Puppies are great. They’re cute and cuddly, full of energy and joy. What’s not to love? Our memories tend to be pretty short when it comes to something as adorable as a new puppy and here’s 10 things that everyone forgets about puppies, trainers included!!
#1 - How hard being alone is for them
When you get a new puppy and bring them home, this is often the first time they’ve ever been away completely from their mother, the breeder, and their littermates. In their world, being alone is totally foreign and potentially dangerous.
Because of this your puppy will struggle. There will be howling, whining, barking, and general carrying on. The isolation they feel, even just from you being out of sight can be very overwhelming for a puppy, just as it would be for a human child. It is totally natural for your puppy to be noisy or really hate to be alone. Knowing how to be alone is a skill that has to be taught to every dog, and the process is FAR from just having them be alone. It takes training over the course of several weeks at least to teach a puppy that being alone isn’t scary and isn’t something to be afraid of.
#2 - How much pottying a puppy needs
Everything about most puppies is quick! When they’re awake they can be like tiny furry cannonballs zooming around everywhere. Same with their metabolism, it’s working in overtime and things will go through your puppy extremely quickly.
With very young puppies or puppies who are small breeds it is not uncommon to at times need to go out more than once an hour when the pup is awake. Due to how distractible puppies can be, sometimes these visits to the outside world can take longer than 5-10 minutes to produce anything. This can be frustrating, especially if you have other things you HAVE to be doing, or if you know your pup will pee inside if you give up and bring them in.
Potty training is so critical to get down, after all, none of us want that happening in our homes! Yet many people and puppies struggle with it and most of the time this comes down to both time and false expectations of the pup. The truth is that your pup lacks complete bladder and bowel control as a youngster. They also don’t usually have a good communication system with you to tell you they need to go. Sometimes they don’t even realize they have to go until they’ve begun. How we approach this makes all the difference between success and failure.
#3 - Nipping and Chewing
This is a big one! All puppies will nip and chew, although the reasons for each one are different.
With nipping this is because your puppy wants interaction and this is how they communicate this to others. In the litter your puppy will nip a brother or sister and the playing will commence! It is totally normal that your puppy will try to do the same to you because this is the only communication they know. On top of this, nipping has ALWAYS worked for them as communication before. Imagine how confusing it is to have that communication taken away or punished! It’s our job as owners to educate our pups on how to get our attention appropriately and to teach them how to communicate with us.
For chewing there are two reasons. Your pup’s teeth are developing. The process of teething can be uncomfortable and chewing on things can help massage and sooth the gums. Additionally, a puppy’s mouth is like a toddler’s hands. They want to explore the world, and lacking hands means that they use their mouths! Knowing what to give your pup to help them and what is safe for them to have is key.
#4 - Puppy Witching Hour
This is a period of time that occurs in the evenings. For some it’s before bedtime, for others it’s around dusk. Essentially your puppy will become a hyper mess. Zoomies on steroids, full on can’t hear a word you said, and nipping like a complete and total asshole. The puppy is insane, and for some you can look forward to this happening each day almost like clockwork. Definitely will keep you on your toes, and is something that can be avoided with the right help.
#5 - How much sleep they need
Young puppies need 18-20 HOURS of sleep a day. Without it they’re a nightmare and their bodies and brains are not getting the rest needed to develop and grow. Just like a human child, being overtired is not good and you’ll see things show up in their behavior. So many times I see families who have young puppies who are kept awake, disturbed while sleeping, and otherwise not getting the rest they need. These pups and their families struggle and it’s all from just a simple lack of sleep. Usually for everyone!
#6 - How disruptive they are
Puppies can and will disrupt even the best laid plans. They will cry in their crate or need to go out at the most inconvenient times. They don’t care you had a long night and need the rest, for most owners your new alarm clock is your pup. They are needy, can be picky, and always know how to spice things up in ways that we humans don’t usually like.
Let’s face it. We all have our habits, preferences, patterns, and quirks. Those will be turned on their head by your puppy. The good news is that it’s not usually a permanent arrangement, although many bad habits can be learned and in fact traced back to puppyhood. For all you jumpers out there, I’m looking at you…
#7 - The costs of care
There are 3 main categories of costs to consider with your new puppy. The first we’ll call Equipment. Dog food, treats, chews, bones, leashes, collars, harnesses, toys, crates, pens, clothing, beds, and cleaning supplies. Pretty much everything you need to keep a dog fairly happy in your home as well as keep them corralled where you need them to be. In this category prices can vary drastically from home to home, understandably so.
Next we have medical. This is all vet related, care, shots, checkups, insurance, medications, etc. This as well can vary, but I think we can all agree that cost can begin to stack up quickly. For my last vet visit for a puppy, shots and wormer, the total came out to $147. And this is a cost that with a pup you’ll be paying several times.
Lastly there is the cost of training. Your dog will not learn what their place is in the world and how to behave without help. Quality of life is affected because of this. Your dog may have reactivity, fear issues, be a pain to walk on a leash, and that will all shrink your dog’s world down. Potentially until the dog doesn’t get to go places with you and they just live in their house and yard. An unnatural life. The sad reality is that it’s totally preventable. Training is a preventative measure (unless we’re fixing problem behaviors and already ingrained habits) and as such it’s best to do BEFORE there are noticeable problems. This is the most cost effective way to get training for your dog and also help ensure that you both have happier and less stressful lives together.
#8 - How quickly they can pick up bad habits
A young puppy can learn a new thing in a day or two. Their brains are soaking up as much information about everything that they possibly can! This doesn’t magically exclude things you don’t want them to learn. So just like he learned his name, he can learn to dig, bark too much, chew your headphones up, play keep away with your things, and otherwise be one of the worst roommates you’ve ever had.
This is one of the many reasons why giving your new puppy as much freedom as possible, isn’t recommended.
#9 - How annoyed they can make others in the household
4am!! Time to wake up! Puppy has to pee and will yell until you take them out. It’s bedtime, but puppy hates his crate! More yelling. Oh good the kids have food, let’s JUMP all over them! New people! Time to go apeshit! The Cat!! I love the cat! Time to chase! Uncle Spot is trying to take a nap? What a perfect time to jump on his head, bite his ears, pull on his jowls. The humans are talking! I must talk tooooooooo!!!!!! Are those CHICKENS?!?!?! I can’t see where you’ve went!!! You’re abandoning me forever, please come back!
Btw someone needs to clean up that mess in the hallway. I don’t know how that happened. I’m not feeling great…I think I might have to puke at 2am. Don’t worry I’ll make sure it gets onto things outside of the crate too.
Even the best behaved puppies will bring a whirlwind into your home. My puppy Froot was raised by an excellent breeder with a fantastic breeding program. None of that really makes much of a difference when it comes to your day to day disruptions due to the puppy. Unexpected messes happen, mistakes around the house happen, and your puppy really isn’t operating on the schedule that you are.
And yes I’m only human. I get annoyed when I have to clean up a mess at an inconvenient time. Or when I’m woken up by a puppy to go out at 4 in the morning. Who then won’t go back to sleep until a more reasonable hour. Or the puppy who is startled by everything new and barks about all of it. Me dropping a spoon shouldn’t cause a meltdown! At the end of the day though, this is all part of having a puppy.
#10 - How much your puppy DOESN'T know
Coming straight from the litter there’s only a few things your pup really knows. They know their mom, they know their siblings, and they know person who raised them, as well as the environment they grew up in. Little Fluffy doesn’t know that dogs aren’t allowed in the kitchen. He doesn’t know that the kids toys aren’t his toys. He doesn’t know that you don’t appreciate being nipped. He doesn’t know that you don’t want him to potty in the house or that that’s even a possibility. He doesn’t know his name, or that he should come when you say it. Most importantly he doesn’t know you and won’t have much of a relationship with you.
Without training, teaching your puppy what you want, getting from point A to point B most likely will contain conflict of some kind. Not on purpose, but it’s just how it is for most dogs. You as the owner have a limited pool of knowledge to use and pull from, once that ends the choices become slim and the wheels begin to fall off the bus.
Countless times I’ve had owners come to me with their young dogs who’s struggles stem from their relationship with their dog. In most cases there isn’t really a relationship. The human is a meal dispenser, or maybe scolds the dog here and there, but there’s nothing deeper for the dog and we see them make choices we don’t like as a result.
How do owners get here? A lot of times it’s due to false expectations that owners have, incomplete knowledge, or plain not knowing how to develop a relationship with a dog that fosters them being attentive, listening to you, wanting to walk nicely with you, wanting to RUN to you when you call. All of these things are possible and even if you don’t have them, they’re fixable!