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Hello, fellow dog lovers. This is my first time posting in this forum and it's kind of a rant, kind of a story but mainly a question.

I guess an introduction is in order. Here's the picture: we are a young couple of somewhat low income (that is, a one person income household for now). He works full-time (IT), I am about to stop my studies (only thesis to hand in). We live in a studio apartment of 50 square meters (538 square feet) at the center of a large city. We have a very large park just one block away. The park has water, ducks, deer, geese and enough space to run off leash. Running off leash is allowed there. We have five pet rats.

We both have had family dogs. For him, the family dog was a rescue Golden Retriever, my mum's dog is a tiny Maltese. We both know we want to have dogs at some point in our lives. A couple of years back, we even applied for a few rescue dogs (Cavalier King Charles), but we got denied because there were better foster families willing to adopt them (it is my opinion that Dutch rescue dogs get new families really fast as long as they are small enough, as far as I know there's only high energy breeds staying for long periods of time there). So we were surprised when we learned that an acquittance of ours had an "oops" litter from their newly adopted golden retrievers. The pups seem to be purebreeds. Would we want to adopt? We would only have to pay for the chip and the shots and we would be able to choose first...

What can I say? On the one hand, we know that an apartment is not the ideal place to bring up a puppy. Especially not a puppy that can grow that big. It would mean I don't get to have a full time job until the puppy is old enough. It would mean sleepless nights. It would mean lots of cleaning. It would mean a change in lifestyle. It would mean huge additional investments (pet insurance, good training lessons, food, toys, puppy-proofing the house, shots and medical bills, city taxes, etc, etc)... not to mention my family would be very much against this decision: an example would be my dad's favorite topic of conversation, which is how to kill my rats. He and both my brothers say that having a dog is like having a child with learning disabilities. Also, that puppy would have to get really good at not pulling the leash because I'm a really small woman (1.46cm / 4 feet 9 inches?) and it will be a really big and strong dog. We don't want to get rid of the rats: my rule is that you don't give away family members and health always goes first.

Still, my husband and I looked at each other. Right now, we may be on a single income, but I have the time to train a pup. We don't have children. We are not planing to have children anytime soon. I never considered the breed. I can already hear everyone I know yelling at me for wanting a big dog, but basically a Golden has all the characteristics we want:
we want a dog that's good with people (especially well-behaved children who don't abuse dogs), we want a dog that is group oriented (not a one-owner dog), a dog that likes playing and is not shy, a dog that is people-oriented. Right now we lead a pretty sedentary life, but we would welcome a change into a more active lifestyle. We really love walking long distances. I don't mind a daily session of grooming. We welcome any dog that might be alright living in an apartment. We want a lifestyle that allows us to enjoy our dogs. We want a dog that we can take to the beach (since it's close by). I want to raise a puppy the right way (I want to try clicker training the Karen Pryor way).

I'll explain my only experience with raising a puppy: My youngest brother wanted a puppy. We ended up getting the little 6 week old Maltese that's now sleeping on my lap (I'm puppy-sitting atm). As we brought her home for the first time, my dad said " it's a pity, I paid 500 guilden for her and she'll be dead in two weeks". I was the whole night with her. I remember spending months sleeping on the sofa, one hand reaching down to make sure she knew she wasn't alone. She peed everywhere. I wish I had known about crate training and positive reinforcement then. Reina (the Maltese) learned with extremely bad training methods (yeah, the rubbing of the nose in pee thing), we never did proper dog training. I think that all in all, she turned out alright. My husband hates taking care of her because she barks at people/dogs/the air too much, she's too frightened to live in a busy place, she's a spoiled little dog and teaching her good manners doesn't do any good because when my mum and brother get her back, she gets all the wrong reinforcement again. No daily hair brushes, no teeth brushing. It gets really embarrassing when my mum asks me to take her to the vet.

For me, having a dog is scary and exciting at the same time. I wanted to know the opinion of people who really know and care about dogs, because most people I know either don't like dogs, don't know much about dogs or judge my abilities as a trainer and owner through Reina.

So, after knowing this much about us, these are my questions:
Do you think we are ready to have a dog?
Do you think we should get this puppy?
If not, should we go for another age/breed/both?

This would be our first dog.
 

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I am of the opinion that anyone who has put this much thought and research into it is ready to own a dog. I'd say that as long as you can afford the necessities and you have the time, you'd be fine with a golden. The only thing I worry about is that often people who live a pretty sedentary lifestyle claim they want a dog because it will get them out and active, and it doesn't always. You need to be very truthful with yourself about whether or not you can commit to getting that dog out for physical exercise every day. If you can, go for it.
 

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Im english, living in Australia.

In uk, we have families living in 2 rooms upstairs, 2 rooms downstairs, AND dogs are kept inside too. ie. i dont think the space has to be an issue.
But as the dog wont be exercised physically at home in a garden say, you will of course need to up the amount physical exercise you provide. Similarly with mental stimulation, a smaller space is going to be more boring, so you will be the person responsible for providing it with something to do that's not what we would judge destructive.

These are lovely family dogs. And you would be very welcome at any puppy class with a cutie like this pup would be. And you can learn together. Being a multi dog owner, i can tell you that my training knowledge of what works with one of my dogs, would have the other falling to pieces with confusion. Different dogs like different stimulus/reward pathways. I can teach our pup with food, that wont work for my shepherd.
So regardless of knowing how to train one dog, i still needed to learn from scratch with the new one. the classes are generally lots of fun for pups. I remember fondly how exhausted Bernie used to be after his hour training. Even though they broke it up lots for them. And a wonderful opportunity for your pup to socialise with other folks with other dogs. All resonably under control, and experts on standbye to assist.

Good luck and post photo's!
 

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In some ways, a dog can be similar to a human child with learning disabilities, I suppose. Some dogs have intelligence bordering on that of a human child. However, human children can't be crated or left home alone while you go places. They tend to be harder to train because their motivators are much more complex. And their needs are much more complicated. So I don't think the analogy works very well.

Big dogs don't necessarily need large homes with large yards. They need owners who are willing to meet their exercise needs. Owners who cannot or do not meet these needs often make it work by turning the dog out to exercise itself in their yard. This works for some dogs, but certainly not for all dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thank you so much for the replies so far!

@Crantastic:
I agree with you in that I don't want to be one of those people who abandon their dogs because they can't keep up with their energy level. My husband is really optimistic about this issue, though. He's owned a Golden before, so I guess I should trust him. I've only ever had a small dog and she tends to get tired before I do.
If I think about it, there's really active people who shouldn't get a high energy dog. For example, my parents do volleyball 3 times a week from 7pm to 11pm, baseball once per week, tennis once per week... and then when they come home they're too tired to walk the dog, so they installed a cat door so the dog can go out by herself. My mum says they still walk her daily, but I can't confirm.
In my case, I'm not as sportive as my parents. Not remotely. The one thing I like, though, is walking. My motto is: if I can walk to my destination, I'll walk. I can do that for hours. I'm not sure if Golden Retrievers need you to walk or jog with them, though. I suppose we could play fetch for some time during the day every day (next to three hours of walking) and then during weekends taking her to the beach to burn extra steam. Does that sound like a good plan?
In terms of money, we are still doing the calculations. Aside from the obvious basics, I'm trying to research what pet insurance company and puppy classes are best for us (as in quality). There's some really cheap ones, others quite expensive. I don't mind paying more for better quality, but depending on all of that I might have to start finding a part time job, which means paying someone to care for the pup when I'm not there. I don't think I can count on my family being supportive.

@Rotten:
Thanks for the insight! Any ideas of things I can keep around for her to keep herself entertained? I can think of chew toys and kongs. Maybe some dog puzzles are in order?

@GottaLuvMutts:
Yeah, I don't think the analogy works very well either, but it pretty much explains my family's philosophy toward pets and why they think having one is a bad idea.

Edit: If/when we go choose a puppy, I'll post pics. They are just a week old now, so we'll wait until they are a bit more active to choose based on her personality (I keep saying her because we know we want a female). They are being brought up in a living room and the couple has a 9yr old child who is very nice and gentle with animals.
 

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Read these two free downloads now: http://www.dogstardaily.com/free-downloads

1. I agree, go for it.
2. Goldens are easy to train and love people. With one or two 30 min. walks per day, they can learn to be couch potatoes.
3. However, when you see how easy they are to train, you'll want to spend at least two 10 min. session per day in training.
4. You will have to teach Bite Inhibition. Altho they were bred for soft mouths, they may like to carry your arm in its mouth, and some people don't like this.
5. Two downsides: LOTS of fur that gets on everything (it will give your father yet another thing to comment on.) AND, they like to chew, so they need at least a hard rubber bone and a Kong.
6. If you are friendly with the breeder, you might start interacting with the pups at 3 weeks, and do a little training as they get older.
7. When you bring yours home, don't let anyone give him people food, don't let him jump on people... from the beginning as a pup, and teach him Quiet!... or teach him not to bark. Those are 3 common behaviors that other people will encourage a Golden to do, which you will have to 'clean up' over the next 12 - 16 years!
8. Socialize the pup with the rats. However, you can NEVER leave the dog free with the rats. Even if the dog has been gentle, he could be 3 yo, one of the rats could run, and the dog might go into prey mode... too quickly for you to react. Sporting dogs may not react to stationary pets that they were socialized with... But you can't predict, if the prey moves quickly. My dog was socialized with cats and he won't hurt them... but if they run, he will chase them....
 

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I agree with what everyone has said. I also want to mention 3 things that made my life with my dogs so much more enriching and fun for all of us:

1. A flirt pole- we just have a long piece of bamboo with an old sock tied to the end. One dogs loves it, the other likes it. But we usually play for about 15 minutes a day.

2. 18 meter long leash- We have wonderful recall now, but there is a park where we go to play that always has distractions more appealing than us (food, bones, other dogs). This way we can let them run ad play freely, but be sure to keep them with us, not running far away

3. The Ian Dunbar books- they really taught me how to socialize puppies. I always thought you shouldn't look in a dogs' eyes, you should leave them alone when eating, etc. But Dunbar's books taught me to socialize them and get them accustomed to people and eye contact, other dogs, handling, etc.

Have fun, and check back and let us know!!


Read these two free downloads now: http://www.dogstardaily.com/free-downloads

1. I agree, go for it.
2. Goldens are easy to train and love people. With one or two 30 min. walks per day, they can learn to be couch potatoes.
3. However, when you see how easy they are to train, you'll want to spend at least two 10 min. session per day in training.
4. You will have to teach Bite Inhibition. Altho they were bred for soft mouths, they may like to carry your arm in its mouth, and some people don't like this.
5. Two downsides: LOTS of fur that gets on everything (it will give your father yet another thing to comment on.) AND, they like to chew, so they need at least a hard rubber bone and a Kong.
6. If you are friendly with the breeder, you might start interacting with the pups at 3 weeks, and do a little training as they get older.
7. When you bring yours home, don't let anyone give him people food, don't let him jump on people... from the beginning as a pup, and teach him Quiet!... or teach him not to bark. Those are 3 common behaviors that other people will encourage a Golden to do, which you will have to 'clean up' over the next 12 - 16 years!
8. Socialize the pup with the rats. However, you can NEVER leave the dog free with the rats. Even if the dog has been gentle, he could be 3 yo, one of the rats could run, and the dog might go into prey mode... too quickly for you to react. Sporting dogs may not react to stationary pets that they were socialized with... But you can't predict, if the prey moves quickly. My dog was socialized with cats and he won't hurt them... but if they run, he will chase them....
 

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Discussion Starter #8
@hanksimon:
Thank you for the link! I just downloaded them, sent a copy to the hubby and started reading.
I will definitively want to incorporate the two 10 min training sessions. I'm thinking of getting a clicker, just one that's not too noisy (the husband and the rats hated the traditional box clicker I got when I tried training the rats).
I've never had a dog that shed before, so I might kick myself over this later. I hope that a daily grooming session might take away the most damage. My mum's Maltese doesn't shed, but if you don't groom her every time you take her for a walk, you're in for a lot of matted fur.
I read somewhere that you should not allow a puppy to do anything you don't want a full grown dog to do, so I'll take your advice on feeding and training. It might mean I can't have anyone I don't trust taking care of them.
About the rats - Yes, I want the dog to know rats are not toys from early on and I don't think I'd ever let them all free at the same place and time.
Somehow I'm starting to feel like it might not be such a completely crazy idea to have this pup after all... but there's a lot to do still and only 8 weeks to do/plan it all.

@titiaamor:
Thanks for the tips! I had never heard of a flirt pole before. I'll be looking into that.
An 18 meter long leash sounds really long! It is my experience with long leashes that dogs tend to run around and want to wrap you up with it... or start smelling someone else's leashed dog and you end up getting a huge tangle when they do the "smelling your but while you smell mine" dance. What do you do in these situations?

Thanks so much for your tips! I think all that's left is contacting the different services, ask questions and make the time/money calculations for the final decision.

Thank you all for the support and encouragement!
 

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I'd say go for it, as long as you can afford the dog and are willing to exercise and train it.
My golden was always fine with an hour a day. She was always quiet and calm and just loved to be with me cuddling wherever I was.

Also, on the subject of the pup with the rats, goldens have a 'soft mouth'. This could possibly work in your favor when it comes to your ratties. I have 3 rats myself, soon to be 4 once I can determine the definite gender of my orphan, and it's always a good idea to supervise all interaction, and only have interaction if you totally trust your dog. But I assume you don't plan to let your rats run free with the dog in the room without someone watching, Lol
 

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I was going to say, if you have to ask the question, maybe you should wait until it's more clear. But then I thought...how can you say that to an obvious dog person?
 

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I think you should go for it! Goldens are fantastic dogs for the reasons you listed. And dogs don't do much inside, anyway. I kept a 90lb GSD mix in a 700sq ft apartment for a few years. It was no different than having him in my 1800 sq ft house. I just made sure to get him outside for exercise every day.

In addition to the other great suggestions, check out kikopup on youtube for clicker training advice. Goldens are wonderfully intelligent and trainable dogs. I think you will really enjoy training your dog to do more and more complex things, and if you use a clicker, the dog will enjoy it, too.

I always recommend not feeding from a bowl. Use a feeding toy, like a kong or a buster cube. Dogs are descended from predators, making them work to get their food fits in with their natural instincts, and provides much needed mental stimulation. Dogs need mental exercise on top of physical exercise.

And don't listen to your family. Rats are great pets and dogs are fantastic.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
@HollowHeaven:
I'm hoping to be able to pick the calm and quiet one! I guess it's a matter of asking the breeders about the puppies, waking them all up and doing my best at observing. I know there's also a few tests for this, but I am yet to do my homework on the subject (I have two weeks to prepare).
About the rats and dog, I do worry that I might accidentally leave the cage open at some point and that may lead to a puppy-rat unsupervised encounter, so I think I'll put the boys in the hallway if I'm going to leave the house. About your rescue: I saw the video, really cute rattie!

@Curbside Prophet:
That's a very valid point of view. I'll consider it.
Just before I posted here I had received a lot of negative feedback about having this particular breed. My vet was all for it, but my family thinks it's a bad idea. This negative feedback all revolved around the following facts: (a) They are expensive dogs. (b) I am tiny and won't be able to overpower a big dog physically. (c) I live in an apartment.
Right now, I feel I can overcome (b) and (c) for sure. (a) Is more a matter of doing the calculations, which I plan to do tonight. I'm not extremely worried about economical matters, though. But I won't get a dog before doing all the calculations and knowing exactly what will be needed and where the money will be coming from.
The two first dogs of my childhood died before their first year of age because of our whimsical adoption and whimsical disposal. I don't want to be the sort of owner who abandons their pets.
Eh... sorry this sort of turned into a kind of rant. Also, I'm sorry if I'm taking you more seriously than you expected. People tend to say I turn jokes into serious business. I mean to say all this in the most light hearted and amenable way possible.

EDIT:

@Amaryllis:
Thank you! I'll make sure to check that youtube channel.
I hadn't thought of feeding them completely off feeding toys, but it doesn't sound like a bad idea. In fact, I like that idea a lot! Thank you so much for the tips!
 

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@hanksimon:
Thank you for the link! I just downloaded them, sent a copy to the hubby and started reading.
I will definitively want to incorporate the two 10 min training sessions. I'm thinking of getting a clicker, just one that's not too noisy (the husband and the rats hated the traditional box clicker I got when I tried training the rats).
I've never had a dog that shed before, so I might kick myself over this later. I hope that a daily grooming session might take away the most damage. My mum's Maltese doesn't shed, but if you don't groom her every time you take her for a walk, you're in for a lot of matted fur.
I read somewhere that you should not allow a puppy to do anything you don't want a full grown dog to do, so I'll take your advice on feeding and training. It might mean I can't have anyone I don't trust taking care of them.
About the rats - Yes, I want the dog to know rats are not toys from early on and I don't think I'd ever let them all free at the same place and time.
Somehow I'm starting to feel like it might not be such a completely crazy idea to have this pup after all... but there's a lot to do still and only 8 weeks to do/plan it all.

@titiaamor:
Thanks for the tips! I had never heard of a flirt pole before. I'll be looking into that.
An 18 meter long leash sounds really long! It is my experience with long leashes that dogs tend to run around and want to wrap you up with it... or start smelling someone else's leashed dog and you end up getting a huge tangle when they do the "smelling your but while you smell mine" dance. What do you do in these situations?

Thanks so much for your tips! I think all that's left is contacting the different services, ask questions and make the time/money calculations for the final decision.

Thank you all for the support and encouragement!
The flirt pole is a lot of fun!!!! It's great for outside play.

The super long leash I use so the dogs can get really far away without getting away completely. I don't use it for walks, but for the park when we want them to play freely, but we can't trust them to return to us. At our farm, if I call them they come back. At the park, if I call them , they run towards discarded food, garbage cans, kids playing soccer, etc.
 

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Goldens are used are service dogs and therapy dogs, b/c they are so biddable and easy to work with... But they do have to be trained, and you have to be careful not to spoil them, b/c they are so cute and intelligent.

As far as cost, a well-bred, socialized, partially trained Godlen from a respected breeder is worth the cost in terms of health, headstart, and termperament. On the other hand, a Golden Rescue may be able to get you the same type of dog for a few hundred dollars, released from the original owner, b/c of moving, training, or other circumstances...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
@hanksimon:
I'll do my best not to spoil her. Ugh, that's scary because my rat breeder always complains I spoil the rats too much. Then again, she also says I shouldn't clean the cage every week or feed them every day.
 

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Hmmm ... I don't know about this whole pet insurance thing. (first time posting here as well btw, so be nice! LOL) I don't think the average insurer will pay for many things. I think Consumer Reports (?) said that HUNDREDS of diseases and conditions will not be covered by the standard pet insurance policy... Personally I'm more of a fan of vet discount programs, two that I know of are United Pet care and Pet Assure. I remember that united pet care wasn't available in my area, so I ended up going with Pet assure, very happy with their service until now. I save a nice amount at the vet (25%), and the premiums are very acceptably low (about $8 a month). I'll post a link to their website: I really think you should consider something like this instead of pet insurance. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I think pet insurance here in the Netherlands is handy. I don't know if there's anything like vet discounts here.

I've been taking a look at some of the offers, some of them pay for 400 eur if I neuter my dog during her first year. Some of them cover costs for treating tumors and cancer.

Yes, they are expensive. Then again... this happened to a friend of mine a couple of months ago. They never considered getting a health insurance for their dog. Their chihuahua cross is less than two years old, so she didn't thought it would have any problems because it came from a reputable chihuahua breeder, yadda yadda... and the dog got really sick. They needed to operate. The operation would cost 700 eur. So then what do they do? They picked the cheapest insurance they could find... but guess what? The insurance would have covered the operation, however they needed to wait a month for their papers to be processed. So they had to pay themselves (well... to be quite honest, for a normal couple with their income this would have meant giving up the dog. However, they do have really good natured friends who helped pay for the operation). This is exactly why I plan to start off with an insurance. One that covers the highest risk factors for my breed at least.

Since my puppy won't have the nice lineage of a reputable breeder, I figured I should be prepared for the worst.

Now, this is The Netherlands we are talking about. I'm not sure about the quality of insurances where you live. Maybe we are both right to think the way we do?
 

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Ugh, that's scary because my rat breeder always complains I spoil the rats too much. Then again, she also says I shouldn't clean the cage every week or feed them every day.
Pffftttt, one can never spoil their rats too much. A spoiled rat is a happy rat is a fun rat is a best friend.
 

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I see no reason you shouldn't get a dog if you can provide for him/her financially, physically and mentally.
It sounds like you're trying to put things in order before you adopt, which is wonderful because a dog is a long-term commitment (and well worth it too)!
An apartment isn't ideal but if the dog will be stimulated enough and receive enough exercise, mellowing down in a smaller space shouldn't be a problem.

No need to rush into anything, if you have any hesitations wait until you're completely comfortable with adopting. :)
 

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He, Nederlanders... dat zijn wij ook... I was living in South Africa but originated from the Netherlands and recently moved back here for my boyfriend. He is also doing an IT studies, and works for a software development company. So we live off one salary and I am still in my studies.

We decided to get Luna after two years of me holding Peter back as it would be his first dog and I felt he did not entirely know the multitude and dynamic lifestyle change you need to imply in order to have and take care of a dog.

We got Luna, a Berner Sennen (50%) x Golden Retriever (25%) x Appenzeller (25%) cross breed four weeks ago. So far so good. It's been a lot of work for us, but because I'm doing a course from home and have decided to stay home for Luna it has been easy to integrate her into our lives. The first few nights our schedule looked like this (keep in mind that my boyfriend had work on some days) and that in addition, I was constantly watching for signs of her needing to poo or pee (walking around sniffing the floor/waddling and arching her back) so that I could take her outside and put her on the grass to prevent her peeing in the "den" :p :

6h00: Take Luna for a walk to the dog park for socialization
7h00: back home, feed Luna 120g of Orijen Puppy food
8h00: have breakfast, Luna is around me and goes to sleep/plays with her chew toys
12h00: Take Luna for another walk (walk meaning 'walk carry', use treats for leash training or a toy she likes)
13h00: Return home and have lunch
13h30: Grab some treats, and start her training! Sit, Lie Down, Paw and 'Los'/let go (which she learned really fast with some patience! When I say "los" I don't touch the toy as she may think you are playing.) I also throw her play-rope at this time, and end by filling a kong with kibble or something nice.
14h00: I stop play time (regardless of what she wants) and give her a bully stick or something to chew on. She usually falls asleep.
16h00: Walk Luna to the dog park. Socialization is good! Don't be afraid. :D
17h00: Feed Luna 120g Orijen Puppy Food and make supper
18h00: Luna's probably asleep and we're going to have supper either way. She's got many toys to play with.
18h00-11h00 we play games with her once in a while for a few minutes and then continue to wait until she is calm and massage her a bit. We also watch TV from time to time. It's also good for her to learn how to play with her toys and chew on 'em.
12h00: take Luna out for her last toilet break
and go to sleep...

4h00: get up to let Luna out, then come back and go back to sleep... we didn't crate her until after 1 week because she was still getting used to it and we didn't want her to have any bad experiences, so we put her food and water in the crate and after a week she was not afraid of it anymore.
6h00 start the day again!

So after one week she was sleeping in the crate and we were upstairs in the bedroom. The first night she did whine a little, but it took about 10minutes until she settled down and went to bed. I tend to put somethin' nice for her in there. I also do not give her water 3hrs prior to sleeping! So make sure she drinks enough through the day...

Other than that, our apartment is not large... we do have a garden (it's not huge but not tiny, either) but the most important thing is that you provide her with the exercise she needs. Throwing a ball, swimming etc. is good for your dog's exercise regime. Just remember that as a pup they mustn't be forced to run on a leash or walk up and down steep stair cases as this could damage their ligaments.

Otherwise it is all up to you. As you say, you don't sell family and a dog is for it's life, so you need to feel like you can handle it! Good luck, and I hope this is any help to you :) feel free to contact me if you need any more help, because I know the situation you are in - and I am sure with the right dedication you can do it. :)
 
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