Getting a dog

60 years old and thinking about getting a dog for the first time in my life. (I had a dog in the 70s, but it was my girlfriend’s, and it was already acquired and housebroken when I moved in).

Here’s our situation: married. My wife and I both work full time, although my wife works from home 1 or 2 days/week. House with an unfenced back yard.

So…is this even a good idea, given that we can’t be there 24/7 with a new puppy? How would that work, if we do? We’re perfectly fine with taking it out when we’re home (and my wife is very keen on the idea of having a reason to get out and walk every day). Are there breeds that are better than others about being alone?

Are you dead set on getting a puppy?

If not, seriously look into rescuing an adult animal. There are tons of adult dogs who have nothing wrong with them besides needing a home. Many come already housebroken and even trained.

If you’re looking for a bigger dog, consider a retired greyhound. They come already fully trained and housebroken, they don’t bark, they’re very sweet and loyal animals, and they need surprisingly little exercise.

ETA: Oh, and because they were raised that way, they don’t even mind getting kenneled.

Adopting an adult dog is really the best way to go if you will be away from home for more than a few hours at a time. I know several people that have adopted retired greyhounds and could not be happier. You might assume they need a lot of running, but they really are couch potatoes. Nice long walks are sufficient.
You might consider fostering a dog through a rescue then keeping it if it works out.

My sister has her second retired greyhound and both were wonderful dogs. She lives in an old rowhouse in Baltimore that has a teensy back yard, but they get walked regularly, and she occasionally takes them out to the boonies where my mom lives and they love to run free. The biggest problem she had was that Otto had to be taught how to go up and down stairs - he’d never seen them before.

We’ve had a bunch of rescues over the years, and by far, the sweetest was a border collie/lab mix who we took in at 18 months. The only kind I wouldn’t recommend is a dalmatian - WAAAAAAAY too high energy. But in my opinion, you can’t do much better than a mellow adult rescue dog.

We installed a pet door and put up a fence, so the dogs can go in and out as they please. With a setup like that, don’t worry about not being there 24/7. If you don’t have a setup like that, I’d try and take some time off to get them potty trained and settled in first. Make sure they get lots of socialization with people and other dogs if possible. Maybe it’s because I’ve had dogs all my life, but I don’t think they’re that hard to take care of.

Most definitely. We have a four year old Bichon Frise. Sweet and loving as hell, and happiest when the whole pack is at home. But he HATES being left home alone. He’ll tolerate a couple hours stoically, but four hours or more, and he is positively psychotic by the time we get home.

Please adopt or rescue an older dog as suggested above. He or she will be settled down and be much easier to have around, additionally you’ll be providing a good home for an animal that tends to be passed over at the shelter.

Think about how many times a year there is nobody home at your house for 12 or more hours, when you can’t take your dog with you. Consider whether making arrangements for the dog will become an intrusion in your life (and the life of your friends or family) that you have become accustomed to being without.

Would a rescue greyhound tolerate an occasionally ill mannered three year old and two cats? I sort of want a dog but I’m afraid that my toddler would traumatize it.

I have a mini-doxie, and had one growing up who passed.

If you are looking for something small and cute-- they have that going for them. However, they do need quite a bit of attention and both were very territorial. I don’t recommend if you have small kids/grandkids around. My current one has been around my sister’s kids since they were little and he still gets territorial of his surroundings.

I have known them to happily coexist, but it depends on the individual greyhound. Most will not have ever encountered a cat or a kid in their pre-rescue life, so agencies often cat-test and kid-test before they will place in a home to see how the dog reacts.
The child must be taught to be gentle with any dog, of course.

Thanks for the input; keep it coming.

No kids or other pets around, although there is a grandchild on the way (due in October). We had a cat that died last year, so we have a pet-sitter on speed dial who can be here on days when we’re away (and can’t take a dog with us).

Don’t get a greyhound if you don’t have a fenced backyard. It only takes a split second for them to see a squirrel or rabbit and they are gone.

Getting a dog from a shelter or foster organization would be ideal. Dogs who are in foster care have someone who has been taking care of them and can tell you about their personality, quirks, and housetraining. You could even opt to get an older dog. They are typically passed over in shelters because people want the young ones, but older dogs are usually much calmer.

Do you plan to walk it on a leash all the time? Can you bend to clean up poop? Bigger dogs = bigger poops. Do you plan to let it out unsupervised? Where will the dog sleep - in a crate, on a dog bed, in your bed? Is there someone willing to care for the dog if you and your wife pass on before it does or you are no longer able to care for it yourselves? How much are you willing to spend on veterinary care? Dogs that come from a shelter are usually spayed/neutered already or they will have a stipulation that it be done within a certain period of time after adoption. These are just a few things I can think of off the top of my head that you need to consider before bringing a dog home.

If I were in your place, I would probably get a smaller dog. They are less likely to pull or push you over and are easier to pick up and carry if they need vet care and aren’t able to walk on their own. They are also great TV watching companions. :slight_smile: They won’t eat as much or poop as much either.

All good things to consider.

Our current dog sleeps in the walk in shower! After he picked it as his spot to sleep we started to place a throw rug in there when it wasn’t in use.

OP, is putting a fence around your yard an option?

It’s nice to have a fenced yard, but leaving the dog outside while away is risky. It could jump or dig out, or may spend the day barking and tormenting the neighbors.

My suggestion is to consider two dogs. It’s easier for a dog to deal with separation from its people if it has a buddy around. The downside to this is that your dogs may prefer interacting with each other than interacting with you.

OP, my recommendations in full:

  • fence your backyard
  • get your wife on board and enthusiastic - it won’t be YOUR dog/s, they’ll be family pets
  • read dog training books, e.g., Karen Pryor’s Don’t Shoot the Dog.
  • visit your local shelter or rescue org, explain to the staff your lifestyle in detail - be very honest with them, be upfront with your concerns. I bet they’ll recommend what everyone here is saying: adult dogs, unflappable temperaments.
  • meet a few adult dogs for adoption. If your local shelter is anything like ours here in the Bay area, you’ll have your choice of chihuahua mixes or pit bull type mixes. Even if these aren’t your ideal, dream breeds, meet them as individuals first, and consider their personalities and your lifestyle.
  • take your dogs home! Ideally, you’ll have a securely fenced yard (buried mesh, no climbable points) and a dog door, so they can come and go as they please. If your dogs have previously been inside dogs, house-training will likely come easy. If not, you have a bit more of a process ahead.
  • enroll in a basic obedience class, and ask your trainer specifically about socialization. Having a dog that pulls on the leash, or lunges toward other stimuli, makes walkies less fun. Consider working toward the Canine Good Citizen test.
  • find a good vet - read Yelp reviews and ask for recommendations. Your dogs will need ongoing medication including vaccination, flea and tick deterrents, heartworm prevention, etc. Consider a dog expenses savings account, or pet insurance.

If it sounds like a lot of work… it is. This is what people talk about when they call people “good pet owners.” It’s also incredibly fun and rewarding.

Good luck! Let us know if you have further questions.

It doesn’t have to be so excruciating. Find a dog you like and get it. Keep it fed, exercised, and vaccinated. Take it places and pay attention to it. If it gets sick, take it to a vet and pay for treatment. Tend to its needs as they come up. Make sure there is someone else who will take care of it if you become unable to do so yourself. Enjoy.

I’m sorry, which part of my post do you find excruciating? I think we’re on the same side here.

Instead of fencing the yard, is keeping the dog tied on a long leash an alternative?