What They Don't Tell You About Getting A Puppy

Get a puppy they said. It'll be fun they said. Boy, was I in over my head! I surprised my boyfriend with a six-month-old puppy earlier this year. It was an impulsive decision like most puppies are. She was a stray that my mom had found and my boyfriend had been wanting his own pet for a long time. I grew up with dogs so I knew they were a lot of work, but I have never had to do it by myself. My parents were always the ones who trained the puppies, so they did the dirty work while I reaped the benefits of playing with my new pup. While I love our puppy, she is a complete handful. She is a Labrador and Blue Heeler mix, which are both hyper breeds. No one ever tells you how much work a puppy really is or how much money you will have to spend.

  1. Puppies smell bad. Puppies do not smell good. They are constantly getting into things they shouldn't be or rolling in something. Not only do they stink, but they make your house stink as well. We have to clean and vacuum every day so our house doesn't smell like dogs. We always have candles lit and air fresheners in our room. Roxy gets regular baths and grooming so that helps with the smell a lot. The last thing you want is for people to come over and have them immediately notice the smell of your animals, so be sure to be conscious of your grooming habits for your puppy. 
  2. They are very expensive. Puppies cost a lot more than you would think. Vet bills alone are enough to make you not want to have a dog. You have to get multiple rounds of shots. You also have to think about spaying or neutering your pet, which is over $100. Luckily, most Murray veterinarians offer a student discount, so I am able to get Roxy spayed for a better price. If you live in a college town, call different vet offices to see who gives the best rate. You also have to think about paying for dog food, toys, treats, a kennel and so much more. It really starts to add up fast. My boyfriend and I spent a couple hundred dollars when we first got Roxy. I highly recommend signing up for Bark Box to make it all cheaper on yourself. You get a box of treats, toys and bones for $15 a month. 
  3. Puppies chew everything. I have had to part with so many clothes and shoes since we got Roxy. She loves to chew my clothes, not my boyfriends, so I always have to put things up. We can never leave anything on top of her kennel because she will pull it through and eat it. She jumps on the counter and grabs anything that is close to the edge, no matter what it is. She even chews the legs of our kitchen table chairs. Puppies eat whatever they can grab, so you really have to become conscious of where you place things. If you have any expensive items or furniture, put it in a room in the house that the puppy is not allowed, so it stays safe. 
  4. You are never alone. Roxy follows us everywhere. I can't even use the bathroom without Roxy whining to get let in. When I go upstairs to shower, she waits at the bottom of the stairs for me. She is not an independent animal at all. While it was cute at first, it quickly becomes annoying. Everyone wants alone time, but it doesn't always happen when you have a puppy. It really is like having a child sometimes. Not every dog is like this. My older dog loves to be by herself and only bothers us when she wants attention. If I want true alone time, I have to put her in the kennel and cover it with a blanket so I don't have to see her watching me. 
  5. They need a lot of exercise. Some breeds are more active than others, but you should try to give your pup at least an hour of exercise every day. Some days it can be hard to find time to make for your pup, but it is so important that you do. We know when Roxy needs play time or to be walked because she starts to act out. We try to walk her for 30 minutes every day but if it's nice outside then it is longer. Fetch is her favorite game so we always play that inside and it exhausts her. We love taking her to the dog park. It is the easiest way to tire her out. She gets to run and be free and interact with other dogs as well. 
  6. You have to be consistent. Training is what I struggle with the most. Puppies need to start their training right away and it takes a lot of time. Since she was a stray, Roxy had no training and was refusing to listen since she had been on her own for so long. You immediately have to assert your dominance and let them know that you are in charge. It took us over a month to get her house trained. She can sit, lay down and stay when told. We use specific hand movements with each command, instead of just stating the command, and it works really well. For example, when it's feeding time, I hold a fist up and she knows that means to stay. Once I drop the fist, she is allowed to go to her bowl and eat. She is still an awful begger, refuses to go in her kennel when told and is horrible to walk on the leash. These all take so much training. If you aren't consistent, then the dog will not take the commands as seriously, which means more work for you in the end. Whenever we leave the house, she has to go in the kennel. Sometimes it makes us feel bad because she starts to wine, but we know we can't let her out because she will destroy the house. 

There are a lot of pros to having a puppy but there are so many more cons that people are not aware of before they get a puppy. These are just a few of the truths about puppy raising. It is long, stressful and irritating. Roxy is slowly becoming the dog we want her to be, but we still have a ways to go. 


All photos courtesy of Cierra Zwyghuizen