OK, friends....talk me in/out of getting a dog.

I’ve been thinking about getting a dog, but I’m not 100% sure that my living situation will accomodate a dog, or if it would be selfish of me to try and get one. So, I’m soliciting the advice of those of you who have (or have had) a dog in a situation similar to mine.

Key points:


  • I live alone (smallish 3-bedroom house, maybe 1300 sq ft)
  • I live too far from work for me to be able to come home at lunchtime
  • I have almost no yard, but live in a quiet neighborhood
  • I have an extremely high-strung Siamese cat

My current plan (if you can call it that) is to apply to a Boxer breed rescue group in Philadelphia. I’ve done a bit of research on the Boxer breed, and it sounds like a good fit. Good sized, good temperament, energetic but not crazy wild. Since I live alone, I’d like a dog that can be both a companion and protective of me but not aggressive to friends/family/welcome strangers. I’m hoping that the rescue group can match me with an adult dog that’s past the puppyish stage of needing to be checked on constantly, as I work 8-5 every day and the dog will have to be alone for about 9 hours a day.

What else do I need to consider? I’m afraid that I’m neglecting something, and I’d really appreciate input from people who have been there.

TIA! :slight_smile:

Hard to say- I personally think that you would need a pretty low-key dog to stay alone all day. (I don’t know how boxers are, really). We have our Shar-Pei and later got our Rottie to keep him company, so we don’t feel bad if we are gone all day for some reason. Usually, one of us is home by 1 or2 pm every day and we have a large yard, so that’s not an issue, either

My personal opinion is that if you have a dog that will potentiall be without you for the whole work day, get two so they can keep each other company. Ours are now inseparable and great friends.


I would have to say that if you are not 100% sure, then you shouldn’t do it.

You will know when the time is right.

That said,
you may consider a Boston Terrier. They are rather boxer like except they are smaller. They also make great apartment dogs.

I have two myself. I love them so! They are smallish but very sturdy dogs: You can play rough with them. They are also very loving and family oriented. God help anyone if they break in.

Some (read: my male) can be high energy. But some are very quiet and mellow. They don’t bark unless provoked. They also are not big on long walks.

What ever you do get,
I also would recommend getting two.

Our boy was so sad alone. We now have a girl and they are also inseparable.
Being that they are smaller than boxers it makes getting two easier.

I have heard it said that dogs with short noses have lethal gas.
I don’t know if its true about ALL dogs with short noses…but I can affirm it for mine and my friend’s boxer. be sure to keep them on a diet and not feed scraps. you will thank me. TRUST ME.

Be very careful about what dog you choose, especially an adult from a rescue group. If they’ve been abused by previous owners, there will be behavioral problems.

Two dogs to keep each other company is a good idea. I got a second cat about a year after my first for that reason.

Do you ever travel? Do you have a reliable person to take care of the dog, EVERY day? You can leave cats alone for days, with enough food and water. Not dogs.

Get a dog when you’re 100% sure. To help you get there (or to help you head back toward 0%) ask yourself these questions:

Do you want to go straight home from work–every day, without fail–to let your dog out?

Do you have a plan in case you need to travel or stay late at work?

Will you feel like walking your dog several times a day, every day, in snow and rain, and possibly (yes, I’ve seen this) in a hurricane? Will you be understanding when food doesn’t agree with your dog and you have to walk him at three in the morning? And again half an hour later? And ten minutes after that? And when you finally go back to sleep and sleep through the next request to go out, and wake up in the morning and forget to put your slippers on?

Will you mind when it’s necessary to put the pooch in the car?

Do you have friends or family who spend a lot of time with you who are allergic?

Do you know (or are you willing to learn) how to

  • remove a tick?
  • clean and dress a wound?
  • stop the dog from chewing said wound?
  • clean dog ears?
  • care for “hot spots”?
  • care for a sick or elderly dog?

Are you prepared to one day take the most faithful friend you’ve ever had to the vet to be euthanized? (Is anybody ever prepared for that?)

A dog is MAJOR responsibility. I’d say if you’re not sure, DON’T get one. It’s not just the being home at lunchtime thing; there’s the issue of training. A puppy needs to be trained, and for the first few months someone needs to be there all the time. My dog is eight years old now (OK, will be next week) and I thank heaven every day that when I was a drunk college student I still somehow had the foresight to train her when she was a puppy.

By the way, she’s a Carolina Dog (aka “American Dingo”), and she is wonderful. Beautiful, barks at strangers but knows friends, doesn’t chew my stuff, etc. I couldn’t ask for a better dog. Http://www.carolinadogs.com

Thanks to everyone who responded. I notice that most of you have said that if I’m not 100% sure, then I shouldn’t get one, but most of you neglected to include the rest of that sentence, which was "not 100% sure that my living situation will accomodate a dog. I know that I want a dog, I’m just insecure about whether it would be fair and kind of me to get one, the reason I’m not 100% sure being the issue of me being single. And since that’s not likely to change anytime soon, I pretty much wanted some insight on whether it was selfish of me to get a dog in that situation. If I hear from some people that can reassure me that it’s not cruel of me to own a dog on my own, then that will go a long way to alleviating some of that anxiety. As for knowing when the time is right…well, I guess I see that sort of like a lot of people see having kids. If you wait until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready, no one would ever have kids. :smiley:

As for being cautious of adopting the dog from a rescue group, this has already been a consideration. According to the webpage for this group, they try very hard to match an appropriate dog to your needs/capabilities. They also screen dogs for behavioral problems (i.e. is the dog being given up because it bit someone or otherwise has shown aggression) and health problems. They ask whether you’re willing to take a dog that needs a lot of attention to further training, etc…and if you’re not comfortable with that, the wouldn’t place that kind of dog with you.

Since I know for sure that I don’t have time to train a puppy, I really think that if I decide to get a dog, the rescue group is my best option.

To answer some of Marley’s questions:

  • I already come straight home from work every day, so having to do this wouldn’t change my lifestyle at all.
  • I rarely travel, but if I do, I have family in the immediate vicinity that can care for the dog. Barring that, the dog would have to go to a kennel.
  • Walking the dog regularly isn’t an issue for me, it’s actually something I look forward to. I also mountain bike and I’m hoping I can train the dog to accompany me. The odd-hours walkings will definitely be something to get used to, but you do what you have to do.
  • I have no issues with having the dog in the car. In fact, being that I want this dog as a companion, I’m hoping that I can manage taking him/her wherever I might go.
  • No allergic friends/family that I’m aware of
  • Tending icky medical stuff isn’t an issue for me. Considering that my current cat ate a piece of string that cost me $1000 to have removed, and I had to force-feed her with a medicine dropper for weeks afterwards when she’d basically given up on life, I think I can handle it.

I see that a few people have requested getting 2 dogs. Honestly, I don’t know that I could handle (or afford) that. Something else to think about, I guess. <sigh>

Hi Jadis!

I don’t know if I’m the best person to answer this question, but I wanted to put my two cents in anyway.

I live alone in a large(ish) apartment. It’s probably about the size of your living area. I fell madly in love with a pup that my dad bred from his hunting dog, a Labrador retriever. I loved his dog so much that I knew I wanted one of her puppies anyway. So I went to ridiculous lengths to fly a dog from Illinois to Boston so that I could have my little Angus.

Well, little Angus is now around 60 pounds at about 9 months old. And growing. And my advice to you may not be as completely logical and sensible as someone else’s.

If you love the animal, and you’re willing to go through the hassles involved in keeping him/her, then go for it. Seriously. I think the biggest problems pet owners face is that they are simply unwilling to do some things for their pets.

If you have family close by who can help out on occasion, if you have the time and energy, if you love dogs, then what are you waiting for! Please remember what no one else will tell you: Dogs exercise outside. The space they need in your home is only enough to eat and sleep. Sure, it’s easier to have a big dog in a bigger space, because you’re not so crowded…the dog’s less likely to knock over furniture, etc. But it’s not like you’re getting a great dane in a studio space!

One thing you might consider, is your financial situation. Will it be a big deal if you have to pay to keep the dog in a kennel for a weekend? What if you need to pay someone to walk him a couple times a week? I’m really lucky that my financial situation allows me to accommodate my lifestyle and have my pet. Frankly, it sounds like your lifestyle is quite compatible with a doggie.

Also, it’s GREAT of you to consider adopting an adult dog. I’ve done that before too…I got a five-year-old Siberian Husky from the humane society. She was housebroken, fairly obedient, and calmer than a puppy. This is a GREAT idea. Not only that, but it’s very kind because most people want puppies and it’s more difficult for shelters to find homes for full grown dogs. Think of it as giving the dog an option: Your home or the shelter. My sweet husky died and I still miss her, even though I have this big pup!

Some breeds are more “re-trainable” or adjust easily to a new situation. I know from research that it’s pretty easy to take in a Lab after they’ve lived with someone else. I don’t know how Boxers are on that score, but you could do some reading and find out. That way you’d know what kind of risk you were taking regarding handling of a previously mistreated animal. Sometimes those animals are so grateful that someone is nice to them that they’re extra sweet. That’s how my husky was!


Your situation doesn’t sound all the different from mine about 4 years ago. I got my dog when I lived with my, then, boyfriend. When we broke up and I moved away, I got our dog (the only really good thing that came out of that relationship).

As far as your living situation goes, which it appears is what you want us to address, your house sounds about the size of mine and we have two dogs now. Actually, when it was just me and my first dog, I lived in a smallish, one bedroom apartment with her and my cat. No yard at all. This did indeed mean walks to the park before and after work and sometimes, some late night outside visits. Actually, now that we do have a fenced in back yard, I still take the dogs for walks because all of us enjoy it (sounds like you will, too).

But, the one thing you can be assured of in the great mystery of what do dogs do all day while we are out earning some dinero to pay for their kibble…they sleep. Then they stretch, fart and sleep some more. Dogs are lazy beasts if you give them a comfortable futon to rest on (actually, I’m watching one of mine do just that right now).

And I think you are doing the right thing by looking at adopting an adult dog. Puppies really are a lot of work. And you will find that some of these rescued dogs are fantastic and were only given up because they didn’t match their owners new sofa.

I say go for it. And if you do go for it - invest in a Kong and some peanut butter. Those two things together will provide your dog with at least an hour of entertainment each day.

Yeah, the Kong is great! My dog likes his with a couple of bits of freeze dried liver inside. Mmmmm. If you get a youngish dog, you will probably have to deal with the chewing issue. Even with my lab pup, if I give him enough of his OWN fun stuff to chew on, he leaves my furniture alone. Labs are the WORST chewers too.



I read where you said that it was the living situation. I just meant that if you aren’t 100% sure about any aspect…
however, talk to the people at the rescue place. When we got our girl from a rescue, the rescue lady was very helpful.

Rescues typically are VERY strict about where they place dogs.
If they think you have enough room, then you do.

I don’t think the size of the place will matter as long as you take them out enough.

One thing I am concerned about, that I dont think anyone has mentioned, is your cat. How is she with other dogs?

Here’s a catalog I get a lot of stuff from:

they have nice beds at relatively inexpensive prices. (plus you canhave them personalized!)

Honestly, I’m not so much concerned about how much room I have as I am about whether the dog will be happy with how much time I can give it. I want this very much, but I’m trying to be honest with myself about whether this is in the dog’s best interest rather than my own. I don’t want my dog to hang around my house all day and think “Well, this just sucks, now doesn’t it?” :slight_smile:

Bad News Baboon, you reminded me of one of the things I brought up in my OP that kind of got brushed to the side…the cat. I have no idea how she’ll be with another animal. She’s very skittish (as Siamese are prone to be) and she really only likes me. She tolerates my close family that visit frequently (such as my Mom and my brother) and will have nothing to do with strangers, or multitudes of company. Meaning, she’ll be OK if Mom and Bro come over, but in a family gathering situation, even if she knows some of the people, she’ll hide.

I guess I’m hoping that she’ll get used to having the dog around, the same way she’s become accustomed to certain people in my life. I won’t give her up in any case. If the rescue people think that it won’t work out with her, I’d have to choose not getting a dog.

I’m thinking that I might fill out the application for the rescue group and see what they have to say. I hate to feel like I’m wasting their time, though, which is why I decided to bounce this idea off of you guys first. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the doggy goods link. :slight_smile:

It sounds like consulting with the rescue folks is the right next step for you. You’re definitely not wasting their time. That’s what they’re there for. They’ll be able to help you figure out the cat compatibility issue too.

I want to bring up one issue–about biking with your dog. The problem is that most dogs will do whatever it takes to keep up with their owners–including continuing to run far past the point of exhaustion. You should do a lot of careful research before you pursue this.

Oh yes, even with tons of their own stuff, my pit bull baby decided that the couch was more more his speed. Oh, did I mention that this was the brand new couch that we’d had for a week? The one that my husband hadn’t even put his tush on yet?

My dog is so lucky that I believe in the sanctity of life over material objects.

Jadis, I had thought about the cat and had meant to bring it up in my other post.

You might be surprised. My cat isn’t very people-friendly and I’m rather certain she would have nothing to do with a cat if we were to introduce another one into our menagerie ( I didn’t name her Miss Thang for nothing). But, she rather tolerates the dogs - although she does look a bit sheepish when I catch her cuddled up with one of them.

I think sometimes there is more inter-species love possibilites than intra-species.

But you will definitely want to make sure that the doggie will get along with a cat. Most will unless they have a very high prey drive which could be disastrous. The rescue folks will be well aware and will help you with this.

I won’t tell you whether or not you should get a dog- but I’ll offer a few tips if you DO get a dog.

  1. Do NOT get puppy. Puppies are adorable, but they require someone to be around to train and discipline them. If you leave a puppy alone all day in your apartment, it WILL chew things, and pee/poop all over the place. That’s a given. And if you’re not there to train it differently, it may never grow ot of that phase. Before long, you may find yourself wanting to get rid of the destructive little bugger.

  2. Assuming you decide to get an older dog, either at a shelter or elsewhere, talk to the people there about the individual dogs’ personalites. Mot of the peple at the shelters WANT the placements to go well, because those dogsmay end up right back at the shelter if the dog and new owner aren’t well matched, and NOBODY wants that.

My wife and I visie several shelters before picking our dog, and we found that the shelter employees were very willing to tell you what each dog was like. They were quick to warn us, of one particularly adorable border collie, that “if you don’t give THIS do something to do, it’ll FIND something to do… like jump your fence, or dig up your entire yard.”

While different breeds hae some definite characteristics, don’t rely on generalities. Ask about individual dogs. You WILL find an occasional laid-back Irish setter, and you WILL find an occasional hyperactive Newfoundland!

A little red hot sauce on things like electrical wires (and a lot of available water) went a long way toward teaching my black Lab puppy what was safe to chew. Now that my dogs are adults no further training is needed, though about once a year the golden retriever will chew something else–last time it was a box of paper clips on my desk.

I have lost some expensive items, including prescription glasses and furniture, to chewing.

Jadis, ask the rescue people what kind of attention the dog will need. In general, some breeds need more attention than others and, of course, some individual dogs need more attention than others. My golden came from an abusive home, and when I got him I had just started a new job (I couldn’t turn him away, though, because then he would have stayed with the abusive owners.) I was only able to spend a couple of hours a day with him, but in those hours he learned that things were very different in this home, and slowly, he recovered.

It probably took him about a year before he stopped cowering and urinating in fear.

The two cats that I had when I got the dogs hated the dogs at first, but they eventually calmed down to a mild loathing. The dogs, who are quite large, would try to play with the cats. Fortunately the cats had their claws and were able to protect themselves. Jadis, is your cat able to defend herself, and will she have dog-free areas to herself?

I’ve tried Foster and Smith, and I’m much happier with UPCO: http://www.upco.com/ . The prices are very close to wholesale, and the people are wonderful.

I have no advice to offer at all, but there was one issue I was curious about. The dog would have to be alone for 9 hours/day, you said. Would a dog be able to hold it in that long? Would he have access to outside area while you are at work?

I know my family’s dog goes out at 7 then at 5 and he’s okay with that, but he’s a lazy lazy dog.

One more thing- I know of a kennel up the mountain from where you live that is awesome. Getting someone to watch him/her/them while you’re away (even for a day trip) would not be a problem.

Another thing- you can look for a lazy breed. My Shar-pei is so damned lazy you would think he was a cat. All he ever wants to do is sleep, eat, and shit. Throw a ball? Not for this pup. Chase a frizbee? You gotta be kidding. Go for a walk? What for??

Point being, as long as it’s not a high maintainence, high strung dog, you will be OK. I still stand by the suggestion to get two, though.


Most dogs, once past the puppy period, are quite adaptable to their owners’ schedules. Even my 9 mo. beagle is calm enough to sleep for 8 hours at a stretch when I’m at work. We leave him penned in the kitchen with his favorite dog bed and a few chew toys. He’s fine. I work 3 days a week but we have a fairly busy schedule aside from that. So, we’ve adapted our schedule to accomodate him. If we go to soccer practice, we bring the dog and take him on long walks while the girls are practicing. He’s a fixture at all the soccer games. (In fact, he was the mascot for one team last year.) On the days I work we don’t go out to eat; we stay at home. On the weekends, hubby gets up at the crack of dawn and he and Buddy go for a nice long walk in the nature preserve.

My dog lives a better life than most humans on this planet. So don’t feel guilty that you won’t be with him/her during the day. Your love and attention the other times will more than make up for it.

Sounds to me like you’ll be a great dog owner. Good luck!