Congratulations! You’re a PAWent! Now what?
As most first-time dog parents are, you are probably over the moon excited, and overly prepared having probably gone over your new puppy checklist too many times to count. Maybe even a little bit scared. Both are completely valid and normal ways to feel. After all, your lives are about to change. For the better of course!
The months leading up to your puppy’s official homecoming are much like the days before the arrival of any newborn. You will be drawn to start preparing, or “nesting” if you will! Before long, you will have been to the local department store 100 times over, seemingly on a never-ending search for just the right “welcome home” gift. Or maybe you’ll be inclined to join the over 200,000 subscribers of BarkBox for a monthly subscription delivered right to your door! You’ll have more plush animals, tennis balls, blankets and chew toys than you thought possible and much like having a baby, you will be ecstatic at the thought of finally adding to your family!
But here are some things you’ll need to know for your puppy’s first night!
1. You. WILL. NOT. sleep!
I wish I was exaggerating when I said that having a puppy is in part the same as having a newborn baby and if you are first time dog owners this could be quite the shock to your system. Between potty training, puppy training and crate training (if you choose to do it), your normal nighttime routine will be a thing of the past. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll look back and love every minute of it, but be prepared, you’ll probably have to buy another coffee machine. Actually. Make that a Nespresso machine (it’s stronger and you’ll definitely need it).
2. You will spend WAY too much money on toys they don’t even like!
I would be lying if I told you, I DIDN’T go overboard with my puppy. Honestly, I was way too eager to pull out my credit card every time I went into a Winner’s or Target, just to take home a bag of toys and have my puppy turn a blind eye or even better, go back to chewing on the socks he’d grabbed from the dirty laundry pile. The amount of dogs beds and bowls I have refrained from buying would shock you. But don’t fret, you aren’t alone! A study done by Zulily showed that “92% of millennials buy their pet’s gifts, while 51% do so on a monthly basis” (Mitic, 2021). I am definitely within that 51%.
Not to mention, that the toys they do like, probably won’t stand the grasps of their puppy teeth for long, so be prepared for the endless tirades of dismembered stuffed animals and piles of stuffing. And no doubt you will have to become quite the fast picker-upper, because whatever comes out of that fluffy rabbit you bought at Petsmart is not good dog nutrition.
3. If you are a millennial you will likely spend EVEN more!
Over the last decade, Americans spending on pets has increased from a rough $45.35 billion to over $95.7 billion annually (Statista). Seriously though, this isn’t something to be upset about. While your wallet may not agree, a study done by pet retailer Zulily “show[ed] that younger generations [tend to be] incredibly generous towards their pets, whom they treat like family” (Mitic, 2021). Besides toys, puppy care in general can be quite expensive, so make sure you are prepared to go the extra mile. Which makes sense to me, right? Our dogs are our babies! So, don’t feel bad for treating them like family.
4. You will probably want to name him Max or her Bella!
Or at least that’s what the experts at PetBreeds, with help from the Rover database concluded was the most popular name, next to Bella. “Interestingly, Rover reported 28% of dog names are decidedly human” (Woods, 2017), so I guess what we are trying to say is that, if you don’t want your puppy to share a name with thousands of others than stay away from “Max and Bella''; or simply choose something that can’t be associated with anyone in your family tree.
5. You will wish that you had eyes in the back of your head!
Some people are quick to say that raising a puppy may actually be more difficult than raising a toddler. While I have yet to experience the joys of terrible twos, I can say with absolution that having two sets of eyes, as opposed to one set, would have made the job a lot easier.
The hours you will spend chasing your puppy around, blocking rooms with miscellaneous objects, cleaning, sweeping and puppy-proofing your space will be hours you will never get back. Is that time spent better than the alternative of cleaning the pee stains out of freshly shampooed carpets, or taking an emergency trip to the vet for ingested toilet paper? Of course. 100%.
6. Your puppy WILL make you happier and Healthier!
But, I am sure you already knew that, however it is based on science too! Cool right? I mean, how could you even begin to think differently. Aside from being fun to play with, dogs are actually found to be a major contributor to improving the physiological and psychological aspects in their owner’s lives.
Having to meet the physical demands that come with owning a puppy, American Humane found that dog owners are “54% more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise”, which from a medical perspective helps build immunity, leading to overall better health. Your puppy will also help decrease anxiety and loneliness by 60% (Healthline), lower your blood pressure and even give your social life a boost, with over 40% of dog owners finding it easier to make friends (Hufpost). If those aren’t good enough reasons to get a puppy, you’ll have to talk to me directly!
7. The love you will feel will be insurmountable!
Unless you have had human children, you will soon find out exactly what love is when you get a dog, and while the initial months can be difficult, the worry, exhaustion and spontaneous thoughts of “what was I thinking!?” will fade soon enough. If you are hesitant about becoming one of “those dog moms”, tread carefully, because I am willing to bet you are already well on your way if not there already.
The list of tips for new dog owners could fill an entire novel and you and I both know there are so many things to know before getting a dog. But, if I could leave you with one final piece of advice it is to enjoy the time you have because as cliché as it may be to say, they really do grow up in the blink of an eye!