Ever since my three kids could talk, they’ve been asking for a dog.
As a kid, I almost always had a dog, so I was very supportive of the idea. My wife has always been a cat person, so she took some convincing. But, it really wasn’t too hard.
Puppies are adorable, cuddly and make everything so much better -- right?! WRONG.
I’m here to tell you, puppies are hard work. Like really, really hard work.
I feel like no one fully explained to me about the extreme difficulties of raising a puppy in a busy household. I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the dog park...but I was definitely not prepared. It’s like there’s a secret society of dog owners who don’t want this information to leak out ... but, here it goes.
What it’s like to raise a puppy
A puppy is like an infant that can walk, doesn’t wear a diaper and has sharp teeth. And, they bite, a lot. They go to the bathroom, a lot. They bark, a lot. And, they need 24-hour monitoring. I’m not kidding. Take your eyes off of your pup for a minute and they’re chewing on your kid’s favorite stuffed animal.
When we got our dog, Chewie, he was 8 weeks old. He was the cutest thing. But, he was trouble. Accident after accident, our patience was tested. My kids’ desire to be puppy owners faded quickly after they realized the real responsibility that came with it. It’s stressful. It’s the bathroom breaks every 15 minutes (often followed by accidents in the house in-between). It’s the biting. It’s the barking. It’s the unpredictability.
My wife and I really thought we made a giant mistake. We’re busy parents who thought...how hard could it be?! Well, turns out it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. But, it’s something our family took on together. We formulated a plan. Weathered the storm -- together. My 5-year-old is the lookout for “changes in behavior” -- one of the biggest signs your dog has to go to the bathroom. My 9-year-old is always on poop patrol ... actually bagging up the stuff! My 11-year-old has become a pro at getting our pup his daily exercise. Even my wife -- a non-dog person -- cleans his messes, walks him, feeds him and does all the dog things wonderfully. (I think she’s becoming a dog person)
Once we formulated our dog training task force, we began to feel the stress fade. I’m not going to lie, this took several weeks to figure out and even now, every day is not easy. But, we’ve accomplished something incredible.
Today, Chewie is 5 months old. He rarely has accidents (but, it still does happen), he bites a whole lot less (but it still does happen) and he makes us laugh a lot instead of stressing us out (but we still do stress).
This little guy is so special to us now and we’d never change it. We love him so much. But, just a few weeks ago, we might be saying something totally different. So, if you’re considering a puppy as we approach the holidays, remember -- it’s the gift that keeps on giving. But, what it gives you at first is a ton of stress, sleepless nights, accidents to clean up, and a lot of things you might not want. However, once you get through those challenges , you’ll be rewarded with a pup that will give you so much joy.
You should just go into this knowing, it will be incredibly hard. Harder than you think. Trust me. You will probably want to return the dog at some point...but try your very best to avoid that.
Remember, your dog is confused, lost -- and most importantly -- learning. Lower your expectations.
I’ve heard stories (that I don’t believe) of puppies only having one or two accidents and that’s it. My family has probably cleaned up dozens and dozens of accidents. So, every dog is different. And every dog is special.
Raising a pup is not for the impatient. But, raising a pup has taught me, my wife and kids so much in such a short period of time. Now, we have a constant buddy to keep us company in the times that otherwise would be so boring. He has added endless excitement to our every day ... and if you decide to become a dog owner, you will be tested ... but in the end, you will be rewarded in a way unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Trust me, being greeted by you pup like you’ve been gone for weeks even though you just took the trash out does NOT get old.