Hi all! Im a college student who has never had a dog before, only cats, because a dog didnt fit into my families very busy lifestyle when i was home. Ive now moved into my own place, and would really like to get my own little companion. while i would love to save an older dog just to give it a good home, i cant help but remember my cats as kittens and how much i loved watching them grow into beautiful cats, so i want a puppy. im looking to find one in the next six months to a year, but am doing a lot of research now so i can be as prepared as possible. ive been looking all over the internet and ive come up with a few questions, hopefully someone can answer even just one of them!
-im looking to get a small dog, probably a yorkie or maybe some kind of yorkie mix if i can find it, because i only have a small yard & i dont think itd be fair to get a bigger dog without a nice, big yard for it to play in.. is this a good idea? i have found some things that say yorkies can be hard to housetrain, which makes me nervous only because ive never done it before.. is this true?
-im a little bit nervous about being in a sort of transitional period of my life, and while i dont think ill move until i graduate, theres always a possiblity, and i simply dont know what to expect after that.. i will always make sure wherever i go would still allow me to have my dog, i would never dream of giving it up but i am a little worried that moving a few times would really stress my dog out? also, i travel between college and home a few times a year, a few hour drive.
-im trying to plan financially and save and make sure i have enough money for everything the little guy could need, but im not seeing alot of answers on how much a vet would cost.. i understand theres alot of variables, but say i get lucky and find a healthy dog, what should i expect to pay for regular health care needs?
thank you so, so much if you have any answers for me!
Danielle - Hello and welcome! I hope you find the advice you are looking for here! I understand how very cute and sweet a puppy looks the first itme you see it, but puppies are not very condusive to a college-age lifestyle. Not that it can't be done, but are you going to be able to be home to take puppy out at least every two hours, with school and work? Since you are considering a toy breed, it may be even more often, hourly while housebreaking. And that will include setting an alarm to take it out at least twice a night (early morning, whatever your sleeping patterns may be ). All day, every day, and night. Not a commitment many college-age people are ready for. If you won't be home, are you wanting to paper train? Those papers get expensive, and with some dogs, it takes as much time and diligence to paper train as it does to housebreak, making it not the best solution. Even a slightly older dog, six months or so, farther along in being housebroken, may be a better solution for someone who isn't going to be home most of the day. Yet will still be a puppy, have plenty of growing to do, and will need all the obedience training you can throw at it. Where are you looking to buy a puppy? I hope you are choosing to avoid the pet stores. No matter what the pet store claims about using only 'local breeders,' a reputable breeder would never sell his or her pups to a pet store, you can almost guarentee the pups will be from a puppy mill. If you are looking for a specific breed and a puppy, do some through research and pick a reputable breeder, with a good health guarentee on the pups. If you are willing to take a slightly older puppy or young dog, look to Petfinder.com. They will have information on pups in your local shelters, and you can search for breed-specific rescues in your area if you are wanting a certain breed of dog. If you fill out an application with a breed-specific rescue now and are approved, then you will be at the top of their list when they rescue a dog that will meet your needs. You can specify gender, age range, housebroken, purebred or mix preference, good with other animals, etc. I used petfinder to find a great corgi rescue, from which I adopted my second dog Dora. If you are looking into a specific breed, be sure to research about that breed's temperment, and what they were bred to do, so you won't be surprised when bring pup home, to find he likes to dig/yap/howl/herd small children/nip/chase after floating plastic bags. For instance, Yorkies were bred to hunt rodents and other small mammals. They are small, but still retain the terrier temperment. They become very possesvive of their owners. They yap. A lot. They are very defensive when it come to their yard/home/owners, and will start altercations with other dogs if left untrained. Also known to bite other people in order to 'protect' their owners. They need to be well socialized and obedience trained to prevent such issues. And the bark. A lot. If you have roomates or thin walls in your apartment, consider your neighbors. Otherwise, a small dog sounds like a good fit for you, but if you find other larger dogs and fall in love with them, do not automatically rule them out. Some larger breeds of dogs really do well in smaller spaces as long as they get their daily walk. Also if you have a local dog park in your area, even a more active dog can be fit into your lifestyle. Maybe not a working/herding breed, but there are several large and lazy dogs out there, as well as several small and hyperactive breeds. Again it depends on what they were bred for. Dogs and traveling work well, much better than cats and traveling, I promise! Even so, I have 6 cats, various members of them have moved up to 4 times, just with me, not including previous owners. A short period of adjustmenet and they are fine. I haven't moved since I got the dogs, but they are so much more mellow than cats, and have been with me on short trips out of town, I can't imagine them causing near as much fuss as the felines. Wanting a healthy dog is another good reason to make sure you find a good breeder. An opps! litter of a backyard breeder may offer their puppies for cheaper, but will cost in the long run with all the medical expenses it could rack up. I rescued a stray yorkie a few months back that was obviously badly bred, she had poor teeth, an umbilical hernia, luxating patellas in her rear legs, and a stance with her front legs like a bull dog, elbows out, feet turned in. Walking is hard on her, let alone running, jumping up on furniture, etc. She isn't very old either, hard to tell with her teeth in such poor condition, but she doesn't have the coloring of an old dog, no eye problems (yet) and no sign of arthritis (yet). Vet guesses only 5 or 6. To fix just what is fixable would cost a few thousand dollars. Even with a healthy dog, with no major accidents, to properly care for a toy dog that will need groomed every two months, good quality food, vet care, flea and heartworm prevenative, obedience classes, etc is still not cheap. I tried once to estimate how much I spent on Albie just the first year I had him, spent well over $1,500 best estiment. Not including the $550 I paid for him. And I am by no means well off, nor do I spoil him needlessly with crap he doesn't need. Just what he needs to be a happy, healthy, well-trained member of the family. Dogs are expensive. Again, a dog from a rescue would not only be cheaper than a new puppy, but already have had its shots, already altered, already evaluated for medical problems so you know what to expect, etc. If you have a great rescue like the one Dora came from, they will provide you with a crate, food to transition with, flea and heartworm prevenative for the first month, a collar and leash, etc. The 'stuff' that came with Dora would have cost more than the $175 I paid for her. And I would have had to purchese it anyway. Essentailly she was free. Hope some of this info helps, and good luck with your puppy research!
actually, my class schedule allows me to be gone for only a couple hours then return home & im a pretty early riser for a night owl haha.. not your typical college lifestyle i guess.. but i am going to wait till a few months into the semester to really see how everything works out before i make this huge of a commitment..
i would love to find a dog at a shelter but im noticing alot of rescues and such seem to require previous dog experience on their applications, especially for a particular breed.. im sure i could be mistaken on that though..
would you recommend any other type of dog for my lifestyle?
I have been thinking about a puppy too. Rainbow's advice is excellent. I personally want a little dog b/c I like to travel and they are so much easier to take along. I have a Rottie and a Maltese now and Bailey(maltese) goes on every vacation with me. I couldn't imagine not having him along. I am leaning toward a Shih Tzu. They have some of the same attributes of Maltese and Yorkies, but as far as I can tell from my research, they tend to be quieter and more easygoing. I would love to own a yorkie someday, but the terrier thing is a concern for me. I don't like the napoleon complex that some little dogs, yorkies and chihuahuas come to mind, seem to have. I also don't like the barking. Please look into the grooming needs of any coated breed. They require a lot of time to groom at home and I have heard many owner's complain about an unsatisfactory groomer visit. I have been keeping an eye on petfinder and have found several cute terrier mixes that look like they might be easier to groom. Rainbow is right about not ruling out a larger dog, as my Rottie has a very moderate energy level. He spend a few hours outside(weather permitting) and I take him for a mile long walk a few times a week. He is always very calm and well behaved in the house. As far as toy breeds being hard to housebreak, I think it has more to do with people's mistaken perceptions. Toy breeds have smaller bladders and often need to be taken out more. Many toy dog owners spoil their "babies" and aren't as consistent or commited with a toy dog as they would be with say a Lab puppy. A lot of toy dog owners try to housebreak by using papers and outdoors at the same time and I think this only confuses the poor puppies. Decide which you are going to do and stick with it until the puppy has it down 100%. You should look at the parent club web site, they have great info on the breed and a breeder referal progam. Please feel free to PM me. Good luck!
I know there are a lot of rescues out there that will automatically refuse to adopt to people without experience with their breed, as well as anyone without a fence, or who rents, or is a college student; as they are private organizations they can make up their own rules. But as long as you fill out the appliaction completely, there are also many rescue groups that are willing to adopt out to the same groups too. They want to be sure that you are allowed pets by your landlord of course, and also that you've done your homework on the breed as well. They essentially just want to be sure that their dog is going into a good, safe, forever home. If you demonstrate the time and effort you put into the research and decision to get an older rescue pup and why it is a better fit for you than getting a young pup from a byb, for instance, that will give you a lot of credibility with some groups. For Dora, on her application it even asked what books/internet sites we had read about the breed. Though they prefer to adopt out to homes with experience with herding dogs, a demonstration of understanding of the breed will also go a long way. And many groups are flexible. Dora's foster mom thought she would do better in a home with no kids, cats, or dogs originally, due to her urge to herd and her problems with food aggression, but they ended up adopting her to a home with 6 cats and another dog anyway, I guess because they liked the application we submitted. They were asking for a home with a fenced yard and a doggy door, due to her incontinence issues, but we have neither. Just be through and honest on the application, and if they have a dog that is a good fit for you, it will happen.
Don't get me wrong, I think rescue groups are great and deserve much praise. I understand why they have the rules they have (for the most part) and that they are flexible, but I wouldn't overlook a shelter. The people at shelters seem a little more appreciative of adopters. Bailey is a purebred (although admittedly poorly bred) Maltese and he came form a city humane society in rural west Texas. The woman in charge was a teacher while I was subbing and she always asked about him and thanked me for adopting him.
Just wanted to reply to the vet bills. We are on a fixed budget, which I'm assuming your on also. There are 3 points we looked at. The first one depends on your state. Comeing from Minnesota we found vets that were willing to work with us and our bills where as in Louisiana the vets down her will only treat your pet if you have payment Up Front. No exceptions. That is something to check into before you get your pet, if you ask if they accept a payment plan or if they require up front payment they will answer pretty honestly. Secondly, if you look for low cost medical care you can find it. does your college have a vet program? Most colleges will do specific animal care for a lower price. Pet Co (i'm sure there are haters of Pet Co comment) does low cost vaccination days. Just go on the Pet Co website and look up one in your area then look at events. Again, vaccination costs depend on your area to. Minnesota does them for about 15-25 bucks where are down her your gonna spend atleast $150. The ASPCA down here gives away certificates that cover like $75 of getting your pet spayed or nutered, now it costs more then that but it helps out. Third, $20 here and $10 there go along way if you put it in a jar or just way in a seperate place, it adds up and saved us when our dog was hit by a car and we had to bring her in as an emergency.
Oh I guess there's a 4th haha! Remember that every time your dog sneezes they don't have to go to the vet. It's hard sometimes to want to bring them in and get them looked at so the vet can say they are ok, but as long as they aren't bleeding, convulsing and they are eating and drinking it can probably wait until the morning. Emergency vet bills get very expensive. Our one vet had a $100 fee just to bring them in as an emergency. Luckily we found one who would accept her and wave the emergency fee. But the bills add up quickly.
Just find a vet you trust and like and is good with your dog. We explained to ours we were on a fixed budget and he waves our office fee ($45 a visit) every time we bring her in. Not all vets will do that but if your loyal to your vet most of them will be frank and straight forward with you, which is an amazing thing.