I Want a Dog

I want a big dog. I’ve known three dogs in my life that I thought were utterly cool: a giant chocolate lab named Fudgie, an english mastiff that my boss owned that was the biggest sweetheart I ever met, and a newfoundland named Hagar that I used to stop and chat with on my walk to the bus stop every morning. All three dogs were extremely laid-back and good-natured. I’ve wanted a dog for a long time but have never been in a good position to own one, at least not a large one, until now.

Now my life has settled down a bit. I just bought my own house. My son is 10 now, and doesn’t require so much of my time. My job looks to be holding steady for quite a while in the future. So I want to bring a dog into the family.

I want to adopt a dog if I can. However, I was just rejected at an animal rescue to adopt a newfoundland puppy. She said that she thought a puppy wouldn’t be for me. I work every day, around nine hours away from the house, but thought I could come home and let my puppy out for a break and a bit of a play at lunch time. I also don’t have much experience with dogs, and I think maybe she thought my work schedule and my lack of experience would make me a bad match for a puppy.

I thought a newfoundland puppy would be a good match for me for the following reasons:

  1. Newfoundland dogs are known for their quiet natures. They’re not highly energetic like a border collie. I definitely want to take my dog out for walks and playtime/socialization at the dog park, but reality says that during the work week I’ll be at work, and my dog will be crated. I want to make sure I pick a breed that’s happy being crated for a while. This is also why I’ve considered mastiffs.

  2. Since I want a large dog, it will be important that they are well behaved and socialized. I don’t want my dog to attack anyone, or even knock anyone down in the course of play. I don’t want a dog who will attempt to chase another animal, or be hostile to strangers. I realize that I’m simply not large enough to control such an animal through brute force alone. I want to make sure that my dog has been trained well from the very beginning, hence the conclusion that maybe I should get a puppy and enroll the two of us in some training programs.

  3. Another reason to get a puppy is the fact that I’m not very experienced with dogs, and I’ve an idea that maybe its easier to develop habits in a puppy than to reverse behavior in a massive adult dog. Or that I’m not experienced enough with dogs to be able to know in 30 minutes whether or not an adult dog has behavior problems that I won’t be able to deal with.

So I’d like to ask for a little guidance here. Should I not get a puppy? I’d love to adopt an older dog, because I know that they have far less chance of getting adopted elsewhere due to their age. Are my worries about adopting an older dog unfounded? And if I do get a puppy, is it cruel to keep it locked up in four hour shifts five days a week? Are puppies no good for a new dog owner?

Thanks so much.

I’m not a vet or dog expert, but I do have a few suggestions:

  1. find out why you were rejected
  2. Ask the people at the center what they think would be good match
  3. Keep an open mind- dogs have different backgrounds and personalities, its not just a breed thing
  4. Get a fence for your garden and a dog flap if its not a huge thing, or a dog sitter perhaps
    5)Don’t dismiss collies, its what i wish i had on a regular basis. My parents got a collie cross a few months before i was born and we grew up together for about 12 years. Obviously she was energetic when she was young, but not to an incredible amount. They’re very intelligent so would seem ideal for training if its not a puppy, and would also be fun for your son to play with. Wish i hadn’t brought back childhood memories now. Oh, God i miss you Tess.

good luck, and may you have many lovely walks

Take their word for it. They are looking out for the dog’s and your best interest. Pups take a lot of time and effort.

Hie over to petfinder.com and search for young large breeds. That’s how I found my girls.

If you do get a dog, take them to classes. You admit that you have no experience, (which is another reason to not get a puppy) so you will need to train yourself and the dog to communicate with each other properly.

Take note though, that some rescue agencies will not adopt out an animal to a house with a child under 13.

Good luck.

I think that you’d be better off with an adult dog. Puppies are adorable, and very lovable, but they are just babies, and they do need a LOT of attention. Any dog needs to be trained, but big dogs have to be trained for safety’s sake.

You might consider a retired greyhound. They’ve been accustomed to being crated and such. They are known as couch potatoes, and want nothing more than to be loving pets. They enjoy walks, and I’d advise putting in a dog door for potty outings, but a greyhound will mostly hang out in your house when you’re not there. They are very sweet dogs, based on a sample of five.

Personally, I like German shepherds, but they might be more active than you’re willing to accommodate. The ones I’ve known have all needed a lot of interaction and play time.

I’m not a dog expert either, but I’ve got a puppy. I don’t know whether you’re looking at an older pupy or not, but I think that two four hour shifts in the afternoon, and at night while you’re sleeping might be a bit much for a dog my age (eleven weeks). While he does sleep a long time, it’s not in stretches that long. Plus since he’s still being housbroken, he can’t hold it that long yet.

If you do get a puppy, find a place for him to go during the day if possible. I grew up with dogs, live with an older dog, and the puppy is still running me ragged. If I were you, I’d go to a rescue and find an older dog. Rescue dogs usually live in foster homes with other animals, so the foster owners could give you a good rundown of the dogs personality. Plus, you’ll probably get out of house training. Which is always a plus.

I think the reason you were rejected for the puppy is the job. Puppies can’t hold their bladders/bowels for more than a few hours, and you can’t schedule it around your job. Even if you can come home for lunch to let it out, that’s just too long to expect a pup to wait. It makes for a lose-lose situation. A young dog that’s housebroken is much better for you.

I really, really want a dog, myself, but I know that it would be unfair to the dog until I’m no longer working 8 hours a day. Dogs are pack animals, and they don’t really enjoy being left alone for hours. They need attention in order to establish a relationship, and training takes time and trust. It’s very frustrating to me, but I know that it is best to wait until I retire, or at least work fewer hours or find myself in a very casual environment that would allow me to bring the dog to work (I’ve worked at a place like that before).

If your son was a little older and might be home after school to care for and give attention to the dog, it would be more workable.

Just my opinion.

As a former trainer, and a current foster of Border Collies, I think that you’d be much happier with an adult dog.

When you talk of getting a puppy you are essentially getting the energy level of a Border Collie without the smarts. Most foster homes crate train their animals, so if you get an adult out of foster you should already know if he’s crate trained. However, I definitely do not recommend crating a dog for more than 4-6 hours, unless it’s an overnight crating. Dogs should not be crated for extended periods. Hopefully, if you get an adult, you should be able to let him loose in your house, or gate him in the kitchen, because he will be over the “puppy destructive” stage.

You can get training with an adult dog just as easily. Moreover, you should already have an idea of what his temperament is prior to adoption. The best part of adopting though, is if you find a dog as big as a Newfie, or Mastiff isn’t for you, you can take him back.

People with little experience are far more likely to screw up a pup than to fix one. It’s difficult to reverse behavior, but not impossible. The people who foster dogs are very honest with their behavior. I don’t particularly want dogs into which I’ve put lots of time and effort going to a bad home.

I think that most people would be better of with grown dogs. I don’t think most folks realize what they’re getting into with a pup. www.petfinder.com has many rescues. If you want from a private owner who can no longer keep their pet go to the classified section of petfinder. This is what I had to do for my mother who couldn’t get a dog frin rescue because she was too elderly.

Good luck

Newfs are great dogs, but they really need good training to avoid them bowling people over and being incredibly stubborn.

Puppies are harder than adults. Get an adult dog.

They are a great breed.

Have you considered an American Bulldog ? I was unfamiliar with this breed until hubby and I decided to get a dog. My husband did a little research and decided that an AB sounded right for us (we were looking for a large dog, protective but good with children and other pets). We have become huge fans of the breed since we got our dog, Murphy, three years ago. His tempermant and personality are everything the web site claims, and he is absolutely the best dog I’ve ever known. He’s a great big baby, unless he feels that my husband or I am being threatened; then he turns into the best guard dog in the world. And as soon as he knows we’re safe, he’s a baby again.

I can’t advise you on the whole puppy vs. adult dog thing except to say that we got Murphy as a pup, and he did have a difficult time with us being gone during the day. My husband came home at lunch, but there were still several potty accidents, and the poor doggy got BORED during the day and wanted to chew. It’s definitely something to think about.

Oh, and here is a site from a rescue organization that gives lots of good info on the breed, if you are interested.

Gotta recommend the dog door/flap. I myself do not, and would not leave a dog indoors for even half a day. Though many people do leave them in for 8-9 hours. I don’t think it’s right.

Dog doors can be cut right into the side of your house. Or, they make built-ins for sliding glass doors.

With that, of course, you will need a fence. I know that in some places a fence can be a big deal. And some places don’t even allow them. But, if you can do it, it’s really, really worth it. Even if it’s just a small area for the dog to get out during the day.

We have 2 acres. But we only have about 2000 sq. ft. fenced in. We live in a very, very hard area to fence, it’s very steep and rocky, but we did it. We used 8’ tall tee stakes and 5’ tall wire fence. Works great. The ‘kids’ can (and do) go in and out all day. No need to worry about them having to go potty in the middle of the night, or if you get home an hour or two late.

Also, if you have a fenced yard, a rescue organization is much more likely to let you have a dog. The very last thing they want to do is give a dog to someone that may not be ready for it. They do not want to have the dog returned. It’s bad for everyone.

I’ve always thought that having a dog is like having a 10 year old. They can take care of themselves, kind of. But you can’t leave them alone for long.

Just some thoughts.

We have two Border Collie mixes that we rescued. We drove 300 miles each way to get each dog. They are great girls, and we made sure they got along with each other as well as us before we brought them home.


You’ll find the right pup. Just give it some time.

People have already made good points regarding size, age, temperment, and so forth; I just wanted to add, with regard to a new dog owner that a significant part of “training” the dog involves training the owner and family members to handle the dog. You may think that it’s easier or better to train a dog from puppyhood; however, if you inadvertantly teach it bad habits via your own behavior and responses then you can end up with an ill-mannered or uncontrollable dog. With adult dogs you can get a better idea of their temperment, and despite the old saw about not being able to educate an old dog, an adult dog will usually adapt to the expectations of a new owner. In addition, adult rescue dogs are often quite grateful to have a home at all; they seem to understand or remember being abandoned or ill-treated and can, with proper treatment, become great family companions. Of course, there’s also the chance of getting an abused/damaged dog as well, but experienced shelters do a fair job of filtering these out, especially if the dog is to go to a house with children.

I’d definitely advise listening to the recommendations of rescue/shelter workers. As far as Newfs, they can be a real handful; even though they may not be as energetic as some, they can make up for it in pure momentum. They’re also prone to a number of genetic defects and problems stemming from their excessive size (hip dysplasia, arthritis). And remember, you’re going to have to cart the dog around; Newfs don’t readily fit in a sedan and (if they do display above aforementioned defects) will have a difficult time jumping up into a truck or SUV. Consider that when looking at “big dogs”; personally, I wouldn’t want a dog larger than I can pick up should I have to. A dog is not a small responsibility, and I presume that your 10 year old is going to share in some of the duties (walks, feeding, whatnot). I’d opt for an animal that won’t overwhelm him or her.

I’d personally go for something more in the 40-60 lb range, about the German Shepherd/Lab/Carolina Dog size and temperment. Unless you plan on showing or just want to impress the neighbors, breed isn’t really all that important, and indeed mutts tend to benefit from hybrid vigor–the lack of reinforcement of bad recessives that purebreeds tend to suffer.

Good luck with whatever you select.


I’d recommend a ramp. My sister’s Newf could jump into the back of their Jeep until he got to be about 9, I think. He lived to be 13, which is a pretty old age for that breed.

Which is another consideration. The giant breeds are generally short-lived. That is both a blessing and a curse.

As someone who has raised two puppies in the past two years, I can’t imagine trying to do it when you’re away from the house that long every day. These are lil’ babies! They need to go out every 2-3 hours, and they need companionship. Getting a puppy and leaving it in a crate every day for that long seems like a good way to create a bad dog.

Well, I took the advice of this board and went to the local animal shelter and talked to the people there about a good dog for me. They recommended Luke, an older Golden Retriever. They say he’s 6-10 years old, but he’s got a lot of gray around his muzzle. Apparently, he was living with an 83 year old woman who couldn’t care for him anymore. He’s very quiet and mellow, even when the other dogs were barking like mad in their cages. When they took him out he walked over to me and rested his chin on my knee and proceeded to drool down my leg while I scratched his head. They say that he’s a good natured guy who really enjoys his walks around the area and loves to meet people. But not so much that he becomes annoying to others.

So I’m in love. However, I’m going to think about it tonight, and then arrange to work from home for a couple of days so I can stay with him for the rest of the week and we’ll see how it works out. I think he may be the dog for me.

Thanks so much for the advice. I’m really glad I didn’t run out and a get a puppy right away.

Good for you. We raise Newfs and you cannot raise a puppy properly if you aren’t home for most of the day. Also, Newfs bond strongly with their people and it isn’t good for them to be on their own a lot, especially early on.

And I must say that people with little or no experience with larger dogs should never, ever, get a Newfoundland. A breeder will flat out not sell you one without experience. It’s for the dog’s own good, as if things don’t work out, you will be fine and the dog can be permanently heartbroken. Many Newfs have trouble re-bonding after rescue.

Good luck with your Goldie! Enjoy!

Goldens are great dogs. My sister has two. Don’t let the grey fool you, Goldens can grey when they’re quite young 5 or 6. While I’m not trying to talk you into/out of anything, I think a Golden is a very good choice.

But then you have to haul the ramp around, and your cargo room is taken up by the dog, et cetera. Newfs can be great dogs for someone who shows and works them (and is prepared to deal with health problems–the aunt and uncle of the ex-wife showed Newfs and had a couple with defects, including one that didn’t make it to the one year mark) but definitely not the ideal dog for a neophyte, even if they can get past the massive slobbering problem.

He sounds like a great dog; color me jealous. Goldens can be great with kids, too; they love being part of a pack, don’t tend toward dominance, and learn tricks readily. (A great way to get your kid to bond with the dog is to have him or her teach the dog an easily-learned trick, like “shake”.)

Again, good luck to you. I hope it all works out well.


Luke sounds wonderful. God, I love the older dogs. sigh They are so mellow and calm and settled amd… wise.

I hope you bring Luke home to live with you his remaining days. And we do expect pictures.

Get a big ol’ slobbery St. Bernard!

A pure black one is beautiful and loyal.

…sweet temperment and intelligence too, the St. Bernard.