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Are dogs "more work" than cats? Moral support needed.

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

I don't mean to offend any of the dog lovers in this forum. I know nothing about dogs. I had a fear of since childhood.  When Dd came along I learned to mask it - I did not want to pass on the fear to her. We have two cats and a fish tank, and Dd has fallen in love with a puppy. Since Dd has come along I've slowly been dealing with my fear, and the dog she is asking for is one that even I can see is silly to be afraid of. It's a teeny tiny thing destined to remain pretty small, it's laughable that I might have any fear of it.


A separate, and more important problem is that I already feel overwhelmed by the animal care. We had two fish deaths for no known reason, and the cats are on restricted access to the full house because they have had litter box issues and I work at home; can't have any odor. The cats seem content enough with their arrangement but they do not have free run of the house, which I feel bad about. Because of this, Dd doesn't get as much time with them as she did before we realized they had troubles. They are now older and have had a long stretch of good behavior, and we're looking at trying increased access again, very gradually. The fish tank has been allowed to come into balance and we've been talking about how it's probably ready for fish again. Now, all of a sudden, the dog thing comes up.


Dh says dogs are "no work", especially since the dog Dd likes is a small one that apparently can be litter trained. If we get this dog, 90% of the work will be mine and that's giving me a knot in my stomach. I admit, I'm a 'cat person' (Dh's term) and not wild about dog behaviors, but I've said no to requests for more cats or a lizard. Dh really wants the dog too; for himself and because Dd is asking. But - he works long hours and I can't count on him to do much or any of the work. Dd is 10 and needs constant reminding to do her share of work on the cats; I'm sick of hearing myself nag. I don't ask her to help with the fish tank anymore because I'm sick of hearing myself nag. She's a responsible kid but I decided not to give her any more animal duties. Of course she says she would do more work on the dog - but she says that about the cats and - I end up nagging.


Dd is in love with a puppy that probably is not even available anymore...and if we find out that it is, there will be a lot of pressure on me to agree quickly when this would be a huge adjustment, and even though Dh denies it, a time investiment, I'm sure. And if the dog goes the same way as the cats or the fish, I'll be in sad shape. If the puppy is still available next week, I feel like getting it is inevitable, yet I feel unable to cope. Dd is in a high stress profession and does not have much of an ear for my feeling overwhelmed by animal care. Dd just wants the dog - she is an only child. Days before she first met the puppy, she started coming to terms with the fact that she and her once-best friend are growing apart. She was feeling a big hole with the realization, and she feels like this puppy would fill the gap. But this is not a new whim, she's been talking of a dog for the past year.


Thanks for reading - my lack of sense relates to the late hour and the many facets to my quandry. Any advice in any of the problem areas I mentioned would be appreciated. 




post #2 of 31

Yes, dogs are more work than cats.  And puppies are a HUGE amount of work, they need to be housetrained, exercised, socialized... It is not reasonable for your dh to ask you to take on a puppy for your 10 year old unless you are happy about it.  Your dd is also at an age where she would be in love with the dog for now, but might start to be less interested as she becomes a teen and becomes busier outside the home.  

post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 

Yes, there is the whole puppy-training thing; in my mind I'd been preparing myself for maybe an adult some dream day when the cat thing worked out (they have they problems but they are sociable when visiting with other animals)...and I've been hoping that Dd would ride out this wave. Unfortunately, Dh's own desire for a dog caused him to get pulled in, which got her more pulled in...

post #4 of 31

Yes, a dog is much more work than a cat.  It sounds like your cats stay indoors all the time, but even if you get a very small dog and litter train it, it really ought to get outside exercise regularly.  It's not much of a life just sitting inside the house all day.  And if dogs get bored, they can develop really destructive or annoying behaviors.  Puppies chew everything and need to be housebroken, so they have to be watched constantly, like young toddlers.  And they need training - they need to learn to come when called, to use their teeth gently when they play (or not to put their teeth on you at all, if that's what you prefer to teach), to let you take things from them, how to walk on a leash, what they're not allowed to chew on, what furniture they're not allowed to get on.  If it's not a short-haired dog, it will need to get used to being brushed.  It will need to get used to being around people other than family, if you ever want to have company or take the dog on walks.  You'll need to think a lot about what behaviors will be okay and how you'll prevent not-okay behaviors.  Will it be allowed on furniture?  Will it be allowed in every room of the house?  How will you keep it from eating poop out of the cats' litter box or eating the cats' food?  When you take it on walks, will it be allowed to pull on the leash?  Will it be allowed to go over to other people and jump up on them?  Will it be allowed to lunge and bark at other dogs?  If you don't want those behaviors, do you know how to teach the dog not to do them?  What if it turns out to bark a lot or starts snapping at people?  Are you willing to read training books or work with a trainer, or if it has troublesome behaviors is it going to have to go?

post #5 of 31

Pretty much what pps said...if neither of the people who want the dog are going to be responsible for it, that would be a definite no imo.

post #6 of 31


Originally Posted by Curious View Post

I've slowly been dealing with my fear, and the dog she is asking for is one that even I can see is silly to be afraid of. It's a teeny tiny thing destined to remain pretty small, it's laughable that I might have any fear of it.


When you are walking the dog, all other kinds of dogs will come to you to check out your dog. Some will be small, some large, and some of those dogs will have dumb owners who wouldn't bother to teach them proper manners. You'd have enough opportunities for fear, trust me.


Dogs are way more work than cats. Stand your ground.

post #7 of 31

I disagree, in our experience, one dog is WAY LESS work than two cats, especially if it is a small short-haired dog, you get it as an adult (no puppy training for me, ever), and you have a fenced yard. We actually enjoy walking our dog daily, as it helps us get exercise. But our cats died before we got a dog, and we are now a one-pet household. I would not add another pet to our household for love or money right now.


Don't add another pet if you don't want it and you'd be the primary caregiver.

post #8 of 31

I completely agree that dogs are way more work than cats.  I once had two cats and then got a dog, and it was way more work (which I was prepared for, but it was still a huge PITA).  The dog was a pug puppy, and so cute and sweet, but required a lot more attention and maintenance than the two cats combined.  


I am actually glad that having kids triggered pet allergies in me (weird, I know), because now I won't be coerced into getting any pets!

post #9 of 31


Dh says dogs are "no work"

That is absolutely untrue. It would be untrue to say cats are no work also.


We have 3 cats and 2 dogs currently. Dh and dd help very little with the pets.

We got one dog as a puppy and one as an adult- neither are big dogs. Our cats stay in the basement or the enclosed back porch. The dogs have the rest of the house.


I feel this isn't really about a comparison since you are not wavering between owning a cat vs owning a dog. You are talking about having cats and adding a different type of pet- a dog- to your household. It is more work to have multiple pets of different types IME. With the same type of pet you can do actions at the same time and it doesn't add much work but different kinds of pets require different work. I can walk two dogs at once or clean 3 litter pans at once but I can't walk the dogs and clean the litter pans at the same time.


Any pet you add to your household is adding work and if you already feel overwhelmed with what you have and you will be the one doing the work then I would end the discussion right there. It isn't even all about you feeling put upon or having a dog phobia but about being able to provide for proper care for the animals. It isn't fair to them to get sub-standard care. You naturally have limits and if you are at your limit then it is unfair to all to ask you to do more.

It is also a commitment to care for that pet for life so pp is right that even if your child helps initially your dd might get busy in a few years and you need to be prepared to be the one to care for that animal no matter what other people say they will do.


I felt overwhelmed with our dogs and cats but gave in to getting a hamster over a year ago and it was a mistake. Dd did not follow through on cleaning and caring for the hamster even though she swore up and down and even put it in writing that she would so it was one more pet for me to take care of.  A hamster sounds simple but the cage needed to be kept super clean which was actually a lot of work. The hamster died after a year and I am being absolutely firm this time on no more pets of any kind even though I love animals too.


In terms of caring for a dog by itself-

We got the one dog as a puppy and we only had fish as indoor pets at that time. The puppy required several months to potty train. This meant watching him carefully and responding quickly.  He was high energy and chewed on a lot of stuff as a puppy. There was a lot of extra housecleaning to do to clean up accidents and try to get things out of his reach. There was other training that needed to be done as well. Even without potty training he still needed to be walked.  Dd's interest in him became less as he and she got older.

The adult dogs are less work than a puppy. They still need to be walked or cleaned up after. They need to be brushed, bathed, and have toenails clipped regularly. There are vet visits. They need to be fed.  They demand petting and attention daily. There is hair all over- even the short hair dog sheds. The dogs follow me all day long. Our house and yard require treatment for fleas.


Be realistic and say no.

post #10 of 31

I"ll add to the above comments and point out that I don't think one should get a dog (or any pet) for a child. You get a dog for the family, knowing you will be the primary caretaker and trainer of this dog. If it isn't right for the family to have a dog, knowing that you'll be the doggie-care person, don't get a dog.


post #11 of 31

I'll concur that dogs are more "work".


I admit to browsing the responses, so I'm not sure if it's been mentioned, but if you are already having litter issues with your cats, a dog addition to the house may increase those issues.


I have two cats, aside from their destructive cat-tendencies (Must kill!  Must kill!  Must kill... knick-knacks!)  they are approximately zero work.  They are indoors only, short-haired rescue moggies, if I feel like brushing them I do, they get food every night, they have three water stations they have learned to request refills as needed on (nightly or more often), they have a litter box each in a private, hidden area that gets cleaned as needed or once a week, whichever is most often, and on occasion I deign to pet one of the beasts.  Considering that they guard their turf (the house), and one will sit in the baby's lap, along with the pest control and general amusement, I consider them zero work.  If we leave for the weekend I leave them a couple mixing bowls full of ice and one of food.  Heh.  Oh, and once a year I schlep them to the vet for shots and a once-over.  I really think dogs are much, much, much more work.  You have to train the dog... you have to follow the dog on his walks with a baggy.  (Ugh.)  You have to wash dogs.  Cats are self-washing.   Stick with cats.  I love dogs, I just like them best when they belong to other people.



post #12 of 31

I would definitely say that dogs are more work than cats.


Sure, you can "potty train" them which would eliminate the "let the dog in, let the dog out" monotony of the day. But, I would say it's as much or more work than potty training a child. You have to stay on top of the dog, and react to every little accident, plus clean up after every accident. Then once they are trained to go on a pad or in the litter box you STILL have to clean up the mess.


Puppies need a lot of attention throughout the day or they become destructive. Sometimes they just ARE destructive anyways. Ready to say goodbye to your shoes? How about your phone charger? Do you have garden beds, because sometimes dogs just love to dig.


You keep talking about a little dog. Just so you know, IME the "little dogs" like chihuahuas, and wienie dogs just LOVE to bark. Someone walks in the house and they bark. Someone drives down the street and they bark. They see a squirrel out the window and they bark. How does that sound to your overall sanity?


Dogs really need to go outside on a regular basis even if they are potty trained. Do you have a fenced yard for them to roam, or are you going to have to take a minimum of 30 minutes twice a day to walk them up and down the block to get their exercise?


Who's going to be responsible for the dog's behavior? Who's going to train him not to jump up on people? Who's going to leash train him? Who's going to teach him to "sit, stay, down?" Who's going to train him not to eat off of plates? I'm sure tons of us can tell you about that "one thanksgiving" where the dog got on the table and ran off with the turkey leg, and that's just on one day a year. There's still 364 other days where you're going to have to keep a close eye on all of the "people food" in your home.


Who's going to be responsible for vet visits? A lot of dogs go to the groomer, or get a bath on a regular basis, who's going to be responsible for that? If the dog needs its fur brushed and its nails clipped who's going to do that?


Do you like to vacation? Are you going to stay in pet-friendly hotels, have someone pet-sit, or board the dog? Do you like to go and stay with family? If so, how are they going to react if you ask if you can bring the dog?


There's all the "what-ifs" you have to be concerned about as well. What if the dog bites a family member or a guest? What if the dog terrorizes your cats? What if the dog has or develops a serious medical condition?


These are only the first of many questions that need to be answered when you think about bringing a dog into your house. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs. I want a dog. Right now, I couldn't handle a dog though. My cat is crazy and would terrorize the dog. I have a small property and don't feel it's enough space for a dog to roam. Plus, I don't want to have to pick up dog messes from the tiny yard. DD is only 4 and we're still working on "gentle" when it comes to animals. I have a newborn on the way, and don't feel that I would have enough time to supervise interactions between animal and small child and work on all of the training issues. The house is also too small for a dog. Four people an insane cat and two fish tanks is going to be a lot to deal with as is. Having a dog roaming through and getting into everything is going to be a nightmare. Plus, I utilize baby gates. The cat can jump over them, a dog cannot. DD, DH, and I want to get a dog, we're all in agreement over that. However, that want does not block out the rest of the concerns I have, and whenever the issue comes up the answer is a solid NO for now.

post #13 of 31

Well fish are the one animals that I found to be the biggest pain.....But to answer your question, dogs are more work, although there is a lot of differences between breeds. I own giant breeds with big bladders that were super easy to house train (much easier than the cat), You mentioned a small breed which often are more difficult to house train. IME the cats I've had were more destructive than my dogs, but again this is probably due to training and the type of dogs I have. I also have short haired dogs so grooming hasn't been an issue, but yeah long haired breeds would require more work.

Regardless of breed, dogs are more work for vacations. We always board ours so we have to plan that ahead of time. My dog can go all day without a bathroom break, but if you can't litter train your smaller dog even day trips have to be planned out. Or you need a fenced yard and the smaller the dog the easier it is for them to get out. You also must put in more time bonding to have a happy dog. Dogs are pack animals and need more family/pack time than most cats.


Since you aren't a dog person (my dh was raised very anti-dog although he's a big dog lover now) then I would not get a dog with already having so many pets. At least I would only consider an older, partially trained dog. Lots of shelters have young dogs(not puppies, but still young enough to get a similar experience) that are already partially or fully house trained. Since I was the one who wanted a dog I did most of the work/training. My dh accommodated me by getting a dog, but I think he would have been a bit resentful if he had to do all the work. Plus he didn't know anything about how to train/handle a dog. I was raised around dogs so being a pack leader was natural for me whereas my DH had to be taught by me on how to do things. It can be difficult to know how to interact with dogs without the experience. Just a thought since you would be the primary caregiver. Do you know anyone with a dog similar to what you would consider? It might not be a bad idea to "borrow" the dog for a weekend to see how much work it is (and then think about how much more a puppy would be). We no longer have cats as they fit our lifestyle less, but not every family is suited to owning a dog and I would hate for one to end up in a shelter because you couldn't handle the work.

Edited by Ramzubo - 4/23/12 at 11:45am
post #14 of 31

As a dog breeder/owner/exhibitor, and someone that is relatively intolerant of the special requirements that our cats demand, I would advise against getting this puppy. 


My level of stress is through the roof with our cats - keeping them off counters, making sure they pee in the box instead of on clothing, keeping them from scratching our furniture, etc. If you are already feeling taxed by life with your cats, family, and work, a dog will just exacerbate the problem.


I can guarantee that this puppy will have potty accidents, run off with your daughter's toys, bark at inappropriate times, and generally be like having a toddler around your home for the first two years you have her home. And I can't even imagine training a dog to potty in a litter box - one of the things I love about dogs is that they potty outside and I only have to clean it up once weekly. I think I would go nutso if I had to walk into a home that smelled like dog poop or pee, even if it was appropriately placed in the litter box. Keep in mind too that a dog will poop two to three times a day.


Anyway, I don't mean to be Negative Nelly, but I don't think a puppy is right for you at this time. My suggestion would be to settle on a breed that you think you could eventually come around to liking, contact a breed rescue, and go visit to get yourself comfortable with the dogs. Most breed rescues would be happy to work with you and walk you through the process of adopting...and, they have a vested interest in matching you with the perfect dog for your needs. Good with children of a certain age, an active or sedentary personality, clingy or aloof, etc. You can essentially tell a rescue exactly what you are seeking and they will find it for you, given enough time and patience.


So those are my suggestions. I hope that I don't come across as rude...sometimes I have a limited way of communicating, and I just sympathize with your current state of overstimulation and worry. I hope that you guys find what you are looking for! 

post #15 of 31


Originally Posted by MrsGregory View Post

Stick with cats.  I love dogs, I just like them best when they belong to other people.


My mom says "I love dogs, but I love myself more".


I think I have the same approach. Things like walking the dog at 6 am in the freezing rain... forget about it! (We had a dog when I was a teen, and my grandparents had dogs, so we have some experience.)  My mom says that sometimes she thinks about getting a cute smaller breed and potty-training it, but she always concludes that it's still too much work. She's happy with her two cats.

post #16 of 31

I am a dog lover, expecially tiny dogs because they are much easier to take care of than large dogs, even as puppies. My husband however, loves cats, which I hate. Right now, we have a cat and a ferret. Personally, from my experiance with ferrets, they are by far the better pet over both dogs and cats and I have had a ferret since my son was a newborn, with no issues. A majority of them are litter box trained, you can keep them in a cage at night so you know they arent getting into things and they can catch mice. They are smaller, and you do have to do some upkeep, like bathe them every two weeks, clip their nails and the scarest thing about them is when they jump around as they play. Mine actually hates jeans so whenever he sees them, he attacks the jeans, even if the jeans are on the floor. He has never bitten my kids or anyone else just for the fun of it, and when we rough house with him, his bites don't hurt, unlike a puppy or older dog. He's not roudy like a dog, and he dosent just sit there all day like a cat. He is very active, and lieks to paly games such as hide and seek, and tug of war with my kids who was 3 and 2. Also ferrets don't need all the immunizations dogs and cats do. They only need two, rabies (all animals but lizards, birds and fish need that) and the Canine Parvo shot. Most are already fixed when bought. You do have to worry about how your child treats it, as it is smaller than a dog and cat and can end up injured if thrown or dropped. At first they are expensive, but if you go and adopt a dog or cat at the pound, with all the shots, etc you have to pay for upfront, and you risk the chance of it attacking your kid unprovoked, i'd say ferret. Much better, and they are alot of fun watching their 'war dance' playful pounces and they make some odd noises but are relitively quiet.


I know people are going to say it will bite a baby for milk/ smother it, but cats and dogs do the same thing. Ferrets just happen to be highly misunderstood as they are not the generic pet.

post #17 of 31
I find my dog to me more work than my cats ever were. Like everything else, if you love the work then you don't resent it. I enjoyed the puppy training, the walks, the exercise. Sometimes I get tired and burned out, but because I really love having dogs I enjoy the work.

In your case it sounds like you do not enjoy dogs and would be stuck with all of the work which you don't want to do. It sounds like it might not be a good match.

Also keep in mind that like cats, some dogs are easier than others! My current dog is super easy: she was easy to train, too to potty training and crate training easily. She doesn't have a big chew drive and we haven't lost a single item in the house to her chewing. She loves to exercise but won't go insane if we have to miss a few days.

Now my mom's dog has a great personality (shitzu) and is wonderful.... but has a compulsive drive to eat her own poop. Since my mom is not so good at keeping a close eye on her this happens almost daily in the house. it is a lot of work, and unpleasant for her to deal with.

My sister's dog is fabulous but requires lots of exercise EVERY day, and for a 40lb dog has the strongest jaws I've sever seen. She doesn't bite but she needs to CHEW, and will go thorough an Extreme Kong in a day. It is a lot of work to keep that dog occupied and happy.
post #18 of 31
As someone who has owned both and now only owns cat... stand your ground. Dogs need to be trained well and you have to keep up on their training. Most dogs do require exercise, preferably twice a day and many do not do well home alone. Dogs and kids sometimes don't mix well despite the best training of the dog and the little person. Dogs do not a use a litter box. They will need frequent trips outside and the yard will have to walked over several times a week to pick up poop so your kid doesn't drag poop indoors on their shoes.

And don't even get me started on the vacation talk... do we take the dog? Do we board the dog? Where is the tears hair out smiley?
post #19 of 31

Don't do it.

post #20 of 31

dogs are exponentially more work then cats, they are akin to toddlers and rely on you for everything! besides the usual feeding, pottying etc they need exercise and mental stimulation, even if it is a small dog.

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