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Am I compatible with a dog?

asked 2016-11-04 21:43:00 -0500

Hello, My name is Nick and I just have a few questions I hope someone doesn't mind helping with. I plan (well hope really) to be getting a dog within the next year. The breed I had decided on so far is a small breed, the Rat Terrier. I was just wondering if anyone with experience could tell me whether or not I'm fit for this dog or any breed at all. I'll be living in an apartment and I'll be a college student working full time, so suffice it to say I'll be busy. I would like to know if getting this breed with my time and space constraints would be fine or cruel, as I would hate to make the dog suffer. Would this dog breed be ok left alone for hours at a time or am I best just waiting until I have more time. Also I've been doing my research and seem to be getting mixed reviews on how loud they are as a breed so anyone with experience here please help me out lol. Lastly, and forgive me for my ignorance here, is the stigma of small dogs being very hard to house train true? I've only ever owned larger dogs as a child, growing up in a home with multiple dogs. Thank you for any input and sorry for the long book lol.

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answered 2016-11-06 11:37:10 -0500

HI Nick: I'm glad that you are thinking this out before diving in and getting a dog....any dog! Yes, you'll be away from home a lot because you'll be busy, but want the companionship of your dog when you are home (like we all do!). No matter what kind of dog you get, you really should think about having someone drop in to visit or walk your dog while you are gone (like a Rover sitter) because your dog will want some companionship when you aren't there, and the sitter can check food/water levels beside giving your pup a potty break and/or a walk. Or hire a sitter for doggy day care in the sitter's home. I think there is a stigma attached to potty training small dogs because a lot of small dog owners tend to carry their dogs around, rather than teaching the dog how to alert them when they need to go outside to potty. Also, I don't know where you live, but many smaller dogs don't want to trudge through the snow in the winter just to go potty...but others LOVE it! Some dogs bark more than others, so you would need to teach your dog when it is OK to bark, and when it's not OK to bark, so the barking doesn't annoy your neighbors in the complex. So you have to decide if you have the time to train your pup for potty alerts, and when it's appropriate to bark or not; among general obedience training, and all of that takes time and patience. Perhaps waiting until the spring semester is over would be best so you have more one on one time with your pup before your back to school and working in the fall.

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Thank you Mary I really appreciate it. I will take this advice to heart when considering a dog down the line!

Nick M.'s profile imageNick M. ( 2016-11-06 16:03:22 -0500 )edit
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answered 2017-03-08 00:05:42 -0500

Hi there! How exciting to be getting ready to get a dog!

Here's my advice. Rat terriers are great dogs, but, being terriers, are fairly tenacious and can have lots of energy. I'm not sure whether one would thrive being in a crate or apartment for 8 or more hours a day, though it depends on the individual. I also think that how vocal your dog is depends on the individual. I've never heard that rat terriers are particularly vocal, but just like people, some are talkers!

There's no evidence that small dogs are harder to potty train, though you have to realize that they have tiny bladders (and proportionately smaller water intake). You will have to expect a period of training with any dog, but people who say their dogs are "untrainable" are generally missing the signs the dog gives that it needs to go out.

In my opinion, the perfect dog for you is a senior pup! I had one in college and I have a lot of friends that I know in vet school who had senior pets, as well. If you adopt a dog that is 7 years of age or older (which I know sounds daunting!) you'll have a pet who can be happy napping when you're gone and have their needs met during your short hours at home. They're calmer, quieter, and well-adapted to a busy lifestyle. Plus, if you adopt a senior dog, chances are it has been in someone's house and undergone some basic training (house training included). Sometimes you walk into a shelter looking for one thing (eg a rat terrier) and leave with something totally different (eg that ten year old shiba inu that's been there for a month and a half). So give a rescue dog a chance and go senior! I promise you'll be happy with each other!

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I second a senior dog! My first dog was a 10ish year old Aussie. I knew I didn't have the time to train a puppy with a full time job, so an older, already trained dog was just the right fit! There are breed specific rescues if you're set on a rat terrier that may have one that's right for you!

Carly H.'s profile imageCarly H. ( 2017-03-08 13:54:05 -0500 )edit
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answered 2017-03-09 10:29:28 -0500

I agree with adopting a senior dog or possibly consider even fostering to get a feel for owning a dog while keeping your busy schedule. Check your local shelters that have a fostering program. I imagine there's often need for senior dog fosters and you never know when your perfect match will come along plus you'll be helping out your local rescue. If you are away for more than 5 hours you should consider a sitter or dog walking ( rover :) or having a trusted friend or neighbor check on your dog daily. Hope this helps. Dogs are great but as you realize timing is important. If you're unable to adopt @ this point please also consider volunteering @ local no kill animal shelter where they'll likely welcome your assistance & any hours you can sporadically commit to. It will be a win- win and while you're volunteering you can be considering best dog for your current situation.

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