

You need to learn a lot more about breed traits and dog behaviour before even considering a dog.
I've read a fair amount about this. It's the practical experience of dog ownership I was asking about. Thanks anyway for your input.

OP’s posts: |
SnoopyOrSweep Mon 14-Oct-19 15:00:18

@Chipsnchampagne - I'm printing them out now. That typo sounded horribly sarcastic!!! shock

OP’s posts: |
frostedviolets Mon 14-Oct-19 15:21:08

There are some breeds which were bred for fighting

There are very very few.
Of the very few bred specifically for dog fighting the only one you might find in the U.K. specifically 'Bred for fighting' is the pit bull.

First of all, pits bred for dog fighting tend to be unbelievably gentle and tolerant with people.
People need to be able to pull them out the ring if necessary without injury remember.

Most of the illegal pit bulls in this country are not actually 'proper' pit bulls bred for dog fighting, they are bull breed/staffy mixes that just so happen to fit the government measurements.

The overwhelming majority of dog bites are from family pet breeds like labradors, springer spaniels and Dachshunds.

Of the breeds used for guarding/security purposes like Rottweilers, GSD etc, virtually none of them retain much, if any guarding instinct anymore.
It's been bred out.
They are very much pets and wouldn't defend you in an emergency.

If you want to be wary of a dog, be wary of the small ones.

missbattenburg Mon 14-Oct-19 15:41:52

The link between breeds and aggression is tricky for a few reasons...

The more popular the breed, the more likely you are to see aggression cases. This should be self explainatory but is often overlooked when quoting which breeds are more likely to bite etc. It follows that the more common the breed, the more likely behaviourists are to see that breed for aggression problems. This is why the most common breeds seen by behaviourists include popular breeds such as labs, GSDs, border collies, springers, cockers, staffies...

However, there is some variation between breeds when you look at the types of aggression. For example, the APBC reports more cases of border collies agressive towards humans they know that towards unknown dogs. However, GSDs are more likely to be aggressive towards unknown dogs than known humans.

Part of this links to a dog's socialisation window. Some breeds (typically guarding beeds) seem to have a shorter window when they are puppies in which to 'get used' to the types of indiviuals they encounter than other breeds do. This makes sense. If you have a guarding dog you need it to learn it's family/flock quickly and then be suspicious of anything else.

So, you should meet more GSDs that are aggressive to your dog than some other breeds right?

Or not. Because a GSD is a big dog. Therefore, aggression in GSDS is LESS likely to be tolerated by humans. An aggressive GSD is more likely to be surrendered or rehomed than an aggressive chi, for example. So, does that make it MORE likely you will only ever meet sweet natured GSDs? There are plenty of them.

Life does not follow statistics quite so neatly. I guess what I am trying to say (in a roundabout way) is you cannot use those kinds of facts to shape any worries about a specific dog you meet.

Instead, good knowledge of dog body language, good safety measures and using the other owner's behaviour as a guide all helps.

missbattenburg Mon 14-Oct-19 15:45:57

p.s. I didn't mean to pick quite so much on GSDs there. In truth, almost all the ones I've ever known have been absolute softies who I have fawned over for being quite so lovely...

Wolfiefan Mon 14-Oct-19 15:50:07

Pit Bulls and other dogs like the Japanese Tosa that are bred for dog fighting are banned breeds in the U.K.
I’m guessing you’re mistaking Staffies for Pit Bull dogs.
Most of our domestic breeds were herding or gundogs or companion breeds etc etc.

TailsoftheManyPaws Mon 14-Oct-19 15:56:35

Dog aggression depends partly on your area and largely on the local owners, I'd say.

All the scary-looking mastiff-types round here seem rigorously trained and have reassuringly firm, calm owners. The jack russells and labradors on the other hand...

joystir59 Mon 14-Oct-19 16:09:49

Don't get a Jack Russell Terrier. They can be sweet and lovely- our's can be very sweet and lovely and looks adorable, but he is very hard work and can be aggressive. He requires strong leadership, clear boundaries and lots of physical and mental exercise.

missbattenburg Mon 14-Oct-19 16:11:16

They are known as The Jack Fooking Russells in this house grin

(we have 2)

joystir59 Mon 14-Oct-19 16:22:50

Jack Fookin Russell's lol! Our is called Our Lovely Little Dog on a good day and Your Little Fucker on a bad day.

butterybiscuitbasic Mon 14-Oct-19 20:08:53

There are only three types of dog I’m nervous of - German shepherds (have met many that I like, but for an irrational reason they scare me if I don’t know them), Akita’s and... JRTs... my dog has only ever been bitten by the latter...

PookieDo Mon 14-Oct-19 20:15:34

Your child will likely not help you very much with the dog in the ways you really need them to or would ideally like

Also children can undo all the good training you manage very quickly!

So children and dogs can be hard work basically

I have a small dog and larger dogs do not seem attracted to hurt him. Even though he is small he will still try to dominate my 15yo (my youngest) by barking at her, stealing things and humping her friends, all dogs have annoying traits!

adaline Mon 14-Oct-19 20:36:06

In terms of practically (ie. the day to day stuff) be prepared for your DD to get bored very quickly!

Puppies are hard work and require a lot of input and consistency. Whatever she says now, she won't want to take the puppy out to toilet in the howling wind and rain, nor will she want to get up early/go out late in the winter to walk it. Dog walks in the wind, mud and rain are really not very enjoyable. Only get a dog if you're prepared to do all those things yourself (or if you can afford to outsource it all).

She'll soon get bored of the puppy jumping all over her, nipping, biting and being stupid. Then the teenage years come along and they forget all their commands and turn into large puppies with the strength to match. Very, very few 10 year olds have the maturity to appreciate the commitment of a dog - the toilet training, the walks, the classes, the feeding, the mess, the accidents...

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