Dog Ownership 101
February 9, 2013 5:56 PM   Subscribe

What's it like to be a first-time dog owner?

I've wanted a dog on and off for several years now, and it seems like I'm finally in a situation that will allow for it. I have my own apartment which is pretty well situated for dog ownership (small, but there's no reason a smallish dog couldn't hang). There's a yard for supervised pup hangouts. I'm in the habit of going on runs and long walks daily, so it wouldn't be too hard to fold a dog into that routine. It's also looking like the era of insane work hours away from home might be ending for me, at least temporarily, and that if I go back to a crazy 60+ hour work week, I'd be able to afford a walker.

I have a few concerns, though. Mainly that I've never had a dog before. Not even as a kid growing up. I've been around dogs as an adult, walked dogs, pet-sat for dogs, played with dogs. I'm sure I definitely want a dog. But I don't have any experience caring for one full time. Another concern is my neighborhood. A lot of people in my area let their pets wander the streets freely (I wouldn't, obviously). Most of these animals seem docile enough, but the last thing I want is my dog getting into fights on walks. There are a couple of dogs on my block who are able to get into my yard, and we also have a feral cat population.

Additionally, I notice that dogs here in LA aren't as well trained as the dogs I knew back in New York (lots of barking in my neighborhood, lots of dogs growling behind fences). I've never trained a dog before. Is this something I can do?

So OK. Let's say I get a dog. A low-maintenance dog that doesn't need a ton of exercise would be ideal. Probably on the small side. I will need to leave the dog in my (tiny) apartment for several hours a day.

I'm thinking that I'd adopt an adult dog from a local shelter. I don't care much about breed as long as the dog I end up with fits my lifestyle.

What's my game plan, here? How do I get ready for a dog? How do I find the right dog for me? What's the right timeframe for getting a first dog? Is there any non-obvious research I need to do or books I need to read right out of the gate?

If any Southern California folks are reading this, are some shelters better than others? Anything else I should know as a potential LA dog owner?
posted by Sara C. to Pets & Animals (54 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
This book, The Good, the Bad, and the Furry, is good for helping you figure out what dog suits your life and personality. It has descriptions of each breed and icons that represent level of activity, amount of space needed, temperament, etc. I understand this would be a little more difficult with a shelter dog of indeterminate breed, but often the shelter workers have some idea of the mixture, and you will probably be able to make some educated guesses based on the pics in the book.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:13 PM on February 9, 2013

Best answer: The Devore Animal Shelter in San Bernadino is notoriously high-kill, and their animals are less likely to show up on websites like This is definitely a location to consider if you'd like to rescue an animal friend from a bad situation.
posted by illenion at 6:28 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

One of my favorite dog books was always Superpuppy. I also like The Monks of New Skete.

You're going to love having a dog and it sounds like you're thinking of all the right things. Good luck and happy best-friend-hunting!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:37 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't take any one book too much to heart -- it's probably better to read several that take different approaches. Every dog has its own quirks, and what works for one may not work at all for another!

The plan to get an adult dog is a great idea -- puppies are cute but they're absolute terrors. The dog probably won't show its full personality right away. Mine was a sad little thing that didn't want to do anything but sit in my lap for the first six weeks, but became much more boisterous and independent after that. Your dog may exhibit some bad behavior at first as it tries to figure out what the rules are in its new home. It helps a lot if you're consistent about mealtime and bedtime and all that stuff so it can learn what to expect.

Ask around among the dog owners you know to get vet recommendations. Some vets are great; others want to do an MRI before a toenail trim. It's a good idea to take the dog to the vet when you first get it, so the vet can check that the animal is healthy. The vet should also be able to tell you about the sort of problems that are particular to the breed of dog you end up with. (For example, my dog is a sort that's prone to tracheal collapse, so should always be walked with a harness rather than a leash attached to the collar.)
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:58 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

A few months ago, I got my first dog. Her name is Josie and she is a miniature dachshund. Here is a photo album of my sweet Josie. I just wanted to get that out of the way before I go into the meat of my answer.

Here is how it happened for me: I, like you, realized that I was at the right place in my life for a dog. I had moved into a one-bedroom apartment in a complex that accepted pets and I was excited about bringing someone along on my daily runs. I also had the right mix of funds and of work hours to pull off responsible ownership. I started doing breed research. The research stage lasted about three months. There was a outbreak of distemper at my local shelter, so I called the veterinarian that my parents use for their cat and asked if anyone at the office would know where I could find a puppy. I provided the vet's office with the short list of breeds I was interested in, and I lucked out. One of the vet techs happened to have a litter of brand new miniature dachshund puppies at her home. I visited the vet techs home that very day, met the litter, met the dam, and placed a deposit on a puppy that was right for me. The pup was too young to go home with me that day, so I had a month to puppy proof my house and buy supplies. I went to the pet store and purchased a crate, puppy food, a huge variety of toys, bedding, a travel carrier, a baby gate, etc, etc. This cost quite a bit of money. In total, it was all probably around ~$250. Money well spent, though. I would argue that all of these things are needed supplies.

When my pup was eight weeks old, I brought her home to my apartment. We began house training, crate training, and bite inhibition training right away. I have had Josie for almost two months now and this training is still going on today. There were some things I definitely hadn't thought of and wasn't prepared for. Puppies need constant supervision. I knew that on an intellectual level going in to dog ownership, but actually living it was a different story. It was a lot like having a new baby in the house. I had to take her out hourly, which meant that the first few nights were sleepless. She cried when she was alone and the only thing that seemed to soothe her was holding her close to me for hours and hours. She had terrible separation anxiety, but she also loved to bite. I worried about her eating and drinking enough. The first few weeks, I worried miserably that I had made some sort of horrible mistake, but it got a lot better as the weeks went by and we became acclimated to each other. She is the joy of my life now and I am so glad she is here. I can't say enough good things about adult dog ownership, but it is a lot of work. The most important advice I can give is to buy a crate and confine your dog, so that it can't get into any trouble when you aren't around to supervise. Giving your dog full run of the house in your absence is a terrible mistake. Trust me.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:07 PM on February 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: The thing I was completely unprepared for when I got my first dog-I-was-in-charge-of (as opposed to dogs my parents got when I was a kid) was how needy and dependent my dog was, especially at first. She was an adult rescue who'd had a hard life; she would whimper if she couldn't see me and followed me everywhere. I had a minor freakout in the first week or so, convinced I would never go to the bathroom alone again. She's chilled out a lot since then (it's been 5 years). We're very attached, she likes my family members but is very much My Dog, but it's now possible to leave her with other people or at boarding. Still, all the intellectual awareness in the world about this being a lifelong commitment, etc., prepared me for how much mindspace it took up, especially at first. I adore my puppy and would absolutely do it all over again, but the adjustment period was a little difficult.
Some dogs are smart; some dogs are obedient. There are some who are both, but it's frequently a bit of a trade-off. My dog is smart; she can learn anything I care to teach her, and she wants my approval so she'll usually do it. But she's also smart enough to figure out ways around me, to know who she can push how far (my dad? she can get away with anything), and to think she gets to decide when she cooperates with me and when she doesn't. She keeps me on my toes. A dog breeder/trainer of my acquaintance says most people who say they want smart dogs really want obedient dogs. It may take a little longer to train them, but once they've learned it they'll do it without question.
posted by katemonster at 7:10 PM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

I can't say enough good things about adult dog ownership, but it is a lot of work.

SkylitDrawl speaks truth! There will be times when you have to wake up every night at 2AM for a month because your dog needs its special @#$% eyedrops, or something similar, and all you want to do is throw the eyedrops out the window and the dog right after them. But you also get to have a devoted little friend who's SO! GLAD! TO! SEE! YOU! AGAIN! when you get back from a 45 second trip to take the garbage out.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:15 PM on February 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Thank you for being so mindful about the process. I truly wish more folks were.

Find a shelter that will let you test-drive a dog. It's okay. Frankly, it's preferential. More so if they have a fenced in outdoor area that will let you interact with them.

Good shelters will have experienced volunteers or staff that will help you through this. They may not know every individual dog, but they can help test for food aggression, other dog/small animal issues, etc.

Don't feel guilty for turning the first two or three or whatever dogs down if it doesn't take. The most important thing is that you find the right dog for you. And no, you can't save them all. That's okay.

If the shelter you adopt from has an agreement with a national vet chain that will check them out free (many/most do) take advantage of it. At the very least, get them checked (again) for heartworms and have a fecal float run.

Also, please don't assume small dog = low maintenance. There are plenty of small dogs that need a lot of exercise (and socialization). Anything terrier based or chihuahua based will fall into this category.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:21 PM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Have you ever had a cat? It’s nothing like that. More like having a kid. Cats are like asshole roommates. Dogs are dependents. We’re always thinking of what the dogs need, what time is it, how long we’ve been away from the house, etc.

The plan to get an adult dog is a great idea -- puppies are cute but they're absolute terrors.

And a puppy is like having a baby (in my imagination), a lot of work and a long term commitment. Much more work than an adult dog. In the last few years we’ve gotten a couple old dogs from the shelter. They are the first to be put down there since they’re unlikely to get a home.

The advantages of an old dog; they’re usually much calmer, less demanding, grateful, not as long a commitment, you get to give an old dog a good home in their last years/days (something they may never have had).

The disadvantages; they may get sick, it may cost money and they’re not going to live as long if you get attached. We’ve found that it’s worth the heartache.
posted by bongo_x at 7:22 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, please don't assume small dog = low maintenance.

I usually find the opposite to be true.
posted by bongo_x at 7:24 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If any Southern California folks are reading this, are some shelters better than others? Anything else I should know as a potential LA dog owner?

Apologies in advance for not reading the other posts. I was in a similar situation not too long ago. Basically, if you're going to get a puppy, be prepared for pooping and pee-pee accidents and crate training. The puppy stage is a very real thing. A friend of mine had a golden retriever and I have to say it took a goddamn year or two for that thing to calm down. Smaller dogs, in my humble opinion, do not act as crazy. A big ass golden retriever running around like an idiot and biting everyone in sight (even playfully) is a royal pain in the ass.

Older dogs would seem like the way to go, but then again, if they're stuck in their ways, they are a lot harder to train. For example, if they are bad with other dogs, good luck fixing that. Or if they are a little "meh" about responding to commands. Or if they have been abused in the past and constantly need affection, need to be picked up, disregard treats and are therefore "untrainable." If you are committed, eventually you'll realize dogs do this shit because they're afraid, and underneath the fear they are highly trainable and affectionate.

If you're in the LA area I've heard Urban Pet has great training classes on the weekend. As far as shelters go, I've heard bad things about the Hollywood shelter, but I personally went to the one in Burbank and it was great. Their website is here. There's also Downtown Dog Rescue plus you can find a really comprehensive list of animals available for adoption in LA via
posted by phaedon at 7:33 PM on February 9, 2013

I was going to chime in here too about an older dog. We tried to adopt from a shelter or two but found their background checks to be more than we were willing to go through (the ones here wanted to call our employers and three non-related references that lived in the area...i can understand their caution but at the time we had just moved here and didn't actually have three local references...) but i digress. we ended up buying a retired show dog, from a breeder who owned lots of dogs and likes her older dogs to have some one-on-one focused TLC in their later life, which she can't provide. this alleviated a lot of the worries we were having about taking a new puppy and training it right. she gets tons of attention and we actually work from home a fair amount, but being a little older, she tends to need her downtime alone, more so than a puppy would, so we don't feel like we are neglecting her when we are off to work. [she has a crate, so she goes in the crate when she wants to be alone.] since she was a show dog, she is very tolerant and non-responsive to other dogs (or maybe this is what qualified her to be in shows??? i don't know how all that goes). if you're interested in going this route, you could contact the same breeders you would about puppies, but ask them if they ever let any of their older dogs go. i would second the comment above that it is likely to take a while before the dog is 'bonded' with you...we thought our dog was just super shy until this bonding happened, and then we realized that her shyness had been cautiousness. And now, we are all supremely happy and soooo satisfied that we weren't tempted by the puppy cuteness. Good luck, it sounds like you are asking all the right questions and you will be a great dog owner.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:36 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

One other thing to plan for: if you travel a lot, or even just a few times a year, you need to plan and budget for the dog. Either the dog is trained to travel well with you (and that takes a lot of attention and limits destinations, or you need to book a dogwalker/feeder/sitter or dog boarding while you're away. And that can be expensive. I routinely find that pet care for my travel costs 50% of the price of my (admittedly budget travel) trips. So it changes my ability to just up and go places on a weekend whim.

The other expense thing to think about is veterinary care. It's not much when the pet is healthy, a few hundred a year probably, but if there are any accidents or health conditions that become serious, a dog's vet bill can skyrocket into the thousands before you realize it. It's just something to think about: animals, especially the higher-maintenance ones, are more of a financial commitment than people often realize, if you give them appropriate levels of care.
posted by Miko at 7:38 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you are concerned about dog training, I highly recommend going to dog training classes. They are a great way to get to know your dog, and for your dog to get to know you, and they will help give you the confidence to know you can handle and train your dog yourself. They are also great for rescue dogs as a lot of them have had their confidence knocked out of them and it really helps them build up their confidence. Also obedience and agility classes are great fun.

I would also suggest avoiding super small dogs if you are wanting a running partner as they get tired very easily, we had 2 17 pound terriers in an almost 800sqft appartment with no worries. Also some medium dogs hhave quieter temperaments for being left alone so don't worry too much about size and go for a personality match.

Remember that when you first get a new dog it will take you both some time to relax around each other. A rescue dog has been through a lot of changes and so might be a little shut down, love and patience is usually enough to see the dog relax in a week or so. It will also take you a few months or so to relax into being depended upon. It may seem overwhelming at first, but stick with it, once you get a routine going that suits you both it will be a lot easier.

Most important tip I can think of, do not be afraid to ask for help once you have the dog. Contact the shelter/rescue you got it from, your vets, trainers anyone. There is so much that can be done to help people and dogs if they have problems settling in together, usually it just takes a small change or 2, so on the off chance things don't go smoothly.

Oh and start out with your dog how you intend to go on, if you let the dog sleep on the bed the first night, that's where it will sleep from then on, my dogs do and I don't mind, but if it's something that bothers you be firm the first night or 2. Also remember to set boundaries in all areas or you will never pee alone again, or eat a piece of food without 2 soul full eyes staring at you as if you've never fed them. Again this doesn't bother me, but if you aren't used to how a dog tends to follow you around it can get disconcerting.
posted by wwax at 8:00 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Re travel: I'm a travel junkie, and this is another reason it took so long to make up my mind to get a dog. That said, aside from one big trip I may decide to schedule before getting a dog, my international travel days are on hold for a little while. I travel once or twice a year to visit family, but it's possible that I could bring a small dog with me on those trips.

Re puppy vs. adult: Pretty much 100% adopting an adult dog. While I'm probably not going to be working outrageous hours anymore, that means cutting down from 60 hour weeks to 40 hour weeks and possibly some telecommuting. I do not have time for a puppy, period. If adopting an adult dog isn't in the cards, I probably just won't get a dog.

Re size of dog: I'm not married to a small dog, but I have a very small apartment (well under 500 sf) and an unfenced yard, and I'm a pretty small person. I don't think there's room for a big Lab-sized crate in my apartment. I wouldn't be able to restrain a 70lb dog if it tried to get away from me. I also have a small car. I live a pretty small lifestyle.

Re exercise and small dogs: Is that just walks? Or do they need to be run, or worked with in specific ways? My step mother has two chihuahuas and they're pretty much indoors alone all day except for a few bathroom breaks and some playtime each day. They spend a lot of the day crated. I don't think she has an optimal setup, but they seem to be doing OK.
posted by Sara C. at 8:06 PM on February 9, 2013

Absolutely seconding Bongo_x about small dogs. People think small living space = small dog. No! Small dogs are frenetic. Big dogs are placid. Yes, they will park themselves underfoot, but it's better than having to keep your wastebaskets up on the counter.
posted by bricoleur at 8:26 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think a Lab is not a good idea, not just for the size but for the fact that they need constant stimulation, which you might not have time for.

I think a poodle mix or rescue might be good for you. Poodles are smart (though sometimes neurotic) but are more low energy than Lab/Retriever/etc. They also don't shed too much.

If you want an adult dog, what I would do is think about dogs you know and like and what their temperament is, and then go to the shelter or rescue and look for that. Dogs are different when they get home, sure, but I think you can tell a lot from a first impression.
posted by sweetkid at 8:34 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have 2 small dogs, and we do daily walks, and at least 20-30 min of hard play. Plus whatever exercise they get chasing the cats around.

Older dogs will have less energy - my 7 yr old Chihuahua mix is pretty mellow now , my 2 yr old terrier mix gets the crazies about 3x a day.
posted by Fig at 8:39 PM on February 9, 2013

Best answer: We were the third or fourth owners for our older dog. The previous owners all died. The poor thing shook for 2 solid years. We thought that was his nature. Nope. He just had no idea what to expect - he was frightened. After two years, he forgot his past lives, settled in and became our dog.

When you pick your dog, be sure to take him to the vet. Our dog came with rotten teeth. That was an expensive, but valuable, fix. An animal that hurts (and shelter animals often do hurt, for various reasons) is not a happy animal.

We didn't know anything about taking care of dogs. No idea how often he'd want to go out. In the beginning, when he was nervous, we had to walk him 8 times a day. Now, it's down to 3 - 4 times, max. He didn't like the food we fed him. We fiddled around with it. We discovered he prefers dry food over canned. He likes crushed treats mixed in with his food.

A lot of the things we thought were him being particular or strange were nerves more than anything. He had no idea what to expect from us, anymore than we knew what to expect from him. He'd obviously been beaten or smacked at some point in his past. He's deathly afraid of newspaper.

Our dog is not crated. He can be left alone for 6 -7 hours a day, if need be. He does not have accidents. His walks can be anything from a trip out the front door for 5 minutes to a 3-mile walk. He doesn't "need" much, but he likes a good walk from time to time. He doesn't need to run at all. He's a small dog. He likes to sleep with us, sit with us, eat with us, and be with us as much as possible.

Apart from his teeth, we've had 2 incidents where our dog's intestines became blocked for no obvious reason. Each one of these episodes cost us $1,400.

So, when you find a dog that you can love, pay attention to him/her. The dog will let you know if things aren't right. An older dog will generally let you know when it wants to go out. Give the dog time to get to know you, as well as giving yourself time to get to know it.

We love our dog. He's been a challenge at times, but I have never regretted giving him a good home. BTW, he was around 8 when we got him, and we've had him for 6 years. He's slowing down more and more, but he seems very healthy, very happy, and very well-adjusted. I can recommend getting a dog in that age range.
posted by clarkstonian at 8:43 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I am in the LA area and I highly recommend the Best Friends shelter in Mission Hills.

They will help you find a good match for you. They have an adoption coordinator that can help you make a Love Connection! If things really really really don't work out, then you have the option of returning the pup there. They are a no-kill shelter. You could also try by starting as a foster and seeing how that works out for you.

I personally chose to adopt older dogs because I felt like it might be easier for me. I didn't want to deal with a puppy's higher level of energy and the whole teething period. I started with one but it was lonely when I was out at work, so I got a second and they keep each other company when I'm gone.

The first month will be very tiring, but hang in there and you'll soon adjust.

Some things I learned the hard way:
-If your dog eats or if you see it drinking a whole bunch, it is going to need to go potty within 20 minutes. Even if you walk it right before, still a good idea to walk it not too long after it eats. My dogs also needs to go potty right after a bath. Vacuuming also makes potty happen.

-If you just adopted a dog, it is not a good idea to hover over its face while it is sleeping or give it surprise kisses while it is sleeping. It doesn't matter how cuuuuuuuute your new friends is, resist the urge to sneak up on it while it is fast asleep. I scared the bejeezus out of one of my dogs this way when I first got him and got snapped at. Now that he knows me well, this is not a problem. I guess I wouldn't like it either if I was a dog, opening my eyes to see a big face hovering over me.

-Get your dog microchipped right away. At Best Friends, they do it for you as part of the adoption.

-I have an 8 lb dog and a 20 lb dog. They get 3-4 walks a day and also some time in my fenced yard. This was the biggest adjustment for me. You know those mornings when you're running late and trying to get out the door? You still have to walk your dog and there's some doggy rule of physics that makes them take 3X longer to poop when you're late for work. Building in a 20 minute walk in the morning, afternoon (I work from home) and evening was a big adjustment for me.

-For travel or being away, there's always the option of doggy day care or getting a house sitter. It is expensive though. If you can, find a friend with a friendly pup that can watch your dog in return for the same service when they need to go out of town. When I went away on my honeymoon, we did doggy daycare for 9 days for 2 dogs. One dog needed medication and both needed walks (won't poop unless walked). If I remember correctly, this came out to about $1000.

My little senior dog actually needs more exercise than the bigger one. We play fetch in the yard. Aside from pottying, they need walks or play for mental stimulation, or else you may get a more barky dog or one that nibbles what it shouldn't. A senior dog may be a good fit, but my 8 year old dog is more active than my 2 year old dog, so it really depends on the dog.

Until you are able to trust the dog, you can use a baby gate to keep it in a dog proofed part of your house. We did crate training and then graduated to the baby gate until we were sure they could be trusted in the whole house.

Sometimes, you have to compromise with your dog. One dog thinks the bathmat is a potty pad. No amount of training has convinced her it is not. Now, we keep the door to that bathroom closed or put the mat up on the towel bar. I highly advise against using a potty pad with your dog. It teaches them it is ok to potty indoors and puts beloved bathmats at risk.
posted by dottiechang at 8:55 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Josie is a small dog and we do two thirty minute walks, and lots and lots of hard play.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 9:00 PM on February 9, 2013

Best answer: You may want to invest in pet insurance. If there is a big vet bill somewhere in the future, this will help. Shop around online and figure out what is and isn't covered.

As far as travel goes - we travel with our dogs, and while we love taking them with us, it does affect how we go about things. If it's just you and the pooch, you aren't going to eat at any sit down restaurants unless they have a dog friendly patio. Drive thrus will become your friend. Also, you have to find pet friendly lodging. Doable, but you have to research first.

As for breeds, one to look into would be greyhounds. There are plenty in rescue, and while they're racing dogs, they're also lazy ol' lumps. That may or may not be a good fit for you, but it wouldn't hurt to look into it. I would, however, avoid a herding breed such as a cattle dog or Aussie shepherd. They get bored pretty easily and do better with a lot of attention.

One of the most important things for a dog is routine. Feeding is at this time, potty breaks are at this time, etc. This helps tremendously with potty training and daily life for the pooch.

Dogs really become family members. The way I see it is that cats are companions, but dogs are buddies. Good luck finding the right bundle of wags!
posted by azpenguin at 9:02 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Adult rescues are the best. My little guy is incredibly chill. Adopting him is pretty much the best decision I've ever made.

I strongly recommend Animal Advocates Alliance. They've done amazing work saving dogs from county shelters, they allow you to foster the dogs, and they're having an event tomorrow at Pan Pacific Park, near The Grove. (I don't think you should adopt tomorrow, but I think it's good to drop by a couple of adoption events to get a feel for what kind of dog would make the best companion for you.)

If you need a vet on the east side, Village Vet is a great option.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:38 PM on February 9, 2013

(Sorry if I'm repeating previous answers, I don't have time to read the whole thread.)

Yay for you for planning to adopt from a shelter!

But please know that there IS no such thing as "A low-maintenance dog". The dog you THOUGHT was low-maintenance may one day be barfing and peeing and pooping all over your apartment, and you may be cleaning up dog bodily fluids at 3 AM, or just before a guest arrives, or at another inconvenient time. The dog who was well-behaved may suddenly run away. The dog who was healthy may suddenly run up huge vet bills. Be sure you are prepared for these eventualities before you adopt. If any of the scenarios I've listed above make you question whether you would be able to handle them and still love and support your pet, don't get a dog! Just spend some time with other people's dogs to get your dog fix.

Evil nasty aggressive dogs are a HUGE problem. I live in a relatively safe neighborhood, with a low crime rate and otherwise responsible people who go to work and pay their mortgages, but goddamn are there are a lot of loose dogs all over the place. I have a very sweet and submissive, yet non-small dog, and she or we have been attacked twice really seriously in the two+ years I have had her. I carry pepper spray with me, but when I tried to deploy it during the second serious attack (which happened just a few weeks ago) it did not deploy. So, buy some sort of self-defense weapon and *make sure it works* before you have to use it! In my case, the spray was old, I had never used it, and the little tab thing that needed to be over the little space thing just wasn't (poor design! my bad for not catching it!). Know that the police will not care at all if your dog is attacked unless the dog also attacked a human. The last attack we experienced was an awful little pit bull who went straight for my dog's neck with no interest in me whatsoever (I am guessing it was trained as a dogfighter). It was late at night, the police didn't care that this dog was still roaming around, and the humane society didn't open for many hours.

A lot of dogs get bored with nothing to do all day while you're at work. Even if you're not working those 60+ hours, your dog may still be bored. You might still want to get a walker or someone to stop by during the day to let the dog potty. I work part-time and my dog is still bored much of the time. I also think it's harder to entertain a dog in a single-person household. Take your dog with you whenever you can--even a trip to the store that you think is boring and short is a good opportunity to let your dog sniff some breezes. Provide toys if your dog is oriented towards them.

I'm sure there's tons more but this is what I can think of at the moment...
posted by parrot_person at 11:41 PM on February 9, 2013

Second the Devore animal shelter. I know of several amazing dogs that have come out of there. The turn-around time there is three days.

I've priced dog walkers in LA, and they're pretty expensive.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:15 AM on February 10, 2013

Best answer: First: get pet insurance. Just get it.

Next: I think it's really important to understand that dogs are individuals; they are not a compilation of breed traits. We adopted a badly abused rescue Boxer, and on paper this was a terrible idea: she's 45lbs, we have a 500 sqft house, and we do not have a back yard.

In reality, it's been a great match. She's very docile. She's very compliant. She is terribly lazy and has zero prey drive; we walk her off-leash every day. She does not need a lot of exercise; she gets let out to pee 4x a day and gets one romp around the local park each night. We try to take her out for a longer excursion once every weekend. She is not crate trained because we don't have room in our home for a crate and it was not necessary to house training her. When we first got her and were potty training, I tethered her to me instead. If I had to briefly leave the house without her I'd babygate her in the lino-floored kitchen and it worked well.

FWIW, our dog arrived totally un-house-trained. This meant taking her out on a puppy schedule the first few days, getting up on the weekend on 6 hours sleep and rushing her outside in my PJs before I'd even peed myself and generally making sure she only ever had the chance to pee outside and praising her immediately so she'd form the correct habit.

The most important advice I have is: start as you mean to go on. There is no chance the dog won't love you, so don't spoil it. Learn to say NO and to set and reinforce behaviour boundaries. A well-trained dog is a joy to own, whereas a poorly trained dog becomes a trial through no fault of its own. If you've never owned a dog, you might ask a local puppy training class if you can observe a lesson or two; it will teach you a lot about training dogs.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:57 AM on February 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Re: small dog vs. big dog - as with everything else with dogs (breed, gender, even age), it's best not to generalize. Some small dogs are calm, some are not, same with big dogs. Meet the dogs, talk to the shelter about them, and choose the individual, not its statistics. I cannot emphasize this enough. We just had a 12 year old beagle returned to our shelter for having too much energy. But I've got a lazy 50 pound pit bull snoring on my lap as I (attempt to) type this.

Puppies are usually the exception to the generalization rule, so you're so smart for getting an adult. Most puppies are a PITA. I've had a gajillion foster and adopted dogs through my house, and I never voluntarily get a puppy.

If you're looking for pet health insurance (which I suggest for peace of mind, even if the economics don't necessarily always pan out), I highly recommend Pets Best. I've had it for years, I use it all the time, and it's great.
posted by walla at 7:05 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 1) Training a dog is amazingly easy. Dogs want to please. Google "clicker training". Buy a book about clicker training. It is a wonderful way to build a good relationship with your dog, get your dog trained, and have some fun.

2) Think about your house rules for your dog. It soundsi like in your neighborhood, your dog should be in the house unless you are with him. So, you'll want to decide in advance questions like: will your dog sleep in your bed (mine sleeps at the foot of the bed and she is an awesome foot warmer)? Will you let your dog on the couch? Is your dog forbidden to go into the kitchen or bathroom (these are good areas to ban, depending on the layout of your house and your preferences)?

3) Schedule "dog time." Your dog deserves your attention. Avoid walking your dog while talking on the cell. Instead, pay attention to your dog. Is there a dog park you could take your dog to once a week at least? Is there some safe, legal place (backyard? dog park?) where you can easily take your dog for some off-leash play?

4) Consider a pet health insurance or pre-pay plan. I pay $40/month and it covers all office visits and the routine shots and a yearly exam and teeth cleaning. I like it, because if my dog gets sick, I don't have to hesitate about taking her to get care.

5) Microchip your dog with *both* mircochip systems. There are two chips. Two kinds of readers. They don't read each other's chips. It's stupid and counterproductive... but that's how it is. Chipping your dog greatly increases the dogs chances of being returned to you if stolen or lost.

6) If you work long days, please consider hiring a reputable dog walker. It doesn't cost that much and getting a chance to burn off some energy is an important thing for every dog. A tired dog is always a good dog. And many dog breeds have been bred specifically to work. If you don't give them something to do, they'll go looking for a task and what they pick may not be to your liking.

7) Don't buy grocery store dog food. If the first ingredient is a grain, it isn't really dog food.

8) I urge you to consider a rescue animal. Dogs are so loyal and loving. Every one of them deserves a good home.

Thanks for letting me rant. If you have any questions, PM me.
posted by driley at 7:11 AM on February 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't know if this is a possibility but what about starting by fostering a dog? If you don't connect, it's not s huge deal, but if you do, you can adopt. The animal rescue where I volunteer has a foster-to-own program.
posted by kat518 at 8:26 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Get insurance. Like car insurance, it makes sense to get a high-deductible, high-limit policy -- the point is not to cover routine costs, it's to protect yourself in case of disaster. I know you think you're not the kind of person who would pay 10k for surgery to save a pet, but when push comes to shove you probably will. Trupanion insurance guarantees they won't raise your bill while you maintain continuous coverage, which is actually better than people health insurers.

Find a good boarder -- they are much cheaper if you are willing to drive out to farm country.

For training, go to a nonprofit training school. Ours only costs like $20 a month and has amazingly good volunteer trainers who can walk you through everything step by step.

Dog parks are a godsend. Your dog can get tons of exercise, and you don't have to do anything! We go 3-4 times a week.

Don't get one of the ubiquitous rescue pitbull mixes unless you are prepared for a huge project. These are usually more than half the dogs at the pound and they can be quite aggressive.

Our homeowners insurance actually lists 7 breeds of dog that you cannot have without buying an extra rider to cover bites/injuries. I know you're a renter now but it's something to be aware of.
posted by miyabo at 8:31 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: The dog you THOUGHT was low-maintenance may one day be barfing and peeing and pooping all over your apartment, and you may be cleaning up dog bodily fluids at 3 AM, or just before a guest arrives, or at another inconvenient time. The dog who was well-behaved may suddenly run away. The dog who was healthy may suddenly run up huge vet bills.

This is not what I meant by low maintenance. I've dealt with animals before and know that they pee and poop (sometimes where you don't want them to), vomit, get into things, get sick, etc.

When I say low maintenance, what I mean is that I want a dog that doesn't need to go to the groomer every week, doesn't need multi-hour runs every day, doesn't pretty much need to be on a farm with sheep or dealbreaker, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 9:45 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have found two dogs (that get along) are way less work than one dog. They keep each other company, the dog never feels totally abandoned and always has a playmate. The wrong combo of dogs however can be disaster. I have a (Low energy) jack russel and a sheltie. Together they are about 40 pounds. A bag of food lasts a month or two and a short (10-15 min) walk tires them out pretty good. When we play they play with each other also and makes life easier when I am busy. The biggest thing is no seperation anxiety which the jack russell had before we got the sheltie. We tried a poodle first but they didn't get along and my mom-in-law was able to take the poodle since she had just lost her previous sheltie. So if you do try out two dogs Make sure they get along, if they do it is totally easier.

And as travelling goes we just take trips the dogs can join us on. Which means road trips and local travel. But we are pretty much stay at home types anyway and our vacations are usually family get togethers or camping.
posted by bartonlong at 9:45 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had primary responsibility for two dogs. The first was two when we adopted her and was a specific breed (beagle) as a compromise with my husband who was ambivalent about the adoption. She came with quirks but we went to a training class and in spite of her age she became a well trained and reasonably obedient dog. The more important thing was that I learned how to train a dog. She had a good life with us and taught our children how to love and care for animals.

The second dog was more difficult. He was a mixed beagle adopted as a puppy by two well meaning adults who had never before owned a dog. Although they loved him, they taught him nothing and after learning they were allergic relegated him to the garage. When he came to our house at 6 months old he didn't even know how to climb stairs. For weeks and weeks I worried about what I had gotten us into. This little guy was nuts! He stole the kids shoes, chewed stuff we needed, and pooped every time he was nervous, no matter where he was. And he was often nervous. With patience and perseverance he became a remarkably sweet and obedient pet. He's generally home with me during the day, but can be left alone for 10 hours without incident.

My mail carrier (who absolutely loves him) has often said that rescued dogs know they've been rescued and deeply appreciate their families. I think he's right. Good luck with your dog adventure. You sound ready and you're likely to find it's even more gratifying than you expected.
posted by Breav at 9:55 AM on February 10, 2013

Best answer: When I say low maintenance, what I mean is that I want a dog that doesn't need to go to the groomer every week, doesn't need multi-hour runs every day, doesn't pretty much need to be on a farm with sheep or dealbreaker, etc.

Yes. The breeds not to get here are hunting or herding breeds. Hunting breeds include terriers, retrievers, hounds. Herding breeds include shepherds and collies.

But if you like retrievers, one who is older and overweight or has some hip or joint problems won't need as much exercise. In your situation I don't know if I would risk getting a terrier or another smaller-breed hunting dog though no matter how old it was.

Since you highlighted the answer about Devore I will tell you some (of the many) things that I know about Devore. I am not saying this flippantly, I think several of the people responsible for the administration and oversight of Devore are sociopaths. When a group of people like that all happen to come into power positions in the same organization, and you have a group of helpless animals on the one hand and the potential to make a lot of money on the other, really bad things happen. Leaving aside that whole can of worms, Devore's SOP is euthanise animals as quickly as they legally can, which is 72 hours for strays (and I think there is no hold period for owner surrenders). So there is not a lot of time for anyone to get to know the animals and their personalities, so it's a bit more of a crap shoot than a shelter where volunteers get to know the dogs over a long time. But someone I know very well got a dog from Devore, and he is one of the most awesome dogs I have ever met. He is also an unusual purebreed that breeders normally charge around $500 for. At Devore, they have kind of fire sale pricing, where the dog is something like $50 to adopt on the first day it is there, and then the day before euthanasia it is $25 to adopt, and then on the day euthanasia is scheduled it is free. I would adopt from Devore without hesitation because while the people who run the place are terrible, the dogs are just as sweet and wonderful as dogs anywhere else. They ended up there for all kinds of random reasons and unfortunate coincidences. But if adopting a dog who is that unknown is too risky for you, but you are still interested in helping the dogs in Devore shelter, there is a lot of activism around that shelter, and there are several rescues that take Devore dogs exclusively. Unfortunately, dogs often sit in rescue for months or years after being taken out of the shelter, but the good thing about that is that then there's a lot of time to get to know the dog. If you google "Friends of Devore Dogs" that will give you a good start in finding the circle of rescues who pull from there.
posted by cairdeas at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have found two dogs (that get along) are way less work than one dog.

I agree but this is very off-putting for many people. Dogs are pack animals and with one you are their only family. Two dogs keep each other company and can be less stressful on them. An older, mellow dog may not have a problem being alone though. It really depends on the individual dog. But you need to watch for that in their personality, some dogs are just not going to be happy being alone.
posted by bongo_x at 11:41 AM on February 10, 2013

Best answer: Definitely plan to invest in training. I brought our little rescue terrier to a class at Petco, it was 6 weeks and about $100 and very much worth it. A lot of training is really training the *owner,* I have realized. We had some problems with Helo being a bit destructive when we first got him, and I realize now that it took us *way* too long to manage this behavior. Once we got better about closing doors (so he was always in the room with us, or kennelled) and not keeping shoes on the floor, things were much much better.

I think one of the most important things with new dogs is establishing routines and boundaries. Decide ahead of time if he will be allowed on the couch, bed, etc, and stick to that. Have regular walk/food times (as much as possible). Dogs are more secure when they know what to expect.

Also plan on crate training immediately. Feed the dog in his crate, and any other time going in the crate results in getting a treat. Crates are amazing - you always have a safe place you can put the dog.

You seem pretty aware of the responsibilities of dog ownership. I also wouldn't want a dog that required going to a professional groomer (having a fluffy Corgi is bad enough with the brushing!), and I don't have the space for a giant Lab or something. No, you can't make generalizations about size and energy, but certainly a big dog takes up more space (and has a much bigger kennel!). And little dogs can get out a lot of their energy running around the house/apartment.

I disagree with bartonlong - two dogs are waywaywayway more work than one. Oh man. I love my Helo but things were so much simpler when it was just us and Sunshine. No tangled walks, no separating during mealtime, etc. I wouldn't even say that they "keep each other company" because they are crated separately when we're gone, and quite frankly I know they sleep a lot of that time. Yeah they do play together and it's adorable, but I think they are each generally more interested in us than the other. If we hadn't gotten Helo, Sunshine would be just fine. And if we didn't have Sunshine, I think Helo would be content snuggling with us and playing with the other dogs at the park.

I have no idea how to pick a dog. Both of my dogs picked me! I think that happens for a lot of people. I do know that a lot of shelters/rescues bring dogs to art markets, mall events, etc, which I think is less overwhelming than going to the actual shelter.

In terms of loose dogs in the neighborhood, we had that problem in New Orleans. We keep pepper spray on the leash - kind that sprays in a targeted stream not a wide spray - just in case there was ever a loose agressive dog that needed to be dealt with. Oh and speaking of leashes, get a second set of keys to your apartment that are always on the leash, so you don't lock yourself out.

Oh and just to throw this out about travelling, when we drove cross-country we stayed at two La Quintas - I think the whole chain is dog-friendly. One location saw ahead of time on our reservation that we had dogs, so she put us on the first floor near the back exit so it would be easy for us to take them out.
posted by radioamy at 11:51 AM on February 10, 2013

Best answer: Go interview lots of dogs. Shelters should be delighted to have you take potential pets for a walk. Do some active play (Bring a tennis ball and/ or rope toy), walking on a leash, sitting and petting, and see how the dog behaves around other dogs. Talk to the shelter about the possible breed(s) of the dog, including the activity level. Smaller dogs aren't necessarily less active. My terrier is small but fierce, and needs activity & stimulation. Fortunately, he's learned to chill out when inside. most of the time, not including when we have company. My friend's greyhound is a total couch potato unless there's something fast to chase; she can't be allowed off leash in any unfenced area, but is a lap dog inside.

I am not strong enough to feel confident with an aggressive breed. As a 1st time dog owner, I recommend a breed that is not known for aggression; it's no guarantee, but it's prudent. There are a lot of aggressive breed dogs at our local shelter; they get surrendered a lot. I ended up adopting my shelter dog while on vacation in another state, because the local shelters had so few dogs that met my needs. He was a stray, about 1 year old, probably purebred, pretty well house-trained, totally awesome. Seriously, a couple of people vie for dog-sitting opportunities. My dog doesn't do well with other dogs, so he's my only one, and he's fine. Terriers are very business-like and have a lot of personality. It's quite possible that my dog is running a business or blog on the side while I'm at work, so he's too busy to get bored/lonely.

Previous shelter dog, also an awesome dog, was likely a collie/golden retriever mix, a stray about 6 years old, not well house-trained to start, but he learned fast. An adult shelter dog is a likely to be a good choice.

What dog amenities are available? Dog park or other places where a dog can play off leash? Is there a vet nearby? These things make dog ownership easier.

Take a training class. It's fun, you'll meet other pet owners, and you'll learn about dog care. It's critical for safety that your dog learn to come when called, and not jump on people. Dogs are happier with a confident authoritative owner/ leader (you). Have fun, it's a great addition to the family.
posted by theora55 at 12:05 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hello! I'm a first-time adult who just adopted her first dog (after fostering for about three months). She's a 53 lb dane/greyhound/boxer/plott-hound/etc brindle short coat mix. She's under three years old and came potty trained and (barely) some commands.

Stress hormones can take up to two weeks to settle out of a dog who's been living at a shelter. Depending on the dog, they can be flightier, more spastic, more aggressive, etc. When I had to take her back to complete the adoption, she spent the next day shaking.

Short coats are awesome - I got her a curry comb (like for a horse) and it makes her all shiny and soft but is definitely not required.

Someone mentioned tethering above - good idea!

Dogs want jobs. If they aren't given a job, they'll find one, and it often is not a job you want them to have.

Many short training sessions (positive reinforcement, like clicker training, works wonders) are great for building up a dog's attention to you. Ours came without expecting much from people, but once she realized that treats reside in pockets and can emerge at any time, she became a lot more attentive. Dr. Sophia Yin has a lot of material available. I love getting doggy high-fives.

If you have concerns about the ability to control a large dog, get an Easy Walk harness - it uses their strength and momentum to control them instead of you. I'm a 5'3" woman, and using this my dog only pulls when she tries to chase a squirrel, but this spins her around so she's facing me again.

Experiment to find out what the dog's "high-value reward" treats are; they'll have a toy-type preference as well. If you get a heavy chewer, get Chuck It! Ultra balls, which have lasted as nothing else has (her other favorite is turning cardboard into dog-fetti).

One of the hardest things for me was learning dog body language. I didn't know what markers to watch, so I ended up looking at references and watching youtube videos to try to figure out how tail position signals intent, etc. Also, getting my cats to accept this large, furry intruder is still a work in progress.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:30 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Again, just to emphasise how individual dogs are and how hard it is to generalise about them:

My dog does not want a job, unless that job is following me to the bathroom. My dog is not treat motivated, and using food for training, clicker or no clicker, was a complete bust -- we had a hard time getting her to eat at all and she is food submissive. She is also averse to the "GOOD GIRL!" squealing praise that is in vogue is of no use with her.

She is entirely motivated solely by a desire to please, and it took me about two weeks to work out how to communicate praise to her: crouched, and whispering in her ear, with gentle pats.

My dog has PTSD among other special needs issues, but all I'm saying is that she's a fabulous companion who just didn't arrive in the expected dog package. Talk to the shelter, put your hands on a lot of dogs, and wait for the dog that seems right for your lifestyle and needs what you can offer. Don't get discouraged, and do get professional help if you and your new friend are baffling one another.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:18 PM on February 11, 2013

Can I recommend getting a senior dog from a shelter?

They tend to be very easygoing and well-trained which makes them a perfect "first" dog. Dogs are also cuter the older they get.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:56 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Recently first time dog owner here. See my original question on whether or not I should get a dog - I was perhaps even less prepared than you, no dogs growing up, no meaningful time spent around dogs. None of that really matters in the long run, if your heart is in it. Be prepared for your life to change a lot. You have some good habits with the walks and runs etc, but as someone in my thread said "many people don't realize: that you must modify your life somewhat to make it dog-workable. The problems arise when people just expect to seamlessly plop this living creature with complex social needs into their pre-existing life and not have to make any adjustments." A dog will take over your life, and rightly so. If you're not ready for that, if you're not happy about that, a dog may not be for you.

I like you, love to travel a lot, but I realised I'd rather be more grounded with my dog, than be out travelling the world, sad and miserable that I don't have a dog. It's all about priotities. A few myths to dispell - Apartment size is a real red herring when it comes to dog size. When dogs are left alone, the larger the space they have access to, the more anxious they get, hence why crating is used. Without a crate, smaller places are likely to leave a dog less anxious when alone. When you're there, with your dog, what really counts is the time you spend with them. This means nice long walks, plenty of exercise, stimulation, training, and also training in the home. Frankly the larger a home I've seen people have a dog in, the more complacent they are, and the less exercise and quality time the dog gets "Oh I have a huge yard; they can just run around in that." Dogs need to get out into the world and have quality time in it, and if you're doing that part properly, you could be living in a box and they wouldn't care.

Now, and this is my own opinion, I think you face a harder job with training and a harder job leaving a dog alone, with a small one. Anecdotally the dogs with the worst manners, the most poorly trained, the worst separation anxiety, the worst constant noise made when left alone all day, have been small ones. It doesn't have to be that way, but due to their size, smaller dogs can get away with a lot, and they do seem to be higher energy. Plenty bigger dogs to be wary of too, as others have said, the smart needy ones like border collies are a big no-go, because they were bred to run around a farm all day doing a job. Look at what the breed of dog you are considering has been bred for. Beagles were bred to bark at everything, but people get upset that they bark at everything.

Back to the basics and 101 of first time dog ownership, I think a rescue is a great idea and far less work than a puppy (and far more gratitude IMHO). My first was a rescue. Be prepared to spend a lot of money. On food, on treats, on toys, beds, bowls, essentials On medical bills too. Even with insurance, there's a lot to be paid, stuff that isn't covered or falls under your excess, like vaccinations, small injuries, infections, etc. Be prepared for stuff in your apartment to get chewed, damaged, destroyed along the way. Be prepared for your place never to be truly clean again. You lower your hygiene standards or you go insane at the constant muddy pawprints, mud on the couch, hair in everything, stains on the walls, mud on your clothes, slobber on the windows, etc.

Most importantly - be prepared to be loved like you've never been loved before, and to give your heart away to this small furry thing that one day is going to leave a hole in it so big you could drive a semi through it. Good luck!
posted by Elfasi at 3:26 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here's a good "basics" book that tidily addresses what to consider, how to prepare, etc. for adopting a rescue dog: Love Has No Age Limit – Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home. One of the authors is Patricia McConnell, who is a highly respected animal behaviorist. (I have several of her books.)

A more in-depth (totally fascinating!) book about dog-human relationships is The Culture Clash: A Revolutionary New Way to Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs by Jean Donaldson. I learned about this book via Mefi member biscotti, and I love it. I also have Donaldson's book Dogs are from Neptune.

The Whole Dog Journal is a good for-pay newsletter-style magazine, especially their very well-regarded annual dry and wet dog food reviews. Many people subscribe just for these reviews.

For video, one of my great guilty-pleasure favorites is Victoria Sitwell's "It's Me or the Dog." In the US I think you can find this on Animal Planet, if you get that, and there are quite a few episodes uploaded to YouTube. I've actually learned quite a few tips from this show, and it's always fun to see Victoria train the owners.

I have too many tips of my own, but I'll just say that I found training (positive reinforcement only!) much easier than I expected, and where it isn't, it's usually because I haven't yet learned the vital information of how the dog is viewing the situation. It's also very helpful to be able to understand dog body language, and there are a lot of resources out there for learning this (including the books above).


Not intended to scare you, but a few general food-related safety things I learned:

I recommend checking (or getting email alerts) for pet food recalls. The year we got our dog, there was a ton of news about the largest ever pet food recall the year before, in which hundreds of thousands of pets were poisoned by contaminated ingredients from China. That was unprecedented in scope, and very, very horrible, but there are always items on the recall list... and the problem is that since some people are buying large bags, they can be continuing to feed their cat or dog contaminated food repeatedly over a long period if they aren't aware. That incident made me pretty paranoid, and I actually cook food for my dog, but that's a whole 'nother deep, deep and twisty rabbit hole to go down. (fwiw, our vet says I should keep doing what I'm doing, because our dog is thriving, but opinions vary... vociferously.)

Some normal "people" foods are toxic for pets.

Also, be aware of the danger of bloat (1, 2), and don't let your dog engage in vigorous activity just before or after eating (among other preventatives).

And, for food bowls, stainless steel is preferred to plastic or ceramic, which can harbor bacteria in cracks or scratches.
posted by taz at 6:28 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Guess what, guys?

I went to the Pasadena Humane Society/SPCA (which I very highly recommend -- animal lovers but also laid back enough to make adopting pretty hassle free) today. Initially just to check it out and to maybe talk to an adoption counselor (which they have, unlike the city pounds), and maybe look at some pups with the notion that the animal would need to be fixed and given shots and approvals would need to happen and I'd actually be bringing a dog home in a week or so.

Despite being almost 100% sure I wanted a smaller dog, I fell in love with a Shepherd mutt and was able to adopt him pretty much on the spot. He's coming home with me tomorrow.

I don't want to take a left turn into a Name That Dog thread, but I'm taking suggestions. I'm thinking something Louisiana ish or NYC ish since those are the places I've lived, but look, dude just needs a better name than Kobe. (It could be worse, I saw a poor longhaired chihuahua on Petfinder named Nicki Minaj...)

Current name shortlist includes Roux (or possibly Rougarou, known as Roux for short), Roebling, Morty, and Morgus.

Now I just need to find room for him in my apartment.
posted by Sara C. at 5:41 PM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Aaaah!!! Congrats!!! You have no idea how jalous I am...
posted by cairdeas at 5:57 PM on February 13, 2013

we will require more pictures.
posted by sweetkid at 6:04 PM on February 13, 2013

Response by poster: There will be more pictures as soon as I take possession of the beast.

For starters, I'm pretty sure his tongue is retractable.
posted by Sara C. at 6:13 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


We'll definitely need more pictures since the Petfinder link has gone down...
posted by bookdragoness at 8:44 AM on February 14, 2013

because that Pet has been Findered.
posted by sweetkid at 9:24 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Here's my well-behaved (and currently nameless) boy, freaking out at the prospect of walking up the stairs to my apartment.

That said, him "freaking out" is collapsing in a heap and refusing to step paw on the stairs. He's now curled up at my feet. Little Big beast of a snuggle bunny.
posted by Sara C. at 12:25 PM on February 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think he looks like a Hank. He is adorable. If he likes treats, you can use them to get him to love the stairs. Step step treat, step step treat and lots of praise. Break up the treats into smaller pieces and make a breadcrumb trail! :)

Pasadena Humane is great. I highly recommend the classes that they host there. They also have low cost vaccine clinics.

If you like near Pasadena and are looking for recommendations for vet, doggy daycare, etc. Let me know.
posted by dottiechang at 3:24 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have a dog named Alvy, guys.
posted by Sara C. at 6:56 PM on February 14, 2013 [7 favorites]

Don't tell him the universe is expanding. Then he'll never get up the stairs.
posted by sweetkid at 7:08 PM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

(a week late to the party, but) Congrats!!!
posted by Fig at 10:59 AM on February 21, 2013

Congratulations! He is adorable and I love the name Alvy.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:02 PM on February 22, 2013

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