Dog Help!

Updated on January 13, 2012
N.C. asks from McKinney, TX
19 answers

My kids have been asking for a dog for the last year or so...I have been researching breeds but I wanted to get opinions as to what everyone would recommend. Here are some specifics on is myself and my kids (7 year old daughter and 6 year old son). We leave pretty early in the morning about 7am but are home by 4pm during the week...on the weekends we are generally home unless we have a sporting event to go to.
In the past (pre-divorce) we had a Black Lab and an American Eskimo. My parents and my sister have Maltese's but I am not around them enough to know their temperament. Thanks for the help!!

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answers from Dallas on

DFW sheltie can help you. Shelties are great with kids and if you adopt a dog over a year you won't have all the puppy issues.

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answers from Albuquerque on

I got some flack for a similar question about a month ago... because we also had been talking about getting a dog... and a lot of people seem to think that if you can't be home with your dog, you shouldn't get one!

Anyways, we did, and we are very happy with our decision! We got what we thought was a 2-year-old lab mix, but it turns out he's only 1 (still very much a puppy). I'd suggest getting an older (2yrs +) dog, since you probably won't have much day-to-day time to train, housebreak, etc. I also recommend going to a rescue shelter (city pound, humane society, etc). I think all breeds have pros & cons, and even though we are happy with our dog, a lab is probably a little too high maintenance for us. He really wants to play and gets very bored when he's home alone (outside) all day. If your kids are sincerely planning to spend a lot of time playing (fetch, running, tug-of-war) with him, a lab would be a great dog! Growing up, we also had a hound (very laid-back, never interested in playing), german shephard (very sweet to us, but overprotective), and terrier (lots of fun, and tons of energy).

Rather than looking at specific breeds (because at a shelter you're going to end up with mixed breeds anyways), my requirements would be: low maintenance (doesn't require hours of hairbrushing), non-aggressive, and calm (I can't stand the shaky little chihuahuas). You can ask at the shelter if they have any "favorites" who fit your bill.

Good luck with your decision! I am very much a "cat person," but I'm glad we did finally get a family dog--he's a very good addition to our family!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Providence on

I have to say that I have always been a fan of German shepards, having to very sweet, smart, loving , gentle and fabulous ones throughout my
I've. My current Shepard is 11, and I and 2 daughters, 2.5 and 8 mos. My Shepard is so great with them. That being said, I would reccomend , it's an awesome website to find the perfect dog, no mater where you live, and you would be giving a pet , who needs a home, a place to go. I'm all for mixes as well. Good luck!

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answers from Biloxi on

My first thought is to encourage you to adopt a slightly older dog who is already house trained. Puppies require a lot of training and since you all are gone from the home on weekdays, it will get lonely. The first dog that I adopted was a 5 years old Corgi mix. My son was in 4th grade and we lived in an apartment, so it was important that our new dog be trained and able to stay home alone during the day. We adopted her from our local shelter - so they new her temperament and habits.

We still have her - she is 13 and has since been joined by 3 dachshunds. Oh, we have a house with a yard now. LOL

Anyhoo, I love the Corgi breed - they are medium sized, intelligent and, honestly, they are not barkers. While I love our dachschunds - they are a lot more work and are much more vocal - making my home sound like the local kennel.

Research breeds some more and see what breeds fit best into your families lifestyle.

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answers from Dallas on

I'm a single mom also. You should think about energy level of the dog first. Since you'll be leaving him during the day a lower energy dog would be best. High energy dogs will destroy things out of boredom. You don't say if you have a house or apartment. If you have a house you can install a dog door - a real life saver! If you live in an apartment you'll need to come home sometime during the day to let him out, or arrange for someone else to come by to do it. When my kids were young we had 2 dachshunds. That way they could keep each other company while we were away. It was a great fit for smaller kids, even though both of my kids originally wanted a big dog. We also have a cat and I highly recommend you consider adopting a cat. They require less attention, but still love to play with the kids. Good luck and enjoy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Since you are a previous dog owner, you realize the committment and responsibility involved (I hope). You are talking 12+ yrs with the pet.

We never, ever leave our dogs alone more than 4 hours. I would never crate them all day, even 7-4. They are social animals, they want love and attention. I would seriously think about that time committment before I got a pet. If I were faced with a situation of leaving my dogs alone that long, I would either not get a dog OR, I would continue to have my house/pet sitter come in to walk them, etc. There are some doggie day cares as well..

Think about the vet bills too... The last Cocker we had died at 15 and he cost us close to $10,000 by the time he had a couple of surgeries (1 at $3000) and we nursed him back to health. Most people would have put him down but he was a good dog and we knew the outcome was positive if we did the surgery. He lived 8 yrs after his major surgery.

We love our American Cocker, almost 13 and the worst shedder of all the dogs. Our English Cocker is 7 and she does not shed like the American Cocker. She lives for you to throw her tennis ball... very energetic and loves to play a LOT. The Toy Poodle (5) is great because of no shedding. He and the English Cocker are very close buddies.

All 3 dogs are good with us and our daughter. They are very protective and will bark like crazy if someone comes over, especially a repairman, etc and hubby is not here.

We work from home so our dogs are quite spoiled. The poodle is usually in my lap as I work and the other 2 are on a blanket at my feet. They are good about being "everyone's" pet in the family and not attached to 1 person. The poodle is my shadow all day until daughter (17) gets home and then he stays with her and sleeps with her.

IF we ever get another dog in the future, we would get another Toy Poodle. He is just too darn sweet, great health and a good dog.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I agree with a lot of the posts below. Visit your local shelter or humane society to adopt. There are soooo many wonderful dogs that needs homes. Labs and Golden Retrievers are great family pets but active. Little dogs intimidate me more than big dogs as I think they nip and are more nervous around children. Our Labs are fabulous with our kids but are older (all over the age of 7) I have two kids and three labs and of course am pregnant with number 3 - yikes! I walk the dogs as often as I can to get them their excersice and play with them at the park when the weather is nice. Animals as you know are a committment for the whole family . . . just be sure you all are ready for that committment. It is hard to get the walks in when I am exhausted from a day of working and being with kids in the evening but I do it because that is the committment I made to them :) Good Luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Border Collies are the einsteins of the canine breed. My husband and I have two Border Collies and we will never have anything else. They are very protective of you and the family and are very good with childeren. With these dogs around they will not get into to much mischief as Borders will come get you to let you know something is wrong. Easy to housebreak and their main goal in life is to Please you. Their feelings are easily hurt and if they know you are disappointed in them they will do everything to make it up to you. Border Collies are definitely a family friendly dog. Highly recommend them.

A. Case in Canyon, Texas

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answers from Dallas on

The animal shelter is a great place to start. We adopted a cat w/o even planning to because we saw her and felt that click! It was amazing.

If you want to pursue specific breeds I cannot say enough about Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers. They don't shed, don't affect allergies. They average about 35 pounds (Read: small enough to cuddle if you want, but large enough that you feel like you're walking a real dog). They were specifically bred to be companions, so they don't have any other "job" but to be with you. Mine has been with me since her birth in 2006. She is non-aggressive almost to a fault. When she was attacked by a "bad" dog (he had to eventually be put down after he attacked two little girls), she never so much as growled back. The vet sewed her ear back up and we tried to put her to bed, all drugged up, but she literally dragged her woozy self across the room to snuggle with me. Needless to say, I slept on the floor with her that night.

The downside to Wheatens: They don't shed because their fur more closely resembles human hair. The not-shedding means they must be brushed everyday to get the excess fur out or they will mat. This does not require anything special. We have a dog comb and human hair brush that we set aside for her. After a shower, because she LOVES water, we comb her. Otherwise, we brush her. That's it. The floppy ears do mean you have to thoroughly dry the ears or they are prone to infection. But having had a lab, you're probably already familiar with that.

They are amazing, amazing family dogs. Really.

Our wheaten has NEVER eaten a SINGLE ONE of our children's toys, with the notable exception of when she got an ear infection. She chewed ONE toy to relieve the pain. As soon as I cleaned out the infection, it never happened again. In fact, my babies (both under 3 years old) treat her like another sibling. We had nothing to do with it. The 11 month old plays tug-o-war with her, the 2 year old chases her around the back yard, and she chases right back. It's really painfully cute how much they all like each other.

My hubby describes her as our "lovable stuffed Ewok". Our SCWT loves to travel, sleeps next to (not in!) our bed, doesn't bark except at, of all things, utility trucks, and gives me dirty looks if I don't get to the fussing baby fast enough in her opinion. Her only vice would be "secretly" sleeping on the couch at night. Because she doesn't shed, we don't make a big deal out of it. As long as she hops down before we physically enter the living room, it's a wink, wink kind of arrangement.

Ahem. Yes, look at shelters. But Wheatens are incredible dogs. The biggest problem you'll run into is falling so in love with them you'll never want anyone else. (PS: I met a 12-year old wheaten at one point shortly after ours came home and she was every bit as playful as ours was as a puppy. I just love that they stay so youthful their whole life long.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

Well as far as temperment - my dog is a beagle mix (mixed with what, we don't know!) and he is WONDERFUL with kids and super gentle and patient. And very active, which may be good for your kids since they are older than mine. However - not sure how they would do with being home alone all day - not that any dog does great with that. Can you afford a dog walker a couple times a week? My beagle is so "human like" and knows he is just part of the family.

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answers from Dallas on

7a to 4 p is a long time for a dog to be by himself. When you come home, how much time will you really have to pay attention to the dog before dinnertime, homework, bedtime etc? The reality is many children ask for dogs and when the novelty wars off a few weeks later, you are stuck with all the responsibility. A responsibility for several years. If you have to consider a breed suitable for your family please do your research...definitely not a lab, boxer or other breed that requires plenty of exercise. Perhaps you can consider adopting a cat which doesn't require that much attention.

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answers from Dallas on

Adopt a dog, at least 1 yr old, not a puppy, from a shelter or rescue
Organization. They will know temperament of the dogs
And you and kids can meet them and pick one out
That's right for you. I do not recommend a puppy because it will need to b house trained and will need someone around during the day and would not do good if left alone all day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

We have four dogs, but we also live on 20 acres. We have a Whippet, sweet dog, but expensive and accident prone because Whippets run 30 mph. We've already spent a small fortune on ACL surgery and may be doing it again since she's now holding the other leg up all the time. We have a Dalmation that is 12 years old. She's about as perfect as a dog can be, but many tell me their experiences with Dalmations isn't that great. Sometimes they are hyper. Our two small dogs are mixed breeds--one is half Dachshund and half Boston terrier, the other is half Dachshund and we don't know the other half. Both of these dogs were easy to potty train, very obedient, and have never destroyed anything. They have each other to play with, so leaving them for hours at a time is easier. We have an enclosed kennel for them, too. If you are on a limited income, let me suggest a cat. They are fun, sweet, take care of themselves most of the time, cheaper on vet bills, and leaving them during the day is not a problem. My daughter has 5 cats--Siamese, Himalayan and one "alley" cat she found while visiting me here in TX. It was a tiny kitten. My daughter called the airlines and found out the requisites for taking a live animal on the flight back to NC. Now that cat is the pride of the family, so you don't have to go to expensive breeds to find a good pet for your children.

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answers from Boca Raton on

We love our schnoodle (she's a poodle/schnauzer hybrid). We got her at 8 weeks and she weighed 2 pounds (?). She's 13-14 weeks now and
weighs approximately 5 pounds.

Getting a puppy was a big deal for us. We have had allergies in the family, and had a rough experience with an adult shelter dog a few years ago (not the dog's fault - she was sick and as we got her well she got very aggressive and mean. She seemed to have been abused. That was a fluke I think).

Anyway, we researched and looked and talked about it for a long time. We really wanted to know alot about her parents and her breeder. We wanted as hypoallergenic a dog as possible (though none are truly hypoallergenic).

She is active in spurts through the day, then conks out (just like a baby). We homeschool and work from home so we are all here all day. It has been a blessing to really get to know her and her rhythms. I would be nervous if I couldn't be here with her, especially for the first couple of weeks.

The other great thing about her is she's small, so the messes are small. Small pees and poops. The downside to a small dog is you have to be careful to not trip over him/her. Our puppy has gotten really good at staying out from underfoot.

I had many animals growing up, and our schnoodle is the best puppy I've ever seen (my parents - avid dog owners - agree). All that being said, it's still ALOT of work. Who will get up with the puppy at 6 or 7am on Saturday and Sunday mornings? Who will do the morning routine before work and school? At first we had to get up in the middle of the night too (they can't hold it all night when they're really little). Will somebody be able to take the puppy on at least 1 (and preferably 2) pack walks per day? What about when it rains or is very cold outside? Puppy still has to go out if he/she is to be trained properly. Is mom ready and willing to take over when the kids lose interest or have other things going on? Are kids in after-school sports or activities which require long amounts of time outside the house in the evenings or weekends?

This is something that I would think through very carefully. I would also CAREFULLY research breed and energy levels to try to get a good match for my family. I love this web site:

Good luck with whatever you decide!



answers from Dallas on

I would suggest getting a cat. 9 hours alone is just too long. Sorry



answers from Dallas on

We have a small dog that is a bishon frise. She is a wonderful little dog and has been really good to our little girls. They adore her and she has never growled or snapped at my kids. My youngest daughter carries her around like a baby and is always holding her. They are wonderful dogs and are not hard to train at all. Ours sleeps with me. I would never have let a dog do that before her. She is more like my child than anything.

Good luck in your adventure.


answers from Minneapolis on

If you dont mind mutts, get a mutt. They are usually the better dog. Think of your activity level. The ability of your kids to handle a dog, and what size you think is better. Labs and Eskimos are really polar opposites as far as personality, size, and care. So you I think you have an idea of what you can handle. Think about how much you want to groom it, every breed has its GOOD ambassadors and its bad ones. Not any ONE breed is best for kids or families. Some breeds are more oriented towards families, but it really lies in the way you raise them. Training, consistency, and love make a great pet. We save a puppy off the road in August. Really didnt have a clue on what breed it was, but it was a friendly, happy puppy. After we did one of those mail in DNA tests (we know they are not the most accurate, but give an idea of what the dog might be) It said 50% Great Dane, 10% Siberian Husky, 10% Australian Shepherd and 40% Mastiff orign, meaning can be any bully breed but the test could not pinpoint which one cause the marker was not in their registry. They have Pittbull, American Bulldog, OEB, Boxers, Staffordshires, and the normal ones, but this type was not able to be identified. So had I had a choice on this dog at lets say a shelter or add. I would NOT have bought her. I dont like most of those breeds. She is HUGE, she is STRONG, she is a pest, but my kid LOVE her. She is gentle, kind, sweet, loyal, and not that hyper. Just a little destructive and a little BIG. 70 lbs at 7 months and as tall as my 4 year old.

@ Lesley I had and raised show Cardigan Welsh Corgi's as a kid and a teen. My family had them all the time. My last pair about 5 years ago were SUPER awesome, but they are very high maintenance. Hair, training, and they are herders, they love to nip at heels.



answers from Dallas on

N., I would probably, as some other posters, recommend a kitten/cat. They are very low maintenance and are tons of fun to play with or just sit and watch. IF you DO decide on a cat, make it an indoor only pet and save yourself and your children the heartache of it disappearing or - worse - getting hit by a car or killed by dogs running loose. I was never much of a cat person - always wanted a dog - a BIG dog - but after begging for years, my mom got me a dachshund for my 14th bd. I loved her, but still wanted a BIG dog - collie or Shepherd or Great Dane - so it didn't keep me out of the alley - collecting neighbors' dogs of all sizes and shapes and taking them to the school playground around the block and spending hours throwing balls, tugging on ropes, brushing, petting, napping. I'd spend the whole day there and return them on my way home. I even had some of the folks who would give me a key to their house - or leave the door open - so I could collect their pet (this was back in the late 50's and early 60's when the world was a much better place!) I had a MDO for animals before it was popular.

The first thing I did when I grew up, had kids and a house and yard was get a collie - my Lassie dog. We ended up showing her and she was very, VERY HIGH maintenance - brushing every day. I also rescued a little mutt and an Irish Setter and a Standard Poodle. They were ALL my favorites. The setter and poodle were by far the smartest and most well behaved of all. I finally got my beloved Great Dane. She was very laid back. She loved to run and play, but would just as soon curl up in your lap - yep - IN your lap - 150 pounds. My grandchildren learned to walk leaning on her or holding on to her tail, collar - whatever they could grab. Naptimes were spent with ALL of them (dog included) in the middle of my king size bed. We just lost her a few years ago - she lived to be 12 1/2 .... about 6 years long than normal.

During this Great Dane stage, we started getting cats dumped (moved to the country) and she would bring them up us and bark. So, she developed her own feral cat colony....we also rescued a pit-bull mix - absolutely the BEST dog I've EVER had. When KC died, Little Bit took over with the kitties.

I have developed a love and appreciation for cats that I never had before. I have learned that they DO really have personalities and make wonderful pets. They will bond with the dogs months before ever allowing me to touch them. So now, I have 16 'feral' cats outside, and a couple in the house. They are all spayed/neutered. I keep telling them to STOP bringing their friends for dinner!

Sorry - too long - but just wanted to impress on you the importance of a commitment. If it is a pet that lives a long time - cats and smaller dogs - you will most likely be the care-giver when your kids grow up and go to college. So you want to get something that you will be comfortable with in the long run. I actually found that cats are much better at matching your mood - if you want to take a nap, they'll nap; if you want to play, they'll play. They can be self-contained simply with a littler box and NOW they have electric boxes that do the sifting and bagging - all you have to do is dispose of the bag.....I don't have one of those because I really don't mind scooping. ONE thing I DO like - if I want to go on a trip for a long w/e or even a week, the cats are MUCH easier to deal with - leave food/water down and a couple of litter boxes and they'll be fine. I always leave the TV or radio on for mine and put timers on the lamps. I get a neighbor kid to come over and feed the outside colony a couple times a day and spend some time crate training them with treats. (I keep them trained to crates in case I need to take them to the vet - it's much less traumatic than a trap).

I concur with some of the posters - check out a rescue - there are dogs and cats available in abundance. DON'T buy a pet from a breeder or pet store and PLEASE DON'T take a 'free-to-good-home' puppy or kitten from a WalMart parking lot, side-of-the-road van or yard sign on your way home. These animals are usually totally un-vetted and you don't know anything about their personality. They could have distemper or parvo which, most of the time, is fatal. PetsMart and Petco have cats for adoption and partner with local animal control/rescue groups to find homes for dogs and cats and puppies and kittens. They will be checked by a vet and most likely have their immunizations and be free from disease.

You might want to stay away from 'active' or working breeds - they will get destructive if they don't get enough activity/attention - THEN everyone is unhappy!

I DO agree if you get a dog, you might want to think about an adult since you're gone from home so long - unless you have easy access to a couple visits per day or someone who will do that for you.

Even if you are able to accommodate a puppy, you will need to spend quality time with it when you're home. If all you'll be able to do is feed it, (after the kids get tired of the responsibility), don't get one .... again, a cat might be a better choice.

Good luck in your search! I commend you for getting getting your kids a pet. After begging for so many years, I know what it's like to ache for a furry friend! If you do not plan on keeping the dog indoors, please don't get one. As you know, a pet should be part of the family, not something to entertain kids in the back yard for an hour or so a day!

Please keep us posted.



answers from Columbus on

I also suggest adopting a dog. Pick out the breeds you like, and go and look for them. They have actually done studies that show that a mutt will basically act like what it looks like--so if it's a Lab cross and looks "labby" it will most likely have more characteristics of a Lab. Also, try to go with a shelter that does temperament testing, and don't get in a hurry. You want a really good fit, not just a "we'd better adopt it or it will get euthanized" choice.

You can also try rescues for a specific breed--a friend of mine loves Great Danes and adopted one from a Dane rescue group.

I would also like to strongly encourage you to adult an older dog (at least 6 months to 1 year old), due to your time constraints. Having a puppy crated from 7am to 4pm is too long for a puppy to physically be able to hold it. If you are set on a puppy, be prepared to go home on your lunch break and/or hire a dog walker.

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