There are some things everyone tells you before getting a pup: the responsibility, the walks, the poop bags, to name a few. But then there are the things NO ONE tells you. As a new pup parent to my rescue dog, Noodle, I thought I'd share a few of the unexpected challenges and delights that came my way when I adopted him. Here are 13 things that nobody told me about becoming a pup parent.
1. You are not your top priority anymore.
As someone who only had experience taking care of cats and hamsters in a past life, I had no idea how much my focus would need to shift from myself to my dog. It was a definitely a wake-up call!
2. There will be an adjustment period for the both of you, and sometimes, you’ll feel like the worst mom (or dad) ever.
Leaving for work becomes infinitely harder. Your pup might have accidents, freak out in his new surroundings, or feel uneasy. And you’ll feel guilty for it. Luckily, as much as it sucks, this will pass with time! It’ll take a while for you both of you to get used to each other and get into a routine.
3. Speaking of routine...
Your daily routine will drastically change - for the better. Think: Earlier morning starts, longer walks, and puppy kisses after a long day away from your pup. How did I even live for before him?!
4. On the flip-side, your social life may take the backseat.
It’s no longer easy to take long weekend trips, stay out late, enroll in classes, or take time for yourself. But seeing that face and feeling the whipped air from your pup’s happy tail will make it all worthwhile again (whether you've been gone for 5 minutes or for 5 hours).
5. Emergencies and accidents can and will happen! Be prepared with a rainy day fund.
I had no idea how much it would cost to care for a dog. I of course budgeted for supplies, food, and some accessories, but I wasn’t prepared for unexpected vet bills! I also had to buy a new pair of pants for an innocent passerby. Or two. Or three. (Who's counting?) Accidents are inevitable, so save some of that going-out money for a rainy day.
6. You don’t need fancy things. Just the basics will do!
Your pup won’t give two poops about whether he’s wearing a Kong or a Coach collar. Save your money where you can!
7. Do your research.
A lot goes into having a dog - do your research on registration, licensing, vaccinations, travel documentation, common illnesses, etc., so you’re prepared for any situation. The more you prepare, the less you stress!
8. Start interviewing pet sitters and dog walkers before you’ll actually need one. Finding the right fit for your pup may take some time.
Waiting until the last minute can put unneeded stress on you and your pup. Even the most reputable kennel, pet sitter, or dog walker might not be the best fit for your dog. (This is not to say that reputable dog services should be avoided, by any means! Every pup is different.) I learned the hard way that my pup doesn’t do well in multi-dog spaces, or with unfamiliar faces. He takes a while to warm up to new situations and strangers. You may also want to choose a company that uses an app like Scout
to make communication and scheduling a breeze.
9. Start training early. But don’t get fixated on one, single, training philosophy. Find what works best for you and your pup.
I still get overwhelmed with finding the best training solution for Noodle, because he has some baggage and aggression problems from his past. I’m still learning what works for us - and I don’t beat myself up about things that we still haven’t gotten right. It's a process!
10. Introduce your pup to new situations slowly. You (and your pup) will be happy you did!
I brought Noodle to work with me the day after I adopted him. Let’s just say he left his mark and a lasting impression on the office. And the walls… and the chairs… also the sofas...
11. You will become frustrated with your pup at times. And it’s totally normal and okay.
It’s not a reflection of your abilities as a pup parent, or your pup’s abilities as a pup. It’ll take time to learn your pup’s quirks, and you’ll grow to not sweat the little things.
12. Something you love will probably get peed on. And also probably pooped on.
I’m writing this as I stare down at my defiled, once-beautiful, very expensive living room rug.
13. And last, but best of all, unimaginable love.
You’ll undoubtedly develop a crazy close relationship with your pup, unlike anything you thought possible. They’ll be the center of your world, and you’ll fall in love deeply, and wholly. You'll have your ups and downs, but mostly you'll be over the moon. You won’t be able to imagine life without them!