There are hundreds of things to know before getting a puppy.
A puppy or rescue dog will require a lot of time, patience and understanding.
Your home will need to be puppy-proofed and the first things you will put your focus on are:
Although I already knew a lot about dogs back then, raising a puppy was definitely different than I expected it to be.
Never ever underestimate the responsibility you take on to yourself when buying a puppy.
It’s not just that cute little thing that you can throw a ball a few times a day.
Below you will find 10 things that I wish someone told me before getting a puppy and that were quite surprising to me.
1. Every Puppy Is Different
If you are looking into resources online that will teach you about puppy training, don’t believe that this is what all puppies behave like.
Every puppy is completely different and you will run into your own problems along the way.
Some puppies bark while others are always quiet.
Some may be potty trained in a day others might take months.
My Rottweiler puppy had the worst leash problems (learn how I solved her overexcitement on walks) that other dog parents never talked about.
Just because your friend
Each puppy learns at his own pace and likes his own things. Also, your puppy will change as he grows up.
My Rottie loved absolutely every dog and human and she still does but there were phases where one was more important than the other and now that she’s around two years old, humans are definitely #1.
My dog was on the very soft side as puppy in terms of interacting with others, now she’s the authority in the dog park.
Your dog loves tug-of-war but absolutely hates those dogs running around like crazy? Mine does too!
2. A Puppy Requires a Surveillance System
Everyone knows that a puppy requires a lot of attention and supervision but when I tell you that you couldn’t even turn your back on her then I mean it.
We had to watch our puppy 24/7 to prevent any accidents in the house.
For the first few days, she only peed and pooped inside.
The only place she wouldn’t do that was the couch and her crate.
We always tried to keep her calm on the couch because once she touched the ground – even for a mere second – she would pee.
And we even took her out every 20 minutes, more to that later.
Catching any bad behavior will really set up your training goals for success but that means that you will have to monitor your pup all day long.
And it might sound quite easy but try that with 2-3 hours of sleep a night.
If you do have to leave your puppy alone at home for a short amount of time, I highly recommend lookin
3. You Won’t Get Much Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a real thing and it’s probably the worst when it comes to enjoying your puppy because you will be literally walking around like a zombie.
But again, every dog is different and yours might sleep just fine from the first night on.
Whining and crying in the crate at night is extremely common and will probably happen to everyone.
Your puppy just got separated from his mother and littermate and is forced to sleep on his own now.
From the first night on we placed the crate beside our bed and tired her out in the evening.
We followed all the steps outlined in my crate-training guide.
But once we put her inside the crate, she would start howling and crying her soul out.
You will have to stay strong in this period and never ever give your puppy attention while whining (as long as he doesn’t need to pee or medical attention).
We would put her in the crate at 10 pm and she would cry for at least 2 hours every night.
Two hours doesn’t sound so bad but your puppy will have to go out at night.
We had to get up every 2-3 hours for nighttime potty breaks which means that she would cry for at least an hour every time she would be put back in the crate again.
This gave us about two hours of sleep at night for 2 weeks.
But if you stay consistent and never give in
From one day to another, she started sleeping throughout the whole night.
Recommended Reading: How to survive your puppy’s first night at home
4. The First Weeks Will Be The Worst
After those initial two weeks, things drastically got better.
Every puppy has their own problems and strength.
Besides her sleeping and potty problems, she was a total angel and the best puppy I could have ever wished for.
Having a puppy is so fun, you will just need to breathe through the hard times.
It really helps to keep on researching and engaging in different forums like Reddit or Facebook groups.
5. Puppies are Exactly Like Babies
Puppies have a lot more in common with babies than I initially thought. It even starts with finding a name for your new companion.
You want it to be meaningful, cute or unique and this decision will last for his whole life.
You will probably find yourself napping with your dog during the day just like you would have to with a newborn.
A puppy is an angel when it sleeps and it’s the only time you will be able to do something for yourself or the household.
You will have to carefully monitor what your dog puts into his mouth.
Just like babies, puppies explore everything and anything with their mouths.
They are literally trying to kill themselves every day. Puppy proofing your house should not be underestimated and you can find out how to do it here.
6. You Will Be House Bound
A dog this young cannot and should not be left alone.
You wouldn’t consider working 9-5 with a newborn, would you?
This could lead to major behavior problems in the future that all arise from separation anxiety.
It would also be a shame to lose so many valuable hours with your puppy.
They grow so extremely fast and before you know it he will be an adult.
Bonding and socialization will be huge topics during this period.
Being housebound doesn’t mean that you won’t actually leave the house.
You will be outside for hours on end, keeping up with the potty breaks, taking your dog for a walk and socializing your pup.
7. It Can Get Expensive
Of course dogs in general cost money but puppies require so many extra and one-time purchases in a short amount of time.
A small dog will be significantly cheaper than a large breed.
You believe the true number of a large breed dogs lifetime cost (hint: $$$).
You need to buy essential items like a dog bed, food, bowls, harness, leash but you will also need insurance and vaccinations.
My Rottweiler is considered a “dangerous breed” here in Germany which means that I have to pay significantly more for her than other dog owners (several theoretical tests for you and others to test if your dog’s aggressive, for example).
Before we could bring her home, we would need to get different government documents and take tests that all cost a lot of money.
In Germany, you have to pay taxes for your dog which is about $120/year for every breed.
But with a dangerous breed, it can go up to $1,500/year in certain cities.
Depending on the type of food you will want to feed your dog, it may be cheap like a commercial kibble or expensive like a raw diet (we pay nearly $200 for her food per month).
Always set some money aside for potential vet bills that can get really expensive really fast.
8. Finding Out What a Dog Can and Cannot Eat
Everyone knows that dogs cannot eat sugar or a lot of fat but there are many foods that I would have never thought are toxic to them.
A dog should never have bacon, avocado, chocolate, garlic, onions, grapes, walnuts and many more.
Believe me, you will feel like a nutritional expert after you have studied all those different ingredients.
Check out my article on whether or not dogs can eat eggs, rice, jello, and much more.
9. Winter is the Worst Season for a Puppy
If I can recommend one thing then please get a puppy in any other season than winter (unless it’s warm all year around where you live).
Puppies hate the cold and you will have so many problems with potty training.
That’s why I wrote above that she only peed and pooped inside for the first few days because it was just too cold for her.
We would be outside for hours and once we stepped inside for a mere second, she would pee on the floor. Nighttime potty breaks feel like hell.
It’s freezing outside for you and the puppy and he probably won’t even go.
Socialization will be much harder as there is no one outside.
The outdoor puppy classes were closed and it was hard to meet any dogs or people.
Bright side: If you already planned on getting a puppy in the winter, we managed to do it too.
It’ll work out, some way or another.
10. Dog Ownership Is So Rewarding
The most important thing that I wasn’t so aware of is how rewarding dog ownership really is.
It’s probably the best decision that I have ever made in my life and I would never regret getting a puppy.
A dog is so much fun and pure happiness every day.
She enlightens my heart and I love her so much.
Caring for her is the best and she gives so much back.
It’s beautiful to have a loyal and loving companion in your life.
To set you up for success, I’ve listed a couple of secrets (or how I learned to be the best dog mom possible).
Bonding and Communication
This is the very first thing every new dog owner should be focussing on.
Gaining your puppy’s trust is mandatory for a great relationship.
A dog that knows that he can rely on you and you always got his back is more confident and therefore less likely to show bad behavior.
While dogs learn so many things from us and watch us the whole day we can also learn from them.
Dogs focus especially on body language and our eyes, they can easily sense emotions and take directions.
That is what we bred them for.
Focus on getting to know your dog. What behavior does he show prior to certain situations?
Be kind and empathetic, whenever there is a noise that really scares your dog, be there for him and take care of his needs.
Nothing can build a stronger bond than having much quality time with your dog. Play is a very effective way to bond with your dog.
So is teaching them new tricks or feeding them some special treats.
Learn how dogs show affection and give them some love back in a way they can understand.
For example, dogs sometimes lean against you or lay on your feet while you are working.
That is a way they show affection through physical contact.
Once in a while approach your dog, let him lay on your lap and pet him.
Be Patient and Consistent
Patience and consistency is the key to an effective learning process.
Once you made a decision or set a rule you can never go back.
For example, if you decided on letting your dog on the couch then stick with it for his life.
One day suddenly throwing your dog from the couch just because he got too big will only result in him being massively confused.
Your dog will only think about what did he do wrong to deserve this and it will constantly kill his confidence every time he will now try to get onto the couch.
If he can’t even be assured in his own home then he won’t be outside.
Dogs do not understand sudden changes resulting from anger or frustration, which is why patience is also very important.
Every learning step is a process and takes time.
From getting your puppy crate trained to teach him leash walking.
Consistency is also important regarding your puppy’s daily routine.
Sudden changes like a new feeding place or sleeping place can throw them off for a while.
That is why setting up a puppy schedule is necessary.
To train your puppy the right way, you want to achieve a happy training process.
You do not want to force your dog into a command or make training with you uncomfortable because he will learn nothing off of it.
Training your puppy from the inside-out is an amazing way to achieve the desired results.
If your dog actually wants to learn new things and execute commands he will keep them in mind and enjoy it.
For that, you will have to motivate your dog. Be exciting, playful and don’t hold back those praises.
He will love to interact with you and will, therefore, learn all the basic obedience commands much faster and better.
If you’re interested in finding various ways to tire your dog out mentally and what dog training method is best for you, check out the linked article.
Is there a specific training tip that helped you build a great relationship with your dog? Let me know in the comments below.
Sunday 1st of August 2021
I found this to be very informative. Thank you so much!
Anne A Williams
Tuesday 20th of October 2020
I was looking for more guidance in potty training. So you still stick the dog’s nose in the pee to teach him or her that is NO or what else? Also, can I get two Puppies at once and do they learn from each other?
Wednesday 21st of October 2020
I've actually written an article on potty training here. Definitely never stick your pup's or adult dog's nose in the pee. This doesn't teach the dog anything, especially because too much time passed between the accident and the punishment. A simple "no" suffices, show your dog where to go instead.
If you get two puppies at once, it's more likely that you'll experience littermate syndrome. They'll learn negative patterns from each other and will be up to much more mischief as there's always a partner to play with, rough-house, etc. It's also double the puppy biting, potty training, crate-training, etc.
If you have an older trained dog, it's highly likely that the puppy is seeking guidance.
Tuesday 8th of October 2019
Saved the blog as a favorite, I really like your blog and articles!
Tuesday 8th of October 2019
Thank you, Barabara!