UCB Parents Advice about Pets

Outside Dog

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2001

I have never had a dog and now my three year old wants one. when we go anywhere and she sees a dog she can spend hours playing with it. I have seen this happen many times and I don't think it is a phase. I have looked at the archives already. I hope I don't sound too stupid with these questions, but here we go:
- since I don't want a dog inside my house but she wants one, is it cruel to want a dog but NOT want it inside the house?
- will you not bond with the dog if it is an outdoor dog?
- are some breeds better for outdoor life than others?
- with two kids under 3, is it better to get a puppy so they can grow up together or an already trained dog to make life easier?
- Is there a book i need to read to learn about caring for dogs?

I honestly know nothing about them. thanks.


Most pet adoption agencies recommend against getting a dog it you're not going to allow it into the home and if you have children under 5 years of age. I agree with them. Deborah
There is, in my opinion, no such thing as an outdoor dog, unless you live on a farm or in the woods, and have a PACK of them. Dogs are pack animals. They crave contact. It's terribly cruel to have a pet you keep in your yard and don't allow in your home. Getting a pet you don't want just because your 3 year old likes them will end in disaster. Dogs are a tremendous amount of work and responsibility. As much as kids, in many ways. But they never grow up. Ayelet
I had a similar impulse (keep dog outside) when my two kids insisted that we get a dog. Now that we've had one for a few months I can see how it makes them sad to be left outside for long periods when the rest of the family is inside the house. Dogs are very social pack animals and your family becomes the pack. I would not recommend getting a dog and keeping it outside. I suspect that bonding with the family would be a problem and it's likely the dog would have various behavior problems like barking and not paying much attention to requests like "come" and "no".

You could think about what it is about dogs that makes you not want one in the house. We got a puppy dog that doesn't shed, hardly ever barks, is small, calm and loves being around kids. It's a breed called cockapoo where one parent is cocker spaniel and the other is poodle. We wash her more than once a month and try to make sure fleas are not a problem.

Training a puppy can be frustrating at times but has it's own rewards and of course increases the bonding. There are methods that minimize accidents like crate training but involve someone being around during the day to let them out on a schedule.

There are a number of goods books available. You might want to discuss concerns and questions with people at a number of pet stores and people you know who have dogs. There are some people at the pet store Animal Farm on San Pablo and Cedar in Berkeley who are very helpful on most doggy subjects.

If you do get a dog I would highly recommend training classes with Sirius puppy training. The classes actually train people how to train their dogs more than directly train the dogs. Staeppan


Yes, it is cruel to get a dog but not let it in the house. Dogs are pack animals, they really want to be with their pack (your family, in this case) and, if you isolate them, they truly feel that deprivation and suffer from it. It is also true that, once the novelty wears off, your child will not bond with an outdoor dog. Bonding and loving a dog, and being loved by the dog in return, requires making the dog a part of your life. With 2 kids under 3, you don't have time for a dog. Either a pre-trained grown up one or, especially, a puppy that you will have to give time and attention to so that he will be trained someday. Getting a puppy will be like taking on another baby. They cry when they don't get attention, you have to clean up their pee and poo (and you can't even use a diaper), you have to feed them, take them for their well-puppy appts and get them their shots, which can be expensive, they destroy your things if you are not right there watching them, or they get hurt in accidents if you are not right there watching them. When the puppy grows up, he will be like having a permanent 2-3 year old child around the house. You will see that his intuition, feelings, and understanding of your family and how he fits in is right around that age. Once you see that, you will not feel good neglecting him (i.e., leaving him outdoors by himself), because you will understand how he wants to be with you, and doesn't understand when you don't care for him in return.

So, it is not a good idea to get a dog because your very young child wants one if you do not want one also. You will be the one who has to do all the work at this point and if you don't want and love the dog, it will not be easy. You could inadvertently end up giving your child a lesson quite different from the loving one you are hoping for and that is a lesson in how you abandon an animal that isn't right for your family because you took him on without appropriate preparation and forethought. Please don't do this. At the very least, wait until both your children are much older and they can truly take on a big share of the care and training of the dog.

There are many good books on dogs, training, raising, and so on. And, when your kids are older and ready to care for a dog, you should definitely read and have them read several of them before getting a puppy that you know nothing about. You will need to start the puppy's training as soon as it gets into your home, so you don't want to bring the puppy home not knowing what is required and then have to wait to start training until you have got and read the book. Laurel


If your daughter is 3 and you know nothing about dogs, it may be best to wait a bit until your daughter is older to introduce a dog into your household. At 3, your daughter won't be able to help you with the dog very much. And dogs need a lot of care. So it will wind up being your dog to care for for several years. Unless you're up to the task, I would recommend you wait it out a little longer. Otherwise, you're just not being fair to the dog.

Sure, you can raise an outdoor dog. That was what my parents did and what many people a generation or so ago did. And it's not cruel. But it doesn't lend itself to helping the dog be a good companion to your little girl and family. You are missing out on quite a lot if you don't allow the dog into the house with you. Whether or not you bond will have to do with how much attention you give that dog and how much of the time you expect the dog to be outdoors. You can have a dog who is outdoors some of the time. I have friends who keep their dogs outdoors when they're not home. There are others who kick their dogs out at night. (Personally, I feel that if your dog is indoors during the day, it's cruel to kick him or her out at night.) You may find, too, that shelters and reputable breeders won't allow you to adopt or buy a dog if you say you are going to keep it outdoors.

When you are ready to get a dog, the most important thing will be to train the dog. Take him or her to obedience class and make sure every member of the family goes to the classes. A trained dog is one that can be inside the house with you. He or she will learn basic commands, such as "sit" and "stay," and, most importantly, the human members of the family will learn how to communicate and care for a dog. You may find that you change your mind about wanting an oudoor dog when you learn how to cope with a dog indoors. And, keep in mind, you can set boundaries indoors. You can declare certain rooms off limits. And you can get a crate, which will give you and your dog time-outs from each other.

The pros to starting with a puppy are that you can train the puppy from Day 1 the way you want to, you can expect a longer life with your growing daughter, and puppies are very cute. The cons are that puppies are a lot of work. They bite with their very sharp milk teeth. They never seem to want to sleep. They need to be trained. They get into a lot of mischief. (We lost about 10 pairs of shoes to one of my dogs when she was a puppy.) With an adult dog, you may have to untrain him or her. Often, the reason adult dogs are at shelters is because no one bothered to train them in the first place. But shelter dogs need a lot of love, and you'll be happy you saved a life. On the other hand, some adult dogs are at shelters because family living situations changed, and some actually have been trained. Good shelters will be able to help you understand the difference. There are a ton of books on dogs at book stores. (Check out Amazon or Barnes and Noble on the Web.) And the breed-specific books and encyclopedias on breeds are great for understanding which dogs are most suited for your family. Herding dogs, for example, need a lot of activity. Yes, some dogs are more suited to outdoors because of their build or coats. And some must have large outdoors for exercise. But, really, it's not the breed as much as the question of how much you want to invite this dog into your family and bond with it that matters. But many of the general books are a lot of crock. You'll find out more by talking to people you know who have dogs. Contact a nearby veterinarian for the number of a trainer, and you'll get much more information. Good luck. Gwynne


I am no expert on dogs, but I grew up with them, have one now and love them. Anyway, my advice, if you don't want a dog yourself DON'T DO IT. You will be responsible for the dog. You will have to train it, walk it, feed it, groom it, take it to the vet and as soon as the initial fun wares off for your kids it will be left outside sad and bored with no one to play with. Dogs are very social creatures and in my opinion don't do well as outside pets. And yes - I think its cruel depending on how much attention and exercise they get. Most of the outdoor dogs I have met are somewhat neurotic (very hyper or not very well socialized with people). All dogs are a lot of work. Puppies are even more work, plus they like to chew and have really sharp little teeth. I personally wouldn't want to have a puppy and a toddler at the same time (and I love dogs). And, as soon as the puppy destroys one of your toddlers favorite toys she wont want it anymore either. On the flip side, with a toddler and a baby the dog is probably going to get a fair a mount of abuse from your kids (tail pulling, being crawled on, ear pulling etc) and therefore if I got an older 'used' dog I would want to know its history with children and somehow assess its tolerance.

Dogs are also wonderful animals and you may find yourself quite attached to one that you get for your kids. If you really think you're up for it I highly recommend talking to someone at the SF SPCA. They have adoption counselors that will try to match an animal with your specific lifestyle/needs. They should also be able to tell you if the animal is good with children.

Another option may be to consider getting a dog that you would be less averse to keeping inside all the time. Perhaps a smaller short haired dog. Elizabeth


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