Few things are as exciting as getting a new puppy. We’d rank it right behind winning the lottery and completing a load of laundry without ending up with a lone sock.
If you’ve had dogs before, you already know what you’re in for. But if this is your first dog, you’re likely unprepared for the myriad ways in which your life is about to change.
We’ll try to help first-time dog owners below, by outlining a few of these upcoming changes and giving you some tips for taking them in stride!
Fair warning: Most of these changes are awesome and will put a smile on your face; but others, well, not so much.
1. You Get to Spend More Time in the Great Outdoors
Do you love spending time outside? Do you love breathing in the fresh air, experiencing the weather first-hand, and watching the sun crest distant treetops in the morning?
Good, because you’re going to spend more time outdoors after getting a new puppy. A lot more time. In fact, you’ll get the chance to do so several times a day, whenever your little canine has to answer nature’s call.
Aside from a few toy breeds, who’re notoriously difficult in this regard, most puppies can learn to poop and pee outside within a few weeks. From this point forward, you’ll only need to walk your dog or accompany him in the backyard three or four times a day. Adult dogs can comfortably “hold it” for hours.
But young puppies lack this kind of control. During the initial house-training process, you’ll often find it necessary to take your young pooch outside every two hours to prevent him from fouling the carpet.
2. You’ll Get to Wake Up Several Times During the Night (for a While)
Dogs are Olympic-caliber sleepers. The average adult dog will sleep through about half of his life, and your new bundle of 8-week-old puppy joy may sleep 20 hours or more each day.
But that doesn’t mean your new puppy will cozy up in a curlicue of cuteness and sleep from dusk to dawn.
In practice, he’ll likely enjoy dozens of naps spaced throughout the day and night. And guess what young puppies need to do between naps? That’s right – it’s tinkle time.
Healthy adult dogs will easily sleep through the night without needing a bathroom break, but your new puppy may need to visit the facilities once or twice before morning arrives – at least for a few weeks after bringing him home.
Not to mention that some dogs may struggle with crate training, leading to your puppy whining at night in the crate until you figure out how to ease his crate distress!
If you’re lucky, he’ll wake you up with little puppy licks when he has to go. If you’re not, you’ll have to set an alarm and initiate the bathroom trips yourself.
We’d recommend investing in a warm coat, a comfy pair of slip on shoes, and a flashlight for these nightly adventures. A light-up collar is also a good idea if you’ll be walking near roads.
3. You’ve Just Replaced Your Alarm Clock
You know what happens when you sleep 20 hours a day? You wake up READY TO ROCK.
Young puppies don’t lounge about for half an hour trying to shake off the cobwebs and get ready for the day.
Puppies open their eyes and immediately begin exploring, biting, barking, and doing other puppy stuff. They also wake up needing to relieve themselves in relatively quick fashion.
So, while you may not yet be ready to take on the day, you’ll have to wake up when your puppy does. Once your puppy decides the day has started, the day has in fact, started.
You won’t be sleeping in or repeatedly smacking the snooze button on your phone anymore. You’ll actually have to get up, slip on your shoes, and take your little terrier out to tinkle.
I recommend grabbing a cup of coffee as you pass through the kitchen, but don’t dawdle or you’ll end up cleaning up a puddle on the kitchen floor.
4. Roomba Has Some Competition
Robotic vacuum cleaners are a convenient way to keep your carpets clean, but they’re often rendered obsolete when you add a new puppy to your home.
Canines are well aware of the “5 second rule,” which means that they’ll typically follow you around anytime you’re eating and quickly gobble up any delicious crumbs or morsels you drop.
It doesn’t matter if you fed them their delicious, specialized puppy food minutes or hours ago, they are always on the lookout for additional noms.
For that matter, some puppies just love licking floors and carpets.
We won’t lie: This can be pretty convenient at times.
Drop a French fry on the floor? No need to bend over and pick it up. Your pooch is already on the job.
Spill a little olive oil in the kitchen? Don’t worry about the paper towels, because your pup is already lapping it up.
Chickpea tumble off your salad and roll under the table? You won’t have to do any heavy lifting, as your canine is already trying to wiggle underneath and retrieve the fatty treat.
Of course, it’s not a great idea to feed your dog people food, but we all do so from time to time.
Just keep the amounts you offer reasonable. A 120-pound Great Dane may polish off a pizza crust or two without suffering any tummy issues, but a five-pound Yorkie may end up barfing or pooping himself silly after eating a bite of your burger.
Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with the people foods your pet can safely enjoy and which ones are verboten, so you don’t end up with a sick doggo on your hands.
A few of the most notable things you should never allow your dog to eat include:
- Macadamia nuts
5. Color Coordinating Your Clothing Just Got Trickier
Most new dog owners learn to love the way their pet’s coat feels, but there’s a downside to this luxurious layer of fluff: The hair falls out and will stick to every single possession you own.
Sure, there are a few “hypoallergenic” breeds that don’t shed a bunch. This includes poodles (as well as poodle mixes, such as Labradoodles and golden doodles), Bichon frises, and a few others.
But — and this is important — even these breeds shed. They just don’t do it as much as many other breeds.
So, you’ll need to start considering the color of your dog’s fur when buying clothes, picking out outfits, and even buying new dog-proof furniture.
If your new puppy is a black Lab, you may need to embrace the Johnny Cash look. Add a new golden retriever to your family? You’re going to have to start dressing like Curious George’s buddy.
And good luck de-emphasizing dog the hair on your clothes if you pick out a merle-coated pooch.
6. You’re About to Start Talking to Your Dog in Potentially Humiliating Ways
We all talk to our dogs – there are no exceptions.
But there’s a difference in the way we talk to our dogs when other people are around, and the way we talk to our dog when we’re alone.
I know I probably sound like a raving lunatic carrying on complete conversations with my canine, while receiving little more than a puzzled look from her in return.
But I do try to limit these conversations to times and locations in which we’re alone.
Nevertheless, I occasionally slip up and realize that I just told the pretty pretty princess that daddy loves her so much because she’s the prettiest pupper in the whole world and she gets all the scritches and love for being the goodest girl in front of confused (and slightly judgmental) onlookers.
My advice: Don’t sweat it.
We’re all weirdos who talk to our pets. The only people who don’t get this are the ones who aren’t sharing their lives with a lovable four-footer.
7. Nighttime Trips to the Bathroom Now Feature Landmines
You’re probably used to walking with your eyes closed to the bathroom when your bladder requires a midnight emptying, but you won’t want to do that once you add a dog to your house. You just may step in something you’d rather not.
Hopefully, your pup will be easy to house-train, which will help prevent landmines of the wet, warm, and squishy variety.
However, even dogs who have no trouble holding it all night long may leave their toys or other belongings along your bedroom-to-bathroom route.
Dog toys won’t usually inflict the kind of war-crime-caliber agony a Lego will unleash on a bare foot, but balls, rope toys, and chews may cause you to trip, which isn’t the kind of thing you’ll be prepared for in the middle of the night.
8. Checking Your Shoes Becomes Automatic
One of the things you’ll notice as you start walking your new dog regularly is that he’ll likely drag you to the same places all of the other local dogs use as a lavatory.
Dogs like to poop and pee where other dogs have pooped and peed.
In doing so, you’ll inevitably make the occasional misstep, and end up contaminating your kicks with the deposits left by other doggos. This isn’t the end of the world, but it certainly isn’t fun either.
But the real problem will occur when you fail to notice there’s digested dog food on your shoes, causing you to coat your carpets in the grody material.
If you’re like most other dog owners, you’ll do this exactly once before you commit to checking your shoes each and every time you return home and prepare to walk in the door.
Also, as a side note, you’ll likely think more carefully about the doormat in front of your home too – not just for your feet, but your pup’s paws too.
9. You’ll Make a Number of New Pup-Parent Acquaintances
You may already notice dogs when you’re out and about, but once you pick up a canine of your own, you’ll certainly find yourself noticing just about every doggo you encounter throughout the day.
In the process, you’ll likely become familiar with most of the other pooches in the neighborhood and become pseudo-familiar with their owners too. You probably won’t become lifelong friends or anything, but you’ll undoubtedly be wave-hello-from-a-distance acquaintances, as you’ll see each other most days.
Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to spark a conversation with some of the other dog owners in your neighborhood – they can be an invaluable resource.
Other dog owners can share care tips, alert you to important goings on in the area, and they may even be able to help you look after your dog someday when you go on vacation.
10. You’ll Have a Perfect Excuse to Avoid Social Events
If you’re an extrovert or social butterfly, you may want to just skip this section, as you’re unlikely to understand the need to escape invitations and events from time to time.
In fact, you may see some of these “benefits” as “problems.”
But for those of us living #IntrovertLife, you can never have enough excuses at the ready to avoid unappealing social interactions. And dogs are a perfect excuse to get out of doing stuff.
For example, let’s say you actually managed to drag yourself out of the house and go hang out with some friends.
But after mingling for a few hours, you’ll need to return home and recharge your batteries. Fortunately, you’ll now have a pupper waiting cross-legged at home and doing the pee-pee dance to attend to. Boom! Instant (and legitimate) excuse to make an early exit.
Or consider more, uh, intimate scenarios.
Let’s say you’ve enjoyed a great date and things get a bit romantic. But despite the warm-and-fuzzy feelings you’re enjoying, you don’t want to turn this encounter into a sleepover.
Well, it’s a good thing you’ve got a dog waiting at home for you! There’s no way your new amore will get angry that you need to go home and take care of your four-footer.
11. You May Start Experiencing a Twinge of Anxiety Before Opening Your Front Door
Many dogs are absolute angels, who keep themselves occupied in non-destructive ways while left alone. But others may tear your house apart brick by brick to cope with boredom or separation anxiety.
I once had a Lab pull up all of the linoleum from my kitchen floor when I was gone one day. And I mean every little bit of it.
This same pooch (who I loved very, very much and still miss) also turned two couches into mere carcasses, chewed through a chain link fence, and made a pretty good replica of Andy Dufresne’s escape tunnel (although her version only went from a closet to the next bedroom).
So, as you can imagine, I was a teensy bit apprehensive each time I arrived back home at the end of the day. Many owners are very familiar with this phenomenon and go through their own version of this hell each time they leave their four-footer alone.
And of course, if your dog isn’t house-trained, you may be greeted by a gag-inducing funk anytime you return to your casa.
This is all challenging enough, but it turns into really high-stakes poker when you’re accompanied by a friend, co-worker, landlord, or date.
With each subsequent step in the direction of the door, your pulse will quicken and adrenaline will course through your veins.
Don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to address separation anxiety, destructive chewing, and deviations from proper poop protocol, but some owners will find these challenges never entirely go away.
Look, we’re having some fun here. By and large, adding a new pup to your home is a wonderful, rewarding, and life-changing experience.
But it isn’t all scritches and puppy licks. Dogs occasionally cause us some problems, and you’ll need to acknowledge this fact before taking the puppy plunge.
But most of us find that the good overwhelmingly outweighs the bad, and we never look back after adding a four-footer to our family.
What did we forget to warn soon-to-be pup parents about? What would you caution new canine owners to watch out for? Let us know in the comments below!