| Register  | FAQ  | Search | Login 
It is currently Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:07 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:48 am 
Offline
Tofu Pup

Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:02 am
Posts: 10
Dear expert panel :-)

I have recently decided to get ready to fulfil my lifelong dream of having a dog. I have never had a dog but I am dog-proofing my life at the moment. Here is how far I got: I am just in the process of buying a house with a secure yard. The yard is not huge by any stretch of the imagination but there is a good high fence all around and it is minutes from several great parks. I reckon during the week we can easily walk her (I reckon) for half an hour in the morning and in the evening. On most days I should also be able to take her for a shorter walk around lunch time. We have quite an active life style, usually going for long hikes at least once on the weekend. I am also in the fortunate position to work from home most of the time. There are no kids in our household and none are planned. I am reading up on positive reinforcement training at the moment.

There are some things I really worry about: twice a week the new doggy companion would have to be alone for about 9 hours. Other than that she'd be around people almost all the time. I appreciate that every dog is different, but in general, is this okay to do? Will I need to get a dog walker for these two days? I heard that some shelters don't let you adopt if you are planning on leaving the dog alone for this long...
Is the amount of walking I am planning for about right? I know different dogs have different needs and preferences, but provided I am not adopting a hyperactive sheep dog, does this sound realistic?
Also, do people have experience with switching a dog to a vegetarian diet? Presumably I need to be careful I meet her needs?

Any advice, tips, and tricks are much appreciated!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:54 am 
Offline
Inflexitarian
User avatar

Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:31 am
Posts: 743
Congrats! Sounds like you're way ahead of the game.

Bbunny wrote:
twice a week the new doggy companion would have to be alone for about 9 hours.


From a purely practical perspective, I don't think a small dog could hold it this long, so maybe a slightly bigger dog would be better? Our dog has to be cooped up a couple days a week for about that long, and it's not ideal, but he's fine. He just needs extra play time those days.

_________________
Obligatory blog.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:56 am 
Offline
Has it on Blue Vinyl
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:13 pm
Posts: 2156
Location: NYC/Schenectady, NY
I would hire a dog walker for those two days-nine hours is a long time. I would also plan longer walks, depending on what type of dog and their size and age.

_________________
If a milkshake is going to change the world then it should be at least be an Oreo one. - daisychain


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:28 am 
Offline
Tofu Pup

Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:02 am
Posts: 10
Thanks, that's really helpful. A dog walker sounds like a good idea. I didn't even think of the holding-it aspect, I just thought she'd get really bored or depressed... important point. :-) I ordered some more reading material to cover basics such as how often dogs need to go (again, all depending on size I guess, but I don't know what will come my way at the shelter yet).

I've read that dogs love to learn tricks and want to be mentally challenged, particularly if they are quite clever. This isn't just something people say to justify drilling their dog, right? Like people arguing that horses "enjoy" show jumping (don't get me started...) Certain commands are clearly necessary to keep a dog safe but do people think dogs actually like a bit of reinforcement training?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:36 am 
Offline
Has it on Blue Vinyl
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:13 pm
Posts: 2156
Location: NYC/Schenectady, NY
I have puzzle games for my dog that dispense treats. You can make them increasingly difficult. Nina Ottuson makes the best ones in my opinion but there are knockoffs now that are cheaper.

Patricia McConnell is an excellent resource. I have several of her books and two DVDs. I recommend The Other End of the Leash.

Ethically I think if you are training your dog to do tricks to keep their mind engaged I don't see anything wrong with it. I believe my dog enjoys learning new things.

_________________
If a milkshake is going to change the world then it should be at least be an Oreo one. - daisychain


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:49 am 
Offline
Had sex with a vampire that sparkles.
User avatar

Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:24 pm
Posts: 5410
Location: BRLA
I mean I don't think ALL dogs love training/puzzles, but I highly doubt any dogs hate them, you know? I don't think my dog is smarter because of puzzles, but he enjoys getting treats so it doesn't hurt him. He's never met a treat-puzzle he couldn't solve because he resorts to tearing shiitake up and life lesson: that always works.

_________________
The thing about this thread is, it's dumb. - IJDI


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:00 am 
Offline
Brain Made of Raw Seitan
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:16 pm
Posts: 1218
Location: ATX
In addition to Patricia McConnell's books, Ian Dunbar's "Before You Get Your Puppy" and any of his other books are a wonderful resource. Much of the book will apply even if you are not adopting a puppy and it's wonderful information to think about before adopting. You can also read DogStarDaily blog posts to get a sense of some of the responsibilities of raising and guiding a dog through their life.

Also look into positive reinforcement/non-aversive training classes run by a CPDT in your area-- it's a wonderful way to bond and builds an excellent foundation for a lifetime of working with your dog to create harmony and mutual respect (and engage their brain, which is so very necessary!). Regarding your ethics concerns, if you are using humane and dog-positive methods, I don't think there's any better thing you can do for a dog than help them learn how to coexist peacefully in the often-confusing world of humans. It helps keep them safe, keep other people safe, and teaches you to respect their body language and engage with them in a way they understand.

Edited to add that my dogs also looooove training. They are English shepherd/border collie mixes, which probably puts them at the obsessive end of the "learning new things" spectrum, but if approached in a fun and engaging way with a reward/motivator that really speaks to the dog (e.g. play if the dog is not food-motivated) I imagine most dogs enjoy training as a brain game, emotional outlet, and a bonding experience.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:38 am 
Offline
Semen Strong
User avatar

Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:10 pm
Posts: 19111
Location: Cliffbar NJ
Hurrah for adopting a dog! It sounds like you are going to be a great home for some lucky canine!

I would start by asking your friends who have rescue dogs about good rescues in your area. Then contact the rescues and ask whether they have a dog that would be a good fit for you. And then, I would foster the dog and see if s/he is a good fit before adopting. There are definitely dogs out there that would be a good fit for you! And fostering before you adopt, really gives you a chance to see if the dog is right for you (and vice versa) with a little less pressure.

I worked 70-80 hours a week, and I fostered my pit-mix Cuddles, who was 4 years old and very very very mellow. He has never been interested in puzzles :) I bought him a bunch of them when he moved in, and we donated them to a shelter, because he never touched them! When I lived in an apartment, I would give him one walk in the morning for 45 minutes, and he was fine alone for between 10 and 12 hours. And then I'd give him another walk in the evening. One of my friends would also come by and walk him if I was going to be later than that.

And my dog has done really well on V-Dog. He is 11 now, and the only time I switched him off V-Dog (because I was lazy!), he ended up with ear infections, because he has a corn sensitivity. Our vet always remarks on how incredibly healthy Cuddles is, so he is quite the posterboy for a vegan diet!

You sound like a great candidate for adoption, and I am looking forward to seeing pictures of your new pup!

_________________
My oven is bigger on the inside, and it produces lots of wibbly wobbly, cake wakey... stuff. - The PoopieB.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:24 am 
Offline
Drinks Wild Tofurkey
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 12:16 am
Posts: 2761
Location: SF Bay area
Tofulish wrote:

I worked 70-80 hours a week, and I fostered my pit-mix Cuddles, who was 4 years old and very very very mellow. He has never been interested in puzzles :) I bought him a bunch of them when he moved in, and we donated them to a shelter, because he never touched them! When I lived in an apartment, I would give him one walk in the morning for 45 minutes, and he was fine alone for between 10 and 12 hours. And then I'd give him another walk in the evening. One of my friends would also come by and walk him if I was going to be later than that. I think it's bogus some places won't adopt to you if you have a long work day. It's their prerogative but I don't think they're doing all the homeless dogs of the world any favors.

And my dog has done really well on V-Dog. He is 11 now, and the only time I switched him off V-Dog (because I was lazy!), he ended up with ear infections, because he has a corn sensitivity. Our vet always remarks on how incredibly healthy Cuddles is, so he is quite the posterboy for a vegan diet!

You sound like a great candidate for adoption, and I am looking forward to seeing pictures of your new pup!

This is my current situation. I work 12 hr days and my chihuahua mix is fine. He gets a 10 min morning walk and a 30 min evening walk. We installed a doggie door on our apartment balcony but he almost never uses it except to sunbathe. Sometimes I find a poop but that's pretty rare. Is it possible for you to install something similar in your house? If not, I wouldn't let that be the determining factor but I would consider mellower breeds. To keep our pup entertained I've bought a few kongs that I shove treats into, and before I leave in the am I hide little pieces of dog biscuits around the house. Sometimes I'll knot up old rags or socks and put treats in them too. It takes him an hour to sniff them all out and also helped a ton with separation anxiety.

We started off with a meaty kibble recommended by the vet but he actually didn't like it and started eating the vegan Natural Balance kibble immediately with no transition. We also give a spoonful of wet food (also vegan) in the am as a treat. I keep meaning to get some V-dog...he really liked the sample I brought home from veg fest!

I think you'll be a great pup guardian! Good luck!

_________________
http://hotveganchickpeas.wordpress.com (food blog)
http://baybalcony.wordpress.com (gardening blog)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:03 am 
Offline
Plays The Sims 2 religiously
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:20 pm
Posts: 7574
Location: Portland, OR
Some dogs are plenty fine both mentally and to hold it for 9 hours. Just depends on their personality. My dog is alone for 9 hours five days a week. And even when I lived with other people who had different schedules, so in theory she could leave her room and get attention/be let outside, she never did. My roommates say she never came out of my room when I wasn't there.

_________________
i would schmear marmite on a moist scrotum for Mars. - interrobang?!
"Not everything." ~ mumbles (1973-2013) - mumbles


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:56 pm 
Offline
Tofu Pup

Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:38 pm
Posts: 7
From a purely practical perspective, I don't think a small dog could hold it this long, so maybe a slightly bigger dog would be better? Our dog has to be cooped up a couple days a week for about that long, and it's not ideal, but he's fine. He just needs extra play time those days.[/quote]

I was thinking the same thing. It really depends on the breed you choose. If she is a puppy though you'll probably have a few messes to clean up. Overall though it sounds like you are very prepared!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:29 pm 
Offline
Brain Made of Raw Seitan
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:16 pm
Posts: 1218
Location: ATX
Our dogs (30 lbs and 40 lbs) regularly went 9 or 10 hours at home when my husband and I both worked. It was totally fine! In fact, in Chicago, the majority of the rescue groups that we talked to while searching for a dog had no issue with it (neither did the one we volunteered with). It is also helpful if you can do the adoption when you can take a few days off or before a weekend, in order to help your pup get settled. You can also take some test runs where you leave the dog at home while you go out for increasingly longer periods.

I think Tofulish has great advice! If you are a total novice to dogs finding a reputable rescue and asking for a foster-to-adopt/trial period situation is a great idea. Be very explicit about what you are looking for in a dog, and what you feel capable of handling. Make sure that the dog you are interested in has been with the rescue or in foster care long enough that they have been able to properly evaluate personality and behavior issues, many of which will not be apparent for days or even a week.

I'm not trying to scare you -- I mention it because we ultimately adopted two dogs from a rescue that had only had them for a night, after only spending a few days in a community shelter. After bringing them home it was 3-5 days before serious socialization and behavior issues showed up. By then we felt committed to the dogs but it was definitely not the situation we had in mind, and the significant repercussions of adopting animals with serious behavior issues (financial cost, lifestyle limitations, emotional investment, etc.) have been affecting our lives for years and years now.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:05 pm 
Offline
Dying from Nooch Lung
User avatar

Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:30 pm
Posts: 3247
Location: Almost Boston
First of all, you are doing great with your research! Believe me, you are 90% ahead of most adopters. A good shelter or rescue should talk with you about your lifestyle and what type of dog you are looking for and help find the right one for you.

I personally would recommend a dog walker for those 9 hour days. I work at an animal shelter, and we recommend dog walkers for anyone who works more than 8 hours at a stretch. Yes, many dogs are physically capable of holding their urine and feces for 10+ hours, but I'm not sure it's fair to ask them to do so. I know how stressful and awful it is when I really have to pee but don't have access to a bathroom, and I don't want my dog to feel that way. A dog walker (or doggie daycare) can also break up the monotony of sitting home alone all day. (It can be pretty boring for dogs, since they can't read, watch tv, or go online!) I do give my dog things like stuffed kongs when I have to leave her alone, and she loves them!

I think your walking plan sounds fine for an average energy adult dog. Playing in the yard can burn energy, and yes, doing training and learning tricks does burn energy too. If you do positive training, your dog should enjoy it. I think it's a good idea to find a trainer and take classes, especially with your first dog. The trainer can answer any questions you have. Just make sure you find a good all-positive one. Don't be afraid to ask for qualifications, references, what their training philosophy is, etc. If they have group classes, you can always ask to sit in on a class and observe. There are a lot of people now who are using "positive" as a buzzword because they know that's what people are looking for, and then it will turn out they actually use choke collars, shock collars, etc. Watch out for those ones!

Other than that, you will want to find a good vet (you can check reviews online, or ask friends for recommendations). Even if the dog is up to date on his shots when you get him, you'll need a vet to get things like monthly heartworm pills, flea/tick drops, etc. And check with your town or city hall to see if dogs need to be licensed yearly (this usually involves showing them a copy of the dog's rabies vaccine certificate and paying a small fee).

My current dog is vegan, and so was my last one, and I had no problems switching them from their old foods. Just do it gradually, decreasing the amount of old food and increasing the amount of new food over a period of a couple of weeks or so. Any of the commercially available vegan foods (V-Dog, Natural Balance Vegetarian, Halo Vegan Medley, etc.) should be complete and balanced.

Good luck on finding your new friend!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:05 am 
Offline
Level 7 Vegan
User avatar

Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:21 pm
Posts: 1501
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Orion is alone 8-9 hours a day as we both work (we try to stagger our work schedule so that he is alone as little as possible, but that doesn't always work out). He is mostly fine with it, but any more than that would not be cool. So it does mean that if we are doing anything at all at night or on weekends, he comes along. Our friends have to be ok with us bringing the dog to their place, else we'll see them somewhere else. We choose our restaurants and bars by whether they are dog friendly. I've brought him to informal work functions (barbecues and such). People probably think of us as the crazy dog couple, but whatever.

The first few months we had him, we did have more time to spend with him, especially on walks. I used to hike for about an hour with him every morning and Wally would do the same hike at night. I do think it helped with training, bonding, counter-conditioning fears, and the motor problems Orion came with.

Ultimately, the dog's needs will really depend on the individual. You can't even go by the breed - Orion is a collie (either Aussie or Sheltie or a mix of both) and he still has pretty low exercise needs. If I walk him off leash he will try to sneak back home 5 minutes in. For the days you are gone the longest, check with your neighbors if they hear the dog barking out of boredom. As for games, Orion likes to play with his Kong, but he had to be taught to enjoy it. It only keeps him busy for 30 minutes at best, though.

He LOVES training. It's not just "drilling", I really think dog have been selectively bred over millenia to have an innate drive to work for and please humans, and they need an outlet for that. Orion gets super excited if I show him the clicker (we clicker-trained). Doing tricks together is also a way for you to offer your attention and praise. When Orion is bored, he comes and nudge my hand, and sometimes it means he wants to be petted or brushed, but sometimes it means he wants to play and work on tricks.
When I got started on training, I really enjoyed the Youtuber Kikopup. She uses strictly positive reinforcement, and puts a lot of thought into her dog's well being when training, both mental and physical.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:33 am 
Offline
Level 7 Vegan
User avatar

Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:21 pm
Posts: 1501
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Oh, another thing on training: you're not going to want to train purely for your dog's safety, but also for your own convenience.

Things that I have trained, always with positive reinforcement and no coercion, that are convenient:
- loose leash walking, making walks much more comfortable for everyone,
- a default sit before receiving any food or reward: this means Orion doesn't jump on me or tries to mug me for treats. It's also more pleasant for guests!
- "off" (getting off the couch, off my lap, or out of a vehicle),
- "go around" (so that he untangles the leash by himself if he walked around my legs or around a pole),
- "get out of the way" (this one was trained completely organically, ha!),
- "leave it": that's both for safety and convenience, so that I don't have to fish dangerous or gross stuff out of his mouth. I also use "leave it" for dogs and people, if we have to get somewhere and don't have time to greet and sniff all the dogs we meet on the way,
- "gimme your paw", "gimme another paw" for wiping his feet after walking in the mud or on salted roads, or for clipping his nails
- teaching him to sit between my knees on public transportation, which is both convenient and safe

There's probably more. Inherently, jumping on you when you have food in your hand isn't more fun than sitting and waiting for you to hand out the food. The dog will just do what gets the best results. You aren't being cruel by molding their behavior, as long as you do safely and without coercion. You aren't depriving him of any joy if you teach a particular behavior that makes things easier for you or extinguish another that's annoying to you. And in the end, if you teach your dog to behave in a way that is more pleasant for you, you will experience less frustration and just have a better, more fun relationship all around.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I ready to have a dog?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:43 am 
Offline
Plays The Sims 2 religiously
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:20 pm
Posts: 7574
Location: Portland, OR
Yeah, 'leave it' is my new favorite one. I trained it with Ginny ages ago but purely as a 'stop smelling that'/'don't eat that' thing, and recently I decided to start using it when she got her sights on for a dog or human she wanted to check out that I don't want her to. Worked perfectly the first time, didn't have to do anything new! (Sorry that was derail-y, but it's been exciting to me)

_________________
i would schmear marmite on a moist scrotum for Mars. - interrobang?!
"Not everything." ~ mumbles (1973-2013) - mumbles


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Template made by DEVPPL/ThatBigForum and fancied up by What Cheer