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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>We are in the process of visiting various shelters to get our first family dog.  We wanted to wait unti our kids were older, and at 9.5 and 6.5 we feel ready to take it on.</p>
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<p>We are aware that a puppy is difficult, but I have some residual fear and anxiety about dog aggression from incidents in my past (as an unfortunate bystander), and I've even worked with therapists about it.  The only way I feel comfortable with bringing a dog into our family is if we have it from as young as possible.</p>
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<p>We've done a lot of reading, and will be taking classes, but I have some extremely basic questions - so basic many of the manuals don't even address them!</p>
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<p>When we literally walk out of the shelter with the puppy, how should we bring her home?  If it's a young puppy, is it too scary for them to be put into a crate in the back of the car?  My mom said she just put the puppy in a box with a towel and we held the puppy on our laps, but this in the days when even kids weren't in carseats - is that still an okay way to do it? </p>
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<p>When they are first being housetrained, how do you handle nighttime?  I know we'll have interrupted sleep for awhie, but I don't know how it works.  Do we set an alarm, and get up and take the puppy out every two hours or so?  Do we put the puppy on the floor next to our bed and hope that her whining would wake us up to take her out?  I'm not sure exactly how this works . . .</p>
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<p>Do I buy whatever food the shelter is using and then gradually switch her over to higher quality food?</p>
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<p>Our house has a very open floorplan, and the only rooms you can close off are our bedrooms or bathrooms.  All floors are wood with carpet except the bathrooms, which are tile.  I am usually home during the day, but if I'm going to be gone for an hour or so, is it better to put up a gate in the middle of the room, or put the puppy in the bathroom?  We plan to crate train, but I'm not sure how long this will take or how the puppy will take to it.</p>
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<p>The main access to the backyard is a sliding glass door, but we don't like the glass door doggy door options.  We could put a doggie door with access to the backyard in the garage, but the dog would have to go downstairs, through the rec room, through the laundry room, and then through the garage.  Is that realistic?</p>
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<p>Any advice you have would be much appreciated!</p>
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<p>Get a crate, first of all.  That will solve your night time questions (put the puppy in a crate in your room and it'll let you know when it needs to go out), your daytime questions (puppy gets crated whenever you're gone or can't watch it).</p>
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<p>When we brought our puppy home, my 8 year old sat beside her, he in his car seat and she just on the seat.  We introduced the crate immediately and she cried in it the first day and after that, she loved it.  Be consistent, especially with housetraining.  After the puppy eats, take it out, when it wakes up, take it out.  We found that having the same basic routine every day helped alot.</p>
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<p>As far as the door thing, we have bells hanging from our door and our pup rings them when she needs to go out.  We do go out with her because we don't have a fenced yard so I don't have much advice on the doggy door.  Personally I'd skip it completely and just let it out when it needs to go.</p>
 

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<p>I have three dogs currently and have had dogs since I was 10 (now 33) and have never had a dog door in my life.</p>
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<p>I think one of the best things you can do for a puppy is to teach it to like having a crate so I am glad to hear you plan to use one. It will provide a solution to so many issues, and if you start with a puppy, you can teach him to love it! My two dogs I raised from puppies who are now 6 and 8, although they do not ever have any reason to be locked in the crate anymore, I leave it set up in a quiet place for them with a bed and they will often take a treat or chew toy in there for privacy. I think it is good for a dog to know they have private space. Some people think that having a crate for the dog means it spends a lot of time in the crate, but that is not true, the crate is to be used when you cannot supervise the puppy, such as when you are asleep, so he doesn't have a chance to make bad decisions when unsupervised.</p>
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<p>This will make house training easier because your puppy will try and hold it when he is in the crate, and this gives you a chance to take him right outside to go potty and get praise for doing the right thing . (Remember, you want to set your dog up for success!!)  Every time you praise your puppy for going potty outside you take a step forward housetraining, and every time he has an accident inside you take a step backwards.</p>
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<p>Feed the puppy all of his meals in there, sometimes shutting the door and sometimes not. Give him a nice pad to lay on. Try to avoid ever forcing him in, but lure him in with a treat. I keep a cup of dog treats near the crate so I always have a treat handy. (My dogs, if I pick up a box of treats, all race for their crates, it is rather amusing to see) You want to chose times to let him out of his crate when he is NOT fussing, because you do not want him to think that fussing gets him let out. If he is fussing when you want to let him out, wait for that split second when he is quiet.</p>
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<p>Anyway, I wrote all this to answer your question about what to do at night. I get a lot of puppies in  my house because I work with a dog rescue. I keep the puppy in a crate in my bedroom. I make sure he has had plenty of chances to go potty late in the evening, and then he sleeps in the crate in my bedroom. I give a "special" chew type toy at that time in case he still has a little energy to burn. At night, if I hear him wake up, I will take him from the crate, right outside to go potty, and then right back into the crate for the rest of the night. I don't play with him during these nighttime potty breaks and try and keep it low key so he can go back to sleep. My sleep is very important to me so I don't want the puppy thinking he can wake my up to play at 2am!</p>
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<p>Make sure your kids understand that if puppy goes in the kennel on his own to sleep, they need to respect that he wishes to have "quiet time" and leave him alone. I think it is important for dogs to feel like they have somewhere to go to get away from things if they need a break. When I adopt puppies out to families with several kids, there is a period where is everyone is "puppy crazy" and this can be overwhelming for a puppy.</p>
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<p>I think a box in the backseat with a towel with your 9 yo watching to make sure puppy does not jump out is probably fine for the ride home if you do not have a crate yet. Someone responsible can hold the puppy on a lap in the back seat, but  the puppy may pee from excitement and nervousness on the ride, so be forwarned.</p>
 

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<p> Honeslty, with your situation I would not go to a shelter most likely.  I LOVE rescue dogs, I work with rescue, I have rescue pets....but with your unique situation I honestly thing a shelter pup is not in your best interest.  The best bet would be a thoroughly vetted and temperament tested adult through a reputable rescue or a pup through a very reputable breeder.  Then if not those, a pup through a very knowledgeable and reputable rescue.  Please please please know that I am not putting down shelter dogs at all, and yes, they often make wonderful pets.  However, their backgrounds are unknown and shelter environments can mask some behaviors.  Its a rough start to life and does impact some dogs negatively.  They can usually be "fixed" but its sounds like you need a dog to help heal the fear first.  And I really truly get that.  I had a dog I had PTS because of aggression.  It KILLED me and I still have lots of feeling of guilt and sadness (and its been three years).  I swear I have almost a form of PTSD from her. It was really hard to trust bringing another dog into my home, and I am a huge dog person.  My career (before kids) was working for and then managing a dog kennel/training/grooming place.  </p>
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<p>What helped me is reading all I could get my hands on.  It really helped build my confidence in raising another dog.  Read Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, Suzanne Clothier, Karen Pryor, and more.</p>
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<p>A must read IMO is Before and After You Get Your Puppy....its available as a free pdf as well so yay!</p>
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<p><a href="http://www.dogstardaily.com/files/BEFORE%20You%20Get%20Your%20Puppy.pdf" target="_blank">Before </a></p>
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<p><a href="http://www.dogstardaily.com/files/AFTER%20You%20Get%20Your%20Puppy.pdf" target="_blank">After</a></p>
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<p>Finally, never stop training and socializing.  Find a good, quality training facility that uses positive reinforcement and does not rely on tools like prongs or chokes.  Start puppy classes asap (if going with a pup) and keep them up.  Nothing beats a good quality group class, even for people who have had many dogs.  If you can, have a trainer or behaviorist help you pick your pup.</p>
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<p>Bringing home is going to depend, but either holding or in crate should be fine:)</p>
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<p>Nightime - I do think if possible its best to let pup sleep in the same room as you.  Yes, when you hear them stirring or whining you take them out.</p>
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<p>THe doggie door, I dont ever use them so am not much help.  You wont be using one in the beginning anyways though and I would bet by the time the pup is old enough to get it, he should be able to make the trek if taught.</p>
 

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<p>Also, do you have a list of breeds (or mixes) that you are interested in?  Have you researched which will fit into your household and lifestyle the best?</p>
 

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<p>I completely agree. Dogs coming from the shelter can have issues- no matter what breed, age, etc..many of those issues will stay with them for the rest of their lives. You will have no idea what the mother and father's personalities were like or if they had problems with aggression. While I completely agree with rescuing, and think it's a great choice, in your particular situation, I would go with a puppy with a family history of good temperaments. </p>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>greenmagick</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1292081/first-time-dog-owner-adopting-a-puppy-need-some-basic-advice#post_16193143"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p> Honeslty, with your situation I would not go to a shelter most likely.  I LOVE rescue dogs, I work with rescue, I have rescue pets....but with your unique situation I honestly thing a shelter pup is not in your best interest.  The best bet would be a thoroughly vetted and temperament tested adult through a reputable rescue or a pup through a very reputable breeder.  Then if not those, a pup through a very knowledgeable and reputable rescue.  Please please please know that I am not putting down shelter dogs at all, and yes, they often make wonderful pets.  However, their backgrounds are unknown and shelter environments can mask some behaviors.  Its a rough start to life and does impact some dogs negatively.  They can usually be "fixed" but its sounds like you need a dog to help heal the fear first. </p>
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<p>I am going to add my 2 cents worth and agree with those that cautioned against shelter puppies. I suggest you get a puppy from a reputable breeder. I would decide what breed would work best for your family so you are going in knowing exactly what you are going to get temperament-wise and look for a good breeder. You also want to pick a breeder that socializes their puppies very well. I urge you to read Ian Dunbar's Before and After You Get Your Puppy books, I found them to be of tremendous help, as I too was a first time puppy owner. I would also recommend you research dog foods and also look into the raw prey diet as well.</p>
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<p>As for bringing pup home, we brought Oscar home in the car with my eldest DD holding him on a towel. We introduced him to the crate immediately and he slept there from his first night. I didn't put it in our bedroom as I didn't want an eventual 200 lb Mastiff sleeping in our room, so I put his crate in the living room and slept on the couch for the first two nights. Oscar went through the night from the beginning and did not cry at all, but I know this isn't the case with many puppies. Oscar was, and still is, restricted to the living room and kitchen, even though he has been house-trained since he was 11 weeks old. When I can't supervise him, he goes in his crate. Many people tether the puppy to them during the day, especially if they have plenty of room to roam. Ian Dunbar's book will tell you how to do everything, and one of the most important things is bite inhibition, his suggestions work, at least they worked with Oscar. We also don't have a doggy door, Oscar always lets me know if he wants to go out by scratching on the door.</p>
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<p>Good luck!</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<p>The unknown of a shelter pup does concern me, but honestly two of the aggressive dog issues in my past (again, not my dogs) were purebreds that came from reputable breeders.  In both cases I believe the aggression was due to lack of proper training and control on the owner's part. </p>
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<p>I guess I'm resistant to a breeder for several reasons:  I have no idea how to go about finding a good one, and I'm not set on any one particular breed, although I have ruled out several breeds for our family, including terriers, chihuahuas (small dogs in general), herding dogs, super huge breeds, long hair breeds, and pit bulls.  (As a note, I personally like pitbulls, but I know the social cost that comes along with them, and I'm not ready for that as a first time dog owner, and I don't want my kids dealing with that as their first dog experience).  I like boxers, I like labs, I like beagles, but I mainly find myself drawn to mixed breeds, which is why a shelter seems so perfect.  Plus, there's the expense of a breeder.  When my SIL got her boxer, I think she paid in the neighborhood of $400-$500.  We just don't have that kind of money.  We would like a medium to large dog (50 to 60lbs max), short hair, playful and energetic (we have two active boys), but very very tolerant. </p>
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<p>We visited one particular pup at a shelter over the weekend, and she seemed to have a great personality.  When we picked her up, she just relaxed into our arms - no struggling, no biting.  But when set down to play, she was very interested and active, wanted to engage us in the play (she was bitey when playing, but she's only 8 weeks), whimpered briefly when left alone but then settled down quickly.  I got a really good sense from her, but as with many shelter dogs, we don't know much about her.  She seems perfectly healthy, she is golden and short haired, and the best guess from the staff is that she is a mix of retriever with maybe some rottweiler?  She does have a boxy chest.  Also, her tail was docked, which makes me think rottweiler or boxer?  This bothers me, as I would prefer an undocked tail, but I don't know that it is a good enough reason not to adopt her.  Here's a link:  <a href="http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/18381730?rvp=1" target="_blank">http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/18381730?rvp=1</a>  They are guessing she weighs about 10-12lbs at 8 weeks.   We have to make a decision soon though, as the shelter doesn't hold dogs.</p>
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<p>We visited another pup who I got a different sense from.  He just seemed very independent, almost too independent.  He struggled a lot to get away when we tried to hold him, and had no interest in playing.  He was being fostered in an private home.  He was super adorable, but it just didn't feel right.</p>
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<p>If I knew more about dealing with a breeder, or how to find them, and narrowed down a specific breed, then I guess I would be more open to it.</p>
 

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<p>She's adorable!</p>
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<p>I would say trust your instincts.</p>
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<p>As for the dog door, once she is ready to use it, it won't be a problem that she has to run through the house to get there. But I don't think she will be able to use it until she is older, both because puppies are not super smart about stuff like that and because you want to keep her in your sight or in her crate as much as possible while you are house training her. Also she is a bit young to be unsupervised in the yard. Puppies get into things you would never imagine!</p>
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<p>I miss having a dog... </p>
 

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<p>Yes, a breeder is going to initially cost more (and 400-500 is way cheap...its usually higher).  Its one of those you pay for what you get things.  </p>
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<p>Have you looked at rescue groups where the pups are fostered in home? eta sorry, I missed that you did!  I still think that route would be better if a good rescue, but ultimately yes, you are the one meeting the pup so your instincts are very important too</p>
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<p>The pup is very cute and there is a good chance that with her being young and if you put in the time socializing and training all will be well.  I dont want to scare you or anything.  Its just temperament can be genetic as well.  </p>
 

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<p>If you don't want to go to a breeder, I'd look at rescues.  Lots of them get pregnant females and then have puppies that need adopting.  I was going to suggest a Weimaraner, from the things you're looking for, but they almost always have docked tails.</p>
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<p>Good luck!  Its hard to decide on mixed vs purebred, breeder vs shelter.  But I do agree, a puppy would be better in your situation.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
<p>I am so so sad.  I felt like I was coming down with a cold yesterday, so we didn't go to the shelter to adopt Katie May.  They open today at 3pm, so I called this morning, and she has been adopted.</p>
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<p>I feel heartbroken.  I don't know why I didn't just follow my instincts and adopt her while we were there.  Now I have to break the news to the kids.  <span><img alt="gloomy.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/gloomy.gif" style="width:15px;height:25px;"></span></p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>oceanbaby</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1292081/first-time-dog-owner-adopting-a-puppy-need-some-basic-advice#post_16195377"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>I am so so sad.  I felt like I was coming down with a cold yesterday, so we didn't go to the shelter to adopt Katie May.  They open today at 3pm, so I called this morning, and she has been adopted.</p>
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<p>I feel heartbroken.  I don't know why I didn't just follow my instincts and adopt her while we were there.  Now I have to break the news to the kids.  <span><img alt="gloomy.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/gloomy.gif" style="width:15px;height:25px;"></span></p>
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I am so sorry. Take your time, the right one will come along. </p>
 

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<p>I'm sorry you didn't get that sweet pup.</p>
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<p>I've been thinking about your original post, since I did get a medium sized mixed breed dog (what you are looking for) from the local shelter, around a year ago. </p>
<p>I also went by instinct, and chose a dog that just melted into me, and was calm and sweet with my kids in the meet/greet room. He was 9 months old at the time - or somewhere in that ballpark.</p>
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<p>My "take-aways" from that experience:</p>
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<p> - Some people are reticent, or judgmental  if you bring home a dog that even slightly resembles a pitbull or rottie. My dog may have none of those breeds in him (he has a big head, and is more muscular than a lab), but some people are afraid of him because of his appearance. I think this transfers (hopefully I can put that in the past tense - "transfered") in ways I may not even notice - I got stressed because someone was stressed or fearful, and that is communicated right down the leash. All to say, I LOVE my dog, but if you have some residual anxiety, you might want to take those types of mixed breeds off your list. I am NOT saying these aren't great dogs. Just that it adds a challenge with other (uneducated about dogs) people. I wouldn't change my pup for anything, but had I known in advance, I might have made it easier on myself by getting a longer-haired dog whose looks fall more on the goofy side.</p>
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<p>- I am very glad to have given my dog a better life - he was a stray - but if I were to do it again, I would get a puppy. More work at the beginning, but easier in terms of knowing them, and controlling their experiences. Also, 9 months old is full-swing adolescence, and his hormones were all over the place. I know you're already thinking of a puppy, and I think it's the way to go in your situation.</p>
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<p>- I would sign up for an obedience class not long after you get the dog, I found it to be a very bonding experience, and it helps build a shared language.</p>
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<p>Adopting a shelter dog (or at least, mine) presents challenges - we might be the exception? I don't know - only have my experience to go on.</p>
<p>I have put a lot of heart, and a lot of time into my dog, and it's still a work in progress.</p>
<p>He gives us back so much in return. He used to not know how to play, he used to not seek out attention or affection, and now he does both<img alt="thumb.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/thumb.gif">. He has a more active social life than I do, and my kids love him to pieces, as does my husband, as do I. He is becoming a good canine citizen. It's been hard, but very, very rewarding to watch him grow.<img alt="luxlove.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/luxlove.gif"></p>
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<p>In addition to the Ian Dunbar book I also found there was a lot of good information in the Petfinder book: <a href="http://www.petfinder.com/dog-bible" target="_blank">The Adopted Dog Bible</a></p>
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<p>I think a lot of your questions(or all of them) have been addressed. I would also agree to contact a good rescue, and maybe avoid the shelter. In the majority of cases, the people who work at shelters don't have the time or even the option to really get to know the dogs they have there. Also, the environment of the shelter is not the best for the dog's well-being, and it disturbs many of the dogs. Considering you have significant concerns about dog aggression, I would avoid a dog that's coming from a stressful environment. </p>
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<p>Both of our dogs came from "foster homes" through animal rescues. Our first dog ended up having some issues, and in retrospect, she hadn't been with her foster home very long at all, and they didn't know very much about her. Our second dog was a puppy, though, and the foster family had him for about a month. He had been in the house with two other puppies, and the foster family had several dogs of their own as well. It worked out much better. </p>
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<p>This is an excellent point. My friend's dog, the sweetest, gentlest, most well behaved dog ever, is (by our best guess) some mix of rottie/lab/something else. She has the coloring of a rottie, and because of that, <em>many</em> people are very afraid when they see her walking. If their anxiety will cause you anxiety, the dog <em>will</em> pick up on that. <br>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>daisymama12</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1292081/first-time-dog-owner-adopting-a-puppy-need-some-basic-advice#post_16197523"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>- Some people are reticent, or judgmental  if you bring home a dog that even slightly resembles a pitbull or rottie. My dog may have none of those breeds in him (he has a big head, and is more muscular than a lab), but some people are afraid of him because of his appearance. I think this transfers (hopefully I can put that in the past tense - "transfered") in ways I may not even notice - I got stressed because someone was stressed or fearful, and that is communicated right down the leash. All to say, I LOVE my dog, but if you have some residual anxiety, you might want to take those types of mixed breeds off your list. I am NOT saying these aren't great dogs. Just that it adds a challenge with other (uneducated about dogs) people. I wouldn't change my pup for anything, but had I known in advance, I might have made it easier on myself by getting a longer-haired dog whose looks fall more on the goofy side.</p>
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<p>Just a vote for the doggie door. We had two dogs for their entire lives - 12+ years, and, after a break to add some human kiddos to the family, recently added two puppies to the mix. Our new pups use the dog door just like our last set did. I LOVE the fact that they can self-regulate when to go out/come in and it doesn't involve me at all. And, of course, all dog doors have methods to close/lock them if that's a concern. Love the doggie door!</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
<p>I completely understand and agree about the "bully breed" anxiety. My SIL has boxers - the sweetest, most gentle dogs - and has told us stories about how some people react to her dogs who think that they are pitbulls.  She's had people scream at her at the dog park or on hikes if her dogs even tried to approach them off leash.  The dog we were thinking of adopting did have a bit of a rottweiler bodytype, but she was all golden, so I think that would have insulated her from that kind of reaction.</p>
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<p>As far as rescues being fostered in private homes, I'm just not even sure how you go about finding them if you're not searching for a particular breed.  I've looked at a few that I have been able to find and have never seen any puppies.</p>
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<p>I am pretty shocked about how heartbroken I still feel about Katie May.  Something about her was just so right to me, and I let her get away.  It was just so hard, being a first time dog owner, and her being the very first dog we ever even visited.  I guess I know better now not to hesitate, but I'm having a hard time feeling like I'll ever find another puppy who I have that reaction to. </p>
 

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<p>Are you in Oakland? It looks like Hopalong Animal Rescue fosters animals, and they have quite a few puppies. Hound Haven as well. Home at Last Animal Rescue. Smiley Dog Animal Rescue. And there's more, but those are the ones closest to Oakland. </p>
 
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