I am thinking about surprising difficult children with a dog.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Californiablonde, May 9, 2012.

  1. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Lately I have really been missing having an animal in our home. I haven't been animal-free in years and I really do miss having a pet. I am used to having cats because most of the apartment complexes we have lived in did not accept dogs. The apartment we are in now allows dogs under 25 pounds and I am thinking of adopting one from a local shelter. Although I love all animals, I am more of a dog than a cat person and I think with difficult child 2's hyperactivity that a dog would be better suited to our home. Our previous cat did was skittish and did not handle my son's hyperactivity well. Everytime he heard his voice he would run and hide. My son wasn't mean to him, but he was just very active and vocal and the cat did not like it. I am hoping a dog will tolerate him better. We have a large outdoor area at our new apartment and there are plenty of dogs who live in our complex.

    I will be taking the dog for a walk in the morning before work, and both difficult children' will take turns walking him in the afternoon and on weekends. It also gives us a good excuse to get out and excersise since we are all currently trying to lose weight. I think that a dog is just what our family needs. My only concern is how the dog will react to us being gone eight hours a day, five days a week. I plan on keeping the dog indoors while we are gone. We have a large patio that the dog can go out on as well, but I think I would feel guilty leaving him or her there for so many hours out of the day. I am going to adopt an older dog in hopes that it will already be housebroken and can tolerate being home alone for extended periods of time. What do you all think? Anybody have indoor dogs who have experience with this kind of thing? It's something I'm seriously thinking about and if I do get one, I will be going to the animal shelter on Friday after work to do it.
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I love my dogs, and they taught our family a lot about love and absolute acceptance. That being said, I don't know that I would surprise teenagers with a dog that they are expected to take care of. I remember being horrified that M jerked Bubba's 1/4 inch thick steel choke chain so hard that it broke while they were on a walk one afternoon, and then came home and angrily told us how bad Bubba had behaved. Bubba was a young dog and needed a lot of exercise and someone who was mature enough to care for him. I never said so outright, but I sided with Bubba. The violence of it was really the beginning of the last straw for me and M.

    I hope that your family will want a dog as much as you do. I love my dogs to bits. But in hindsight, it was unfair of me to have expected everyone to pitch in with a dog. Just my .02...
  3. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    You will probably need a crate for sure! If the shelter has any background info, you might be able to find one that was already crate trained. Some dogs, especially older dogs, might do alright with having the run of the house while you're gone but a lot of them won't too. Out of my four, there is only one that I can trust enough to be out while I'm gone for a short time. And even with her, I would never leave her out all day if I wasn't there. The others do OK while I'm here but if they were out all day, they'd get bored and go looking for something to amuse themselves with! I live alone and I'm retired now but when I was working, all four of them were crated all day long while I was gone. Not ideal but it was my only option at the time and they did just fine. They went outside to potty in the morning, then they went in to their individual crates at 7:00 am right before I left for work, and I'd give them their breakfast in their crates. I'd get home at 5:00 pm and they were just fine in there - never once had an accident in the crate. Honestly, if they had not been in the crates, they would have slept most of the day anyway. Of course you couldn't do it with a young puppy because they can't go that long without pottying but my four did very well on this routine.
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    We have always crate-trained our dogs... but never left for more than 8 hours.

    All of ours have been shelter dogs. It TAKES WORK to get them used to your rhythms and ways of doing things. Plan ahead, do NOT rush into getting the dog.

    And get the right dog.

    We've done 1-yr-olds, and 6-month-olds... and the 6-month-olds are "teenage" dogs, so... its an uphill battle with training (but worth it). Wouldn't get a senior dog, though... something 1-3 years old, "certified" housebroken (our first one was), and already crate trained. Anything else... will take about a month of NOT being gone all day, maybe longer, to make this happen.

    Also research your breeds. I know nothing of "small" dogs... our smallest was 40 lbs. But... big diff between a grade dane and a newfoundlander...!
  5. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Like Witz said too, I don't know if I would "surprise" the kids with a dog either, especially if they will be expected to help care for it. It might be better if you discuss getting a dog with them beforehand and see how they feel about it, see if they are willing to help with its' care, feeding, walking, etc. Of course every kid who wants a dog promises faithfully to take care of it but we all know how that goes. If they want a dog too, you can do some research on breeds and decide which would fit in the best with your family and your lifestyle. If you like a certain breed, there are breed-specific rescue groups for just about all kinds of dogs. A reputable rescue group is different than a shelter in that the dogs are kept in the homes of foster families who work with them. The foster family would be very knowledgeable about the dog since it lived in their home and they would know about if it was house trained, crate trained, how they got along with kids and other pets, etc. You would really know what you are getting if you go through a reputable rescue group.
  6. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I side with the others: research good and ask lots of questions. I have 2 dogs (one just died...) and there are all from shelters adopted at an adult age. They are real good dogs but they've had traumatic experiences. Expect to do A LOT of work and be very patient in order to train it.
    I would also suggest you all visit the shelter and pick the dog as a family.
    I work from home and leave in the woods, so I obviously have no advise as far as leaving the dog alone... But if you want, you could put the dog in the kitchen or laundry area instead of a crate? Just make sure it is dog proof.
  7. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Cal, we just went through this same process. The difficult children and I spent months talking about getting a dog and all the responsibilities that went with it. That way they were 100% prepared and committed to doing their part. Then it took over a month and a lot of looking to get just the right dog for our family. Ours is a 37 lb Springer Spaniel. We also looked at Cockers because they are generally mellower dogs. The terriers and beagles and poodles tend to be more hyper so they were out of the question since one of my reasons for a dog was to help mellow difficult child 1.

    We crate trained her in about 2 weeks. My sister has a poodle that stays in the kitchen when they are gone so the cleanup is easier (linoleum floors). They use a baby gate to keep the doorway blocked. Ours will be doing it's first 8 hour day in the crate when we are gone on Mother's Day. I don't trust her loose even in the kitchen.

    Good luck with the hunt. Our new furbaby has been a wonderful addition to our family and the kids don't mind taking care of her.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    With all the stress you are dealing with lately it might be wise not to add a pet into the mix. You've been trying to help your kids chill out and introducting a new family member with needs likely will amp the tension. DDD
  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    If you do get one from a shelter, PLEASE make sure it's the right dog for you and that you're committed to it for the long haul! Just remember that if you get one and it doesn't work out and you return it to the shelter, that dog will probably never get adopted again and may end up being euthanized. Many people would be very leery of adopting a dog that had been previously adopted and then returned to the shelter - they would assume that there was something seriously wrong with the dog and that it had issues that couldn't be resolved.
  10. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Be prepared to be the main caregiver of this dog.

    Do research and find out which type of dog is the right fit for your family and lifestyle.

    Be sure that your kids are on board with caring for a dog....don't surprise them.

    There are no guarantees that an older dog will instinctively know how to settle in with your family and be well trained and ready to go.

    I'm with DDD on this-now may not be the right time. Dogs are a lot of work and time consuming. Also, if difficult child freaked out the cat, why wouldn't he freak out a small dog. I have small dogs and they can be quite skittish.

    I'm not trying to discourage you, but just be sure you're sure. Getting a dog when difficult child was little was helpful,but she wasn't always at her best with him and I carried the load for his care most of the time, heck, all of the time.
  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. Bubba's needing me was actually the last straw when it came to my stopping work. I could find special day care for M, therapists and specialists and IEP's. I brought Bubba into our world and I was the one that made sure that he was safe and had a home. husband barely pitched in when hounded into it. M was just scarey when he didn't want to do it. If we had brought him to the pound he would likely have been put down as too excitable. He didn't deserve that.

    I think, too, that the element of surprise would be lost on your difficult child's. It's a big responsibility to care for a dog, and with two kids they're bound to blame each other for things that do or don't get done. You wouldn't be happy if someone surprised you with such a big responsibility. It would probably be better if you included them in the decision and valued their opinions and feelings about it.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Additional tips...

    Please consider your budget and whether it allows for formal dog training. Not for YOU - for the kids. It's a big help to the dog, too, but... for the kids, especially, it teaches them how to act/react around the dog so that they are reinforcing the "right" behaviors rather than the "wrong" ones.

    Also consider WHY you are getting a dog. For our family, the dogs are actually therapy for difficult child - majorly needed therapy. We didn't get dogs to teach the kids responsibility, but to give them the benefits of doggie love. (major stress reduction when things go wrong, for one... unconditional love 24/7 if treated with kindness, etc.). Therefore... if the kids can't pull their weight with care, we as parents do step up to the plate. Getting a dog as a way of teaching responsibility, in my opinion, is a recipe for disaster... for all of you including the dog.

    Do I support having dogs around difficult children? As long as the difficult child isn't involved in animal cruelty, and allergies and such don't come into the picture, I believe it is a major benefit. But it will take time, money, patience, and extra work for you.

    You could start by volunteering at a shelter, seeing how your kids handle dogs, etc. (and then be prepared to fall in love with one...)
  13. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Okay now y'all have me second guessing myself. When I was growing up we always had a big back yard for our dogs to run around in when we were not home. Now we only have a patio. I thought a small dog would do just fine out on a patio but an adoption agency I spoke with yesterday told me even a small dog would not do well outside for eight hours a day. I could leave the dog in the house but I'm afraid it won't be housebroken or it will ruin the furniture. Maybe a cat would be a better option. Our last cat sprayed everywhere and I'm afraid of the same thing happening again, but the cat had anxiety issues and was incredibly fearful of strangers. Maybe we need to look for a more outgoing kitty who wouldn't mind being outside part of the day. I will have to think this over. I am looking at cute little pics of doggies on the shelter's website and I am falling in love with damn near every one of em. I just don't know if we can handle one as a family right now.
  14. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    If you get a smaller dog and crate train it, you won't have to worry about it having potty accidents or getting in to things while you're at work! Anymore, I would really hate to think of a dog being outside unsupervised all that time, even if you have a fenced yard. There's just too many bad people out there now, and it's too easy for the dog to get out and run around the neighborhood where all kinds of bad things could happen to it.
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    We have about 4 shelters around us - not counting rescues.
    But ONE of those, is really good.
    They will interview you for what you need and are looking for, and then THEY scan/screen the incoming dogs to see if any "might" fit. Things they look for are:
    - size
    - age
    - prior training (crate, housebroken, obedience, etc.)
    - house vs. appointment
    - etc.

    I've seen dogs come through that were being re-homed at 2 yrs old... because the family got transferred overseas and it wasn't safe to take the dog. Fully house and obedience trained, used to being crated, etc. They ARE out there. But... you have to take your time, to find them. You don't need to give up, or substitute a cat (poor substitute in my opinion... not anti-cat, but cat doesn't equal dog). You just need... a boatload of patience.
  16. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Okay - I'm going to offer a compromise.......

    FOSTER.......find a local shelter.......and offer to be a foster family.

    This gives you & your kids quite a lot of experiences, options - exposure, and the option to (give it back) should it (not work out)

    AND I'm not advocating this as a cure all - because it just may be that a dog is NOT an added burden needed. I say that because a cat can be skittish around a difficult child but I can tell you - that I have a 140 lb. American Bulldog and a 70 lb. pit bull that were BOTH skittish from the arguing, yelling, tension and difficult child's constant AGGITATION of - "the beloved family pet". Cats when aggitated will usually - hide. Dogs can hide - but some will BITE -OUR Pit? Bit difficult child in the face twice and now his nose and deviated septum hangs just a little out of the bottom of his nose - a constant reminder we allowed as natural consequences - discussed in depth with our therapist of seven years.

    On the flip side - if you have a foster dog - and you say "IF YOU PESTER THE DOG ONE MORE TIME I WILL TAKE IT BACK (ie get red of it) - YOU CAN - without much trouble. Explain up front to the shelter that you want to do this to introduce your kids to a dog, help the shelter, but you have to know that when you say "I need to return the dog" it comes back NOW - 24 hour no later. Because difficult child needs to understand there are consequences - without excuses.

    I'm not trying to make this harder than it is. On the contrary - I think if you wanted to do this - OR start VOLUNTEERING at the kennel close to you on Saturday and see that the kids are serious about taking care of PETS - scooping poop, walking, watering, grooming...all the above - earning money to take care of the needs - (DO A WORKSHEET TO SEE what costs of flea treantment, heartworm treatment, vet treatment, rabies, and upkeep, food - toys ) are for ONE dog for ONE month - and then see what they'd have to do for chores each month. Then come back to you about it - and see if EVERYONE is still serious.

    I couldnt live without mine - but I'd do without everything I own to be with them.
  17. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Crate training a dog right now is out of the question as I can not afford to buy one. I already have a litter box and food dish left over from our other cat so I am more prepared to take in a cat at this point. Both difficult children would prefer a cat over a dog. I'm the one who had this big idea of getting a dog simply because I miss my golden retriever who died a long time ago. I have not had a dog since. I don't know what to do. I am a cat and a dog lover. I have grown up with both. Right now a cat seems more practical. I am going to have to think about this one.
  18. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm not a cat person but I swear that the expenses of having a dog have increased in recent years. The food has gotten way more expensive, the trips to the Vet for checkups and shots are close to twice what they used to be and the cost of simple basic grooming/nail clipping and flea/tick control products. I'm on a limited budget and I really advise you to hold off until you have more financial security. DDD
  19. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    You can ALSO foster a litter of kittens OR a special needs cat - There are TONS of cats that have three legs, are tragedy stricken - (and VERY VERY litter box trained I may add) have no fur - were burned - just need special medications - need added love - and could use a good home with PLENTY of extra attention before they get acclimated to a new home - not necessarily yours. If you could foster a cat? And get them ready for a good home? The rewards would be significant - AND if you DId decide that THIS was the cat for YOU? You can always adopt it. Just thinking outloud.

    They usually pay for the medications, litter, food - etc. So the care is the ONLY thing you provide. by the way.
  20. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Fostering is a good idea but I know we would end up getting attached to the animal and we would have to keep it! I am going to the shelter tomorrow after work and look at cats. I've been looking at some pictures online and I've already fallen in love with several. I would take them all home with me if it was practictal but of course it's not so I am going to have to see which one is the best fit for our home. I miss having an animal to greet me when I get home from work.