4 Puppy Lessons No One Warns You About
I have made a discovery in the last few weeks – one that will send every young child begging their mother or father for a puppy reeling. Getting a puppy to help teach your child responsibility is the craziest idea I have ever heard.
Gosh, it feels good to get that off my chest. Some of you are probably rolling your eyes remembering that time, long ago, when the younger-you was given a furry little pup and, while holding it tight to your chest, stared into your father’s stern expression as he explained your new job of walking, feeding, caring and cuddling this tiny bundle of floof. You even nodded your head in obedience with every intention of doing just that – this was your puppy and you would not let him down. Your parents probably went to bed that very night believing they had made a good decision – one that was sure to strengthen your character, teach you about scheduling and time management and … wait, was that the puppy howling? Didn’t he just go out for a walk 30 minutes ago? Yep, no question, that was definitely him howling.
The truth is, puppies are a ton of work. My girlfriend and I, like so many other quarantine-couples, have adopted our first doggo and let me tell you – he is amazing. He is smart, fluffy, adorable, cuddly, did I mention he’s smart? But, like all puppies, he needs constant supervision. If we turn our back for even a moment he is already off on a new adventure into a bedroom to terrorize a slipper or begin chewing on the edge of a rug. Such is the way of puppies.
Any new puppy-parent can tell you that there is a quick learning curve to owning a puppy – there has to be. Puppies aren’t like babies. For one thing, they are ambulatory… very, very ambulatory. They are gone in the blink of an eye so lesson one, don’t blink. My advice to you is to tie yourself to your pup. Yes, you read that right, tie yourself to your dog. You can’t lose him if he’s tied to you. Don’t tie the puppy to you – I tried that. It has to be the other way around. You’ll understand when you do it for the first time.
Second, puppies are damn near indestructible. While we haven’t put that to the test yet, he has done a fine job of testing it himself. Our ball-of-fur is a four-legged crash test dummy. He has run into walls, fallen off couches, chairs, caught himself in his crate, knocked over his crate, bonked his head on, well, everything, and he keeps going without a whimper. I honestly believe he may actually be dishwasher safe – not that I am going to try it – but you get my point. He is impervious to destruction. He lives life on the edge and its hilarious to watch right up until it isn’t.
Last week he ran paw-first into our cast iron table and we found out he wasn’t as tough as we thought. He quickly retreated to a corner howling in pain and holding his paw. We of course flew to him in a panic with my girlfriend already pulling her phone out to call our vet – a number I suggest you put on speed dial for such occasions. Luckily, he was fine. But we learned what the limits of his activity needed to look like.
Third, and this is a big one, our puppy eats everything. My puppy is not a fussy eater. Our vacuum cleaner leaves more on the
ground than our dog. “Ha ha,” you chuckle to yourself as I say again with an absolute straight face… my dog cleans better than our vacuum. I have seen sticks, lint, toys, food, crumbs, rocks, even his own balls of fur, disappear down the cavernous maw that is his mouth. My fingers have become small delicate crowbars for prying it open and scooping out whatever I find in there. Be prepared, if you have a puppy, to watch out for anything… I mean anything… on the ground.
Fourth and final lesson for today: your puppy needs to pee. Right now? Yes, right now! Go take him for a walk. As I write this, my dog needs to pee. If you are asking yourself how long it has been since your puppy last went out to pee – then it has been too long and you should take him out again. The general rule is your puppy can last however many hours he or she is in months of age. That means your 8-week puppy can go two hours. For the average awake human, that is a minimum of 8 walks a day with your pup, excluding the potty errors he will surely make during the day. And don’t think that because your pup is peacefully asleep in his crate that he is good until the morning. You had best set a few alarms because you will be waking up at least twice to take them out again during the night. You don’t want to learn the hard way like I did that he needed to poop around 1 AM and you weren’t awake. He won’t be happy and finding out if your kitchen sink is large enough to bathe your dog isn’t fun at that time of night.
So listen, maybe your insomniac, unblinking, pillow-top child is the exception to the rule when it comes to puppies – I highly doubt it – but I think it is high time we stop getting pets for the purpose of teaching responsibility, if for no other reason than that it really discredits the hard work of two tired adults like my girlfriend and I as we struggle to keep our happy puppy from eating his own tail or lighting himself on fire.
By the way, this is Dawson – I told you he was cute!