Advice - dog novice

(30 Posts)
Covert19 Sun 16-Aug-20 07:58:47

Hi. We are a family of four - children age 12 and 10. We’re moving to a remote countryside location and thinking a dog would be great because we’ll have the space, and it might help with security.

However, neither I nor my husband have experience with dogs. We like other people’s well-behaved dogs but we don’t know the first thing about them. In addition, one of our children hates being licked, but otherwise likes dogs. Are some dogs lickier than others?

Where should we start? Should we research breeds and get a puppy, or go to a rescue place and find a pre-loved older dog?

I do have a very small fear of finding a dog who seems nice but then gets annoyed at my inept handling and suddenly turns ferocious - is that a thing or am I being daft?
(I might turn out to be a dog owner like Jim in Friday Night Dinner.)

Any advice on where to start from seasoned dog people would be gratefully received.

If you’d like to share the worst thing about dog ownership so I know what we’d be letting ourselves in for, that would be good too.


OP’s posts: |
Happydaysforever123 Sun 16-Aug-20 08:17:58

I think labradors are good first time owners dog. They are generally good natured, not barkers. I'd get a puppy as you are not getting someone else's problems. We have had rescue labs but they were trickier.
Is have been excellent with children.

WeeMadArthur Sun 16-Aug-20 09:10:31

Agree with Happydays that labradors are a good dog for first time owners, they like to please so are one of the easier breeds to train, they are pretty relaxed once they have had their exercise. They are also a decent size and when they do bark they sound like they mean it so would be ok for security, even if they wouldn’t do anything but wag if someone broke in.

If you have doubts over your abilities as a trainer then there are lots of guides out there, the main rule is consistency. And remember that if you let a puppy get away with something then the full sized dog is going to do it as well. As pack animals, it’s in their interests to behave, and they will be much happier if you make your expectations clear. Labs respond very well to food training. The licking is a natural behaviour, and your pet will want to lick you more than a strangers dog, but with consistency you can train them not to lick someone. DDog mainly licks me, as the boss and food provider, rarely licks DH or DS.

If you have no experience with dogs then I would suggest volunteering at a local rehoming centre, it will get you used to walking them in every weather, plus you can get a good feel for the sort of dog that will fit in with you, and you can see the pros and cons of adopting an adult dog over a puppy. I’ve had one dog from puppy and one from a year old and the puppy was easier to fit into the household.

The ‘worst‘ parts of dog ownership are the poo picking up, the hair, that it’s another dependent you need to look after every day, these things you get used to pretty quickly. Whenever DDog isn’t at home though it feels empty! And of course the fact that they have much shorter lifespans than us, so you might get 10 to 14 years with them.

Is someone going to be around for most of the day? Dogs need companionship so if they you are all out at work/school they may be happier in a breeder we got DDog from won’t sell you a dog if there isn’t someone at home during the day.

AbyssusAbyssumInvocat Sun 16-Aug-20 09:13:50

If you're all first time dog owners, you must ensure you have enough money to use a proper dog trainer!

Get something that suits your lifestyle and you know will fit in. For example, if you don't walk much don't get a beagle or collie.

I would recommend a rescue dog with your kids that age. You will be doing a good deed and get such joy out of it.

There is a website that tells you everything about all dog breeds. Think it's or something.

chipsandpeas Sun 16-Aug-20 09:17:05

also think ahead to going on holiday/weekends away - where the dog will go if you arent taking it with you family member/kennels?

even if you are staying in this country taking a dog on holiday or days out can still be restrictive there are more and more dog friendly places popping up depending on where you go

wetotter Sun 16-Aug-20 09:27:48

Try the Kennel Club breed finder

I'm assuming when you say 'helps with security' you mean 'barks atnstrangers' rather than any actual training or predisposition that makes a guard dog?

Puppies of any breed can be very licky, it wears off, but how wouid you help the nervous DD deal with it ? Because it's quite a friendly, affectionate and inquisitive gesture from the dog's POV. But you can train to minimise (and some just grow out of it or do it less in the first place).

My guess would be that you want an all-purpose, friendly family dog, soma labrador or golden retriever would be top of the list by quite some way. I'd also think it's worth looking at the friendlier/less obstinate terriers, the lower prey-drive/less vanishing-act hounds and poodles (the big ones, lovely dogs)

howdidigettobe50something Sun 16-Aug-20 09:48:10

Laughed at the Jim comment! I think a slightly older dog may suit you better as an inexperienced owner. I suggest visiting some good rescue centres and taking to them about what you are looking for. You need to think carefully about the commitment, time and cost of dog ownership and about the impact this will have upon the family. Regarding breeds, again rescue staff will be able to help with this and will know the temperament of each dog they have with them. We currently have 2 dogs. One we had from a puppy and one rescue. The rescue dog has been so easy... She just fits in with us and is a delight to have around. We would definitely rescue again in the future. Btw we have staffies... Wonderful family dogs but can be licky!


SoosanCarter Sun 16-Aug-20 09:55:58

My Labrador would greet a knife wielding intruder with joy and happiness.

howdidigettobe50something Sun 16-Aug-20 09:57:57

... My staffies would do the same... With a lick thrown in!

Forestdweller11 Sun 16-Aug-20 09:58:05

Take a look at the Facebook page - dog training advice and support. They have loads of helpful advice and videos that you can take a look at - every thing from puppy socialisation, introducing dogs and children, through to resource guarding and aggression avoidance. They also take questions from owners who are having problems. They don't follow the now largely discredited pack theory of dog training and advocate force free methods.

Ihaventgottimeforthis Sun 16-Aug-20 10:51:59

I think the worst things about dog ownership, for my DH who is NOT a dog person, are:
-The hair and smell and muddy footprints constantly about the house
-His barking
-The planning you need to do if you want to do an impulsive day/meal out which is not dog-friendly
-The potential cost for holidays/weekends away
- The poo picking is not too bad, you just block it out and go into autopilot
He enjoys the companionship, the enjoyment and love the DC get from the dog, the long walks.
I love it all :-)

tabulahrasa Sun 16-Aug-20 11:09:57

Dogs are mostly pretty useless as security... some breeds are more likely to bark if someone’s about, but they’re also then more likely to bark because a leaf fell or the wind blew hmm

If you’re completely new to dogs - an older rescue is in many ways easier, firstly because any training you do tends to be quicker to be learnt (barring major behavioural issues) and because you’re not having to teach absolutely everything all at once and secondly because puppies are little bitey gits who completely take over your life for quite a few months.

Licking is mostly an individual dog thing, some are lickier than others. But there will be some amount of licking... you just kind of get used to it tbh...

“I do have a very small fear of finding a dog who seems nice but then gets annoyed at my inept handling and suddenly turns ferocious - is that a thing or am I being daft?”

No, if you’re really inept you’d end up with a dog who just kind of ignores you and does what it fancies, but by that I mean - goes where it wants, plays with what it wants, like a child with ineffectual parents really.

The worst things? Um they can be pretty minging, eat pretty disgusting things, roll in even more disgusting things... you never really get used to that, it’s always horrible to deal with.

They’re also fairly tying, you can’t just do what you want when you want as they’re totally dependant on you.

WeeMadArthur Sun 16-Aug-20 11:52:44

I forgot to say that some breeds have some pretty serious health issues so you need to be aware of any that affect the breeds you are looking at and make sure that the parents have been screened for them. It doesn’t guarantee that the pup will be 100% healthy but at least if the breeders screen for conditions they will also hopefully breed mindfully to decrease the chances of anything being passed on to future litters.

vanillandhoney Sun 16-Aug-20 12:30:11

Good first time breeds in my opinion would be a poodle, spaniel or Labrador - all fairly easy to train, biddable and require a couple of hours of exercise per day once fully trained. If you get one from a good breeder, they should be health checked and you should be able to see all their family history too.

I would make sure you have a good trainer lined up (aiming for the KC good citizenship award eventually) and invest in good, lifetime insurance too. You could also sign up for a health plan at the vets which will cover vaccinations, check ups and flea/worm treatment.

Now onto your second question! The worst parts of dog ownership to me are the following:

- the commitment. You can't leave a dog (especially a young dog) home alone for very long at all. So if you want to go out for the day, you either need to take the dog (not really possible or practical for a puppy) or arrange care - a sitter, walker or daycare. Same for when you go on holidays - you'll need to either bring the dog, or arrange a sitter or kennels. It can be a big added cost onto a day out or holiday.

- having to walk them in all weathers, and no matter how shit you feel. Going out in the howling wind and rain when you've got a stinking cold and then needing to bathe and dry the dog afterwards is no fun. Then having to repeat the exercise later that day, often getting in to slightly damp waterproofs from the morning's adventures! The other end of the spectrum is needing to get up at 5-6am to walk them in the height of summer so you avoid the hottest part of the day.

But the benefits (for me) absolutely outweigh any negatives. I can't imagine life without our dog (he's 2.5 now) and he's fantastic - likes a good walk, but equally enjoys a big cuddle on the sofa too. Good luck!

BarkingHat Sun 16-Aug-20 17:43:48

We are first time dog owners, had dogs as kids but I now realise that doesn’t count.

There’s a thread knocking about that’s something like ‘do you regret getting a dog’ worth a read.

Labs and retrievers are big dogs. Unless you train them they will make your sofas muddy and your beds muddy. If you are houseproud then you need to be consistent in not letting them on furniture.

Puppies are hard work and I’m not sure it’s fair to get one unless you will be about pretty much all the time for the first few months.

They are adorable though. We’ve got the nicest natured cockerpoo you could ever meet.

I suspect there’ll be a lot of dogs com8ng up 8n rescues soon as lockdown puppies turn into dogs that can’t be left alone while people are at work. Nothing wrong with them but people’s circumstances change.

I’d suggest reading the happy puppy book.

I love ours to bits but she is a proper real commitment.

Covert19 Sun 16-Aug-20 20:14:12

Thank you everyone for your helpful replies. I’m at home during the day, so that’s a plus. I find labs a bit vanilla if I’m honest - I would like a mongrel or unusual breed I think, because I’m a bit of a nonconformist and everyone round here has a lab or a labradoodle. I did the online quiz and it paired me with a German pinscher, poodle or Bulldog, curiously. Lots to think about.....

OP’s posts: |
nicky7654 Sun 16-Aug-20 20:26:31

If you got a Staffie your fall in love instantly lol Best dogs ever especially around children. Buy a training book and learn the basics before you decide to take the plunge.

nicky7654 Sun 16-Aug-20 20:30:51

@howdidigettobe50something I have 2 Staffies also and wouldn't be without them. One from 9 weeks and one rescue. Both adorable and they adore children. Eric is my pig but Layla a bit more ladylike as she doesn't snort or grunt!

tabulahrasa Sun 16-Aug-20 20:53:41

I find the KC quiz gives really odd results btw, it’s like it prioritises weird stuff, so no matter what I put as soon as I hit large I get suggested greyhounds.

I mean, greyhounds are sweet, but they’re not the best choice for obedience training and scentwork, lol

Also I will say, labs are popular for a reason, they’re a pretty good fit for lots of people where some rarer breeds are rarer for a reason - not all to be fair, but some are very much only suited to experienced owners.

AbyssusAbyssumInvocat Sun 16-Aug-20 21:20:39

I did the online quiz and it recommended a patterdale terrier. Yuk.

I have an Akita. He is the strangest dog you could ever have. Basically a very large, very grumpy cat.

Rottweilers and staffs are the best dogs you'll ever have for friendship.

sunshinesheila Sun 16-Aug-20 21:43:18

I woukd start with a older rescue. They tend to be very grateful to have a home. More settled down as older too.
If your looking at certain breeds check out the ease of training.
Also how much walking they need.
It's all about consistency really. A bit like a toddler. If you don't want them to watch you eat never feed them any of yours.

BarkingHat Sun 16-Aug-20 22:18:12

Poodles are fab, the grooming is a pain though. Staffies are fab dogs.

But there is a reason why labs are good family dogs ....

howdidigettobe50something Sun 16-Aug-20 22:41:04

... Glad to see so much staffy love on this thread!

greyhoundexplorer Sun 16-Aug-20 23:25:35

We just got a greyhound. She's fab
She sleeps a lot, loves her walks and is generally no trouble at all. She never raced so has no prey drive, and therefore doesn't need a muzzle.
We're slowly training her commands but she's generally toilet trained and quite timid. Slowly she's coming out of her shell and it's amazing

They don't bark, shed or need a lot of walks. We do 3-4 a day of 10-30 minutes

Happy to answer any questions.

Dbank Mon 31-Aug-20 14:45:34

Really glad to hear you're concerned about finding the right dog for you and your family.

I would suggest..
1. Settle into your new home for a least a couple of months.
2. See if anyone local would be prepared to let you walk or care for their dog, for a few hours for even overnight.
3. Get a dog breed book, and see if your family can reach a consensus if only based on the "look" of the dog.
4. Then do research on that breed to see if it's really suitable.

Good luck hope it works out

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