The Very Worst That Can Happen When You Become a Dog-Parent
Picture the scene. You’ve come home from a hard day at work to find a puddle in the middle of your lounge. There’s a foul-smelling pile of something nasty behind the couch and the contents of at least one of your designer cushions strewn everywhere. As you try and navigate cautiously through the house, you find your favourite pair of shoes (replace with bag, tie, trainers etc. Basically, anything you hold dear) torn to shreds. You are sure you left the home immaculate (or as close to as it could be) when you left for work and not looking like a nuclear bomb has gone off.
Welcome to dog ownership. For all the good stuff, like cuddling on the sofa with your new puppy and taking them for walks in the park, there is the bad stuff. Although the above is an example of the very worst that can happen, it is worth knowing what you are getting yourself in for if you are considering bringing a cute little bundle of four-legged joy into your family.
When Nature Calls
This is something all new dog owners should expect to deal with, and while it may sound like common sense, it’s unfortunately something that too many new dog parents are shocked by. Puppies, much like human babies, do not know that there is an ‘official’ toilet zone. They will not understand that they need to go outside to a specific area when nature calls, and so you must be prepared for extra cleaning (and often of the rather repugnant kind) and deodorizing when a new puppy arrives.
Here training will be key and your new family member will need to be taught where to go toilet and how to let you know that they need to go. And even if your dog picks this up very quickly and you’re extremely vigilant, there will still be accidents and you need to clean up after them.
Puppies Will Try to Eat Everything
Again, very similar to human babies, puppies use their teeth and mouths to explore the new world around them and are extremely hungry as puppies are growing fast. Those two factors together mean that anything precious or that could potentially be dangerous for your puppy to ingest needs to be kept out of reach. And if there is anything around that you don’t want your dog to eat or turn into their next favorite chew toy, you need to train them not to touch.
Your new puppy might not understand this at first, so it’s always a good idea to simply keep things out of the way, because dogs can be a little mischievous and your breakfast sausages and bacon may be just a little too tempting.
Irritating Whining and Disruptive Barking
Let’s be honest here. Dogs often, especially during their formative years and under certain circumstances, make lots of irritating noises. The two that rank highest on the annoyance chart are whining and barking.
If you have had human children who have ever tried nagging you to do something or because they want or need something, you’ll understand how irritating and frustrating a dog who constantly whines can be. The only difference is, their whining is less intelligible. Generally, they whine when they’re trying to communicate that they need something. In the earlier stages of dog ownership, though, it can be difficult understanding exactly what they want.
Constant Need for Attention
Dogs are very sociable pack animals. That’s very much the case across different breeds. However, some dogs are needier than others. As much as you love your new family member, it can be incredibly annoying when you’ve just spent the best part of a couple of hours playing with them and then you sit down to watch your favorite Netflix show and they still want more of your time and attention. It’s something you need to be prepared for.
If you’re not careful with your dog’s training and how long you leave them for each time, your dog could develop separation anxiety, which can take a lot of hard work and patience to correct and treat.
Need for Exercise
Dogs, from the smallest to the biggest, from the youngest to the oldest need regular and consistent exercise. The amount they need will depend on their species, age, health and personality. Clearly though, if you’re going to struggle to meet the demands of your new canine family member, you should give some serious thought as to whether a dog is right for you.
There’s no shame in admitting that before it’s too late. It would be wrong, however, to get yourself a dog, knowing it needs a certain amount of exercise that you can’t provide it. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, it leads to other problems. A bored dog is not only a stressed and unhappy dog but is also a dog that’s more likely to misbehave and chew at things and destroy things he or she shouldn’t.
Consider the Various Costs Involved
Dogs are expensive animals to own and look after. Have you really considered all the costs involved? Even if you have enough money to pay the breeder for your new puppy, or the adoption fee from the rescue centre you opt for, have you budgeted for things like food, vets, vaccinations, licence (if you need it), microchipping, spaying/castrating, kennelling (for those times when you’re on holiday and can’t take your beloved animal with you)? If you haven’t and can’t afford all of the different costs involved, you’ll not be able to provide the level of care and lifestyle a dog deserves.
Fooling Yourself that it’s Easy
Many new dog owners have a very rose-tinted view of life with a pet and think it will be all cuddles on the sofa, walks in the park and fun, fun, fun. The truth is, while that’s all possible, it doesn’t come about at the snap of your fingers. It takes a lot of hard work. There’s a reason why the saying is “remember a dog is for life, not just for Christmas”, because dog ownership should be seen as a lifelong commitment.
Being persistent, patient and researching different techniques are all vital components of effective dog training. You also need to make sure that you have the right temperament. Dogs won’t respond well to someone who is very aggressive, that’s true. On the other side of the spectrum, they also won’t respond well to someone who is too wishy-washy in their approach and you could end up with a very unruly, naughty adult dog on your hands.
Kids Want Their Own Dog But Don’t Put the Work In
This is an all too common problem. Your children want a dog and promise to look after him or her properly, to take responsibility for the feeding, exercise and all of the general care. You think “it will teach them about responsibility” so agree. Even if they start off with good intentions, so often you’ll find that you’re having to do all the hard work because they won’t. It’s just another thing to consider.
Bringing a dog into the family can be an incredibly magical and enriching experience. However, failure to prepare yourself for the above could see it become a living nightmare. So be prepared. Consider the worst that could happen and be aware of all the things that you will have to contend with. Once you are sure that you can cope with the very worst that life as a new dog-parent can throw at you, only then should you take the next step and start to consider which type of dog is right for your family, where you should get it from and then you need to plan for its arrival and the essential training required to help ensure your new furry family member becomes a happy, well adjusted and well behaved dog that you adore and can be proud of.
Over the next few weeks and months will continue on this series on new dog ownership and bring you all the info you need to know. Sign up to our free, natural pet care e-newsletter today and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to ensure you don’t miss a step.
In part 3 of our series, we look at why having a well-trained dog is so important and is the key to a happy, healthy dog …
Go back and read Training Humans! Part I