Getting a dog is a milestone occasion. But if preparing for the new arrival seems like hard work, wait till they have moved in. That’s when the fun really starts. Don’t fret. No one is perfect. Even the pawrents who appear to be doing a fantastic job are just winging it. Of course, before welcoming your fur baby into your home, people will have lectured you on the importance of insurance, training, socialization, and the endless list of must-dos for all dog moms to obey. Yet there are definitely some things that can only be learned on the job. And yes, it can feel like a job at times! So, to initiate you into the weird and wonderful world ofdog parenting we have selected the top 10 things that we wish we were told before we became pawrents.
1. Crying at night
Yay! You have finally got your puppy. Now it is time for you to spend your first night together. You may have run through this scene 1000 times in your mind and it probably involved you both sleeping soundly curled up next to one another. But, reality can sometimes be a cruel awakening. Literally! Don’t be surprised if your puppy (young or old) wakes you up, mid-dream, with their heart-wrenching cries. This could be due to anything from missing their litter-mates, confusion in their new surroundings, needing to go potty, or suffering teething pains. It could even be hunger. Be sure to provide them comfort but don’t pay them too much attention as this could create bad habits.
2. The adaptation period is real
People will talk to you about giving your pooch time to settle into their surroundings. But it's easy to glaze over and daydream about all the fun things you will do when your fur baby arrives. Let us tell you. The adaptation period is real. Introducing a new dog into your home can be an overwhelming experience for both of you. They may feel anxious and scared or even miss their old friends, so don’t be surprised if they don’t shower you with love from the get-go. These things take time. Your dog will need time to trust you and study your routine, while you will need time to get used to thinking of another being 24/7.
3. Adios social life
Our fur babies are 100% dependent on us for their survival. When a pup enters your life, your attention switches and requires you to put their needs above your own. It’s just like being a human parent, only with more freedom. In the beginning, your dog will require a LOT of your attention, especially if they are a puppy. This means taking them with you wherever you go or limiting outings to a max of a few hours until they are 100% settled and potty trained. Then there is sickness, times when the dog-sitter bails, or simply times when you want a night in with your fur-baby. Some friends will feel like you have chosen your dog over them. But your true friends will be there, giving you strength, when your pup pees on the rug, for the 1000th time!
4. You will meet the most amazing pup pawrent pals
Old friends may fall by the wayside as your life revolves around your dog’s every waking need. But the flip side is that you will be thrown into a new social circle thanks to the dog park and other mutt meeting places. There will be many people telling you that a dog will tie you down or limit your life choices but that is simply not true. You just need to find your wolfpack. There will be plenty of others, just like you, who will want to share their well-earned downtime with their four-legged friend. Meeting other dog moms and dads will give you a place to vent your frustrations and ask for tips in a judge-free zone. Plus, the added bonus is they will never get bored of hearing your funny dog stories or seeing the 4567890 photos of your pup saved in your camera roll.
5. Document every milestone
Dogs are by our side during the best times and the worst. Little do we know, but time goes by so fast. So as experienced pawrents, let us tell you one thing… document every moment. Don’t be ashamed to take photos of your puppy’s training class’ graduation day. It's also ok to take paw prints and frame them on your wall. And, don’t let anyone tell you “it's just a dog” when you take their Halloween, Birthday, Christmas, and Easter pics, costumes included of course. All these moments may seem trivial at the time but just remember, dogs don’t live forever and we will definitely miss them when they are gone.
6. When dog mom guilt comes knocking, don’t let it in
Just like humans, no two dogs are alike. So, if one training method is the fashionable choice in your area, it doesn’t mean that it will be your fur baby’s favorite way to learn. Listen to your dog and let them tell you how they prefer to learn, what food they like best, and which daycare center they want to stay in. Just like the time-honored saying goes, “if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try and try again”. The first pup pawrent crime is to compare yourself and your pup to others. If so-and-so takes their dog to the mountains every day but you barely manage to walk a mile with your busy schedule - embrace it. Enjoy all the life lessons that your dog will teach you during your time together. And remember, it doesn’t matter how you parent your pup, it's their happiness that counts. So if clicker training makes them stressed, find something else. Is raw food too expensive? Stick to kibble. Your dog won’t judge you.
7. Hello healthy routines
While all dogs are different, there are a few things that remain the same regardless of age, breed, and background. Dogs LOVE routine. As boring as it sounds you will become slaves to a fresh, new healthy routine, and guess what? You will also love it. Early wake-up calls, plenty of walks in the fresh air, and always greeted by a friendly face every time you come home. Priceless! Once you get a dog, you will notice yourself actually looking forward to your pre-work walkies because you see the happiness it brings to your canine companion. Your dog will make sure that there is no time for old unhealthy habits as they will be too busy keeping you occupied playing fetch, picking up their poop, and giving them cuddles.
8. You will never have a clean home again
What will probably start off as a war against dog hair will nearly always end in a truce. If you are the type of pup pawrent who likes their home to be clean and tidy at all times, invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner ASAP. But be prepared to admit that your time is nearly always better spent enjoying quality moments together with your pooch. After all, they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Just think of it as puppy glitter sprinkled around your home. A reminder of just how fabulous your fur baby is.
9. Puppy farts
While dog fur on the sofa may not kill you, fur baby flatulence is a debatable subject. Puppies are stink bombs disguised in cute, furry bodies. One false move after dinner time and you could be gassed. And of course, they have no shame. Whether you are at home entertaining guests, at a café, or in a store, if your dog needs to fart, it will waste no time in doing so. Better out than in is their motto. Don’t say that we haven’t warned you. Thankfully this is just a phase that many puppies grow out of. Adult dogs definitely don’t release such noxious gas and not as often as puppies do.
10. Have an emergency fund
It may sound boring but having extra $$$ saved for a rainy day will make those unexpected expenses manageable. We all know that having a pet is a pricey luxury that should be budgeted for accordingly. Yet, no one anticipates having to buy a complete stranger a new pair of pants when they get torn on your dog walk. Or the numerous trips to the vet for the mysterious illnesses that magically disappear upon returning home. Not to mention the hunger strikes that leave you no other option but to slow cook a chicken so that they will eat. Dogs have us wrapped around their little paws and boy do we pay for it. Accidents, indulgences, and vets’ bills are inevitable costs when it comes to being a pawrent so set some cash aside. You will thank us later.