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Yes, a small dog can be trained to use a litter box, and you can Google for examples, as well as visit PetsMart for ideas.

I recommend an adult dog from a rescue, b/c they will help match the dog to the owner. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are great cuddle dogs, although they are not small. However, they are frequently chosen as service dogs, because of their gentle nature.

If you are set on a small dog, a Bichon Frise is like a compact Labrador... :)
 

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Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
I'll be honest, I've been a little scared off of the idea for right now. I will be continuing my research though and I would still love to have an animal friend. I know it's gonna be work but "you might not get a day off for the next 15 years" and not being able to sleep in ever again - that's worrisome. I'm not unwilling to put in the work at all but I've had horrible sleeping problems since I was a kid, I don't get a lot of sleep often times as it is and tend to not fall asleep until sunrise.

I would take the dog out to the yard every time the dog has to go but I asked about the litter box in case of emergencies or maybe if it's night time and no ones awake. I'm sure the dog would wake me, sleeping in my room, but I'm approaching this thing as cautiously as possible trying to cover as many bases as I can, even if it is silly sounding. My dad is unable to work anymore (he is ill) so he is home all day, the dog would never be lonely. I do get a strong feeling though everything is going to fall on me and I won't be getting much help. Don't get me wrong though, I love the idea of taking care of an animal and am not afraid of the work that goes into it but if a cat is more forgiving for a newbie then I don't know.

My family wants a dog and are opposed to cats, as I mentioned. I'm thinking about it as an option again, I'm just afraid it won't be as loving, cuddly and gentle as some of the dog breeds I've been researching. I also don't like the idea of only receiving attention from a cat randomly whenever the cat feels like it. However, the thought that occurred to me last night was if I'm going to go at it alone as a first timer, I suppose it would be better going with a more independent animal. Anyway, I'm still totally undecided as of now and am having a hard time making a decision :(
 

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I'll be honest, I've been a little scared off of the idea for right now. I will be continuing my research though and I would still love to have an animal friend. I know it's gonna be work but "you might not get a day off for the next 15 years" and not being able to sleep in ever again - that's worrisome. I'm not unwilling to put in the work at all but I've had horrible sleeping problems since I was a kid, I don't get a lot of sleep often times as it is and tend to not fall asleep until sunrise.

I would take the dog out to the yard every time the dog has to go but I asked about the litter box in case of emergencies or maybe if it's night time and no ones awake. I'm sure the dog would wake me, sleeping in my room, but I'm approaching this thing as cautiously as possible trying to cover as many bases as I can, even if it is silly sounding. My dad is unable to work anymore (he is ill) so he is home all day, the dog would never be lonely. I do get a strong feeling though everything is going to fall on me and I won't be getting much help. Don't get me wrong though, I love the idea of taking care of an animal and am not afraid of the work that goes into it but if a cat is more forgiving for a newbie then I don't know.

My family wants a dog and are opposed to cats, as I mentioned. I'm thinking about it as an option again, I'm just afraid it won't be as loving, cuddly and gentle as some of the dog breeds I've been researching. I also don't like the idea of only receiving attention from a cat randomly whenever the cat feels like it. However, the thought that occurred to me last night was if I'm going to go at it alone as a first timer, I suppose it would be better going with a more independent animal. Anyway, I'm still totally undecided as of now and am having a hard time making a decision :(
Personally, I don't understand that statement about "not getting a day off for 15 years." I get days off, but I like to take them WITH my dog. A dog is a companion. He is someone you think and worry about when you aren't with him. Of course you can sleep in sometimes. You might have to get up and let the dog out to do his business, but you can climb right back into bed and your dog will be happy to come with you.

I had cats my entire life. Some are more independent than others. Some are always cuddly and some are never cuddly and some are in between. Some dogs are more cuddly than others. You just need to find the right animal for you. That's why a rescue dog (or cat) or a service dog would be your best choice. Don't be frightened of the responsibility. The responsibility is there but it is really a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Personally, I don't understand that statement about "not getting a day off for 15 years." I get days off, but I like to take them WITH my dog. A dog is a companion. He is someone you think and worry about when you aren't with him. Of course you can sleep in sometimes. You might have to get up and let the dog out to do his business, but you can climb right back into bed and your dog will be happy to come with you.

I had cats my entire life. Some are more independent than others. Some are always cuddly and some are never cuddly and some are in between. Some dogs are more cuddly than others. You just need to find the right animal for you. That's why a rescue dog (or cat) or a service dog would be your best choice. Don't be frightened of the responsibility. The responsibility is there but it is really a good thing.
Thank you very much for that encouraging post. I get up to use the bathroom and go back to sleep anyway like everyone, doing it for an animal I'll love sounds no different. :) I can't say I'm even totally scared of the responsibility, I guess it's just the big change. My depression is pretty self-feeding and sometimes doesn't allow me to make changes, even ones for the better. I'll be looking around the shelters soon, hope I can find the right one!
 

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If I misread this, then I am sorry but you stated....

"My depression is pretty self-feeding and sometimes doesn't allow me to make changes, even ones for the better."

So your depression, will get the better of you, when it comes to changing your life for your dog?

If so, have you ever considered a snake?

I have a red tail boa constrictor, she's awesome, I feed her once a week, give her water and take her out on occasion but she's worry free for the most part, her muscles tightening and loosening gives me the best massage known to man kind!
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Im not saying it always gets the better of me but its generally hard for me to make big life changes. Like it took me years of laying off seeing a therapist, I finally did and I go all the time now. I'd imagine owning a pet of about any kind is a big lifestyle change. I don't doubt I can change my life for a dog but its hard to pull the trigger on starting it, yknow?

I looked up some pet snakes, they're cool animals but cool from afar for me lol
 

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Im not saying it always gets the better of me but its generally hard for me to make big life changes. Like it took me years of laying off seeing a therapist, I finally did and I go all the time now. I'd imagine owning a pet of about any kind is a big lifestyle change. I don't doubt I can change my life for a dog but its hard to pull the trigger on starting it, yknow?

I looked up some pet snakes, they're cool animals but cool from afar for me lol
I hope you don't mind ... but I just had to reply. :) ......

You know, I posted about my youngest sister having the same issue. Of course I understand everyone has a different degree of depression. I myself have always been in upper management, outgoing, not a care in the world. But for the last 7 years I have been stuck in a house taking care of my Mother who was dying. The last two years of this I did not even get to go to a store. Only was able to go outside of the house with the two little dogs. I always had to be in ear - shot. After my Mother passed a year ago, ... and I first was able to go away to a store ... I felt myself having a panic attack. I do not often admit this. I always thought myself a very strong person. :( After a few months of this, I decided to just bite the bullet. It was not easy ... mostly life is not easy in general. It was not intended to be IMO. :)

I hope you are able and can find it in yourself to do the same. I hope you are able to find the pet of your dreams. They are very therapeutic. :) The first thing I did was rescue a pup. It helped with my panic attacks,... and I am sure my depression from the 7 seven years prior!

Good Luck and Happy Holidays to you. :)
 

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Just wanted to share some of my thoughts and experiences as well... :)

Although I wasn't diagnosed with depression of any kind, several years ago I was in a really "rough spot" in my life so to speak. Not.. severe, but it was tough. My boyfriend had left town to go to work for several months (wouldn't see him much), I had gotten laid off from work and the industry I was in at the time was always hit and miss when the next job would come up, and plenty of other things in life just couldn't go right for me, and I had been wanting a dog for a really long time. I was particularily interested in the Shiba, and after doing lots of research ( wanted a dog that was easy to train, didn't bark, was fairly low maintenance, would adapt well to apartment lifestyle, etc) So i scrounged up enough to buy Cash. Yeah he's from a breeder and was very expensive but I didn't care to rescue a dog that I had no idea what kind of behavoir issues it would turn out to have. The breeder I purchased Cash from let me have sort of a "test run" with him, after a month or so if I wasn't satisfied she would take him back and refund me. But I had no regrets, he was the best companion and suit my lifestyle and brought me out of the "dumps" so to speak. He lived up to the expectations I had, he was 2 years old so he was already housebroken, he never had to be crated, he cuddled me in bed every night, curled up and watched movies with me on the couch every day, NEVER barked, never got anxious, never destroyed anything, never demanded anything from me just molded himself into my lifestyle.. and because I was both lonely and unemployed at the time we did everything together everyday, went for walks to the park, he sat in the front seat of my truck whenever I went out to do errands, came with me to friends houses, he was attached to my hip and was indeed my bestfriend and alwasy there for me. Like Abbylynn said.. Dogs are definitely therapeutic providing you find the right one.

I wish you all the best with finding the perfect companion :)
 

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Hi

I have depression as well and I got a puppy about a month ago. He is a very small dog poodle mix, not even 3 lbs at 3 months. And compared to big dogs, yes he is low maintenance. I can bring him everywhere and to al family functions and no one minds because he is so small and sweet. Getting adjusted the first week was a little difficult but now he is the sunshine of my life. He is attached to mom (me) and follows me everywhere. The fact I get to nuture him and love him helps my depression a lot. But I have wanted a dog my entire life, I didn't get one because of my depression. BUT he has helped me and i love him more than anything already. We had an instant bond with eachother and he makes me laugh all the time. Good luck, let me know how it goes!

I also have to add that I live with my boyfriend in a house and he helps with the responsibilities. We are also both graduate students and are home 90% of the time. We are his mom and dad. But i'm his favorite :)
 

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Have you considered a tiny dog? My Chihuahua is very cat-like in a lot of ways.. she was easy to train, prefers to go outdoors but certainly can and will use the pee pad if that's what she has to do. She is independent enough that she's fine being left in the house when I go to work. She loves to sleep in and will stay in bed as long as I'm there. She will "alert bark" when someone comes to the house, but is otherwise very quiet. She also does not need daily walks, though she certainly enjoys them, she will not become destructive without them.

I also have severe depression, and there have been days when the ONLY thing that has gotten me out of bed, is knowing that I have to feed the dogs.
 

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Will your family help with the dog? My stepson is depressed (actually, he's bipolar, but he's depressed most of the time) and there are bad days when he cannot take care of himself, let alone anything else. I would not want him to have responsibility for a pet unless he lived with someone who could step in when he was at his lowest. Maybe yours is not as overwhelming and you can get up and go about a minimum amount of business on even the worst day?

Another thing you could do, if there is a shelter near you, is volunteer to walk and care for dogs at the shelter. I know it's hard to initiate anything and talk to strangers when you are depressed, so this might not work. But, it would get you some very appreciative dogs to spend time with and you would meet people who also like dogs, with a built in topic of conversation. Maybe one of the dogs would eventually become yours and you'd know that dog pretty well by the time you brought it home. I've never been depressed (other than some situational depression here and there), so I don't know what that's like, but I used to be very shy as a teen and young adult, having an animal with me (whether mine or someone else's) really helped me to talk to people and meet new people...the animal gave me confidence and kind of worked as "buffer" between me and the other person.
 

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I'd just like to agree with what someone mentioned about having a dog being a reason to get up in the morning.

Personally, I'm one of those people who when depressed just sleeps in, or hides away in my room all day in front of the TV or computer. And as any health professional will tell you, this is the worst thing you can do. Or, as my doctor once said 'whatever you feel like doing, do the opposite!'

Anyway, my point is that I've found that in having a puppy, I am forced to wake up at a (fairly) reasonable hour, and to get out of my room (because she lives downstairs in the living room) and go take her outside, etc in order to look after her. When I can walk her, I know I will feel completely guilty if I don't walk her everyday, so it forces you to leave the house at least for half an hour in the day. And I find that it does make me feel a lot better when I force my self to be active rather than passive.

Like everyone else has said, it is a lot of responsibility for someone with depression, but I just wanted to put forward some of the advantages.
 

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A pet may help give you purpose, or it may backfire. I don't think you'll truly know until you take that step. My roomate 4th year university was falling into a deeper and deeper depression. Her school work wasn't getting done. She wasn't taking care of herself. My mom suggested a pet.. it had helped a few people in her church. So I suggested it. Sadly, we were far less researched. She perked up at the idea and wanted to go to the closest pet store. I knew this was a bad idea, but never having owned a pet, I wasn't entirely sure why. She picked out the only dog that wasn't a JRT or JRT mix. A small cocker spaniel puppy. She put her on reserve for 24 hours and we went home.

I started to do more research, and started to learn about bybs and puppymills and was horrified. We went back the next afternoon, I grilled the employees about where the puppies come from, and they had so many lies that sound great. I wasn't convinced, but my roomie was. So we took her home. Got her around Christmas, graduated in April. Having a puppy seemed to help for a while. By February or early march she was already talking about putting the puppy in the pound when we graduated. Apparently had no room in her life for an animal. Was cramping her style. I was attached, I sort of finally had the pet I always wanted.. so she turned it into a big elaborate gift to me. Cider is 7 now. After we graduated she never has once asked again how Cider is. She went and got a cat not long after.

A dog or a cat may work out for you, but it also may not be the reason to get up in the morning you are hoping for. If you are set on a small adult dog, I'd be honest with breeders with adults to rehome or rescues about your health and head space at the moment, so if it isn't working they will take the dog back and know that it may not work.

We lived on the 6th floor of an apt building. Cider was potty box trained until I moved out. If you get an adult instead of of puppy who is already somewhat if not fully house trained I'd skip the indoor pottying. I'd stick to outside. A pottybox was a giant hassle, and no one wanted us to come visit with a potty area to set up indoors.
 

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A pet may help give you purpose, or it may backfire. I don't think you'll truly know until you take that step.
I think this is very true, but there are a couple things you can think about to get a better idea of what kind of choices you'd end up making.

There are, I think, two main reasons to get a dog to help with a mental illness like depression (which I also have). One reason is for companionship -- for a friend to give you unwavering affection who will spend many nights snuggling and playing and providing opportunities for your brain to spike its oxytocin. The other is to provide an unignorable responsibility that will force you to go outside and pick up poop and go to stores to buy food and toys for it regularly and wake up at semi-consistent hour to let it out.

It's important to focus on the second reason. If you don't WANT that responsibility (not just that you'd accept it because you want the companionship) you might end up being a person who regrets the decision to get a dog.

You also have to think about what kind of lifestyle you want to live, even if it's not what you're living now. Do you, eventually, see yourself going out to bars, dinners, or parties frequently? Do you see yourself wanting the freedom to spend nights at other people's houses on a whim? Do you see yourself being annoyed that you may have to leave several engagements early in order to feed your dog or let it out? Are you interested in doing a lot of travelling, and do you want to deal with the hassle of finding someone to care for your dog while you're away? Do you see yourself living on the fifth floor of a big city apartment? Do you see yourself getting an internship in a different state, or spending some time abroad (or would you like to retain this option)?

Not realizing that you want these things until after you have a dog is something that can breed (lol) some major resentment.
 

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Teehee.. loving on your pup should definitely NOT spike your oxytocin levels, but if it causes a spike in endorphins, that's a good thing. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Hey everybody! Thank you so much for the replies! I totally forgot my original user name on this forum so I ended up making another one. I just searched through the forum to find this old thread, my new account is OpenAnt, this is my thread (http://www.dogforums.com/first-time-dog-owner/107507-first-dog.html) Just in case any of you awesome folks that helped me out wanted an update or anything. So yeah I got a lil doggie :D!
 

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My husband suffers from chronic pain and clinical depression. Fostering a rescued, adult dog was a lifesaver for him. Fostering might be a way for you to get your feet wet before you adopt. In our case we became "foster failures" because we wouldn't let our foster dog go. "Foster-to-adopt" is an option with some rescue groups.
 
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