What Nobody Told Me Before I Got a Puppy
I thought that I was prepared
You can have all of the knowledge in the world about dog behavior. You can be financially stable and live in the perfect environment for a puppy. Regardless of these things, you need to be emotionally prepared for the ups and downs of puppy life. No one ever talks about how emotionally taxing it can be to raise a puppy.
When my friend's dog had a litter of puppies, I decided that I wanted to adopt one. I was self employed and living at a place with a big fenced yard, and I had a partner who wanted a dog just as much as I did. I knew that it would be a lot of work to train and raise a puppy from such a young age, but I was in the perfect position to do so. I dedicated a few weeks before picking him up to the study of everything that I could find on the internet about how to raise the best dog. I had had a few dogs before, but they were all adults and already trained when I got them, so I wanted to make sure that I was ready for everything.
I was not ready for everything. So I have compiled a list of some of the things that no one ever told me about raising a puppy.
Don't let any of this discourage you because it is more than worth it. I'm proud of the dog that my puppy has grown into every day, and he is my best friend. Even if he used to make me cry.
Concerning Basic Behavior
1. You will not sleep for the first few months.
Potty training might be one of the most frustrating aspects of raising a puppy. When they learn that they can't relieve themselves in the house, they will start to let you know when they need to go out. This is ultimately an achievement, but they will do this even if you are asleep. They will wake you up every time that they have to go outside. Puppies have very little bladders, and they will need out every few hours. You will not enjoy a full night's sleep until they get old enough to learn to hold it in
until they see you've gotten up in the morning. It will be horrible, and you will drop everything in your sleep deprived haze, drink way too much coffee, and probably low-key hate your dog at least half of the time.
2. Don't give them too many treats
It is very easy to accidentally turn your dog into a picky eater. Giving your puppy treats and snacks is fun, and it's awesome watching them get really happy when they get a biscuit just for being cute. Treats are also one of the best ways to train your puppy, by using it to reinforce positive behavior or using them as rewards for them to learn tricks. However, too many treats can make your pup realize how bland and uninteresting their meals are. Do not over supply your pup with treats, or they may decide that they don't want to eat their actual food. This will upset you. You will know that they need their nutritious, healthy food, and it will be a very frustrating struggle to get them to eat their food again. It is best avoided in the first place.
3. Dogs are gross
There seems to be nothing that I can do to stop my dog from lunging forward to inhale cat feces, when we walk around outside. This is particularly upsetting because that is a good way for him to get sick or end up with intestinal parasites.
My dog hasn't learned to lift his leg when he pees, so he will sometimes urinate on his front paws, and even on his chin.
I have caught my dog farting into his own open mouth on multiple occasions.
My dog has mighty jowls. He drools a lot. When I was going to bed last night, I pulled up my blanket to find it cold and wet. He had drooled all over it, and I was very unhappy.
The Worst of it
4. They will break your heart
When puppies are young, they're learning how to navigate the world. Before they learn better, they might bite you. And you will cry like a baby.
When my puppy was about 4 months old, he was being too hyper active one night at a friend's house and was upsetting the older dog there. So I decided to restrain him. His response was to scream and latch onto my wrist and draw blood. I cried uncontrollably because I couldn't understand why my baby wanted to hurt me. The answer was that he just didn't know better yet and he reacted to feeling angry for maybe the first time in his life. You have to forgive them.
5. They may destroy your relationship
If the efforts to care for and train your pup are not evenly shared, it is very easy to grow tired and resentful of your partner. Some relationships may not survive.
You know how I mentioned that you will have to get up multiple times throughout the night? Well if you get a puppy with your partner, and only one of you is willing to get up and take the dog out while the other gets to sleep soundly through the night every night, you will get angry with each other. This is just one example. The equal sharing of effort comes in all areas of puppy care. Resentment will come like a wild fire. You will need to share the responsibilities and the suffering, and that way it will be easier for you both, and will bring you together rather than tear you apart.
6. Everyone will judge you and your dog
Everyone thinks they know best when it comes to dogs. "Dog mom" or dog training groups can be toxic and judgmental.
I once had a woman follow me around town while I was walking, screaming at me that my dog was too skinny and insisting that I give him to her. It took me hours to ditch her. What she didn't know is that my dog was a rescue, and had recently been rehabilitated from being starved and I got him from the humane society just the day before. He was perfectly healthy, just a little bit thin still.
Ignore them all. No one knows your dog better than you.
Major Points to Keep in Mind
7. They will drive you nuts
They will be hyper active and harass you while you try to do your school work. They will chew up everything that you love until they can be trained not to. They will obsessively lick themselves until the sound burrows its way into your mind and makes you unable to think. They will act like they need to go outside to relieve themselves, and behave as though it's a real emergency, but it will be a ploy to make you take them outside and play because they're bored. Your big, muscular guard dog might end up being the biggest softy in the world and be afraid of cats, disappointing you to no end if you expected him to be your protector.
8. It is the best thing in the world to have a dog who loves you, even if your dog is a dumb jerk
Even with all of these troubles, nothing I've ever experienced can compare to the feeling of knowing that my dog loves me, and will be by my side through everything.
Friends and lovers come and go, but your dog will always love you and need you.
Honorable Mention Point
9. The Greatest Part of Dog Ownership:
You can say whatever you want to them, and sing to them, and be your truest weird self. They won't judge you and will still love you just the same.
Even if you tell them that there are snakes in their toes, then sing about how only pulling on their cheeks will get the snakes out.
Then you can pull on your dog's cheeks, and they will love the attention.