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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Seattle
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    Default Advice on a new puppy

    We are considering getting a puppy. I've never been a dog owner in my adult life, and while I love animals I also know dogs are a huge commitment. I've done a bunch of research on dog ownership but what I really want to hear are the real life stories from women like me who are balancing family/life/home/travel etc and things to consider before getting a pup. Any advice, good or bad?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    3,508

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    We have a 2 year old lab. Before him, we had a Cocker that DH had before we met.

    I'm not going to lie. A dog is an enormous commitment. Huge. Not on par with having a baby, but honestly not too much behind!

    We got our current dog when he was 11 weeks old. From day 1, we put him on a schedule and routine. He is crate trained. But both DH and I WOH FT. That meant that every.single.workday, one or the other of us had to go home during the day to let him out. We did this until his first birthday. Thankfully, we only live 20 minutes from work, but it was an ordeal at the time.

    The first few months, DH also spent at least an hour a day training the puppy. You can also do puppy school (which I highly recommend if you've never had a dog before). It took us several weeks to really get the dog on the schedule and housebroken. Even then, he could not be out of the crate unless an adult was 100% devoted to watching him.

    Now that he is older, we still have him on a routine. He is walked every morning and every afternoon. I realize we're probably more strict than others, but he's a high energy dog who needs the exercise. Plus he is a chewer, so he has to be crated while we're at work, or he'll destroy the house. That means DH gets up at 4:30 am every day to walk him. The first thing when the girls and I get home from school/work, we walk him again.

    If we're going to be gone more than 12 hours, we have to get a petsitter to come in and take care of him.

    Whenever we go on vacation, we kennel him. Again, this is our choice. We just don't feel comfortable having him home alone with only a petsitter stopping by a few times a day. It's expensive and we have to take him the day before we leave, which always makes a busy day even busier.

    Even with all of that, a dog is so worth it. Our girls absolutely adore him. The hard work of training him in the beginning is paying off, because even though he can still be an exuberant puppy, he's pretty darn well behaved. I am admittedly a cat person, but our doggie is pretty awesome, too, and all of the work is paid back in puppy kisses and love many times over.
    wife 08.10.02
    mother 11.01.03 and 09.01.06

  3. #3
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    Jun 2005
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    MD
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    Well, I grew up with dogs and we had a dog prior to kids that had to be put down at the age of 4 (Lymphoma). I allowed my DH and kids to talk me into another dog - he will be two in April. It is the biggest mistake I've made and if I could go back in time and put my foot down, I would. I simply do not have time to care for a dog. We both work, so he is alone all day and we don't have a fenced yard so someone has to be outside with him. He was hit by a car last year and we spent almost 10k getting him well. The house is constantly a mess with dog hair (and I vacuum daily), he has chewed my furniture, peed on the carpets and any throw rug I put down instantly gets the corners chewed off (he has plenty of toys – I have no idea why he insists on chewing carpets).

    I know that part of this is our fault as we've spent very little time training him - this dog is just destructive and requires a lot more attention then our previous dog (same breed) which we simply do not have. If we have an evening activity, I have to plan my entire day around letting the dog out before we go anywhere. If we go away for the weekend, he needs to be boarded which is expensive. I feel guilty, so he ends up at dog daycare once or twice a week (at 35 a pop) just so he isn’t home all day alone. The kids, while the do love him, really don’t play with him much and it is like pulling teeth to get them to help me with the responsibilities that go along with having a pet.
    A&K 05.18.02
    Baby Girl 09.06.05... Angel Baby Oct 2007... Baby Girl 10.21.08
    Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle

  4. #4
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    Jun 2005
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    I wanted to add, too, that whether you decide to rescue a dog, work with a breeder or adopt a mutt, do research on the various breeds. Some (like our lab) are people pleasers and relatively easy to train. Others need lots and lots of exercise. Some aren't generally good with kids. We did lots and lots of research before we decided, and although I would have preferred a rescue, we chose a reputable breeder and met with her/talked with her many times before we chose her and ultimately chose our dog.
    wife 08.10.02
    mother 11.01.03 and 09.01.06

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Upstate, NY
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    Agree with the advice on doing research on different breeds!

    We rescued ours as an 8 week old puppy and we let DSS choose her. All we knew was that the mother was a collie -they did not know the breed of the father. We totally lucked out on our dog! She is very well behaved. I work full time and it really wasn't too bad -however, we have a mudroom that is not too large that we were able to put her in during the day. First I paper trained her, then we crate trained -since she started chewing on the molding in the mudroom. We also got an invisible fence because I could not see having a dog that I couldn't just let outside when the need arose -I could not commit to daily walks for a dog!

    We got ours as a puppy in July and the invisible fence, I think it was September. She was very easy to train with the fence -I was walking her on a leash in the mornings before I went to work and also at night several times. She's a pleaser and was extremely easy to train -we only had DSS at the time, so I had a lot more time on my hands for her! We *think* that the father may have been a hound of some sort.

    As far as traveling-you can always explore other options than kennels. I asked at my vets office and it turns out that both the receptionists that work there do pet sitting on the side and both happily agreed to take her (they are selective on who they'll take). So far I haven't used their services since we try to take her with us on vacations rather than leaving her home.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    I've worked with animals my entire life and love nothing more than an adorable puppy but knew that I would not be able to correctly train a puppy with young kids in the house. Honestly, I find puppies to be more work than a baby-more like an unruly toddler that needs a nap.

    We ended up adopting a 3 year old boxer. We found her with the help of a breed specific rescue group. She came with amazing manners, potty trained and past the point of chewing on everything and anything. We chose a boxer because the are great with kids and look intimidating. Silly, but DH travels a lot and I feel better having a big scary looking dog in the house. If anyone actually broke in, she would be the first one hiding under the bed but at least she looks tough in the window.

    We kennel her while we travel. I found a great place outside of town that is very reasonable. They have terrible hours so that is a pain but the quality of care is worth it.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2005
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    Iowa
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    My personal opinion is to go with an older dog. I was in a similar situation where I had always been around dogs but never owned one myself as an adult. The timing was never right before and then we decided to search. I had a 3 month old baby so I knew a puppy was too much of a commitment at that time. We ended up with a supposedly 9 year (7 or so IMO) old sheltie mix, the oldest dog I could find suitable to our needs. I did not want to commit to 10-15+ years of dog ownership.

    I love the dog, but I've learned that I like other people's dogs much better than I do owning one. He is a royal PITA at times. It isn't the dogs fault, he has his issues (mainly anxiety related) as does every dog but overall a great dog. Maybe at some point when I have an empty nest, I may get another dog but at this point in my life cats are much more my speed.
    Last edited by Kanga; 02-28-2013 at 10:52 AM.
    DD8 DD7 DS2.5 DD 10.26.13

  8. #8
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    Feb 2007
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    Eagle Creek, OR
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    I have grown up with dogs (my stepdad was blind and we always had a guide dog in the house) but I know myself and I know that I just don't have the energy/patience/temperment to deal with a puppy or a larger dog. I would consider a small dog if it was not a big barker, but DH wants a lab or larger breed. Nope. Sorry. I am a cat person and would LOVE to get a kitten, that's more my speed and I have trained several kittens in my life so I know what to expect.

    Although I will say I have seriously considered when DD gets older raising a guide dog. There is a guide dog place very close to us, and due to my stepdad I know how important it is. It's also temporary.
    Good judgement comes from experience, and most of that comes from bad judgement. -From a bumper sticker I saw once

  9. #9
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    I agree with the advice of getting an older dog.

    We have two dogs- a nine-year-old boxer that we had before kids, and a 1-year-old German shepherd mix. We got both as puppies. With the first dog we had so much more time to give him. The puppy years were tough since we lived in an apartment with no fenced yard, and he did his share of destroying things. But even though we both worked, we made lots of time for the dog after work and on weekends, going on hikes, to the dog park, took him everywhere with us. It was a totally enjoyable experience and he was fully trained when the kids came along and has been great with them.

    When I had one child and even after I had my second, I still tried to spend time with the dog. He was walked less often for sure, but he still got out. After we had our third child, the dog rarely got the chance to leave our property (we do have a big fenced in yard though so he is able to run.) Still, I felt he was getting depressed- whined a lot, slept much more than usual, often let out big sighs for no reason. We thought getting another dog would provide him with some company and cheer him up, so a year ago we got a new puppy.

    I don't want to say I regret that decision, because it totally solved our problem of dog #1 being depressed. He is a different dog now that he has a companion. It is unbelievable the difference in him. However, the puppy is a bit of a nightmare. She is no worse than any other dog but with the amount of time we have available to give to her, there is no way she can be expected to be trained properly. She is house trained and is good with the kids which are the two most important things. All of her other faults are most definitely our fault since we haven't worked with her and she is rarely walked or taken anywhere. She spends most of the day outside because she wrecks the house (this is also a positive b/c the boxer would never spend any time outside alone, and now that he has company he will happily spend the day outside too.) If I had to do it all over again I would have got an older dog that was a bit calmer. DH was against that because he thought with having small kids we should get a puppy so we could be sure of her history and it would be less of a risk of aggression to the kids. I do think though that there are plenty of adoptable dogs who will be good with kids. Right now I am counting down the days til she outgrows these hyper puppy years. I admit I haven't bonded with her yet, and I feel bad about it.

  10. #10
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    I have two weimaraners. I adopted them as puppies (same litter) at six weeks old. They are the loves of my life.

    That said, they are a lot of work. Repeatedly, people always comment to me how lucky I am to have such nicely behaved dogs. There was no luck (or not much) about it. If you do the training, or commit the time, you will probably have a great dog. But if you don't, you will almost definitely have issues. Even though I have great dogs, they are far from perfect.

    Petsitting - When I got the puppies, I was not working full time. But soon after that I got a great full time job offer. Because the dogs were not housebroken yet (usually happens at about 12-16 weeks if properly trained), I hired a pet sitter to come to the house, initially twice per day and then later once per day, to clean up after the dogs and walk them. It wasn't anything fancy, just a neighborhood 11 year old who was very responsible and advertised pet sitting service. She has grown up with the dogs, and is now is college, and continues to pet sit them (and our cats) as necessary, and will stay at the house for a week when we are in the UK, starting next week. Because I have four animals, two cats and two dogs, it is actually less expensive - and much less stressful to the pets - to have someone come to the house rather than board them. If you travel a lot, you should consider what options are available to you.

    Housebreaking early is important. When puppies are small, it's like you have to take them out every 30 min! But if you dedicate the time, it is worth it because you will have a pet that is extremely reliable. That said, once the pattern of peeing and pooping in the house is established, it can be almost impossible to break.

    For the first year I had them, as soon as the morning alarm went off, I immediately grabbed a robe and went down and took the puppies out, even before I had peed or washed myself. Dogs have incredible hearing, and even if they are on another floor, they will hear when anyone is up. Puppies are like children and cannot hold it very long in the morning. This is very important is establishing proper housebreaking. Many people make the mistake of getting up, dressed, attending to their children and then going downstairs and addressing the puppy, and they wonder why the puppy always has already eliminated (and probably run around in it and made a huge mess) and never seems to get better about holding it in the morning. My point is, if you have children and decide to get a puppy, you and your spouse need to decide who is going to do what with the kids/dog in the morning, and stick to it. If what you two decide is that you handle everything, that may not work out the best. Again, this is not forever, just the first year, and once you get past it and the dog is well trained, you are good to go

    Walking - I'm a big believer in walking the dogs. My dogs get two walks a day. Morning, and after supper. This really helps with bonding and training, and allows them to establish a regular elimination pattern. Plus dogs have more energy than children, so if we all understand that children need to burn off excess energy to be well behaved, why do we think dogs are any different? Plus, dogs are just like your children in that you can have a yard, but often they will become bored with it and end up on the back doorstep.Dogs like to get off property as well, to see diffeernt sights and smells. Establishing a walking routine (optimally 30-45 minutes after feeding, to help with elimination) is really helpful because dogs (and all pets) thrive on having a regular schedule. After the walk, a well trained dog will come in and be happy to rest quietly most of the day.

    Training - we did bedience training for 6 weeks starting at age 4 months. This was really important, but I want to share what the trainer said to us. In our 1 hour weekly lessons, he was not training our dogs. He was teaching us how to train our dogs with the lessons we were to do before the next session.That there was no way he could train our dog in 6, 1 hour lessons. But he could show us how to do it, and these would be skills that would allow us to be trainers of our dogs all our lives. A dog is like a toddler; it will need small corrections from time to time all of its life. If you don't bother to correct bad behavior, the behavior will become more and more common. DH and I often get unsolicited compliments on how well behaved our dogs are, especially in public. Often people ask us how long it took us to train them like that. We say, it's an every day job. I may be making it seem like more work than it is, but just making the point that , just like children, it's an everday thing - not once and done.

    Establish dog and non-dog zones of your house. My dogs do not sleep on the bed with us. For the first 6 months, they slept downstairs in the first floor bathroom. Then they were moved to the (heated and cooled) garage at night. Only now that they are mature, well behaved dogs do they get to sleep upstairs in the master bedroom. Also, when they were puppies and often muddy, they were not allowed in the carpeted upstairs. They were not allowed on most furniture (still are not). Because I do not want my house to look and smell like a dogs den, and even well trained dogs can be destructive (just scratching) and because I have cats and do not like to leave the dogs and cats unsupervised, I leave the dogs in the garage when I am gone during the day. It is heated, cooled and has daylight windows. They have kennels with very nice dog beds in the garage, food and water. They can't tell the difference in the decor, and when there have been times when they have been sick with vomit or diarhhea, my garage floor is much easier to clean than interior floors or furnishings. If I did not have cats and left them inside, I feel certain they would jump on the couches or beds to sleep all day, and I don't want that. I prefer to leave the dogs in the garage rather than crating them, but crating is an option also. In the early years, some sort of containment is important to reduce damage from chewing.

    Make the pet a part of the family From a very early age, my mother included us children in the care and responsibility for the pets, and I think that was a great thing in teaching me early responsibility. An eight year old is not too young to have some responsibility. Realize that ultimately, the responsibility falls on you. But establishing early on this is everyone's pet and everyone has to share in the chores is important. Also, we don't tak ethe dogs to dog parks or places like tha that are dog-specifict, but we do take them along with us a lot on the weekends as we run errands and out for hikes every weekend the weather is nice (but we are outdoorsey and would have been hiking anyway).

    Find the right dog for you. What size dog do you want? What energy level? How much fur and grooming care? You and your DH should decide this before you start to look (especially if looking with the children) because all puppies look so very cute, but what is cute as puppy may be much, much more than you planned as an adult.

    I will be very honest in that my weimaraners have a much higher energy level than I anticipated (and if I had done more research I would have known this). But Dh and I have risen to the challenge with the twice a day walks and Dh doing the football toss for 20 min EVERY DAY in nice weather. If we don't do this, they start climbing the walls and being too rambunctious. They also go on a lot of weekend hikes, etc. I also had always had labs, setters and beagles, and weims tend to bond much, much closer and seem to need more emotionally. That said, they like other pets (they like the cats but one of my cats can be a problem and tease them), do well with children, and seem to enjoy being part of a group or pack.

    They are extremely easy care maintenance wise. Their fur is 1/4 inch long. When bathed, they dry very quickly (the ultimate wash and wear dog)and bathing is easier because there is less fur. While they do shed, it is minimal compared to labs or golden retrievers. (My two cats produce more fur in the house than the dogs). I do love having so little fur in the house.

    Consider the entire size range of the breed. Just because your friend has a lab and it is 65 lbs, doesn't mean that is the size yours will be. Seem breeds, like labs, have huge size ranges. My female weim grew quite large (typical range is 55-75 lbs but she is 85) and she is not overweight at all. She is quite a bit taller and longer than her brother - and much bigger than we expected. When these two have passed on, I would be happy to have another weim or two, but I would hope it or they would be a liitle smaller.
    Last edited by jajacobsen; 02-28-2013 at 11:51 AM.

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