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Hey, lovely dog forum peeps!

So, my dad is 77 and recently widowed. Waaaay back when he and my mom were married, he had a golden-mix dog that he loved. He was a fantastic dog. My parents divorced shortly after I was born. I remember the golden a bit, but he passed when I was 7 or 8. Dad got a lab/coonhound mix when I was 6. Pup got trained by the awesome golden as well as some... harsh lessons... from my dad. Dad loved the pup, don't get me wrong, but as a guy born in the late 30s, and this being 20 years ago, harsh lessons were the way almost all farm dogs were trained, especially from my dad's generation. He was a great, great dog and my dad was very upset when he had to be put down. He still has pictures of Buster (the lab/coonhound) around the house. :)

Anyway, after Buster left our lives, Dad decided not to get another dog, because he was back and forth between his farm and his wife's farm, and he didn't like having to haul Buster the 50ish miles one way several times a week.

Now that my step-mom passed, my dad is very lonely, and also only on his farm. He immediately expressed interest in having a dog again. So, of course I want to help!

The big issue is that now, as an adult who is interested in getting her own dog, I know much more about training methods and such. And there is no way in the world that I would trust my dad with a puppy. He would... definitely give spankings, as I know that's how he "dealt" with Buster's behaviors that he didn't approve of. Plus, at his age, the energy requirements of a puppy and young dog would be too much for him.

However, a well-trained older adult dog (I'm hesitant to go with a senior, because I don't want it to pass on so soon after he gets it, but it's also something I'm open to!) would probably be an excellent fit. Howeverrr, the other problem is that my dad is a "dogs belong outside" person. And pretty much every shelter that I'm aware of wants to make sure you'll be keeping the dog inside. Which is understandable... it was pretty amazing that his two previous dogs learned what the property lines were and stayed in the yard. Buster actually didn't learn it as well and went missing for about a month and a half. We were amazed to get him back. Anyway, Dad doesn't spend as much time outside as he used to, because at 77 his body is finally starting to complain about doing work all day. :) An inside dog would be a much better companion for him anyway.

Soooooo... has anyone had any luck with changing the mind of a "dogs only belong outside" person? I personally am okay with dogs being only outside--it's just in my dad's situation, I think an inside dog would provide more companionship since he's inside more. Any books they'd suggest? Also, any suggestions on books or ways to approach positive training methods for people who are used to negative ones? Or any experience with a dog for a spry elderly person? Suggestions on mixes to look for? I know dad would prefer something that has Golden or Lab in it, but the shedding issues there are going to be pretty crazy, especially if I'm trying to convince him to let it in at least in part of the house...

And for those who like to do window-shopping on Petfinder, my dad is in southern Minnesota and I'm in southern Wisconsin, so if you see dogs you'd think would fit, feel free to show 'em off.

Actually, on that note, I think that IF I could convince my dad to be inside only and to fence in part of his yard or be very good about leashes, a greyhound from the Greyhound Pets of America would be an excellent match for him... but he'd have to change his views quite a bit. But gosh, the Minnesota chapter is amazing and I think they'd be excellent for finding him a good match.

I'll be visiting with him this week, so I'm going to talk to him about how he's feeling about a dog and at least see if I can work on the inside dog issue. I'm really hoping I can change his mind.

Thanks so much! Winter is coming up and I'd really like to find my dad a pal before the depression and loneliness of snow and cold sets in. Thank you all! <3
 

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I know it would probably be beneficial to your dad, but what about the dog? You're talking about taking a rescue dog and putting them in with an old man who may not be up to exercising them, believes in hitting dogs and keeping them outside, and just overall doesn't sound like a great environment. I'm not saying your dad is a bad person, just that not everyone is right for a dog at every moment.

What about senior centers or volunteer opportunities for seniors in his area? A church group that might be willing to visit? There are lots of opportunities for seniors to help the community while also getting companionship if you look for them.
 

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Having grown up in southern Minnesota, I know what the weather can be like, and I'd be hard pressed to believe any dog could be a solely an outdoor dog. I have known some well cared for farm dogs who had access to warm barns when they needed it, but even then...dogs are pack animals. They want to be with their people, and if your father isn't outdoors as much as he might have been once, he won't be spending as much time with a dog as it needs or enough for your father himself if he's thinking of getting a dog as a companion.

If you can convince him that dogs can live inside the house, I'd still be wary of the fact that he could change his mind once you aren't there. Is there a friend or relative nearby who could keep track of the situation? If a promise is made to a shelter that the dog won't be just an outside dog, and your father doesn't live up to that promise, it's really not fair to the dog or the shelter.

Is it also possible that your father might get his doggie fix, so to speak, through something other than dog ownership? There are therapy dog groups that will do private home visits. Or if he's able, is there a nearby shelter/rescue group where he could volunteer to help with the dogs? Generally speaking, shelters are happy to have people volunteer to walk or play with the dogs in their care. Working with a therapy dog group or a shelter might also convince him that there are other training/housing options for dogs that he might not have considered appropriate or even doable before.
 

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Would he feel any different about keeping a small dog indoors instead of outdoors all the time? A small dog might not be overwhelming for an elderly man who may not be able to handle a big or even medium sized dog anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Having grown up in southern Minnesota, I know what the weather can be like, and I'd be hard pressed to believe any dog could be a solely an outdoor dog. I have known some well cared for farm dogs who had access to warm barns when they needed it, but even then...
Oh, yeah! Sorry, I figured that was obvious. :) Dogs were in the (heated floor) basement at night and in inclement weather! Absolutely wouldn't leave a dog without warm shelter!

amaryllis said:
I know it would probably be beneficial to your dad, but what about the dog? You're talking about taking a rescue dog and putting them in with an old man who may not be up to exercising them, believes in hitting dogs and keeping them outside, and just overall doesn't sound like a great environment. I'm not saying your dad is a bad person, just that not everyone is right for a dog at every moment.
Trust me, I wouldn't be considering it if my dad wasn't up to it or it would be a bad environment. :) He's still very active, he's just not outside 18 hours a day like he was when he had a dog before. This is why having an outside dog then was an okay thing--he was with him constantly, other than at night. He's more than able to exercise the dog. He's physically active for about 4-8 hours a day (more than me!), but inside the rest of the time, which is why he'd do well with an inside dog now. As for the "hitting the dog," that *only* happened when he was initially training, and, well... he's matured a lot since then. I never saw him hit a dog out of anger or frustration or anything abusive. It was the training method back then. His dogs were not fearful or anything that is symptomatic of being abused or even ... uh... just afraid of something? I'm not thinking of the right word. He spanked me as a kid and has since realized that was a bad thing (and has apologized so much for it), so I know if he were to learn about positive training, he'd also realize that's a better option.

As for other options, no. He lives 25 minutes from a small town (10,000 people), and an hour from where there are actual social groups. He has friends in the neighborhood, obviously, but he's not close enough to a place where he could go hang out daily. It's great suggestion, though, thank you! :)

Thank you for you suggestions! And like I said, I absolutely wouldn't encourage my dad to have a dog if I thought the dog would be in a bad environment. If he promised to keep it inside, he would keep that promise. He's a very upright and moral person. So adopting a dog to be inside would only happen if he was okay with it in the first place, and I wouldn't encourage him to adopt unless he made that decision on his own. My dad is still very healthy and also very willing to learn. I was just curious if anyone else had experience especially with parents changing their training techniques. This is still very up in the air, and I won't help him if he's not willing to keep it inside or use positive training. :) I'm just looking for resources for him and wondering if anyone had any similar experiences. Most of the positive training books I've read talk about how lovey-dovey we are with our dogs and how they're our fur-babies, etc. That's not something he'd respect. But a straight-forward overview of positive training would work excellently for him. I've just not encountered anything like that.

Thank you!
 

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Would he feel any different about keeping a small dog indoors instead of outdoors all the time? A small dog might not be overwhelming for an elderly man who may not be able to handle a big or even medium sized dog anymore.
That's the direction I'm thinking. I'm wondering if something on the small-medium size that isn't super energetic so that they're bouncing around like absolute crazy. ;) I know a lot of the smaller dogs can actually be much more energetic than larger dogs, so that's why I'm not completely focused on small dogs.
 

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Where does he live? In a suburban or rural area? Where I live, every man upwards of 65 has a little bichon/lhasa/poodle guy that is relatively low maintenance and low energy. Its nice for them because the dogs are manageable to walk, which gets them out of the house and socializing with other seniors.
 

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Very rural area. He's about 25 minutes from a town of 10k people, and an hour from a town of 50k.

But yes, it would more be walking and visiting his next door neighbors, but that's the image I have in mind, too. :)
 

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Does your dad like to read a lot? There are lots of fantastic reads out there that I think might help sway him in the positive reinforcement/ indoor dog situation.
 
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Does your dad like to read a lot? There are lots of fantastic reads out there that I think might help sway him in the positive reinforcement/ indoor dog situation.
Yes! He loves to read. That's why I'm hoping someone can suggest specific books. :D :D

As I said earlier, the ones I've read, while good and helpful for me, wouldn't be good for him, because they're very lovey-dovey dogs are fur-babies books. Which, while he loves and cares about his dogs, that kind of talk would turn him off really quick. So any kind of straight-forward book on positive training would be immensely helpful!
 

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Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson

Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor

Written by experienced trainers with advanced educations in the field of animal behavior. Not fluffy stuff but not over the top geeky.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Excellent, thank you so much! I look forward to reading them, too.

And of course, other suggestions are always very welcome! Thank you guys.

Edit: After reading the summary, it sounds like The Culture Clash is exactly what I've been looking for. This will be really good, thank you.
 

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Hi Sha,

Okay please do not be mad but I would not recommend a greyhound in this situation!

I completely believe people can change and your dad sounds like a very reasonable man. However when changing your views there are bound to be "hiccups" in the system.

Sight hounds as a group are very sensitive dogs. They do not handle rough treatment and I know of a few that will even go hide in a corner for an hour if you yell at them or give them a dirty look.

I think a more mentally sturdy breed of dog would be a better option - a dog that will bounce back a little more quickly and not get butt hurt over everything.

A lot of small to medium rescue mutts fit that bill nicely. A lot of shelters here have dogs for seniors programs - have you checked yours for something like that?
 
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Okay please do not be mad but I would not recommend a greyhound in this situation!
Not mad at all (and not mad at any of the responses here)! <3<3 That's exactly the kind of thing I need to hear! Thank you, and I'll scratch them off the list! Thank you!

I completely believe people can change and your dad sounds like a very reasonable man. However when changing your views there are bound to be "hiccups" in the system.

...

I think a more mentally sturdy breed of dog would be a better option - a dog that will bounce back a little more quickly and not get butt hurt over everything.

A lot of small to medium rescue mutts fit that bill nicely. A lot of shelters here have dogs for seniors programs - have you checked yours for something like that?
That's exactly what I was thinking for breed! The only reason I mentioned the greyhounds is because the low energy inside and just how excellent the rescue here is for really doing their research to make sure the dog is a very good match for the person applying. So, yes, that kind of smaller mutt is exactly what I have in mind for him.

As for senior programs at the local shelters, sadly they're all really small shelters, so I don't think they have anything like that. However, my local shelter might have a program like that, so I'll look into that, and double check with his local shelters just in case they do have it! Thank you! I hadn't heard of anything like that.
 

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I hate to bring this up...but given your dad's age, if he should pass away, are you or another family member going to be willing to step in and give the dog a home or will it be shunted off to some animal shelter someplace...that could even be a kill shelter.

I adopted a dog, who's owner died and none of the family wanted her. She's the dog in my avatar. She was 6 years old when I got her and had been in a no kill shelter for almost a year. It's hard for older dogs to get adopted. So, to me, if and older person (or anyone for that matter) plans on getting a dog, plans should be made as to where the dog can be homed if something happens to the owner.

I use to work at the shelter and often older people who passed away also had older animals...some of them 10 to 14 years old...and the senior animals were almost impossible to adopt. So, if you dad did get a 2 to 5 year old dog now and he lives another 10 years (87 is a nice age and some people make it a lot older)...but in 10 years that pet will be 12 to 15 years old and will anyone want to take in his senior dog.

If he really wants a companion animal, and you can do the footwork in finding one for him, I think it would be great...a pet can bring such comfort to a single senior person. But be sure it's something he wants, and not just something you think will 'be good' for him. I have a friend, who is single, and while she loves animals, and had them in her life growing up...she's never desired to have a pet of her own, much less on inside of her house.

Not everyone who loves animals is cut out to be a pet owner, even though, they have the right mind set to be a wonderful pet owner. I know my friend would be a gentle loving one, but it's just not for her.

I hope I don't sound to critical....just that I've seen people who have picked out a dog for someone else, or tried to get them to take in a dog they found...and it's just not what that person wants or needs at the time or not the kind of dog they really wanted. So be sure your dad is right there with you in the decision making process. : )

Stormy
 
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Nope, you don't sound critical at all, Stormy, and I appreciate the thoughts, and the kindness with which they were said. :) Seriously, thank you!

I do realize that if he were to pass away before the dog, that I would be responsible for the dog. I am willing and able to take on that responsibility, and I do realize it is a very real possibility, especially as I just lost my stepmom (she was 78). As for if he wants to do this or it's something I think would be good for him, he's the one who brought it up, and he started digging out all his old dog supplies to see if his crate was still in good shape, etc. :)

But yes, all of that is very important to consider, and I thank you so much for bringing it up.

And as to the last point about making sure he's involved in the process, ABSOLUTELY. My mom actually was on the receiving end of someone's "good intentions." I don't know if she told my aunt that she was thinking about a dog or what, but... my aunt picked out a dog from a shelter and dropped it off with me and my mom when I was a young child. It... was not a good situation for him. I didn't know how to care for a dog properly at that age, and my mom didn't care to. I feel so guilty about how his life turned out, and I promise to never, ever let that happen to another dog in my life. He was loved, but he was bored and given progressively less and less space... yeah. I refuse to be party to anything at all like that ever again. So yes, an excellent point and thank you for checking up on me. I really appreciate it.
 

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Sha,

I just wanted to add that I think getting a dog for your dad is a good idea. I know many elderly people who live alone and end up suffering from depression because of it. A dog can really help with the feelings of loneliness and have a lot of positive health aspects such as lowering blood pressure!

It is awesome you are putting in so much forethought and research.
 

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I worked with a woman who was 82 when her children got her a Maltese x yorkie puppy. To be fair, she adored that dog and never hit or yelled at it. She also never trained it. So when she died, the dog was 8, yappy and not housetrained. Her children had their own dogs that this dog couldn't get along with, it wasn't socialized eithrr, so off to the shelter it went. Guess how many people want to adopt an 8 year old, unsocialized, yappy, not housetrained dog?
 

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I think the best fit for your dad would be an adult dog that was well cared for by another senior who either went into a retirement home or passed away.

I have a wonderful older dog that I adopted from a high-kill shelter. Although his intake papers say that he was a "stray," I rather suspect that he came out of this kind of situation and was dumped by family members. He's very well-socialized and calm and enjoys cuddling on the sofa with a few short walks each day. He would be perfect for your dad (but you can't have him!)
 
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