They call it puppy love…

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Have you been the subject of a prolonged campaign by your partner and kids to get a dog? If so, you’re not alone! But are you ready for this new ‘leash’ of life?

Dom Makin, founder of The Dogfather, South West London’s premier dog-care provider, offers a few words of wisdom for families thinking about inviting a four-legged friend into the house.

In my eight years of running a professional boarding and dog-caring business, I’m often asked what sort of dog would make the best family pet.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times someone’s told me they’ve finally given in to constant badgering from their wife, husband or child to get a dog.

When people ask me what I think, I tell them a dog can bring love, fun and happiness to a family household, plus a variety of health and well-being benefits too. A dog is a great addition to the family. But a dog is for life, so it’s not a decision to be made lightly.

Before even considering specific breeds of dogs, it’s important to assess your household situation. I’ve got four-year-old twins and – while we don’t have any dogs ourselves – we regularly have dogs boarding with us, so I have plenty of experience of what works for our family. If you’re thinking of getting a dog, you need to think about what works for yours.

Three cute Cavapoo puppies

Ask yourself…

Do you have the time? 

Do you have a busy work life? Will you be able to give the dog the time they need and deserve? If it’s a puppy, he or she will require a huge amount of time to be spent with them.

Will you be able to walk the dog two or three times a day and spend time training it?  Don’t panic if the answer is ‘no’ as professional dog walkers and carers, such as The Dogfather, can provide this service on a full- and part-time basis.

Can your family accommodate a dog?

How old are your children? Adding a young dog or puppy to an already busy schedule with a young baby in the house creates an extra challenge.

Is now the right time to take on that new challenge? Are your kids at an age where they are happy going for walk or stroll?

Is there room in your house for an extra four legs?

How big is your house? Do you have a garden?

Are you very house proud? Your white sofas and a white floor will not stay pristine for very long with a dog around. Can you manage a wet muddy dog in winter?

Most dog owners start off by saying they won’t allow their four-legged friend on the sofa or bed, but, in reality, it doesn’t take long before most give in to those adorable, doeful eyes, tilting head and whimpering pleas.

Can you afford a dog?

Dogs aren’t cheap to buy; vet bills can be astronomical and, with food and insurance (which I definitely recommend), being a dog owner all adds up. That’s before you factor in costs for a regular dog walker or dog trainer. The latest designer cross-breeds can be expensive. Instead, perhaps you could consider a rescue or re-homed dog.

If all the boxes above have been ticked, I always think it is a good idea to look after a friend’s dog for a week or long weekend so you can get a good grasp of the routine and experience what’s it like to have an extra four legs around the place.

If you’re still keen, then now’s the time to consider which type of dog to get.

If you’re rescuing a dog, the chances are the one you come home with will probably be nothing like the one you imagined – as very often it just depends on which dog you ‘click’ with.

 

But for those looking for ideas, some of the ‘easier’ dogs for a first time family pet include:

Labrador Retriever: This popular breed makes a great family pet and is a safe bet for children. It’s highly domesticated, a good size, easy to train, playful but also knows how to relax. Lab-Retrievers need a fair amount of exercise and are happy to go out running. They can be a bit greedy, but they have a wonderful temperament – they never quite grow up!

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Beagles: Beagles can be a little more stubborn, but make great companions for kids and will quickly become part of any family.

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Miniature Schnauzer: For anyone looking for a smaller dog, the Miniature Schnauzer is a good option. These friendly, obedient and alert small bundles of fur think they are twice the size they really are!

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Crossbreeds: For a small, playful dog that is happy relaxing after a walk, I’d suggest a Cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Miniature Poodle cross); Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel-Miniature Poodle cross); Puggle (Pug-Beagle cross).

Three cute Cavapoo puppies

Three cute Cavapoo puppies

Don’t discount older dogs. Rescue centres have many older dogs looking for new homes and they can make really great pets – particularly for busy households.

Whichever dog you choose, always make sure you use a reputable breeder or rescue charity. When buying a puppy, it’s essential to enquire about the father and mother (even better if you can see them) and to check out health issues and temperament.

And don’t forget, for all your dog-walking, doggy daycare or dog-boarding needs, contact The Dogfather.

We wish you lots of happy times with your new furry friend.


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