10 Things No One Tells You Before You Get a Puppy

Monday, April 15, 2013

For those of you who don't know, back in January Steven and I added a new family member.

Her name is Sadie.

She turned 6 months old on Saturday and is the cutest pup you'll ever meet.  She's so smart and we love her so much, but I'm here to tell you...

There is a dark side to puppy ownership.

We picked her out when she was just 2 weeks old so we had to wait a couple more months before we could bring her home.  In that time, we were so excited about having a cute puppy that we didn't stop to think about how it would affect our lives.  We were so busy picking out the perfect bed and collar and deciding on a name that we hardly paused to ponder what it actually meant to care for a puppy.  We imagined her sitting on the sofa with us and watching TV, taking naps in the sun, and going on leisurely strolls around the neighborhood.  People tried to tell us that it would be good practice for when we have a baby and we just laughed it off like "Haha, sure it will be!"

Here it comes:  Having a puppy is so much harder than having a baby.

Wait, how would I know that because I don't have a baby?

Because babies sleep.  A lot.  I've never actually seen Sadie sleep.  Babies pee and poop in diapers.  Sadie squats down whenever and wherever the mood strikes.  It takes months and months for babies to learn how to walk.  Sadie runs around like a mad woman from dawn 'til dusk.

Don't get me wrong, having a newborn baby is crazy hard and tiring.  I get it.  Please don't send me hate mail!  I'm just saying:  Having a puppy is hard too.

So, just in case you're thinking about getting a puppy of your very own, here are 10 things that I wish I'd known before we embarked on this journey.

1) Your puppy will pee.  A lot.  Everywhere.  Just be prepared with plenty of cans of Spot Shot (seriously the best carpet and upholstery cleaner there is).  We've gone through so many cans now that I don't know why we haven't invested in some stock.  At least get a little kickback for being such loyal customers.

2) Your puppy will poop.  And it will stink to high heaven.  I don't know what's in puppy poop but it is rank.  Again, get some Spot Shot.  And some air freshener.  Also, if you pick it up gently with a paper towel, it hardly leaves a spot on your carpet at all.  Pee is much worse.

3) If your puppy is anything like Sadie, and you get him or her in the winter, be prepared for her bladder and bowels to freeze up if it's below 40 degrees outside.  She will not go.  You can stand out there for an hour and... nothing.  Oh, but as soon as you give up and walk inside, she'll pee on your welcome mat.  Get some washable rugs.

4) After a week or more of dealing with frozen bowels, you may decide to litter train your puppy. Be prepared for weird looks and criticism when people ask how the potty training is going and you say that she is using her litter box successfully 75% of the time.  It's a weird thing, we know, but it totally works for us at this point.  We don't have a fenced back yard.  We live on a busy street.  We can't always come home in the middle of the day.  Litter training solves a multitude of problems.  Since we got Sadie a huge box with tall sides (so she can't kick litter out everywhere), she hasn't had an accident in her kennel once.  Not once.  Her kennel has exactly enough room for her bed and her litter box.  Unless she wants to pee in her bed (which dogs don't like too much), then she has to go in her box.  We know it's not for everyone (hence the weird looks we get), but she's a small dog and can comfortably and successfully use a litter box without incident.  We use paper litter for her (instead of the cats' clay variety) that we get at the pet store.  It's actually rabbit litter.  Do a price comparison on dog litter (yes, they make such a thing) and rabbit litter.  It's seriously no contest.  Dog litter is expensive.  Okay, enough about puppy "elimination." Onto other topics!

5) Your puppy will have a lot of energy.  You may be acutely aware of this fact before you bring him or her home, but you will not fully grasp the extent of her energy until you're sitting on the sofa, trying to watch Revenge and she's running laps around the coffee table.  It doesn't really matter how much exercise you give her.  She will always have more energy than you.

6) The key to keeping your sanity is to keep your puppy entertained.  Buy lots of bones and other chew toys so she'll have something to do.  If you don't, she will go in your closet and get your socks out of their basket on the floor and carry them all over the house.  Better yet, keep your socks in a drawer.  Why have I not done this yet?

7) If you have other animals, namely cats, you will very quickly learn how to play referee.  One of our cats, Maggie, is very indifferent toward Sadie and mostly just ignores her.  The other, sweeter, one, Abbie, instigates Sadie to no end.  She chases her around and then when Sadie chases her back, she hisses and growls at her.  You dumb cat!  Leave her alone and you won't get yourself into these situations!

8) You will get numerous scratches on your arms and hands from playtime with your pup.  She doesn't mean to bite and scratch (she's just playing!), but sometimes it will hurt.  Wear gloves.

9) Your pup will be a messy water drinker.  Until your pup is fully potty trained, it will be unclear if the wet droplets everywhere are of the clear or yellow variety, so proceed with caution.

10) Lastly, you will love this little puppy from the minute you bring her into your home.  You just may not like her all the time and that's okay.  Don't beat yourself up about it.  You will get into a routine and things will get better.  Not for a while, but they will.  Or so I'm told.  :)

Despite her high maintenance status, we have a lot of fun with Sadie.  I've taught her to sit and roll over and she's still working on lay down (for some reason, she can't quite grasp that concept).  I shot a little video of her to show you her cute tricks.  Oh, and there's a surprise ending.

SadieDoesTricks from Jenna Pennell on Vimeo.

Yep, she peed.  On the rug.  During our video shoot.  I don't think there's a better illustration of Point #1.  

So, have I scared you off from puppy ownership yet?  I sincerely hope I haven't.  Even though puppies don't pee and poop where they should and have more energy than they know what to do with, they love you unconditionally and their excitement when they see you at the end of the day knows no bounds.  Actually, if Sadie hasn't seen me for 10 minutes, she excitement tinkles on the carpet.  I can hardly get mad at her for that.  :)


  1. That is all so very true! Especially the energy part. My dog just turned 2 and he is still wide open, constantly! Cute pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Right on the mark! Would you link this to What to do Weekends Party? Take care, Linda Following on facebook and Pinterest.


  3. Haha! You were right, puppies are harder than babies. I have a 9 year old cocker-terri-poo puppy. That's right, a NINE YEAR OLD puppy. I keep waiting for him to "grow out of it". Ha! And, for the record, I have 2 human children, ages 18 and 14 years.
    Litter training is totally normal and a good idea for small dogs. I wouldn't do it with a great dane, though. You might also check out pine pellet horse stall bedding if you have a feed store near you. It's about $7 for a 40 or 50 lb bag. I use it as cat litter. I love it.

  4. Thanks so much for linking this cute post to What to do Weekends Party. We adopted a puppy before Christmas one year. I said never again before Christmas. It was a wild ride... Now the puppy is 13! She's so good but I remember when she was a puppy. Last year we adopted a year old dog from Texas. She was perfect from the time she came in.. no wetting anywhere... it was great. Puppies are cute but they are WORK! Thanks so much again. Linda

  5. Ha, oh-so-true! Especially about the scratches; those puppy teeth are SHARP!!
    I would add #11 to this list: If you let the dog sleep in your bed, she will take up the entire bed...no matter how small she is. Or lay in a position that will make you as uncomfortable as possible. When we adopted our puppy, she would curl up on my pillow right next to my bed. Now that she's grown a little, she likes to sleep between my legs. I can barely move, but she sure looks comfortable!

  6. Thanks so much for this post! I want a dog, but I don't think I could do it myself right now. I saw a cutie I would love from the SPCA that's an adult which actually might be a better start for me! A girlfriend of mine told me that when they got their puppy she cried pretty much every day for weeks lol! Even now, their dog has settled down considerably, but a few weeks ago, we were out in the hot tub for a couple hours, came back in to find stuffing everywhere, she had destroyed a pillow!LOL

  7. Thanks for sharing! We're on the waiting list for a cocker spaniel pup (it's likely to be August when we get it) and I am aware it is going to be HARD WORK. I have brief moments of panic when I wonder if we are making a huge mistake! I just keep telling myself we'll love him/her regardless of the difficult bits (like my kids, actually).

    Your pup is adorable!

    Angela @ A Typical English Home

  8. ooh man , we just recently (as in two weeks ago) got two pups and they've been keeping us on our toes! Great post it made me smile as i could relate :) You can meet our two pups Violet and Lucy here http://emma-randomramblings.blogspot.com/2013/04/cuteness.html and Here http://emma-randomramblings.blogspot.com/2013/03/introducing.html . They are too cute and we're enjoying them so much :)Sadie is adorable!

  9. I recently got a Great dane puppy and she is all of these things times like a million. She is 4 months old and she weighs 60 pounds lol! I love her o much though

  10. lol! So true. When we got our first dog, she was a puppy. And we paper trained her (washing machine tray on an unused enclosed porch with newspaper). But all of the training and energy...I hear ya, hard work! It does pay off...she was a great dog, we loved her and miss her so much!

    Two year later, I was ready for another dog but was super hesitant (probably the reason for the two year break and panicking. We just rescued a 7-year-old Italian Greyhound. And I prepared myself for the training (thinking it was probably the reason she was given up by her previous owner). We were so fortunate! I love that she is already potty and crate trained, obedient, out of the puppy stage. (We've only had her a few weeks...spoiled too!)

    Keep up the good work - Sadie is adorable! Amazing how much love develops, so quickly, isn't it?