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Dogs in Vancouver...

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Vancouverish Mamas!:
If you have a dog, used to have one, or have done some research about dogs, could you please help me out? I know some of you are very passionate about your dog friends! We are just starting to think about the possibility of adding a canine companion to our family. I am hoping some of you could take a moment and send some info and resources my way. I am interested in: where you got your dog, how you found him or her, what breed, how you found the process, what were your challenges, how training went, what method you used, food, vet recs, what you love or don't love...etc!
(books, websites, DVD's people to talk to - all would be helpful!)
Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 51
We got our dog from the SPCA when he was 6-7 months old. We loved him for 10 1/2 yrs. That being said, it was a hard life for all of us. No reason to get into all the details.
When we get another family dog, I will only get a puppy directly from the Mama. Getting a dog with a "history" is too much of a gamble for us to take again.
So my 2 cents is get a brand new puppy.

Janet
post #3 of 51
Thread Starter 
Thanks Janet!
post #4 of 51
I've only ever had dogs from the SPCA. I found adopting them as youngsters or pups meant their history was clearer. The folks at the SPCA tend to get to know the dogs in their care, and are careful to let you know the history, temperament, etc. They've also all been house-trained at that point. We've had wonderful dogs from there. It's always been a great experience.

I admit to a bias against purebreds. I've yet to find a breed that doesn't have inbred health problems, usually expensive ones. Some are downright neurotic. Getting a reputable breeder is important, but even they have a limited gene pool from which to draw. I also think there is an issue with overbreeding and too many unwanted dogs, so adopting one appeals to me on that front, too.

As for training, I have used gentle methods although judicious use of a proper choke chain can be helpful; if fitted and used correctly it should not cause any pain to the animal. I took a dog training course years ago with one of my dogs when she was a pup and based my training on that. You do need to do "homework" and work with the dog pretty much everyday. But after six months we had a dog who could be taken anywhere and could reliably be worked off leash as well. I am not into crate training, though I know many people favour it. There are many dog-training methods out there and my bent is towards those that work within their nature, are gentle but firm, respectful, etc...no pain or punishment, and also no rewards (like giving food; personally I think those methods are doomed to fail when the dog decides they'd rather run away than have a snack at that moment!).

Dogs need exercise and socialization. The former is critical b/c a dog with too much energy is like a toddler with too much energy: they get into things, destroy things, bark too much etc. It's not enough to just keep them in a yard. They should have one, good long walk a day (if you run or hike, even better), IMO. Alternatively, take them to an off-leash park (when you are confident in their training) and use one of those ball throwers to give them some good exercise when you yourself aren't up to it.

Having a dog-door with access to a fenced yard is also a great idea, so you don't have to worry about coming home to let the dog out.

It's been a few years since I had a dog and I'm really missing one. I've been talking with DH about getting one, but of course we'd need our landlord's permission first. If we get the go ahead I am definitely heading to the SPCA. I prefer medium sized dogs, and while I'm partial to border collie mixes (very smart dogs!) they do require more exercise than more sedentary types. Again, the SPCA would know the energy level of the dog and can advise you accordingly.
post #5 of 51
Thread Starter 
Thanks Piglet!

What I've narrowed down to so far!
  • I would prefer a mutt but I want something that doesn't shed.(do these exist?)
  • about coffee table size, under two feet tall at the withers.
  • either a young adult dog from a happy family environment or a puppy straight from his mama
    no ear trimming or tail docking!
    I am interested in raw food
post #6 of 51
You might try calling the SPCA and various animal shelters/adoption agencies and tell them what you are looking for. You can be fairly specific; if they don't have it they can let you know if one comes in.
post #7 of 51
[*]I would prefer a mutt but I want something that doesn't shed.(do these exist?)

There are a few breeds that don't shed like others. We have a Bouvier, he doesn't shed. He is a dual-coated breed and essentially has hair, not fur, with a downy undercoat like a sheep. Poodles are low-shed dogs too.
[*]about coffee table size, under two feet tall at the withers.

A bouvier will NOT fit your size requirement and wouldn't do well in your neighbourhood/house due to size and exercise requirements, in my opinion!
[*]either a young adult dog from a happy family environment or a puppy straight from his mama

This may rule out the SPCA dogs, but you may luck out being able to find a dog with a good documented history. It may be quite a wait for that.
[*]no ear trimming or tail docking!

Ear trimming is easy to not get, provided you are getting a puppy. Tail docking is done at 2 days, so you don't really get a choice, except to say that you won't take a dog that has had it's tail docked. If you go with a breeder that you like or SPCA, I would put this at the bottom of your list. Tail docking, while not at the top of my list, is far less cruel than ear cropping.
[*]I am interested in raw food

Good choice
I buy ground animal-grade meat and mix it with rice and veggies. This is a significantly cheaper alternative to pre-made raw diets and turns out to be cheaper than kibble for our mutt too. We also noticed a HUGE attitude and energy level change when we switched to raw/home-made, in a positive direction on both counts. I have to drive out to Aldergrove to get meat, but there are more local alternatives, check the butcher shops in your neighbourhood. You my pay a higher price but save on the fuel.
post #8 of 51
Kristen, I'm interested in the animal grade meat. Where does one buy such a thing? And what is it's "real" purpose (ie. what sort of animals would it be fed to)? Very great idea for going raw without the huge expense!
post #9 of 51
They sell "animal grade" meat as pet food. There are several butcher shops that do this. The one I go to is Bonetti's Meats in Aldergrove (248th @ 40th Ave). The meat shop in Cloverdale on 176 St where the Kids Swaps are does pet food as well, but I think it is premixed. Basically, they use all their off-cuts, cartilage, fats (some are too high, gotta watch the fat content for dogs that don't get enough exercise or aren't high-energy to begin with), etc and grind it up and freeze it as pet food. The chicken I get is the organ meat mixed with the soft bones (ribs, necks, etc) and whatever meat is still on the bird after removal of thighs, legs, wings, breasts (so backs I guess??).

I know that there are a few butcher shops IN vancouver that do this too, but I don't know the names and locations. You can call around and ask prices though. Ask for pet-food grade meat, NOT just pet food, those are usually mixed with other things like grains (cooked I would think?) and/or veggies and you will pay a premium for them and not really know the meat content. Dogs are "wolf-cousins" remember, they need meat, not filler.
post #10 of 51
Cool! Thanks for the info!
post #11 of 51
There's a raw food dog place near Value Village on Hastings. I'm not sure the name but its a block or two North of Hastings cross street Victoria.

My friend from school has a Rotweiller and they only do raw meat and veg/grain from home. I guess most dogs of that breed suffer from arthritis and have serious mood swings, but her dog is totally healthy at 12 years old and such a lap dog. She swears by raw food
post #12 of 51
I am a big fan of the raw food too. Our labrador was getting pudgy and lethargic, and our vet recommended raw food so we switched. She doesn't get any grains, just meat, bones, offal, eggs, veg, and salmon oil. She lost 2 kg over the course of a year, and has loads more energy. People keep asking if she's a puppy - she's 6 years old.

One thing I would really, really recommend is to get a young pup straight from the mama, and do a puppy temperament test. Here is a good explanation and test. When we were looking for a dog, we waited until we found a litter from which we had some choice, then we tested all the puppies and picked ours. It worked far better than I'd expected - our dog turned out to be exactly what we wanted - easily trainable, bonded quickly and completely with us, very gentle, but didn't take any crap from other dogs and showed appropriate, non-threatening protecting behaviour. Don't fall in love with a pup because of looks or because it's the one that comes right up and tries to eat your shoelaces. If you can, examine at least 3 or 4 pups and test them, and take the one that's going to be right for you.

Do not trust a breeder - if you go that route - to do the temperament test for you. Friends of mine have a Golden Retriever from a very reputable breeder that claimed they do temperament testing, and in addition to health problems, it is completely untrainable and has zero connection to the family. It won't maintain eye contact and has never ever listened, despite many thousands of dollars being spent on training.

Earlier someone suggested not using rewards like food - IME, this varies with the dog. Some dogs are far more motivated by food than others. Labradors are *especially* motivated by food and our dog will do just about anything for a piece of carrot. We never had any problem with her refusing a command if we didn't have any food present, either, and she remains obedient even though we rarely reward her with food now. Our neighbours' dog, though, is a border collie cross and couldn't care less about food; training her was considerably more difficult and she still is not the most obedient dog on the planet, to say the least. Personally, I would prefer a dog that IS motivated by food. While I subscribe wholeheartedly to the Alfie Kohn school of child-rearing, dogs are a different species and training a dog that is predisposed to obedience is just a whole lot easier with food.
post #13 of 51
I don't know how much dog experience you have, but if it's not much I would highly recommend taking a beginner's training class even if your dog is older & has had some training.
When we got our dog from the SPCA, he was around a year old & knew a few commands (sit, down, stay, etc.) and even did them sometimes! Never having had a dog before, when a friend said to take an intermediate class as the dog knew the basics, I did so. I never learned the basics myself, never really connected with him and it was always a struggle. I also wish I would have used food as a training tool as Shadow was always motivated that way. If he was running loose & wouldn't come, we would call 'Cookie!' & he would sometimes come even if there wasn't one.

I also have huge reservations around purebreds & would probably go for a smaller crossbreed next time. A non-shedder would be ideal!
Our German shepherd X (don't know what with) lived to 15 years old with very few health issues until the very end.

Good luck & I look forward to meeting your new addition .
post #14 of 51
I think the biggest thing to consider is the exercise requirements for the dog. If it is a lab cross, or a springer spaniel, or a dalmation (or many others) you will have a lot of walking or running that you MUST do. It's a big time commitment, and you will often have a wet dog (with muddy paws).

Before we got our dogs, I would browse on www.petfinder.com. Not all local rescue dogs are on there, but it gives you ideas. We ended up getting puppies (my DH had never had a dog before, and I felt it was important for him to fall in love with his first dog(s) - and it's easier to fall in love with a puppy - 1st dog was tiny, 2nd was 4 months when we got her), but puppies are a LOT of work. It's like having another toddler. Truly. One that chews on everything (our 1st was, anyway - I don't know if it was because she was 4 months when we got her or just her personality, but it was a LOT less work with her).

Tjej
post #15 of 51
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies everyone!
So far we are looking into poodles, labs (and their various crosses), schnauzer crosses (but not pure schnauzers) and wheaten terriers.
I would still prefer a mutt. Are there any other breeds or crosses which you think might be a good bet? We live in an urban environment but we do have a fenced yard and we are a pretty active family.
Thanks for the link to the temperment test!
I have been browsing SPCA and Petfinder but there doesn't really seem to be much there that interests us. Its still early days though. I don't want to bring a puppy home until the summertime.
post #16 of 51
Labs shed A LOT. There are dog breed books at the bookstore that will have shedding and energy requirement info - go browse one at Borders or something, or check your local library. It's really fun to look at all the types too.

Tjej
post #17 of 51
Raw food - I have been (until 7 months ago, have moved since then) able to buy raw meat (lamb, beef, turkey, can't remember what else) just meat though they do also sell with veggies mixed in. Also was able to buy chicken backs and necks from them.

Perhaps you could try breed rescue (check the national or provincial breed club to see if they have a committee or it's an independent organization) if you have a specific breed in mind. They should be able to give you the pros and cons of the breeds you are interested in.
post #18 of 51
I wanted to bump this thread since it looks like we are bringing home our rescue dog this week and I know robugmum is expecting her puppy soon...I would love to have a place to discuss fun places to go with dogs, feeding, trainers in the area, etc.

The last time I did a training class it was a private dog training school in our neighbourhood (East Van). I was in PetSmart today (North Van) and noticed they have obedience classes. Has anyone ever been to theirs or heard about them?
post #19 of 51
We did a PetSmart class with our dogs. I trained them myself anyway at home, so for us it was really just review/socialization. It was fine, but really nothing you couldn't read in a book on your own. My smaller dog really needed the time around other dogs, and it was a good way for us to do it.

Tjej
post #20 of 51
Thread Starter 
Yay! Thanks, Piglet for bumping this thread! I was just thinking about doing the same thing today!:

As for obedience classes I have heard of two different sources
1)Dogsmart: www.dogsmart.ca
2) a woman on the North Shore named Ann Jackson (I think that's the right name)

Both came very highly recommended from people who have lovely, well behaved dogs.

2 books that I have been reading, also on recommendations from dog people are:
The Loved Dog, by Tamar Geller
Dog Training for Dummies (I know, despite the ridiculous title, its pretty good)

Piglet, what kind of dog are you bringing home?
Our little girl pup will be joining us at the end of July; she was born on June 1st.
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