The Challenges of Raising a Puppy

My sweet boy Truman

An adorable puppy for Christmas – I can’t think of anything cuter.  But before you take home that darling little creature, there are some important things to consider. 

I write from experience.  After I got my first puppy nearly 10 years ago, I wondered if I had actually adopted a little monster cleverly disguised as a precious puppy.  I had no idea how much work raising a puppy entailed.  Truman had lots of accidents, chewed up countless pairs of my favorite shoes (and almost anything else left on the floor) and generated numerous complaints about his incessant barking from my neighbors.  I remember walking Truman around my apartment complex at three o’clock in the morning in the freezing cold, wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into!  

Make no mistake, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.  Truman taught me all about patience and responsibility.  And anyone who’s thinking about getting a puppy needs to have lots of both.  Just ask Alyssa Willet, the Adoptions Supervisor at Wayside Waifs. 

“When people adopt puppies, I ask them if they are ready to have a toddler in their home, because that’s what they are getting,” Willett said.  “Puppies don’t know right from wrong, they depend on you to teach them everything.  If you don’t have patience, don’t get a puppy.” 

You will also need lots of time for your puppy.  They develop most of their behavior traits during their first year of life, and you’ll need to be there every step of the way to help them grow into well-behaved, well-socialized members of society.  One of the best ways to learn the basics is by enrolling in an obedience class. 

“Even the most experienced dog owners can learn something at obedience class,” said Willett.  “And the puppies not only learn great skills, they also benefit from socializing with the other puppies in class.” 

Willett is a big proponent of crate training, because it can make housetraining a breeze.  She recommends keeping the crate in a high-traffic area of your home, possibly even your family room so the puppy can always see you and know it hasn’t been abandoned.  Willett also encourages you to keep a watchful eye on your puppy at all times, and don’t let them immediately have the run of your house.  It’s surprising just how quickly they can get into mischief. 

Even before you pick out that perfect puppy, you need to do some basic research.  A quick Google search will turn up loads valuable information about every breed of dog.  Knowing the personality traits, temperament and basic needs of your dog’s primary breed can help you determine if the dog is a good fit for your family.  

I also encourage anyone who wants a puppy to check their local shelters first.  You’ll be surprised at the wide varieties and breeds of puppies available for adoption.  If you don’t find your ideal puppy at a shelter, do your homework and find a responsible breeder who can guarantee your puppy and his parents were raised in a loving, humane environment. 

One other important thing to consider is the expense of a puppy.  One of the advantages to adopting a puppy from Wayside Waifs or your local shelter is your puppy is already spay/neutered and has already received its age appropriate vaccinations.  Still, the puppy will need booster shots every few weeks until they are five months old, so potential puppy parents need to keep vet bills in mind.  As your dog grows, you can also expect to spend more money on its food, a bigger crate and heartworm, flea & tick preventatives.  Obedience training is an additional expense.  At Wayside Waifs our professional dog trainers charge $100 for a series of six classes.     

Just remember the love of an animal is priceless, and even though raising a puppy is a challenge, it’s also highly rewarding.  Cherish all those puppy kisses, that sweet puppy breath and their hilarious antics.  Most of all enjoy building that special bond with your puppy as it grows. 

“It’s so fun to see who they become,” said Willett. 

Truman became the love of my life.  Yes, getting him through that puppy stage was a challenge, but it was worth all those ruined shoes, carpet cleaner and apologies to my neighbors.  Next month we’ll celebrate his tenth birthday and we’ll pray for many more wonderful years together.

Written by Ashlee Parker
Communications Relations Manager at Wayside Waifs

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