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How do you go from never having been a dog owner to being a dog owner?(71 Posts)
I know I can just go and buy a dog, but what do I need to think about, learn and do before we get a family dog?
I've always been a cat person, never understood dogs or their appeal. But then I've met a couple of dogs (Cavapoos) who have completely charmed the socks off us and it's starting to look attractive. We have two cats and dc are 7, 12 and 14.
I've read some of the puppy threads and heard from friends that it's like having a baby in the house 😬
What else should we consider?
My main advice is to really do your research into breeds that suit your lifestyle. Some breeds need a LOT of exercise and training and aren't advised for first time dog owners. Poodle crosses look cute but aren't an easy breed and I wouldn't recommend them for first time dog owners.
Thanks stella. I'm surprised that poodle crosses are not recommended? I thought they were good with children and easier to train. We'd be looking for a small dog that wouldn't need extensive exercise.
Any thoughts on a good alternative breed?
Lurcher obviously imo/e. We have dcats and dc.
We have 2 Lurchers..
in fact actually it's 3. We got a dpuppy just yesterday...
Totally underrated as a family pet.
yes a lot of research. yes to like having a constant toddler in the house. puppy stage is like a baby stage except the baby chews eveything and has razor sharp teeth. I say this but would do it all over again.
Having a puppy is like having a baby.
Toilet training - you will be up several times in the night.
You can't leave them alone for a good few months so need to think about how you will manage that.
Biting. Puppies bite really damn hard and often.
You won't be able to do anything spontaneous.
Walks everyday even in the freezing cold, pouring rain, gale force winds.
Have you considered rehoming an older dog who is already toilet trained and can do home alone time? There are lots of adult cavapoo/cockapoos available?
MN won't let you want any poodle cross, but in my experience cavapoos are a lot more chilled than cockapoos because cavaliers are a calmer breed than cocker spaniels. Most poodle crosses will be easy to train as poodles are intelligent. Nice size for a family dog as well, labradors for example are quite big and bouncy for children.
I have a poodle cross - an australian labradoodle - and am a first time dog owner. She is absolutely lovely, such a good dog and with the exception of jumping up (which I'm working on, she's 8 months so a work in progress) really easy to train, smart, amenable, excellent recall and zero aggression. The whole family adores her, and even the cat tolerates her. (I know the issues with cross-breeds and probably would get a rescue poodle next time before anyone jumps in, but this dog fell into our lap for various reasons and is done now).
What I've been surprised about, actually, is just how much I love her! Dogs really love you, and you need to have enough time to spend with them, It's not just the walking, it's companionship. I can work from home most of the time and she goes to daycare twice a week. I'd say it's the logistics that's the most complicated bit to get your head around- you can't leave a puppy on its own for long at all, so it's a major change.
The poodle crosses I know are lovely dogs, but owners describe them as 'mental' and suffer from separation anxiety, they never really stop or relax.
Lurchers are brilliant and there are usually quite a few in rescue, but that depends on if they suit your lifestyle. Events like Discover Dogs are great for talking to fellow breed owners to find out what its like to live with particular breeds, as well as explaining any potential known health problems to look out for in a breed. I would also join Facebook groups for information on reputable breeders, plus this could be useful to find the right dog for you www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/findabreed/Default.aspx
Before we got our dog we did a budget for things like insurance, food etc. Allaboutdogfood is a great site for finding quality food brands.
- should also say we were lucky and toilet training was really easy, and she slept through the night (in our bedroom first of all) from week 1. But people's experiences are different.
I adore all dogs but I would never get a new puppy. I much prefer a rescue dog from 6 months+. And I mean from an actual rescue, not the fake rescues on gumtree.
It can be harder to find one that suits your family but the love and loyalty and happiness from a rescue dog is worth it.
How much exercise are you up for ?
Many Tears Rescue have lots of small-medium dogs, for example
I would also suggest looking at Silver Fox who specialise in small-medium dog, and also do occasionally have puppies and young dogs.
If you are specifically looking for a puppy, I would suggest breeds such as westies/shih tzu/bichons/cavaliers etc as well as the cavapoo/cavachons you liked
I would also look at staffies, they are absolutely lovely dogs and very loving. The one we socialise with regularly is the best trained dog i've ever known and incredibly friendly. I personally love hounds as they are incredibly relaxed and chilled, but can be stubborn and not the easiest to train.
I’ve never met a poodle cross I didn’t fall in love with. They all seem to be sweet natured and easy to train. My sister has a YorkiePoo and he is the most adorable fluffball. She had never had a dog and we didn’t have dogs growing up. She loves him.
My first dog was (is) a chihuahua x Jack Russel, she’s much more Chi than Jack, in fact she’s almost cat like. Easy peasy apart from her habit of pissing and shitting indoors if it’s bad weather (tempted to litter train her...)
Dog#2 is a Labrador. He’s a dickhead. Not sure I’d recommend a lab puppy for a first time owner really. Or anyone
You will become a dog person very quickly in my experience, both me and my sister would have said we were cat people until we got dogs.
My DD bf bought a cavapoo just over a year ago and has spent most of the year trying to train him. He'd never had a dog before but I've been a licensed boarder so pretty experienced.
Bf wasn't really on it and was a bit hit and miss with training. I think too many bad habits set in too early which were then difficult to re-train: trying to get him to sleep downstairs after months of being bedroom was one.
I think he underestimated how much time he had to give to training.
However he is cuteness overload and a 20 minute walk turns into at least and hour!
I dont think there is an issue with poodles crosses as such.
Although I have never understood it. Usually, neither dog brings anything to the other. poodles are great, the dogs they are crossed with are great. No improvements for either breed.
The majority are bred in poor conditions and sold at a huge mark up, for no reason at all. Often the parents arent even health tested.
Also theres loads if claims about poodle crosses that are just bollocks and not true.
OP having a puppy is hard work. Look at the puppy support thread here. People are looking for support, so it doesnt highlight the good bits but give you an idea of the problems.
You need to remember that biting, toilet training, chewing (pretty much any behaviour you dont want) could take weeks, even months to training out of a puppy.
So many people complain their 10/12 week old still has indoor accidents or still nippy, its normal.
There is quite a lot to think about.
A dog is a 12-15 year commitment with another being, a being who will take up half of your heart and change your life. And it's always a gamble because you are dealing with another living being who may turn out to have health needs, or emotional needs, or hate your cats, etc.
You want to maximize the chances of having a dog that is easy going and fits in with your life. So
1. Think about what you want from a dog. Are you OK with mud, dirt and hair in a smelly house? Do you enjoy long walks even in awful weather? Are you happy to be tied down to being around for your dog or paying someone to take up the slack? Do you want to commit to taking care of another living being?
2. Try to get a dog that fits your needs and lifestyle. There are two main reasons why people should not get mongrels aka designer cross breeds: the first is that they are not an established breed so it's a matter of luck what you will get in a puppy. The second is that they are fashionable, expensive and attract unscrupulous breeders. If you like poodle crosses, get a poodle. Lovely, intelligent dogs that come in many sizes.
3. To maximize your chances of having a dog with a nice temperament go to a breeder who breeds for temperament and meet the parents or go to a reputable rescue that can match you with the right dog.
4. Set time aside for training. You will need to learn how to train a dog. A puppy will need socialization and training classes, a rescue will need training and re-education classes. You may need one to one help or you may pick it all up in group lessons, but it is very rare that people just sort out training by themselves.
5. Be flexible and accommodating. You can do everything right and still end up with a dog with behavioral issues. A bit of luck goes into it as well.
I wouldn't recommend either breed to a first timer!
The issue with poodle crosses are many. They generally come from bad breeders and their owners often get more than they bargain for (in terms of grooming and amount of training and exercise needed.)
I would rescue or look to a pedigree. Many pedigree breeders are also awful though. We started with the breed club.
Things to think about? The lack of sleep and constant biting when pups.
As an adult you can’t ever just go out for the whole day.
They take waaaaay more time and attention than a cat.
We have a working cocker spaniel as our 1st dog.
Plus side she’s beautiful, loving and clever. She is great company and generally quite obedient.
Minus, she makes a massive mess every day chewing her toys, rearranging cushions and throws and rolling in poo / mud and then strolling in. I do at least 30 minutes extra housework a day entirely related to my dog.
She needs minimum 90 minutes walk a day.
So that is 2 hours a day entirely devoted to dog care, and excludes brain games, cuddles and general fuss.
Just check you have time for a dog. I had NO idea how time consuming she would be.
Agree with the grooming costs for poodle crosses. Generally they need grooming every 6-8 weeks or they can get very matted, it can be very expensive.
I'm not a fan of poodle crosses for reasons expressed above. With pedigrees you can get a pretty good idea of temperament and health of the breed, its a bit of a guessing game with crosses.
I think rescue dogs are marvellous. Please give this a try or at least visit. Older dogs are often already house trained and whilst there may be an initial accident whilst they settle to the new routine, it stops immediately. We have had numerous rescue dogs and they've all been wonderful ... 3 springers, a cocker, a heinz 57 who was adorable, a sheepdog and a jack russell cross.
I think if it was me, I would avoid dog breeders as there are so many dogs needing homes and it's horrible people breeding dogs for money and there are so many problems with pure breds and pure/cross breds.
My main advice is research, research, research. Don't be swayed by looks - go with the breed you can manage.
Exercise - how much can you commit to? And by that, I mean what can you give your dog on your worst day - when you're knackered and ill and it's pissing it down with rain? For example the minimum we can give our dog is 60 minutes a day - else he'll just be bonkers. So every day, rain or shine, I have to go out for at least that length of time.
Grooming - we deliberately picked a breed that didn't need grooming at all, but others need it daily. How much are you willing to spend on grooming costs each month? Do you have the time/energy to dedicate to daily brushing etc?
Training - if you get a puppy, you'll need to think about the costs of training classes, and then how much time can you devote to daily training? Mine had classes for a year and now he's two, we still do training everyday on walks. I would advise a breed that's keen to learn and easily motivated by food!
Benefits for us have been - pure joy; family together more, laughing and walking him/playing with him; constant companion; things I thought could amount to a chore just aren't e.g. the walking, picking up poo, grooming needs etc
Less good aspects - hugely restrictive in all aspects - can't really be left apart from short stints in the crate or daycare, so even getting shopping is difficult, never mind going anywhere at all without them e.g. cinema, meal out, appointment etc, never mind working outside the home. I have changed my whole way of operating to accommodate him and only really go to places where he can come to including e.g. meet friend at dog friendly cafe, meal out only go to dog friendly pub, cinema only if someone at home with pup etc. Do not underestimate this aspect. Every time someone asks me "Would you like to ..." my first thought is "What about pup?"
Breeds - agree you MUST get a breed that fits what you can offer. Poodle cross - ime I'd say poodle OR spaniel rather than a mix where you don't quite know what you're getting. Poodles get a bad rap as people, inc me, don't like the whole shaved legs, shaved snout, pompoms thing. With a "cute cut" / "puppy cut" they just look like a curly dog and are 100% wonderful - happy, friendly, bright, playful, friendly, cuddly - just lovely. A miniature poodle is same size as a cocker spaniel broadly. (Toy/teacup poodles are small and v delicate and not very robust with kids etc). Highly recommend miniature poodle.
I think the requirements are lots of time, someone home based, deep pockets! Good luck.
(Final thing - my dog is the love of my life and on a recent thread here about what is the best "thing" you have ever bought, so many of the responses were "my beloved dog". There is nothing like it)