Questions about adopting a dog

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from siena09. Show siena09's posts

    Questions about adopting a dog

    My DH and I have been thinking about getting a dog lately, and I was wondering if anyone wanted to share insight on a few questions.

    -Growing up, my family had 4 dogs (not all at once!) and they were all rescued from the animal shelter.  However, as much as I love the idea of rescuing a dog, I'm not sure that is the right choice for us right now.  We want a puppy so we can maximize training opportunities, and I'm not sure we can handle a high energy pit bull mix. I understand that other breeds of puppies are in short supply at shelters. So, any recommendations on how to search for a responsible, humane breeder in the Boston area?  Or, am I wrong about the short supply of shelter puppies?

    -Does anyone want to chime in on the question of breeds?  I know there are a lot of options and opinions here, but I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.  We live in an urban area, in a townhouse, with no yard.  So we need a small or medium sized dog that is okay with limited outdoor time and little off-leash freedom.  We already have a cat.  We don't currently have kids, but the dog should be friendly with children.  We both work during the day, so dog would also need to tolerate some alone time (probably 8-9 hrs/day).  

    -citydwellers with dogs: what's your schedule for dog care?  Is it sufficient to take a dog out on leash 3-4 times per day to use the bathroom, with one of those times being an extended walk (say 10-20 minutes long on a typical day)?  or does that schedule sound insufficient?

    ...writing this all out has made me wonder if it this a crazy proposition and I am asking too much from a dog.  I've never had a dog without a fenced yard before, so it's intimidating to say the least.  anyway, we probably wouldn't adopt for a few more months, but I have just begun researching the process and would love any input. 
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from dog-lady. Show dog-lady's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    I have lived in apartments and a townhouse over the years and have owned dogs, of course it's ideal if you live in a house and have a fenced in yard. 
    That being said they do adjust to your schedule as long as they get at least an hour of walking and some exercise and playtime every day, love and affection, and an occasional visit to a dog park wouldn't hurt, or doggy daycare. 
    It's best if they get a bathroom break every 4 hours, but some dogs do adjust and are able to wait 8-10 hours for their owners to come home. 
    Puppies are available at shelters,  the shelters often have an extensive application/evaluation process, these people are dedicated to protecting animals and want to do everything they can to make sure the animal is going to its forever home.
    If you are sincere they will work with you.  They want to hear that a puppy will not be home alone initially (have a plan ie: crating, dog sitter,gated room),  and that they will get a bathroom break at least every 4 hours (puppies more often), if you're a renter : a letter from your landlord saying pets are allowed, they also want references from people, a reference from a vet, and this is usually non-negotiable whether you have had pets before or not.  
    You should also check with your local animal control officer,  often there is a waiting list for puppies. www.northeastanimalshelter.org www.buddydoghs.com www.sterlingshelter.org   www.miltonanimalleague.org www.mspca.org  www.mansfieldshelter.org    http://home.arlboston.org/ http://www.petfinder.com/pet-search?shelterid=MA94  
    Do your homework regarding puppy care!     http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/ArticleNav.cfm?d=155&category=358
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    I've never had a Shih Tzu, but from what I know that breed might be worth investigating.

    How many hours a day would the dog be alone during the week?  If you both work, I personally wouldn't suggest getting a dog unless you can afford doggie daycare.  My husband always wanted a dog and didn't get one until he got married (at 44) so that someone would be here to take care of it and keep it company while he would be at work.  It was a sacrifice for him to wait, but he felt it was the only fair thing for a dog.

    fwiw, we decided on a breeder puppy because we wanted to, as you you put it, "maximize our training" with our dog, to be sure we didn't adopt a pet with hidden emotional problems (yes, I'm aware that not all shelter dogs are "damaged"), and last but not least to enjoy the dog for its entire life.  And, we're happy we did.  There will be people who try to guilt you into adopting, but do what is right for you whether that's going with a breeder or a shelter.  Breeder pups need homes, too.  There are books on Amazon on how to choose a puppy right for you.  I remember PBS shows on it; did you ever see Uncle Matty?  He was great.

    Our breed, a Labrador, is absolutely not for you, and it's really the only breed I know a lot about.

    ETA:  By the way, it takes an average of 3 months to housebreak a puppy you get at 8 weeks old, a little less time for 12 weeks old.  It's a time intensive, 24/7 process.
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from siena09. Show siena09's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Thanks for the input!  We can work out the logistics that dog-lady is suggesting.  We own our home.  We have a good relationship with our vet.  Both of us have lived in homes with dogs before.  So I understand the basic outline.  

    My parents never adopted puppies though, which led to more behavioral challenges, but avoided the housebreaking step.  We can afford to use doggy daycare or dogwalking services on a regular basis, but probably more like 1x or 2x/week and not every day (in the long run).  (If in the short run, there are services we can purchase on a regular basis for a few months to ease the transition, I could probably budget for that.)  

    With the bathroom breaks--we could probably work out shorter potty break intervals for a few months of training period, but it wouldn't be sustainable in the long run.  I see your point kar, that it is nice for someone to be home with the dog all day.  But certainly lots of people who work outside the home have dogs; I can't imagine that it is incompatible with dog welfare under the right circumstances.  

    I love labs too, kar, but I agree they are not for us!  I have a huge soft spot for beagles actually--my family has had two of them--but we wouldn't be a good home for an escape artist dog who loves to roam.  And both of our beagles were in that category; I think it is a typical trait for the breed.  My husband would love a schnauzer or a schnoodle, and I think those might be reasonable city dogs, although I've never interacted at length with them.  I'll look up Shih Tzus too.
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from ambergirl. Show ambergirl's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    I have a Shih Tzu and can vouch they are perfect apartment dogs. They require walks but not long ones especially in the summer. They are smart, loyal lap dogs. Boston Terriers are also ideal. My baby sitter had a beagle Mandy that I adored. All good options. The added benefit of a Shih Tzu is they don't have fur, they have hair, so great for allergies. Downside is they have to be groomed every 5-6 weeks. I have had Amber for 14 years with no regrets.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from ambergirl. Show ambergirl's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    For what it's worth Amber went from a house to an apartment with no problem. I crate trained her and I am gone all day working. Though the training was easier years ago when DD was home from school. But she has a schedule and I have not had accidents in the house. Although I put a peepad down in case due to her age and recent health issues.
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from ambergirl. Show ambergirl's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Sorry Kar but Amber never had Doggy Day care and is fine. Not everyone can afford that and it really got popular years ago when more people wanted designer dogs and delaying having a family. I don't think that is a must at all.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    I didn't mean that there is no scenario that would be good for the dog if both of your work, but I should have made that clear, and I didn't - sorry about that.  I was mainly thinking of Gracie who would definitely not do well by herself all day; far too high energy a breed.  Indeed, some breeds do very well by themselves - my husband really wanted a Lab, though, and that would not be good.  And, even though I didn't say so, that's another reason I suggested a Shih Tzu.  They don't require tons of exercise and are happy enough to snooze when no one is around.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from ambergirl. Show ambergirl's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Exactly Kar. DD wanted a lab in the worst way but explained to her how cruel that would be. Now if I hit the lottery... a farm with lots of Labs and Shih Tzu's with a room for Gracie when she comes and visits! : )
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    What an ideal use for a lottery win, Ambergirl!  We're pulling for you and will be there to visit when you hit it big.  Gracie is gentle with the little ones despite her size and exuberance.
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from ambergirl. Show ambergirl's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    I must get a picture of Shadow. The great dane / Lab that greets me every morning for a treat : ) He is so gentle with Amber so I know Gracie will be too : )
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Yes, please do!  He must be gigantic.
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    I don't think there is a puppy who can go 8 hours between potty breaks.  As in, up until a puppy is 5 months, I'd imagine you'd have to get it out every 2 to 4 hours. But a full grown dog can wait 8 hours - if they are trained to do that.  I'd crate train the dog, whether puppy or not, so the puppy isn't potentially ransacking the house while you are away.

    But if you could have a dog come in 1/2 way through your day until puppy was 6 months old (you bring the puppy home at 2 months, so that's 4 months) could you swing it financially?  Because it's not necessary to send the dog to doggie daycare during the day for playtime, although it would be GREAT if you could once or twice a week, but those pee breaks will be necessary for a dog until he/she can hold it. 

    And you'd probably need to budget more than 20-30 minutes for the long walk - you need a dog to get enough exercise (not just bathroom breaks) so he/she is able to spend the day snoozing, and so that behavior problems don't happen.  A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog.
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Yes, that's true.  The rule of thumb our trainer told us for puppies was that they can hold it as long as the number of months old they are in hours plus one.  So, a 3 month old puppy who's crate trained can hold it up to 4 hours if they go right before they are left in the crate.  We usually didn't try to add the hour to Gracie month number, though, because I was too nervous she'd be uncomfortable.  I think that rule tops out at about 7-8 months, though, of course, and it's just for pee.  I have no idea what the rule is for #2; I learned Gracie's regular habits given her feeding times and don't put her in a situation where she'd have to hold it beyond that.

    ETA:  If Gracie sleeps all day, she won't be a behavior problem, per se, but she doesn't sleep well at night and tends to want to go out when she does wake up at 2am.  She's just not tired enough to roll over and go back to sleep in the middle of the night.  Hence the 90 minute daily walks, 45 minutes of which are off leash and she runs around like a gazelle.  Such is life with an active breed.
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from dog-lady. Show dog-lady's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    http://www.petco.com/Content/ArticleList/Article/32/1/357/Should-I-Get-a-Dog.aspx               http://community.petco.com/discussions/Dog_Discussion_Forum/fd03p00v01d1?redirCnt=1&nav=messages       http://www.petfinder.com/index.html
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from teacherinmass. Show teacherinmass's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    I am a very new dog owner- just got my first dog 3 months ago. But I can comment on the shelters: we saw a ton of puppies in the shelters. While there is a surplus of pitt bulls, we did see a huge variety of breeds, even more than we were expecting. I recommend Petfinder, as you can search by age, size, and zip code and even breed if you narrow it down that far.

    I know the breeder route is right for some people. I just want to put out there that it is not without risks. A friend of ours got a dog from a recommended breeder that had some serious health and behavior issues from over breeding. It was a sad situation, as they weren't expecting to have any issues. Of course the same thing can happen with a shelter dog, but I just wanted to put it out there.

    We went the shelter route because we were hoping to find an older dog who didn't need to be housetrained, as we couldn't meet the commitment time wise in terms of working and we didn't want to leave it to a doggie daycare or a dog walker. It has worked out well for us. We've found our dog, who is a year and a half, to be very trainable.
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from dog-lady. Show dog-lady's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Interesting, a neighbor of mine had a rescue purebreed she adopted as a young adult (hx of abuse), she had him for many years, he was the calmest, most mellow dog I ever met, she would walk him for hours.  
    When he passed away she wanted another one right away and got a puppy from a recommended breeder....well it's been a few years and despite extensive training the dog is a maniac! 
    Nothing like the other one at all (same breed)!   
    By the way puppies should not be separated from the mother till at least 12 weeks of age (for optimal social/physical development) they need the interaction with their littermates to learn how to play/fight, share, eat. 
    It may be a good idea to visit a shelter ie Northeast Animal Shelter, talk to the people there  see what breeds appeal to you, there are some interesting mixes and there's a myth that mutts tend to have less genetic health problems!  
    NEAS is a no-kill shelter, so you don't have to feel bad for the animals there,  they will be cared for.
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    12 weeks is good for another reason, too.  Not only should they not be separated from their mothers like dog-lady said, but housebreaking is actually impossible between 8 and 12 weeks because the puppy has NO mind/body connection before that time.  In other words, even if he wanted to, he couldn't let you know he has to go until he's mid stream in the house.  

    SO, if you have a puppy younger than 12 weeks the ONLY way you are not going to have accidents is to proactively take the puppy out every hour and right after he eats or drinks (w/in 15 minutes).  If you are crate training, they will give you a few seconds notice with a whimper (a baby monitor might be in order) so as not to soil their crates at night.  Gracie didn't have ANY accidents in her crate even though we did ignorantly get her at 8 weeks old.  But, I'd been diligently housebreaking, keeping a journal of everything she ate and drank and when she actually went to the restroom, since we got her, and I was pretty frustrated at the end of that first month with how it was going (or not going, as the case was) because I didn't know this mind-body biological fact and posted a question, "What's wrong with my puppy?!" on JustAsk.com.  Paid $20 to have a behaviorist tell me all this.  Worth every penny to be able to say, "Ohhhhhhh, that's what it is."  He told me to expect her to be all set by 3 months, and she essentially was.  She had occassional issues between 3 and 6 months, though, and it was a concern until then.
     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from siena09. Show siena09's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Thanks for the recommendations and thoughts.  I definitely take to heart the advice of not adopting a puppy that is too young.  And I am completely sympathetic to the perils of inbreeding endemic in today's dog population.  There was a very depressing article in the NYT magazine  a few months ago about all of the health problems this inbreeding has caused for bulldogs. 

    Unfortunately, shelter dogs are not immune though.  My family adopted an australian sheep dog mix from a shelter many years ago, and he had behavioral problems that were basically very exaggerated versions of behaviors typical to the breed.  He was loyal and loving to a fault, but very very anxious, aggressive around other dog, a compulsive herder, and overall very difficult to care for. It seems to get a true mutt and not just a cross of two overly inbred breeds, you'd likely have to import a dog at this point.

    I will take a close look at shelter puppies.  Thanks for the info, teacherinmass, about the supply.  My DH has a pro-breeder bias, since he feels the temperment of the parents is a good predictor of the puppy's temperment.  I like the idea of rescuing an animal, and not supporting the dog-breeding industry.  (This views are probably also reflective of our experiences with very lovable breeder dogs and shelter dogs, respectively.)  I think the tradeoffs are complex, so at this point I'm open to both possibilities.

    Sounds like we should plan to either adopt a slightly older dog, or else expect to make use of daily daycare or dogwalking services for a few months.  I will keep this in mind.  The housebreaking reality check was very useful, since as I said, I have only ever adopted older pre-housebroken dogs before.
     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    I cried every day until I learned it was perfectly natural for a puppy that age to have trouble (and some days after that!).  There are puppy pads, newspapers, and all sorts of housebreaking styles for people who aren't home all day to do what I did, but since I was home I did the journal method and my days revolved around her bathroom needs.  I had a problem teaching a dog it was OK to go in the house, but that was my personal hangup, not a general "bad thing to do" because it obviously works for other people, and I was home so I could do it how I did.

    Every dog in the same litter has a different temperament, and, speaking of that, I'd find a trainer near you and have a meeting about choosing a puppy. If you don't want to pay for that (the first of a million doggy expenses, though, so be prepared for this to be expensive), get a book that outlines specific things you must do with any dog before you choose it to determine if it's right for you and your family.

    Aside from temperament, we thought our dog's size would be at least partly determined by her parents', and I guess she had a recessive humongous size gene.  Her mother was 50 lbs, and she's a very slender (you can see the outline of her ribs as per her surgeon's advice) 70 lbs (and has been a whopping 85 lbs in her life).  Her father wasn't very huge, either.  We bought a crate with a puppy divider that should have accomodated her for life if you went by her parents' sizes, and she outgrew it at 10 months.  

    Bottom line - I disagree with your DH completely.  Every dog is his or her own self, just like kids.  You can shape and train them, but their personality is all their own.
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Siena, there's something else about having a dog.  They can get hurt and sick and often do.  The stats vary by breed, but the fact is that if YOUR dog gets hurt or sick those stats don't mean anything.  Before you get a dog, decide how much you'd be willing to spend on emergencies, congenital problems that become apparent 6 months - years after you get them, etc.  For an example, we thought that regular vet visits, food, and toys would be about it for Gracie.  This is what happened on top of these things:

    6 months, torn ear on random barbed wire in woods.  In her first year, she got 3 ear infections and needed vet visits and prescription ear drops.  We started buying tea tree oil ear cleaner (not cheap) that stopped the infections.  Also in her first year, I took her to Petco to get nails clipped and she split a nail in half the next day.  Needed vet visit and antibiotics.  (I learned to clip her nails myself.)

    Year 2 she tore her knee and needed surgery (which my parents Cocker Spanial needed at the same time of Gracie's surgery and he just tore the OTHER KNEE recently and is going through it all, again).  During recovery, she jumped and fell so we needed extra x-rays.  We bought a memory foam chip bed for specifically for surgery recovery, a Comfycone (which I recommend preemptively owning you WILL need it at some point), and new toys to keep her occupied while she was recovering.  Also, we started her on supplements to support her healing, vet approved, of course.  We drove 2 hours each way to the hospital 3 times.  Then, she caught a toenail on the door and ripped it off.  She broke a tooth on the patio grabbing at a stick and needed an extraction.

    Oh, and trips.  Safe and clean kennels that are responsible and give the dogs appropriate exercise and play time are expensive.

    Puppy kindergarten was a big help since I'd never trained a dog.

    So, on top of her purchase price, regular vet visits, food, treats, and toys, we've spent an additional  $5000 - $6000 in under 3 years.

    Not everyone has to go through this, thankfully, but it can happen.  Our neighbors have a 6 month old rescue lab mix, and they just discovered (or she just developed, I don't know) she has a hip problem that needs expensive surgery (~$4000).  They cannot afford this.  Period.  So, their active breed dog is tied up on a rope in the yard all day and not allowed to play.  It's just under a year old, and they are very distraught over the situation.

    When Gracie tore her knee you can't believe all the "Oh, that happened to me or someone I know," stories I heard.  

    These expenses are not so rare that it's ridiculous to consider these things and how you'd handle them were they to happen to your dog.
     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from dog-lady. Show dog-lady's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

       Owning a dog in a lot of ways is like having a child, you never know what you're going to get (adopted or biological).  
    I have had dogs that needed nothing but routine care their entire lifespan, I have also had dogs that broke the piggy bank with their medical needs.  
    You just don't know, but I have no regrets.  
    Good luck to the original poster and her family whatever they decide.
     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from dog-lady. Show dog-lady's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    There are no guarantees with anything in life!  
    Sometimes you just have to jump in and take a chance!   
    There are organizations that will help people that are faced with veterinary care expenses that they can't afford:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Shadow-Fund/146912702009312?v=info     http://www.mspca.org/programs/help-pet-care-assistance.html   senior discounts,  payment plans, etc.       
    If your pet is suffering and you can't take it to a vet for whatever reason, you can surrender it to the MSPCA Angell Medical Center and they will do what is best for the animal.  

    PS: That's why I recommend going to a shelter, part of the evaluation is to go over these things beforehand and make sure you know what you're getting in to.  They do follow-up so if it doesn't work out they have no problem taking the pet back.  I would say give it at least a month though.     Just my opinion.
     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Sienna, I would rethink getting a puppy under your circumstances.

    If you can't handle a high energy rescue breed like a pitbull [as you mention in your OP], how do you think you can handle a puppy? Most puppies are high energy. They want to jump and play pretty much all the time they are awake.  And if you both work full time, I don't know where you are giong to find time to 'maximize training opportunities'.  With a puppy you need to be on them 24/7 as far as training [house training and basic commands]. 

    If you really do want to go ahead and get a dog, I would suggest a grown dog, or at least a young adult who is house broken.  I don't think you need doggie daycare, but you do need someone to be able to come and walk the dog if you are not going to be home after 8 hours. Working 8 or 9 hours is different than being out of the house for 8-9 hours. Working for 8 or 9 hours means that the dog is going to have to hold it for 9 or 10 hours at a minimum.  Totally unfair to a dog, and completely unreasonable for a puppy.  If you can't get a dogwalker to come and relieve the dog midday, you probably should not get a dog. 
    \
    Also there are breeds that are generally better around kids, but you aren't going to know how a particular dog is w/ children until you put the two of them together in a room.  If you are planning on having a child in the forseeable future, I would hold off on getting a dog until after the child arrives, and preferably until the child is old enough to assist with the dog [5 years or older]. 

    I know of way too many people who got cute puppies and then couldn't handle the dog so they tied it up outside and then brought it back to the pound when it was grown b/c it was 'too big and too much to handle' [this is how my sister got a 130 lb Rottweiler, fortunately he was housetrained].  Or people who locked their cats in 1 room b/c they were afraid of what the cat would do w/ the baby, or b/c it would scratch a toddler who tried to play w/ it by grabbing it's tail.  If you already have a pet and have had one for years when you have a baby [ie, my cat is 11 and I've been TTC for about 4 years], that's one thing, but to go out and add a furbaby when you are planning on having a human baby in the forseeable future, is another.  With everything you've posted, I would hold off on getting a dog or puppy for a few years.  GL.
     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Questions about adopting a dog

    Adding to ALF's thoughtful and very wise post (imo), I have a friend who was sort of thinking about getting a dog and thanking her lucky stars she didn't now that her toddler (who was begging for the dog) is expecting 3 siblings at once this Summer.  Yes, she's pregnant with naturally conceived triplets.  What would they have done with a 6 month old puppy when 3 premature babies came along?

    Getting a dog can wait until your family situation is well defined and any kids in the mix are old enough to aid in the responsibility.  It's honestly a big (potentially very expensive) deal.
     

Share