Back in January, I wrote about why every family should get a puppy. I think I’m changing my mind. Sure, my post was laced with sarcasm but I do truly love dogs. Notice, I said “dogs.” The last puppy my family owned was over 20 years ago when I was a teenager living at home with my parents. My wife hasn’t owned a dog or any other pet for that matter.
When we got our puppy, Gertie, I don’t think we realized what we were getting into. I’m not going to lie. The past couple of months with a puppy have been rough (even if she does suck us in with her sad little puppy eyes). When we agreed to get a puppy for the family, we didn’t really stop and think about how much work she’d be. I guess the same could be said when we had each of our three kids.
Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and I can’t imagine that anything could be tougher. I typically get fired up when other people start comparing their pets to kids. There’s really no comparison. It’s not the same game at all.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what aspects of having a puppy are harder than having a baby. After having three babies around and now a puppy, I think I can safely draw comparisons between the two. I’m glad we have our puppy but there are some things I could do without.
With that in mind, here are six things to consider for anyone wanting to add a puppy to their family:
1) You can’t take a puppy with you wherever you go. People aren’t exactly lining up to baby-sit our puppy either. They think she’s cute and want to play with her for a few minutes but that’s about it. The only places we’ve been able to take her is my parents’ house and the vet. Since our puppy isn’t potty-trained yet, we have a four to five hour window to leave her alone at home in her crate. When our kids were babies, we could put them in a carrier and go wherever. It was a pain but we never felt stuck at home or had a certain window of opportunity to do what we wanted. Plus, we had family members lining up to watch them.
2) You can’t put a diaper on a puppy. They have tiny bladders and go to the bathroom ALL THE TIME. It feels like we’re constantly taking our puppy outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, freezing cold, snowing or 4 AM. When she’s got to go, she’s going to go. We have been somewhat fortunate with unseasonably warm weather since we got here but getting up in the middle of the night is really messing with my sleep. I don’t ever remember feeling this tired with any of our babies. It feels like a big production to get dressed, walk downstairs and then take the puppy out in the middle of the night. At least with babies, you can do everything from inside the comfort of your home. My recommendation is to get a puppy during the summer months. If you’re going to be outside a lot, why not enjoy the weather?
3) Puppies stink (and they smell bad too). Okay, that was a horrible joke. They really do smell bad. When we first brought our puppy home, she had a very distinct puppy smell. Since then, we’ve given her a bunch of baths and it doesn’t help much. It drives my wife crazy. Babies smell so nice. I remember smelling our babies after a bath and breathing in all the baby shampoo and lotions. I wanted to squeeze them until their little heads popped off. The puppy? Not so much.
4) Your puppy will destroy your carpet. Our carpet already looked like it had hosted multiple crime scenes but it looks really bad now. It doesn’t matter how many times you take the puppy out. As soon as you come back in from outside, he/she will inevitably poop on the floor. It is maddening.
5) Puppies aren’t always a calming influence on kids. Our pup is a Golden Doodle and we chose that breed because of their (alleged) calm demeanor. We hoped that she would help our kids chill out a little bit more. The kids love playing with her but all bets are off when there is a fight or argument going on in the house. Sometimes when we’re trying to discipline the kids, Gertie will start barking, biting or both. It escalates things. Plus, the kids argue over her. I don’t remember my boys ever fighting over holding their baby sister. I’ve been told that she will calm down around 18 months. I’m holding out hope. Only 14 more months to go!
6) Puppies bite, chew and scratch EVERYTHING. My kids don’t understand that puppies are going to bite and scratch when they play. We all have scars and ripped clothing. Plus, their little nails grow long and get sharp quickly. The other night, my shirtless 11-year-old picked up Gertie and by the time he put her back down, it looked like his chest/stomach had been tag-teamed by Freddy Krueger AND Wolverine. Our pup has even gotten Maddie’s homework two different times and chewed it up. We actually had to tell her teacher that the dog ate her homework. Now that I think about it, I wonder if my daughter fed it to her on purpose.
After reading this post, you’d think I’d be looking for a new home for our puppy. Not at all. She’s four months old now and getting better at a lot of things. For example, she rings our puppy bell hanging on our back door just about every time she needs to go to the bathroom. I also find myself looking forward to seeing her when I get home from work. She’s always excited to see me. My kids are getting older and no longer come running to see me when I walk in the house. I’m glad she’s a part of our family.
Anyone have any good tips or advice for a newbie puppy owner? Feel free to comment below.