First thing’s first: We absolutely, 100%, unequivocally advocate for adopting a dog, and by no means should this article serve to talk you out of it. In fact, it’s the opposite: We so strongly want you to adopt a puppy that we’ve decided to lay out the honest truth to prepare you.
Here are the five biggest difficulties — also known as the five brutalist realities — of adopting a puppy. Now go out and face them head on, with a cute li’l pupper in tow.
1. Choosing the right puppy
Oh, that puppy’s cute? Great. WE DON’T CARE. (Okay, we lied, we super care, please text us a pic immediately.) But the point is, don’t adopt a puppy just because it’s cute. ALL puppies are cute! Adopt a puppy because you jibe with its personality and its breed/s align with your lifestyle. (Although many adoptees are mutts, you can still make assumptions based on size and distinct physical features.)
If you live in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, don’t adopt a Border Collie who needs a ton of space and activity. If you travel a lot for work, don’t adopt a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who needs extra companionship and attention. If you adopt a dog that’s been a victim of abuse, make sure you know its specific difficulties and needs, and decide if you’re prepared to take those on.
Choose carefully. Spend a lot of time with your potential adoptee — some shelters will even let you take the pup home for an overnight visit before making your final decision. This is a long-term decision; take it seriously, not superficially.
2. Puppy-proofing your house
Did you know that puppies like to pee on things and chew other things and scratch other things and eat absolutely everything? Before you bring your new doggo home, you need to make sure your place is fully puppy-proofed. It can be a long process to go through your entire house, but you’ll be glad you did after Tiny Floofer discovers the joy of chewing.
Lock up poisonous items, from cleaners to dangerous foods like chocolate, and if you have any harmful plants (here’s a complete list), consider getting rid of them. Unplug, remove, cover up, or block off any cords that are easily accessible to to the dog. (You might even want to put a gate up in the doorways of particularly cord-heavy rooms, like an office.) Safely store breakable items on high shelves, and keep chew-worthy articles out of reach. Block off balconies and keep windows closed.
3. Socializing your puppy
Your puppy is officially the newest member of your family, and in the same way that you’d welcome a new significant other, or a baby, you will have to acclimate a puppy into your world. That means prepping your apartment (see Puppy Proofing, above), as well as your friends (your puppy may not like some of them; or some of them may not like your puppy), and reconfiguring your general schedule (your puppy will immediately expect you to be close by at all times — you need to make sure he or she is comfortable with you going to work, or going on dates, and adjust your training — or your life — as such).
Be sure to check out the American Kennel Club’s comprehensive guide to socializing your puppy across all aspects of your life; it’s full of tips, tricks, and support!
4. The inevitable lack of sleep
You know how people always say that once you have a baby, you’ll never sleep again? Well once you have a puppy, you won’t sleep … for awhile. Obviously it’s dependent on the puppy, and it’s dependent on how quickly you can train it, but expect a serious disruption in your shut-eye, as well as your normal routine. There’s a reason that more and more companies are offering “Pup-ternity Leave”: Puppies require a lot of life adjustments and can be emotionally exhausting until you both get used to your new lives.
Take care of your puppy, take care of yourself, and get as much sleep as you can, whenever you can — and know that this, too, will pass!
5. The vet bills
If you’ve never had a pet of your own, you might not be aware just how cost-prohibitive veterinary visits can be. Think of it this way: It’s basically a doctor’s appointment with no insurance. (Although, of course, you can buy pet insurance for a monthly fee if you like.) While you hopefully won’t have to go to the vet often, you definitely need to get your puppy immunized and microchipped, plus a general wellness check-up. And it’s not uncommon for puppies to come with illnesses like intestinal parasites, parvovirus, and kennel cough.
These appointments are crucial to your puppy’s health, and you cannot skip them for lack of funds. You should also always keep an allowance of a couple thousand dollars set away in case of emergency (should your puppy get seriously injured or develop any diseases). According to CNBC, the average cost of owning a dog over its lifespan ranges from $27,000 to $42,000, so make sure you have the necessary additional income to support your new four-legged friend’s health!
Unleashed is Bravo's celebration of pamper-worthy pets and how to spoil them. Want more? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.