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Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 01:06 PM

So we're considering getting a pet; probably a dog. Since I'm due with #4 in July, I know that we'll need to get one soon so I can get them acclimated to our family and everything before I'm out of commission.

So I'm definitely planning on adopting a dog instead of getting one from a pet store, and I would prefer a small-medium sized breed, but if we find one that just melts our hearts in a larger breed we may reconsider.

Digory is almost 6 and is ready for the basic responsibilities of caring for a pet, so he'll be in charge of taking care of the dog's food/water, but not for cleaning up messes/grooming/walks/etc. As he gets older he'll probably take on some of the other responsibilities and the feeding will become Evelyn's responsibility when she's old enough. I'm viewing this as not only an opportunity to get a pet the kids will love and dote on, but also a way for the kids to progressively learn to take care of something so they start feeling a responsibility for things outside their immediate wants/needs.

Honestly, I'm not completely enamored with dogs in general and can only see lots more mess in my future, but I also think that I've gotten to the point that I'm equipped to handle the inconvenience and the benefit to my kids outweighs my reservations.

So, after that book...
What would be a good breed to look into?
Any advice for a newbie dog owner?
What questions about the animals should I ask at the shelter? Any red flags I should avoid?
What do you wish someone would have told you about owning a dog before you got them? Would you have handled the first few months with the dog differently?

Thanks, DDN. I know we have lots of animal lovers here and I would REALLY appreciate some advice before I just jump into this!

27 Replies to Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?

re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Kettricken Comments: 174, member since Thu Jun 07, 2012
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 01:33 PM
I've always had dogs in my life, since I was born. I love that you're using a pet as a teaching tool. Growing up with lots of animals, I certainly feel it instills a sense of responsibility in children. We had pets as well as 4-H animals.

A lot of your decision, I think, should be based on your home/property/lifestyle. My parents live on what used to be the family farm. They have a ton of property, so we usually had several big, outdoor dogs. My husband and I live in a small house in the suburbs, so we have pugs.

A lot of dogs have been bred for specific purposes, and they still have those behaviors ingrained in them. Labradors will want to run, swim, and retrieve. A lab mix will still have a lot of that drive in them, so don't think that getting a mutt will negate some of those types of behavior. My pugs, on the other hand, mostly just want to love. :D They are happiest when the are snuggled up with one of us, or each other. They play a little, but not like, say, a terrier.

As far as early days, you have to be firm with rules. One of our dogs loved to shred paper when he was a puppy. My husband thought it was cute, but I had to put my foot down. I told him it wouldn't be so cute years down the line, when he got ahold of an important tax document or something.

It is way better to teach them early, and young. Basics like sit and stay are also very helpful. Ours all have to sit and stay while I put out their kibble, and they can't eat until we tell them 'Okay'. It just makes it easier on me than a feeding frenzy at my feet!

Sorry for the long post, I hope something was helpful.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 8949, member since Sat Jul 19, 2003
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 01:35 PM
If you're open to small dogs, definitely check out yorkies. Ours is wonderful. She is smart, doesn't shed, doesn't "yip", very cuddly and sweet and as long as you're staying away from those trendy "teacup" ones, they're very sturdy for small dogs. They're also nice because you can transport them so easily, even on day to day things like dropping kids off, going to a friends house, etc.

Advice: whatever kind of dog you have, ease them into being in the midst of the kids. Our yorkie wasn't raised around kids, so when my two nieces and nephew came to stay for a month, she wasn't too pleased initially. She'd be excited at first, but then get nervous when they'd run at her and try to scoop her up. By mediating those first several days and teaching them to be gentle and how to pet her/lift her (something even my toddler nephew was good at), she got used to them pretty quickly and by the end of the month she was running around with them and not too nervous anymore.

Also, whatever kind of dog you get, drive them around a lot to get them used to the car. Ours LOVE the car. If they only ever associate it with the vet though, or they rarely are in it, they may not like it as much.

Good luck!
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 01:52 PM
Rescue dogs are AMAZING, but make sure that the rescue centre knows the dog's history fully before you commit. Some dogs just cannot cope with small children, especially kids who can't grasp the difference between a real dog and a stuffed dog. Don't go for a dog if the centre says "we think he'll be ok with kids" - go for one that has definitely lives with kids u6 before.

Secondly do not buy the dog any toy that squeaks. People think they're cute but they basically make the same noise as an overexcited kid and if the dog thinks its ok to bite a squeaky toy, it won't understand that it can't bite a squeaky kid. I can't believe you can even buy squeaky toys to be honest.

As for breeds, temperament depends a whole lot on how the dog was raised as well. Staffordshire bull terriers get HUGE amounts of bad press here but they are sweet dogs if they're not raised by thugs who get them as a status symbol and don't treat them properly. So again, check the history of the dog and do lots of visits with the whole family to get the dog used to the kids and vice versa, before you take him home.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Tansey Comments: 2367, member since Fri Mar 27, 2009
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 01:53 PM
We got our dog when my daughter was 7. Her duties were similar to what you outlined. In addition, she and her 11 yr old brother could walk the dog around our neighborhood together. The dog has become the center of the family. Everybody adores him. All he wants is to be with us.

I'm so glad you're adopting instead of going to a breeder. So many good dogs need homes these days. What we did was make several visits to our local rescue. They got to know us, and we told them what we were looking for; a medium-sized dog, one that wouldn't grow too big for my daughter to manage on a leash, one who wasn't too hyper. We didn't care what breed. They called us when one came in that fit our description. It was love at first sight! He's a mutt, mostly sheltie/miniature collie, but we're not sure what else. Maybe your local animal shelter operates the same way.
Kekoa wrote:

Also, whatever kind of dog you get, drive them around a lot to get them used to the car. Ours LOVE the car. If they only ever associate it with the vet though, or they rarely are in it, they may not like it as much.

^I totally agree with this. It's the one mistake we made. Our vet has a housecall practice, and there are great walking trails in my neighborhood so Dewey never went in the car much. Consequently the poor guy shakes like a leaf a few times a year when he must go to the groomer. I wish we'd gotten him used to car rides.

Dogs are wonderful. I know my kids thrived on the constant and unconditional love Dewey gives them.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 01:58 PM
Do not leave your leather shoes on the floor. I can't even begin to tell you how many my dog destroyed when it was going through it's chewing phase.

Also when you are teaching the puppy to housebreak, tie his leash up to you inside of the house, that way, he can't sneak to a corner to use the bathroom. I had mine tied to me for a few weeks and it made housebreaking a lot easier.

I love poodle mixes. They are super smart and they don't shed. They do have high grooming costs, but the lack of shedding it worth it to me.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Sumayah Comments: 6875, member since Wed Nov 12, 2008
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 02:02 PM
I have a chihuahua I got from the animal control/rescue. He's the sweetest, chillest little dog. And he's pretty tough. He's not a dainty pup who always gets carried, he'll run like crazy in the backyard. He was much more hyper/excitable when he was a pup, but he's never been a yipyap dog (in fact he can't howl at all).

One thing we found out though was that the chihuahuas (and many other small dogs) are prone to a collapsible tracheas, so they do weird gasping, coughing thing. Also, we discovered that we had to provide our animals with filtered water. The mineral composition of the tap water here leaves deposits in their kidneys, which resulted in a massive bladder stone that had to be surgically removed. Since switching to bottled water, we've had no problems.

Our other chihuahua has an underbite which has caused him all sorts of tooth issues - from tarter build up to removal of all his tiny front lower teeth. He also licks constantly because his tongue doesn't fit in his mouth properly, due to his jaw. So make sure there are no oddities that will prove troublesome later (like how some dogs with shorter snouts tend to snore and be snorty a lot - for me that's a no go - and dogs like dachshunds can't/shouldn't jump up).

A "clicker" is a great tool. Click it when training them when they do something good, followed by a small reward. For instance, they do their business outside, click and treat so they associate going outside as a positive. No click, no treat for going in the house.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 8949, member since Sat Jul 19, 2003
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 03:04 PM
To go off of what YYD said, don't get scared off by grooming. It's totally worth getting a dog that doesn't shed much. My yorkie gets cut really short (like, 1/4") every few months. She grows pretty slowly, so we won't get her groomed again until she's really fluffy. She got groomed today for the first time in over three months (closer to 4) and she wasn't too shaggy. I know you can do the same with all no-shed dogs who need grooming, cut them really short to lessen up grooming costs.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By SaraTheGrouchmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 8600, member since Thu Apr 17, 2003
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 03:09 PM
If you're planning on getting a rescue/shelter dog, don't get your heart set on a specific breed. Finding pedigree shelter pups (ie: ones that aren't "lab mix" or "shepherd mix") are relatively hard to come by. That being said, my schnauzer/fox terrier mix is a shelter pup. And I LOVE HIM to pieces. He is the best dog I've ever had. To think why anyone gave him back (he was deserted at the shelter at night between 2-3 years old) blows my mind. He is the sweetest mush with the best personality. So, they're out there, just hard to find. They do have breed-specific websites that rescue, such as petfinder.com, also.

We've had male and female dogs as well as male and female cats. Overall, I'd say that the males are much more easy going. Of course, my dad's current dog (she's a lab/poodle mix) is female and she's an absolute sweetheart. But I think males can be a little less moody and perhaps better with kids.

My personal suggestion would be a lab or a golden retriever. They are great family dogs, and great with kids. They're easy to train and very loyal. Small dogs can be a little more of a task to train, especially if they're not puppies.

Go to your local shelter, see what they have. If there's a dog there that clicks, go for it!
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed? (karma: 1)
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 05:09 PM
Thank you so much everyone! I knew I could count on y'all to give some fantastic advice.

The previous owners of our house made our (sizeable) backyard very dog-friendly, and we even have a doggy door leading from our utility room to out back. We could easily accommodate a larger dog here, but I want something that won't "bully" the kids around or make them fearful of it.

My parents have always had pets, so my kids are VERY used to handling animals gently and respectfully. I know I'll have to work with #4 once they're mobile, but hopefully the dog and the child will have a relationship before #4 is into the chasing/hugging to death stage.

I am definitely looking for a kid-friendly dog, but I'm actually leaning more toward an already-adult dog than a puppy. I would rather break habits and retrain an adult dog that's more capable of learning than a puppy.

And I don't think taking the dog to the groomers would be an obstacle, especially if they don't shed! I would much rather pay for grooming than spend the time daily to keep my house free from fur.

Thanks again for the advice and tips- I'll definitely keep things like the clicker/breeds/car rides in mind. I'm not really invested in finding THE perfectly-bred dog, but I am invested in finding one that really fits with our family. I'll certainly start looking at dogs and try to set up a rapport with our local shelter. I don't want to get the kids excited about a dog until we're absolutely ready to get one, but I'm starting to get excited imagining their faces when we do!
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Tishwah Comments: 586, member since Sun May 17, 2009
On Wed Mar 19, 2014 07:14 PM
Nyssasistic wrote:

. We could easily accommodate a larger dog here, but I want something that won't "bully" the kids around or make them fearful of it.


I think that is about finding the right dog, not a size concern. Two of the best dogs I have ever seen with small kids was a friend of the family who had St Bernards (huge!) who were basically giant slobbering toys as far as the kids were concerned, those dogs were just so passive with the kids (but any threat to the kids, watch out!). The other massive dog I have seen who was the the best with kids was a family friend who had a Rottweiler who weighed about 10kgs more than me (and I am not small) and that dog was a dream with ALL kids (not just the family ones), Rotty's have a bad name, but it was all about training (and possibly) breeding with that one.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed? (karma: 1)
By IvoryCiaramember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 267, member since Sat Nov 20, 2004
On Thu Mar 20, 2014 04:58 AM
I don't mean for this to be at all rude or insensitive but honestly - if you're not fond of dogs, I wouldn't recommend getting one, especially with a new baby being added to the mix relatively soon. Dogs are time-consuming and potentially very messy and expensive. I don't think it's necessarily the best decision to get a dog as a way to teach children responsibility. I'm an absolute dog fanatic but taking care of my family's newly-adopted 6m/o mini schnauzer is still very draining at times. The messes/grooming/walks/training that adults will be responsible for make up the vast majority of time that must be spent on the dog. That being said, you obviously know your situation and family best so to answer your questions:

- I'd look at breeds more as a process of elimination. My recommendation would be to steer clear of anything described as high-energy. A high-energy dog who isn't given enough exercise and mental stimulation can be an absolute menace in terms of destructive behavior.

- Advice for a newbie dog owner: pet insurance. Vet bills can be incredibly expensive. My current dog is insured through Healthypaws, which has the most comprehensive coverage that I've found. Depending on the dog's age and breed the premiums vary, but I think most are around $30-40/mo. Train with positive reinforcement, not negative. Be willing to do some research about training - I like How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin for a basic guide to training and understanding how dogs learn. Always try to keep in mind that any bad behavior on the dog's part is your fault, not hers. She's simply being a dog - if she does something "wrong," it's because you haven't adequately prepared her for the situation. Never, ever hit your dog, even if you think it's just a light 'bop' on the nose. Seeing your dog flinch when you raise your hand is a horrible feeling. Never discipline in anger. Never buy any food or treats made in China. Never let your dog off leash in an unfenced area. Have your dog microchipped. If you are going to walk your dog in a harness, buy a front-clip harness. If your dog spends any time in a crate, take her collar off whenever she will be in the crate unsupervised.

- Things to look for at the shelter: ask about the dog's energy level. I would look for a dog described as relaxed, laid-back, mellow. Ask how she gets along with other dogs. Red flags: any sign of aggression, be it towards people or other dogs. These are things that can be dealt with but it takes a lot of work and isn't something I would want to tackle with young children in the house. I would also be cautious of wildly excited dogs - this isn't necessarily dangerous but can speak to the dog's overall temperament. If possible I would describe to the shelter staff what kind of dog you are looking for in terms of energy and temperament rather than browsing dogs by yourself and getting attached to one who might not be the best fit for your family. I would strongly recommend against getting a puppy. Puppies are SO much work. In terms of size, I wouldn't automatically rule out large breeds. The dogs I grew up with were all 50lbs+ and bullying was never an issue. I am far more wary of Small Dog Syndrome - ill-mannered small-breed dogs that become ill-mannered because they are allowed to get away with things (jumping, barking, biting, growling) that would not be 'cute' or tolerated in a larger dog. BUT - small dogs do eat less (less $$!) and are logistically easier to deal with in terms of confinement, transportation, lifting, etc.

-What I would have handled differently the first few months: if you want to take your dog anywhere outside the house, socialization is SO important. It's best to socialize dogs as young puppies, but obviously that isn't possible if you're an adopting an adult dog. Dogs need to be exposed to all kinds of people and environments and have positive experiences in these situations. I would do a lot of reading about how to socialize in a way that isn't overwhelming to the dog. Although my current puppy is only six months old, she lived in a kennel situation her whole life where she was only exposed to the other puppies from her litter. As a result she is not well-socialized with other dogs, which makes trips to the park or her group obedience class something of an adventure. I would be careful not to push my dog too far too fast - one bad experience with another dog can have lasting repercussions.

Well that's my novel I guess! I might have gotten a little carried away haha. Dogs are one of my passions and if you are able to put in the time and energy to meet their needs and teach them what you expect from them it can be a hugely rewarding relationship.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Kettricken Comments: 174, member since Thu Jun 07, 2012
On Thu Mar 20, 2014 06:21 AM
I also have to chime in about the thought about wanting a small dog to avoid bullying the kids. Retrievers (labs and goldens) that my family have had have been AMAZING with small kids. Gentle Giant applies to many larger breeds. I've never had anything bigger than a lab, but I knew someone with a mastiff and that sucker was cool with just about everything in life. The drool was a potential issue though, lol.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By hummingbird Comments: 10413, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Thu Mar 20, 2014 07:47 AM
I have to say I agree with IvoryCiara, if you don't really want a dog don't get one when you have several very young kids to look after, a six year old won't be able to take the feeding and watering jobs off your hands, you will have to supervise them and that will be yet another thing for you to do in your already very busy life.

Don't get a dog when you're pregnant, wait until your life is stabilized after the baby is born! Trust me I've also had four kids and dogs, you really will be making a rod for your own back if you do this now.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Thu Mar 20, 2014 08:43 AM
Thanks for the further replies! My parents had lots of animals when I was growing up, but didn't do much more than feed/water them. My memories of large dogs included attacks and aggression, which is why I'm partial to the idea of a smaller/medium size.

Thanks for the input on timing as well- it's something I am really considering. Since I'm determined to do it "right", I know I need to either act soon so I can focus my attention on the dog for training or wait another year. It's less about ME recovering from childbirth and more about being able to give the dog my absolute attention without an infant being neglected. So if not now, it'll have to wait until Baby is old enough to walk. Hubby is also willing to work with the dog, loves dogs, and knows how to train them. Since I'm home most of the day, I'll interact with the dog more but I have his support and he'll be available to help quite often.

I'm not really factoring in my dislike of dogs... I dislike most kids too, but absolutely adore my own and The dance students I work with. Assuming we get a dog that "clicks" with our family, I'm not sure it's something I even have to worry about.

As for teaching the kids about responsibility, if I made it sound that way that's not my aim. I would definitely be working with Digory to help him learn how to do these basic duties, and the only reason I would do it is because he IS responsible enough to handle the task. We're not getting a pet AS a teaching tool, we're getting a pet for our family that happens to necessitate learning new skills on my kid's parts, which is a plus. It's a learning experience, but not simply for the sake of learning, if that makes sense.

As I've said, I'm definitely still deliberating on this. You've all given me lots of insight that I'll keep in mind. I am of the opinion that it would be unthinkable to bring a dog home, allow it to get attached to our family and vice versa, and have to give it back to the shelter if it didn't work out. That's not fair to anyone and, with that mindset, I'm proceeding with a lot of caution and doing my best to make an informed decision. When it does happen, we'll be welcoming a dog to it's "forever" home so I'm going to do my best to do it "right".
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Thu Mar 20, 2014 08:49 AM
This might be a weird thing to bring up...but the poop. Bigger dogs poop bigger. I used to have a big dog and I was always so grossed out having to carry a bag filled with huge poop for a few miles. My smaller dogs poop is less heavy and not quite as gross. Plus smaller poops are easier to get rid of in the yard.

I can change a baby's diaper no problem...but having to carry 1lb of dog poop a long way grossed me out.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed? (karma: 1)
By MarlaSingermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3906, member since Fri Jul 25, 2008
On Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:04 AM
If I were you, I would wait a couple of years at least. I get what you're saying about doing it now so you can really focus on the dog for a bit, but in my experience, it's not like, "Okay, let me just get these first few months of training done and then it's smooth sailing." It's always something. Dogs are members of your family. They have health problems that need to be attended to. They may require medication. Disruptions to their routine (such as a new baby) can bring out new behavioral issues that weren't there before, that you then have to work with them on. They may have health issues that require them to eat a special (expensive) diet. They will need daily exercise and may require regular grooming. If they shed, that will be an extra mess to deal with. And the list goes on and on.

Don't get me wrong; I love my dogs. But it's kind of like having kids - If someone is on the fence about it, I always say, "DON'T DO IT." It's just way too much work to commit to if you're not sure you're ready, and it's really asking a lot of someone to keep track of three young children, an infant, and a dog as well.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By SABallerina Comments: 49, member since Thu Mar 27, 2008
On Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:32 AM
I actually work at an animal shelter and your best resource is definitely the volunteers and adoption counselors there! They spend all day every day with those dogs, and know a lot about their personalities. If I were you, I'd go to your local shelter and tell them exactly what you wrote in your original post and ask them to introduce you to some good fit dogs!
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Rosiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4094, member since Wed Jun 30, 2004
On Thu Mar 20, 2014 01:21 PM
Edited by Rosie (98237) on 2014-03-20 13:22:34
Just wanted to chime in that my family has a Goldendoodle and we LOVE his demeanor. I'm not sure if you could find a doodle at a shelter, but I guess there are rescues for many breeds, so hey, you never know!

Our dog is great with kids, easy to train, incredibly smart, super cute, always wants to interact with us, go on walks, etc. The only complaint is that he constantly wants to love on you and sometimes, there just isn't time! He's a great dog and really adorable.

EDIT: Forgot to say that he also doesn't shed and is hypoallergenic! Which is great, because I'm highly allergic to most dogs! :)
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Fri Mar 21, 2014 08:37 PM
Thank you again, y'all :) I've been reflecting on the replies here and doing some research on my own, and I'm leaning more toward waiting- I think I *could* handle it but don't know if I really *want* to complicate my life in that sense at the moment. I think I'm going to go to our local shelter and just speak frankly with the volunteers and assess things from there.

I think, if it's going to work, I'm going to have to fall head over heels in love with the dog and become just as invested in it as everyone else in the family... Not necessarily for the dog's sake, but for mine. If that happens, awesome. If not, then that's okay. There's not a huge rush in the grand scheme of things.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By toroandbruinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3627, member since Fri Oct 10, 2008
On Fri Mar 21, 2014 09:50 PM
I agree with everyone else that rather than concentrating on a specific breed it would be best to get some shelter people to suggest an individual dog whose personality is best for you and your family regardless of size or breed/mix. Since you are planning to adopt an already adult dog I think you could do this now and have it feeling comfortable in the family before the new baby arrives. Since so many families want to adopt a puppy there are many adult dogs out there who need adopting. Although it can be fun to raise a puppy, with 4 kids already you are right in deciding that a fifth "fur-child" to educate from infancy could be a bit much! Shelters have many mixes who combine the best in intelligent gentle playfulness, nurturing, safeguarding, patience, etc.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By imadanseurPremium member Comments: 16604, member since Thu Dec 04, 2003
On Sat Mar 22, 2014 12:49 PM
I agree with others that said don't get too hung up on breed, but definitely there are some that are easier to train, and certain breeds come with their own natural instincts. Herding dogs are going herd, working dogs need things to remain challenged, retrievers like things in their mouths etc. Labs will need more exercise than a yorkie, but labs, and golden retrievers are people pleasers and usually easier to train than a dog with a more dominant personality like a German Shepherd. The nice thing about mixes is that they are often not burdened with the hereditary ailments of some pure bred/over bred lines. It's all well and good to look at what is "typical" for a certain breed, but as you know, all dogs have individual personalities and that is what makes them enjoyable.

I strongly advise using a rescue that has had someone fostering the animal in a home setting if possible! You'll get a much better feel for their quirks in the house, if they have separation anxiety, if they are used to being crate trained, house broken etc. Sometimes places where they have just been in cages only know the temperament of that environment. Unfortunately when you get home, sometimes there are all sorts of surprises.

Best of luck. I think it is a great addition for a family and teaches kids compassion, love, responsibility etc.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed? (karma: 1)
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 15032, member since Thu Feb 14, 2002
On Sun Mar 23, 2014 06:45 PM
I work at a shelter. I agree that now is an awful time to adopt a dog. Dogs are a LOT of work and the last thing you need when pregnant and having a newborn is another family member to take care of. A dog is basically another toddler, especially when you're just getting to know them and train them. A dog needs stability, not a family in flux.

This is so much of an issue that it's going to be a black mark against you when you go to the rescue. We've refused to adopt out to large families that we didn't think would be able to handle a dog. A childfree home is almost always preferable to one with children, because that means that the dog is not going to be neglected.

A child CANNOT take care of a dog. A dog IS a child. They have emotional and physical needs. They need care and personalized attention, walks and playtime, mental stimulation, socialization with animals and humans, they get sick and the vet bills can pile up. This is not a cat, where you can give them food and water and change the litter and they'll pretty much be content. A dog needs to think. They need to be entertained.

I'm very surprised at the replies to this thread. Small dogs aren't particularly good for children - definitely not chihuahuas, with their dainty little bones! God, no. Mutts are always healthier than purebred dogs, and especially inbred dogs like chihuahuas have a ton of health issues (some of which stem from those tiny, tiny bodies and bones). Small dogs in general have worse temperaments than large breeds. They are not seen as aggressive because they don't pose a physical threat, but seriously, they're nasty.

Do not get a terrier of any sort; they're too high-energy. The best family dog, I would say, would be a lab. I've never met a mean lab, and they're big enough that kids aren't going to pose a threat. The least energy, laziest dogs, are going to be bulldogs. & bassets. Huskies & terriers, way too high-energy. Even little terriers. Even labs and pits - AMAZING family dogs - need to run around in the backyard every day. EVERY day.

Do not get a puppy. Do not for a moment consider getting a puppy.

But seriously, don't get a dog right now. For the dog's sake.
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By highlandrebelmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1138, member since Fri Jul 06, 2007
On Sun Mar 23, 2014 08:40 PM
I could not agree more with the posts of IvoryCiara and Jonelle.

IvoryCiara gave spot on advice on pretty much everything I could think of and Jonelle brought up a great point.

I totally get the idea of having a few months as a adjustment period, it sounds great but those first few months are considered a 'honeymoon' period and it is not until after that point that the behavioral problems start to arise. You would be faaaar better off waiting a few years, until things have settled down to add a dog to the family.

And one very important thing that all dogs owners should know but *especially* those with infant/children is dog body language.
So many of the cute child+dog photos floating around Facebook show dogs on the verge of biting, giving every warning sign possible.
Here is a good link for info on dog body language-
www.petprofessionalguild.com . . .

Aa good site for living with dogs and kids-
dogsandbabies.wordpress.com . . .
re: Dog Owners: best "starter" breed?
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Mon Mar 24, 2014 01:03 PM
^ I see those photos on Facebook and cringe. I have a hard time believing parents allow their kids to abuse their animals like that. It's not only a terrible habit to allow for kids, but they're putting the dogs AND kids at risk by letting it happen. What happens when a dog bites a kid and draws blood? The family takes it back to the shelter at best... And all because they allowed the child to abuse the dog past it's breaking point. Ugh.

Heart, I addressed a LOT of the stuff you brought up in my initial post and replies. I'm not interested in a puppy. I'm not planning giving Digory any responsibility outside of keeping the dog food and water. I've already taught my kids how to treat animals with respect, so there will not be issues with how "fragile" a dog is, although I'm NOT looking into a chihuahua at all. I appreciate the general advice, but with how my family works if I weren't expecting a kid soon I'd have no reservations about getting a dog- I think we're fully equipped at this moment to handle one and it's transition into our family.

What I'm unsure of is whether the 3 1/2 months that I have left before I have a baby is enough time to truly and fairly let the dog acclimate to life. At the moment, like I said, I'm leaning more toward "no". I understand how much work a dog is and my problem is less about whether I'm capable of giving the dog proper care- if I commit it sure as heck WILL get it- and more about whether I'm willing to take on that amount of work.

As for those wondering, something that we've factored in is the cost of taking care of a dog. We're aware that dogs are going to need veterinary care and are willing to budget that into our household stuff. It's not an issue.
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