A few dog newbie questions...
I'm thinking about getting a family dog in a few months. I don't know much about them--we had dogs when I was a kid but they were outdoor dogs and I have a feeling they were not well-behaved.
So, we have little kids (aged 1.5-4.5, but trainable). We have someone home most of the time. We have a decent-sized yard. We don't want a little dog, but rather something large enough to be a trespasser deterrent (it does not need to follow through and eat trespassers--just look and sound like it). And most likely a dog from a shelter (so probably a mixed breed). Indoor/outdoor, which our weather permits.
I'm not sure what I need to know, but I want to know it before I start.
Like, do I want an itty bitty baby puppy or a half-grown pup? Or a young adult? What age is easiest to train? What age bonds with families easiest?
Are there any books or websites you'd recommend for training?
Am I silly to think I can train a dog to poop in one spot in the yard?
Does a dog need daily walks if it gets active playtime in the yard every day? (Yes, we do plan to walk it, but if it'll be happy with playing fetch some days instead, it would be helpful.)
Why is almost every dog on my local Craigslist a pitbull or Chihuahua?
And if I want a cat, too (we are seasoned cat people, but our last passed away a few years ago), do we get the cat before, after, or (yikes!) at the same time?
Any advice? Do I have unreasonable expectations?
Thanks! I guess I don't know where to start, just that I don't want to start with the actual dog!