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The Kid has expressed interest in getting a dog, and wants something husky-like. I know that a husky would need lots of exercise, but here I have a bored 16 year old ready and willing to provide just that.

The shelters I contacted require us to have a fenced in yard as a condition of adopting, so I've spent the last couple of months reading up on the topic and getting quotes.
Invisible Fence would run about $2,000 and works for most but not all dogs.
Extending our current scrap of fence all the way around the yard, with something that looks really good is almost $8,000.

My question to LJ: how necessary is a fence really (aside from the fact that the shelters require it)?
If I go minimal, what's a reasonable size for a fenced area for a mid-size dog?


Feb. 17th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
I'll add my type-of-dog opinion (worth, as ever, exactly what you paid for it):

I grew up with Standard Poodles, and love them, and will probably end up with poodles again if/when I live someplace I can have a large dog. As isherempress notes, they were originally bred as water retrievers. Like most retrievers, they're people-focused and very trainable. As I alluded to above, they're also very smart - most attempts to rank breeds by intelligence put them first or second (following only border collies). Unlike some other working dogs, following their person/people around and being attentive to them seems to be enough "job" for them (unlike herding dogs that start herding family members).

As you'd expect, being both smart and people-focused, poodles are generally very trainable. However, being smart and stubborn, they sometimes get the 'don't-wannas'. I've interacted with dogs who just don't understand what you want when you tell them to do something. That's frustrating, but you reach a whole new level of frustrating when you can see the dog understand what you want and decide that they just aren't going to. (Fortunately, it's never been with anything serious.)

Poodles do tend to be protective of their people and their property, although not as strongly as some other breeds. We've only had two agression/biting incidents with any of our dogs, neither serious. One was when Nick bit my brother's girlfriend. They were horsing around in the back yard, and she jumped up on my brother, piggy-back style. Nick thought she was attacking my brother, and bit her. The second was when the paperboy (a stranger to the dogs) put his hand through the fence to pet one of the dogs. Oops. (Neither bite was serious; while they broke the skin, they were not full force. Neither dog continued to seek to attack once the "invasion" or "attack" ended.)

We've had up to three dogs at a time and never had any inter-dog aggression. We've never had cats or other (loose) pets, so I can't speak to inter-species interaction. (I put loose in parentheses because there's not much interaction that goes on between a dog and, say, a tortoise in a tank, even if they're in the same household.)

In terms of food behavior (at least among the poodles I've observed), they don't tend to be particularly food-focused or food-protective. Most of our dogs have been able to be on 'continuous feed' (i.e. keep the food bowl topped up; they'll eat what they need), which many dogs can't handle. (Friends of mine have hounds - one beagle, one basset hound - and either one of them would happily eat themselves spherical if given unfettered access to food.) All of our dogs have been easily trained to have soft mouths (you don't have to count your fingers after feeding them something by hand, even if it's something really attractive like a piece of deli meat or a steak trimming.

[exceeded comment limit; continued on next rock]
Feb. 17th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
[continued from above]

Poodles tend to be high-energy. We have a hill in our fenced back yard, and the dogs chase one another up and down (and up and down, and up and down) it. Fetch is also a favorite activity. (Nick, the dog in the icon, played fetch with a soccer ball. He picked it up in his mouth and brought it back up the hill for us to kick it again.) However, they tend to be pretty calm in the house (although there's a certain amount of leaping and bounding involved in greeting people, whether 'their family' or visitors.

Grooming is less bothersome than many sites/breeders/etc will lead you to believe. They do need periodic haircuts (minus) because they don't shed (plus!). Actually, let me rephrase that - they don't make drifts of hair, and they don't have seasonal sheds. Their coat is much more like human hair than fur, so they'll sometimes leave wisps here and there, like a human does. You absolutely do not need to keep them in anything resembling 'show cut', unless you want to show them. We keep ours in something called 'puppy clip', which is short all over, with the face, feet, and base of the tail clipped very short, and the top of the head, tail, and ears left longer. (Most people don't recognize them as poodles if they're out of 'show cut'.)

Poodles are pretty weather-hardy (there's a team of Standards that have run the Iditarod!), especially if you space their haircuts so they have a heavy coat during the winter.

Size: According to the AKC standards, anything over 15" at the shoulder counts as a standard poodle (miniatures are shorter; toys are shorter still. "Royal Standard" and "teacup" are not official designations. The average size is quoted as 45-60 lbs; ours have usually been at least 55 lbs and at least 26" - I don't remember Nick's height at the shoulder, but at his heaviest he was 90 lbs, and wasn't fat, although he did get a little padded over the ribs after he got neutered.

As with all purebreeds, there are some genetic issues with poodles, which responsible breeders should be able to discuss with you.

If you're interested in a pure-breed dog of any sort, there are usually breed rescue organizations that can answer questions and help you decide if a particular breed is good for you.
Feb. 17th, 2009 07:01 am (UTC)
Icon note: the black dog (well, he'd mostly gone grey, but he *started* black) was Nick; the white one was Spooky.


after all
Alice Bentley

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