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How do we find the right dog for us?

(29 Posts)
ChiefOwl Sun 03-Feb-13 20:58:58

We have been thinking of getting a dog for over a year and now seriously looking into it.

Our background:
2 dc - 7 and 5
2 cats, 2 guinea pigs
Large garden
I am a sahm so around a lot in the daytime.

I ideally like small dogs : pugs (dh says def no), cockerpoo (dh says def no), shitzu (dh says def no) cavalier king Charles (dh not keen!) you get the idea

He wants a retriever / lab type (grew up with these kinds of family dogs)

I have never had a dog before and although I Absolutely adore lots of our friends dogs and know I will love ours, I am aware I get very nervous of strange dogs and am nervous of how I will find meeting other dogs whilst walking ours, esp if it is some huge bouncy thing. I will Definately be signing upto puppy classes etc to socialise both of us!

Can anyone point me in the direction of any other breeds that might be suitable.

LadyTurmoil Sun 03-Feb-13 21:28:05

Ah, this old thing again! I've noticed that men (huge generalisation, I know) often prefer the bigger breeds, in particular lab/retriever types. I know loads of people have them as beloved family pets. However, they are big, boisterous and can knock small people over quite easily. It's not impossible, obviously, but smaller breeds are a lot easier and (only my opinion) children can take more active part in walking, playing when dogs aren't so physically strong. A friend of mine has a retriever (with children of 11 and 13), by the time it was 3 mths, the dog was lovely but very strong, would wrench the girls' arms out of their sockets when they were trying to walk it, is very strong now (at 9mths) and can pull my friend along. It comes down to training as well, they obviously haven't done enough and it's a big problem. Have you thought of looking at rescue dogs - they often have puppies as well as older dogs, because pregnant dogs have been abandoned or have been given to a rescue or a vet because people don't want (or can't sell) the litter. Perhaps think about size/strength more in depth before you think about particular breeds. Also, how much time will you have available for training/walking etc with two fairly small children? There are also online tests you can find which give you ideas about which breeds will suit your lifestyle depending on answers you give to questions. Good luck!

ChiefOwl Sun 03-Feb-13 21:37:10

Thank you

Both the children are at school so daytimes Iam free to train/walk (obv school holidays they would be at home ) and at weekends dh will be available too.

I would like the children to be able to take part in walking the dogs (can take on school run away from traffic) and I know my 5 yr old certainly couldn't walk a lab.

Our cats are always rescues, and although most of them have been gorgeous loveable things, some certainly haven't! So I think as a first timedog owner i would only consider rescue puppies.

LadyTurmoil Sun 03-Feb-13 21:44:39

Have you googled your local rescues and national ones (like Dogs Trust) have branches near to you? It might be worth filling in forms/going to see them and getting to know them, so if they get a suitable dog in at any time, they will already know you and you'll "be on the list"...

Floralnomad Sun 03-Feb-13 21:49:51

Miniature schnauzers seem to be incredibly popular at the moment and I know a couple of families with young children that have them . Perhaps your husband would go for that? They look quite manly for a small dog IYSWIM and I've seen lots of men walking them .

fanoftheinvisibleman Sun 03-Feb-13 22:01:09

I have a Border Terrier and always joke he is a big dog in a small package. They certainly aren't a lap dog.

They are vermin hunters though so you would need to take care with your piggies.

Mine doesn't bother with my hamster though I wouldn't trust him and gets bosses by my mums cqt"

fanoftheinvisibleman Sun 03-Feb-13 22:02:01

or even bossed by the cat!

ChiefOwl Sun 03-Feb-13 22:14:10

Jst read a quick synopsis on border terriers nt sure they and the piggies would be a good mix. The piglets are out in their run all day during the summer months, would be like teasing the dog!

So far I had been worried about the cats, hadn't really thought about the gp's, something else to consider thank you.

Floralnomad Sun 03-Feb-13 22:57:34

I definitely would steer clear of terriers as you have other small furries!

fanoftheinvisibleman Sun 03-Feb-13 23:09:09

I take it mine is an oddity then as the one time he came accross the hamster in his ball (dog was asleep with lead attached but woke up due to hamstera interest in him) he near on papped himself! grin

I hasten to add I would not trust him and they will never meet face to face but he knows where he is but doesn't bother the ham. I honestly wouldn't trust any dog with furries though.

digerd Mon 04-Feb-13 21:14:43

Very difficult to advise. For a 5 year-old to walk, even the smallest dog on its 4 legs can run faster that most adults never mind a small child. Mini of the breed are all too small, I reckon for your DH. Miniture poodles are beautiful, and the middle size is small but not so tiny. They are very lively but well trainable. Don't see many of them these days. They do need 6 weekly clipping.
I had a dog who was friendly to all furries and like rag doll cat. But similar breed to a shitu - so not for DH. My DH was also sceptical at first but she became his favourite out of the other Westies. She was so endearing and laid back.

digerd Mon 04-Feb-13 21:15:32


Anomaly Mon 04-Feb-13 23:04:49

I had the same problem with my DH about him wanting a big dog. Before we had kids we had a boxer and a lurcher so I do have experience with bigger dogs but I knew they wouldn't fit in with family life. In the end I refused to get a dog unless I got to choose the breed this is because I knew I would be training it, caring for it and walking it.

We now have a pair of Shih tzus and they have settled in brilliantly. My kids can walk them and they have been a doddle to train.

It's not just your kids you have to worry about. My kids love the dogs but not all their friends do and that's with two small dogs.

I think you need to chat more with you DH the breeds he's considering really are full on. If he really would like one would you consider adopting a much older dog?

This might help give you ideas Be honest about the walking - as a SAHM you might manage a lot when the kids are at school but in the holidays it can be tough.

minsmum Mon 04-Feb-13 23:22:14

When we first thought about getting a dog with the children we went to some dog shows and spoke to the owners about their dogs. One thing we were told was that schnaunsers were not good with children under 10. Small is not necessarily better large breeds can be very gentle. Greyhounds and whippets would not be a good idea because of the smaller pets.
I would go to look around a couple of rescues and see what the temperaments of adult dogs are like and what would fit in with your family life. Then once you have decided that you could look at how to get one.
I would say that having young children the temperament is more important than the breed.

LadyTurmoil Tue 05-Feb-13 01:38:51

I don't know if your DH would consider...but my brother has a Bichon/poodle mix who is very sweet, has been easy from a puppy, never problems with recall and gets on with other dogs. He DID choose a breeder v carefully and got a really good dog. I prefer bigger dogs but have a soft spot for Cavaliers! What about a spaniel? I know they're more active than others but are a bit bigger and may suit...

ChiefOwl Tue 05-Feb-13 11:47:23

Thank you lots to consider... Dh seems to have an aversion to poodles, I love bichon frise, shitzus they are all my kind of dog.

He was happier about the cavalier as its a spaniel ( all be it a very little one!) But they do seem to have a huge range of health problems.

I will run that test in a second and see how I get on. Walking wise , I guess in the school holidays I was hoping we could get away with a shorter walk with the kids and lots of running around the garden (Think acres rather than feet) is tht naive?

ChiefOwl Tue 05-Feb-13 11:53:24

Ok so I did it honestly and got 8 dogs including the cav and shitzus.... I didn't put a dog size down but it did give me all small dogs, so it must have been based on my other answers.

I noticed after playing around that quite a few were knocked off due to us having other pets.

Will have a look at rescues centres and maybe go and have a look round.

Anomaly Tue 05-Feb-13 12:00:11

I think the running round the garden is fine to an extent but dogs still really like walks. Also say you get something like a lab which needs two hours of walking and you do that most of the time when you get to the summer holidays you'll have a dog that is used to two hours and will be fit and expecting its two hours. Bored frustrated dogs are dogs that get into trouble. It would be better to have a dog that gets extra exercise in the holidays rather than less.

ChiefOwl Tue 05-Feb-13 12:20:17

Anomaly - this is exactly why I don't want a lab or similar!! as I know I won't be able to give it 2 hr walks in school holiday.

Anomaly Tue 05-Feb-13 13:01:04

I think you're being very sensible. I know I keep posting here but having been in the position of having a big dog and now having a small dog there is no way I'd go back. Just simple things like being able to leave the kitchen with dinner on the table. I know someone will probably say I should have trained my dog not to jump on the table but its not that easy and it takes time. Something to keep in mind is holidays and days out. By the time we've packed the car only space left for the dog is the passenger footwell.

YouveCatToBeKittenMe Tue 05-Feb-13 19:56:20

I have a Shih Tzu x JR ( I call him a jack shit grin or if I'm being really mean to people when they ask I tell them he is a miniature Old English)

He is much better around my guinea pigs and chicken than my Border Collie or my Springer

if you get a young dog they can be introduced to small furries better than when they are older

confusedabouther Tue 05-Feb-13 22:17:52

crufts is on in march, i highly recommend going if you can, they have a discover dogs section with about 200 breeds of dog with owners and breeders for you to talk to.

crockydoodle Wed 06-Feb-13 16:57:21

I have a young shih tzu cross too. She thinks she is a big dog. The men of the house adore her even though she is not a " man dog".

SophieCarr Thu 07-Feb-13 14:12:02

Have you thought about a cocker spaniel (show type)? They're not small, as such, but are a pretty manageable medium size (weighing up to about 14kg). I had one as a child, and we're now onto the 4th in the family (and I just got my first with my hubby last year). They are incredibly loving dogs, great with children, need exercise but not a ridiculous amount, and are easily trainable. (There are also working strain ones, but they are much more hyper and need more physical and mental stimulation). If you get a decent breeder then some of the health problems often associated with the breed (eye/kidney/hips) should be either bred out or reduced likelihood. A medium-sized dog like a cocker might suit your hubby better too, if he's anti small dogs.
Whichever breed you do get I highly recommend not only puppy classes but also as much socialisation of the dog as possible, from the moment you get them - take them everywhere with you to get them used to all types of people, other dogs, noises, traffic, etc.. It's so much better to have a confident dog from day 1.
Dogs are a bit of work, but can be such amazing companions! Make sure you get a decent breeder that does the relevant health checks, registers with the KC (although that doesn't guarantee a decent breeder, it helps), etc. Or go to one of the many rescue centres. Good luck with your search.

Mosman Thu 07-Feb-13 14:23:26

Our cocker spaniel was an escape artist and has just been killed by a car after digging under the fence in a corner out of sight - almost as if she knew what she was doing. She was beautiful but I don't think i'd get another because everyone I greeted with her said uh oh they are crackers you'll have your work cut out there and she did have moments of utter madness charging around like a loon.

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