Puppies—they put smiles on our faces and bring joy to our lives. But as cute as puppies can be, that doesn’t erase the time, effort, and money it takes to raise a cute little puppy into a well-behaved dog. That sweet little guy will one day be a massive Great Dane who jumps on people if not properly trained. And those innocent puppy eyes will be the eyes of a full-grown Rottweiler that doesn’t trust strangers.
Even if you never enroll your puppy in a single obedience class—although I highly recommend it–there are steps that can be taken to ensure that your dog will grow up to be his very best. But today’s post isn’t meant to highlight the advantages of training your dog. Rather, let’s start with the necessary topic that comes before training—the advantages and disadvantages of getting a puppy.
Possibly the most daunting task of raising a puppy is this right here: potty training. You’ve just brought your new puppy home. He’s romping around your living room exploring all the new sights and sniffing around. But wait, he’s relieving himself on your brand new rug. *Insert internal screaming.*
Yeah, if you’ve owned a puppy—or even a dog—you’ve been here. While each dog will excel in different areas, it’s also true that each dog will struggle with specific concepts. And some puppies will have a difficult time getting this potty training thing down. Luckily, Reuben our Corgi understood the concept very quickly. But keep in mind that this could be a reflection of the breed—Corgis are highly trainable—and I’m also home all day with him. I have heard stories of dogs who are 5 months old and still struggle with going outside for their potty breaks. Are you ready to deal with that? It can be easy to shrug off this point believing that your dog won’t have this problem. But ultimately, your puppy will have to learn this. So no matter how hard you try to train your dog, he will also be taught this concept when he decides. In other words, be prepared for a few months of accidents, just in case.
Raising a puppy equals many, many long days and nights. The first few weeks that Reuben was home with me, I was taking him outside probably every hour just to prevent accidents. That was during the day. At night, I wasn’t about to get up every hour, but I did get up at 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. to let him out. Yeah, it was a lot of potty breaks, but it was possibly the reason why he learned so quickly.
Another difficulty to overcome is crate training. If you value your sanity and your belongings, you’ll want to implement crate training—or some type of enclosed space for your puppy to call his own. I won’t take the time to advocate for this process, and just assume that you’re already convinced. The first few days or weeks in the crate, your puppy will be distressed. Why is he locked in? Where did you go and leave him all alone? Your new puppy has been taken away from his mother and littermates and now you’re his only companion—with the exception of other family members or pets, etc. The first night is especially difficult. In his new crate, your puppy will whine and cry hoping for you to let him out and play some more. One trick that can help is to either sit beside the crate until he falls asleep, or, if you’re up for it, sleep beside the crate. This really helped Reuben his first two nights. I was there to soothe him with my voice or stroke his paw through the crate. This is the part of puppyhood that some people don’t consider before bringing puppy home.
Chewers Gonna Chew
I could easily leave the title as is and write no more on the subject. But for the sake of writing, let’s talk a little about chewing. Puppies are going to chew and not for just a few days or weeks. A puppy chews for two reasons: to explore the world around him (much like we do with our hands) and because he is teething. A puppy, much like a baby, is about to loose his puppy teeth and trade them for his dog teeth. His gums are sore and nothing will alleviate the discomfort but to chew on things. This could be anything from your sofa to your shoes to the baseboards. Reuben especially enjoys door stops and carpet.
So just how long does teething last? Puppies are teething around 4-6 months of age; however, that’s not to say he won’t try chewing on things before and after this life stage. Trust me when I say this is frustrating. No matter how closely you watch that little stinker, there will be those moments when you don’t see him chew up something he shouldn’t. Try your best to be patient and remember that the chewing phase will end. But also keep this obstacle in mind if you’re thinking about getting a puppy.
Schedules will be limited. Work a full-time job? You’ll probably be swinging by your house to let puppy out on your lunch breaks. Taking a long drive to attend an event? Well, you’ll probably be taking your puppy along with you. That is, if it’s a puppy friendly event. If it’s not, you’ll be finding a puppy sitter or staying home.
There will come a day when that puppy has matured enough to be left alone for longer periods of time. He’ll take fewer potty breaks and he’ll learn to entertain himself when you’re not there. But until then, your schedule will be limited.
Starting from Nothing
To sum up the disadvantages to owning a puppy, your puppy is starting from nothing. He was brought into this great, big world only a few months ago. He doesn’t understand firetruck sirens and relieving himself on the grass instead of the carpet. A puppy won’t know the difference between his favorite squeaky toy and your Converse.
If you choose to bring home a puppy, just remember that you’re starting from the ground up and it’s a huge commitment. A well-trained dog is a rewarding achievement, but it is one that will take months of dedication.
Selecting the Right Breed
If you’ve determined that you’re ready for a puppy, you’ve really only begun the process. Whether you adopt from a local shelter, purchase from a breeder, or pick a puppy from the local pet store, your puppy of choice should never be spontaneous. Because I am now an official Corgi owner, I will use this breed as an example.
I decided on a Corgi not just because they are adorable—although that was a major incentive. I decided on a Corgi because I wanted a playful and affectionate breed. Corgis are known to be friendly to both their people and strangers, willing to meet anyone as long as they are properly socialized as puppies. Corgis are also extremely intelligent. These little dogs are quick to learn, both behavioral obedience as well as tricks and commands. The final major factor in my choosing a Corgi is their size. These are rather small dogs, standing at only about 12 inches high and reaching approximately 25 pounds. This makes for an excellent apartment dog choice which is where I am in life. So for me, a Corgi is a smart choice.
However, a Corgi is not for everyone. Why? Because Corgis are an energetic breed requiring a good deal of both mental and physical exercise. They can also be vocal dogs which may not be suitable for some personality types. Oh, and that beautiful Corgi coat? Yeah, they shed. A lot.
So before you rush off to pick up the first cute puppy you see, be sure to pick the right breed.
Owning a puppy is so much more than waking up to a wet tongue and soulful eyes. That adorable puppy will rapidly move through its life stages, quickly becoming a full-grown dog. Depending on how you spend those short months of puppyhood will determine your relationship with your dog.
If successfully done, your dog will be one of your greatest companions in life. Companionship is possibly the most driving factor in why people get dogs to begin with. Dogs are loyal and affectionate, never judging you for your appearance or personality. It’s no wonder why dogs are the most popular pet in the U.S.
Scientists have proven the positive effects that pets, especially dogs, have on their humans. Dogs and of course puppies, can brighten your mood, erasing negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. Several work places across the country are beginning to allow four-legged companions to accompany their owners. Employers claim that the presence of pets in the work place boosts productivity and a positive atmosphere. While I’m not sure that I would be more focused on my work—because I would be too busy playing with the dogs—allowing dogs in the work place sounds like a good place to be!
Another advantage to having a puppy around is that it will get you up and moving. Studies show that dog owners are more active than people who don’t own dogs. The necessity to exercise your dog is a great incentive to also get you exploring the outdoors. I have taken so many adventures to outdoor activities since bringing Reuben home.
My last point is possibly used more as an excuse than a substantial reason. However, if implemented properly, owning a puppy really will teach responsibility. Raising a puppy will include: potty training, exercise, play time, and obedience training. You will have to provide food and water on a daily basis. Depending on the breed you have, the grooming requirements can get pretty extensive. If you do all these things, you and your puppy can have a great life together.
So maybe you’ve read this post and decided that a puppy isn’t right for you—or maybe it’s not a commitment you can make at this point in your life. That’s okay! Never bring home a pet you aren’t able to consistently care for.
However, maybe you’ve read this and you’re still intending to bring home that new puppy. If that’s you, congratulations. A new puppy is exciting although difficult at times. Just be patient and be consistent. Good luck!