20 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting a Puppy

21 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
February 04, 2023

An adorable yellow puppy lies on a dog bed with toys

You can just hear the pitter-patter of little paws scampering toward you, your arms outstretched for the incoming furball mass of pure love ready to shower you with puppy kisses. You can almost smell that puppy breath and feel those soft little velvety ears. You can’t wait to snuggle with your sleeping puppy in your lap. You have high hopes for all of the fun adventures and bonding time you’ll have with your new best friend!

Your heart is bursting so much that you just have to share your excitement with your friend, a pawrent of 2 canine best friends already. With stars in your eyes, you describe your vision.

Then you see her throw back her head, emitting a combination of a belly laugh and a cackle. Frowning, you ask yourself, “Why is she cackling at me?” 

“I hate to burst your bubble, but owning a puppy entails way more than cuddles and cuteness overload, that’s for sure. Here, let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of puppy ownership so you can have a better idea of what to expect.” 

When we’re looking for a puppy for sale, we focus on the most idealistic parts of ownership – especially if we have never been a puppy pawrent before. Even if you have raised a puppy before, you may only remember the good parts and reminisce fondly about that time while conveniently forgetting the hard times. 

However, reality may set in, and you may realize owning a puppy is a lot more than what you thought it would be. Here’s what people are saying they wished they knew before they brought home a puppy for sale so you have a better understanding of what to consider before bringing home a new puppy

Don’t get us wrong – we’re not discouraging anyone at all from getting a puppy by any means! However, we do want you to be informed of all aspects if you’re already asking, “Am I ready for a puppy?” 


The Science Behind a Puppy’s Cuteness 

It’s a good thing puppies are so darn cute because we can’t help but love them unconditionally – even if we don’t like their behavior sometimes. Mother Nature knows just what she was doing with those adorable puppy faces tugging at your heartstrings even when they’re surrounded by chewed-up rolls of toilet paper and stole your piece of pie off the coffee table in a flash. 

Scientists have studied how puppies’ cuteness factor affects how we respond to an animal’s needs and well-being (and what an amazing job to have studying cute puppies as your profession)! Researchers found that people rated puppies are the cutest around the 6-8 week mark – exactly the same time as when they’re the most vulnerable switching to solid food as they stop nursing and begin to rely solely on us to meet their basic needs. 

Puppies obviously aren’t setting out to manipulate us with their cute features – it’s biologically programmed. One hormone in particular found in both puppies and humans plays a large part in forming a strong bond with your puppy. One study found that when dogs and humans gaze into each other’s eyes, both the dogs and humans registered an increase in the body’s “love drug” hormone called oxytocin at levels seen between mothers and babies. Oxytocin signals your brain to want to love and take care of your helpless puppy. 

20 Things No One Talks About Before Getting a Puppy

We’ve interviewed over 25 puppy owners and categorized their answers to see what advice they wish they had known before they brought home their puppy. We hope they are helpful and spark some conversations with your household so you’re a bit more prepared. 


Know your dog breed before you start looking

“Lots of dog breeds become popular thanks to movies, such as Dalmatians featured in “101 Dalmatians,” St. Bernards from “Beethoven,” Cairn Terriers from “The Wizard of Oz,” Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Heelers from “Bluey,” and Belgian Malinois from “Dog” just to name a few. What people don’t realize is that while they are all amazing dog breeds, it takes the right person in the right environment for these dogs to thrive, and often owners don’t realize exactly what is required for different dog breeds because the dogs you see on your TV are so highly trained. Then they end up surrendered to rescues and shelters, which is not fair to the puppy. Do your breed research on how to choose the right dog breed for you!”

“We picked our Mini Australian Shepherd puppy because we thought she was absolutely adorable and knew she wouldn’t grow too big. However, we did not realize quite the extent of how much activity she would need every day so she wouldn’t get bored and destructive.”

“I fell in love with a Great Pyrenees puppy because he was so cute and fluffy! I didn’t know they are clever escape artists. He learned how to hop our fence and liked to go roaming. My cuddly puppy grew to be 150 lbs., and it was a squeeze to get him to fit in our small home.” 

“My Border Collie puppy would try to herd the children if we didn’t redirect his energy right away. We learned we had to find intense activities for him to channel his natural instincts.”

“I love to hike. I also graduated from a college with an English Bulldog mascot, so naturally, I have always wanted an English Bulldog. I quickly learned that my English Bulldog puppy had zero interest in being my hiking buddy on my weekend backpacking trips.”

Go in with a plan

“You need a good trainer, lots of paper towels, and don't get too attached to anything (clothes, shoes, furniture, etc.).”

“Go into it with a trainer in mind and a plan.”

“Winging it with a puppy is definitely not the way to go. Try to learn as much as you can about raising a puppy, especially if you’ve never done it before.”


Get everyone in the household on the same page

“The kids begged for a puppy forever. However, I got stuck feeding, walking, and cleaning up all sorts of puppy body fluids while everyone else got to do the fun stuff like playing while I was doing puppy chores. I lost my mind one day and sat everyone down. We made a list of every single responsibility and divided the labor. That one house meeting has made everyone happier, and our puppy knows that not just one person will take care of her.”

“Managing kids and dogs always felt like I was intervening, teaching both the children and the dog how to interact without being too rough or dressing up the dog when it clearly didn’t like it. Things got chaotic until we had to address it, and now things are much calmer.” 

“We had different ideas of disciplining the dog. My wife yelled a lot out of frustration and then would apologize to the puppy who obviously couldn’t understand her. I took more of a patient approach with positive reinforcement. Our puppy would get confused because it did not have a consistent training method. We finally got on the same wavelength.” 

Microchip your pet and wear proper ID tags

“My 5-month-old puppy rushed out the door one day. We hadn’t gotten him microchipped yet. He bolted out the door and thought he was having the best time of his life running around the neighborhood. After 2 hours, we finally lured him with fresh bacon. I made a microchip appointment and bought a collar with our phone number and his name embroidered right into the webbing. He could have ended up in a shelter if my neighbors had not recognized him as mine.”


Raising your puppy is very similar to raising babies & young children

“I’m going to be totally honest. Sometimes it feels like taking care of a baby is easier than a puppy. I remember having to get up every 2 hours when my dog was a baby so I could let her out. Potty training her was no joke, and I swore I’d never get a puppy again. Yet here I am with another because they really are the best despite the tough days!”

“Puppies are exactly like babies. If you miss the ‘tired window’ and don’t stick to a routine, they get a second wind and will be super naughty. You have to keep them on a schedule so they know when they’re expected to eat, play, and sleep.”

“It was like having an infant all over again for the first couple of months.”

“The dumbest thing I ever did was get a puppy when I had a 2-year-old because I didn't think through the logistics whatsoever. I do wish I would have waited until my child was a little older. But my friend in my moms' group was glad she raised her puppy and toddler at the same time to do it all at once. Everyone sure is different, so you have to know what would work best for your situation.” 

“Just like babies, puppies rely on you for absolutely everything. You have to be willing and able to provide them with a happy life.”

Understand how long the puppy phase can last

“I love puppies, but 4-18 months can be rough. Our rescue gets a lot of purebred dog surrenders at the 8-10 month range when they're almost fully grown body-wise but still very much a puppy mentally because people can’t handle what it entails to care for them properly.”

“The puppy stage can seem to last literally years. Even some adult dogs can retain a puppy-like personality. My dog sure does. I kept waiting for him to be a chill adult, but my adult dog has never been this way!” 

“Don’t forget to learn when to switch your puppy to adult dog food. My puppy was acting out more than usual. My vet told me my puppy needed adult food formula to keep up with her growing body and brain health. As soon as I switched, I noticed a difference right away.” 

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Be prepared to raise them for life

“You don’t just put effort into the puppy stage – you have signed up for a lifelong commitment to raise a happy and healthy puppy that turns into an adult. My dog lived to be 16 years old. I was prepared to take care of her through her lifespan, living in 4 different houses, graduating college, marrying, and having kids – she was by my side through completely different stages of life. You have to be in it for the long haul through both the good times and the bad.”

Each puppy experience is different (and can be like starting from scratch):

“No matter how many times you've done it, they are all different, and it's never as easy as you remember it being.”

“I used to have a puppy that was so easy and smart to housebreak, rest her soul. Now I have another puppy that’s the same breed, so I thought for sure I’d know what to do. The joke is on me because our new puppy is a completely different dog that won’t listen to me and does not care where she does her business. I’m at a loss. Help!” 

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Cute puppy behavior does not translate well to an adult dog’s behavior 

“Some things that make a puppy super cute when they are tiny puppies can make for an annoying adult dog. My sister has a Chihuahua that she didn’t train. It was super cute when it would growl and yip at people with her tiny little voice when she was a puppy, making us laugh. But now that she’s grown, she is still aggressive and will growl at you. It’s definitely not cute anymore. I know in my heart Chihuahuas make great buddies when trained properly, but my sister never bothered to correct its behavior.” 

“My friend had a Labrador Retriever that would carry around shoes. It was so adorable! But then the friend didn’t teach “drop it” or “leave it,” and the dog became a chronic shoe thief.” 

“After the baby phase definitely comes the toddler/preschooler puppy phase. They can be too rambunctious for their own good. They might know boundaries but constantly test them just like preschoolers like to do to see how you react and what they can get away with. Because of how quickly they grow into their bodies, they don’t understand how leaping onto your kids or jumping up on you may knock you over like a bowling ball.”


You’ve got to train and socialize your puppy ASAP

“You can’t give up. Training can be so hard. It’s all about repetition and patience.”

“You have to have discipline in training. It’s not a one-and-done session or puppy class. It’s a one billion and repeat.”

“Like lots of people, we brought in a new canine family member during the pandemic, assuming we had plenty of time on our hands to train our puppy. However, we didn’t get a chance to have her around other dogs, and virtual training wasn’t the best fit for our family. We got lax on teaching rules. When things opened up again, we realized our puppy had grown into a dog that didn’t know “how to dog.” It’s taken a lot of work to get her to a good place, but we wished we had not missed out on the critical socialization and training period to make those good habits stick early on.”

“I wish I could take my dog out to have lunch out on the patio at the new spot in town, but my dog is just too crazy when other dogs are around. I admit I didn’t do a good job socializing her when she was a puppy, so now I’m overwhelmed at doing it now and just end up leaving her home.” 

“We live a pretty quiet life, so we didn’t bother to expose our puppy to loud noises like fireworks, thunder, traffic, or the vacuum cleaner. Now she has severe anxiety when we vacuum or when a storm rolls through.” 

“I admit I didn’t pay enough attention to making sure our older dog adjusted well with the puppy. Now I have dog mom guilt because my relationship isn’t the same as when we just had one dog.” 


Try out crate training

“Crate train! It's good for the pup long term to get used to a crate and have a safe place to go when they are overstimulated.”

“Crate training and sticking to it consistently are the keys to good housebreaking.”

“Dogs are den animals and love small, dark spaces that are just their own. Get your dog to associate the crate as a positive place. Don’t just stick them in there when you want to punish them. With the right training, you’ll find your puppy hanging out in his crate one day just chillin’.”

Prepare for potty training

“It can take a long time to potty train. Just when you think you are all set…you realize you are not, and it can feel like you’re starting all over again.”

“No one told me how much they need to go out and do their business! I swear my entire days were spent watching our puppy like a hawk to housebreak them.”

“We had to take our Goldendoodle out in negative temperatures in the frigid Iowa winter since he did not understand where to poop when there was so much snow. One night we had to go outside 5 times in January! Just remember that the month and your location matters in those early days when they pee all the time.”


You’ll be doing a lot of cleaning

“Keep a well-stocked cleaning area where you can get to it quickly. There’s nothing like searching all over the house for a cleaner, and meanwhile, your puppy has started to play in it.” 

“Invest in some enzyme-based pet cleaning products! These help break down the molecules in body fluids to remove stains and odors.”

“Go ahead and keep a mop handy. You’ll need it.”

“The hair! I was so unprepared for the amount of hair. I would brush my Siberian Husky puppy and feel good about how much I vacuumed. But it only took a few hours to make it look like I hadn’t even vacuumed. I ended up buying a self-emptying robot vacuum and run it whenever I want.” 

“For something so small, they sure do have a lot of poop, pee, and vomit! Be prepared!” 

“I kid you not, one time my dog left a nasty present for me IN MY SHOE. At least I caught it before I stuck my foot in there.” 


Teething, mouthing, biting, and chewing

“A puppy will be a biting machine, and those teeth are sharp! Prepare some clothes just for hanging out with your dog, and change into them when you get home so you don’t ruin work clothes.”

“You’ll get holes in your clothes from those razor-sharp teeth.”

“Call me dumb, but I didn’t realize I’d be stepping on puppy teeth that had fallen out. Let me tell you – those hurt just as bad as stepping on Legos.”  

“When you’re puppy is really young, keep your dog on a leash at all times. Yes, even in the house until they are trained. This allowed me to teach my puppy boundaries and correct behaviors – especially nipping and chewing with redirection quickly.”

“It’s so important to teach your puppy bite inhibition. Other dogs are great for this because they will learn how hard to bite and then not to bite at all. If you don’t teach them this, they will gnaw on your arm forever!” 

“Be prepared for the puppy teething phase! They chew curtains, shoes, wall trim, flooring, cords, the designer handbag you left on the floor – everything. Nothing is safe.” 

“Puppies don't understand about NOT chewing on precious things. My puppy somehow took my wallet off the hallway table and destroyed $60. I found the bills shredded up!” 

“‘The dog ate my homework' is a real thing! Our puppy ate my child’s science fair project they worked so hard on. Thankfully, we found it the night before and were able to stay up and recreate it. Our son was devastated.” 

“Always replace something they can’t chew on with something they can chew on. Teach them ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ early.”

“I was kind of a messy person before I got a puppy. I quickly learned the hard way that I had to get serious about preparing my house for a puppy. Just go ahead and put everything up high. Puppy-proof every single thing. Never leave anything out. Resign yourself to a neater life.”

Velcro isn't just for clothing

“I haven’t gone to the bathroom alone since my buddy came to live with me. I think he is trying to protect me from the toilet monster.”

“My puppy has grown into a dog that literally never leaves my side. She even follows me into every room and has to be touching me at all times. I don’t mind, but I wish I would have tried to teach her to be a bit more independent and entertain herself when she was a puppy.” 


Budget for inevitable hidden expenses

“My puppy shredded a toy and ingested parts of rope, the rubber shell of a ball, and the fuzz surrounding the ball. He had to have emergency surgery to the tune of what I make in an entire pay period! We didn’t have any pet insurance at the time.”

“I had not researched how much regular visits would cost in addition to a once-a-month heartworm, flea & tick prevention.” 

“I have a Labradoodle and didn’t realize the only groomer near me charges extra due to how long it takes for a doodle groom. I understand why that is, but I was naive and thought the service was the same price for every dog.”

“Food, toys, and accessories add up. It’s so easy to buy something for your puppy on every trip you take. Limit the number of toys and rotate them so they only have a few at a time. If you don’t get some self-control, your Yorkshire Terrier will own more (and better) outfits than you do!”

“We had to get a fence. We held out, but it was clear everyone would be happier if we put up a tall fence. We have no regrets!” 

“We failed at training our dog ourselves, so we sent her to a 2-week intensive training program that was NOT cheap. However, it was absolutely worth every penny.”

“I live in an apartment. When I got my dog, we were required to disclose it and pay a pet deposit, sign a contract, and pay a monthly fee. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t get my pet deposit back and was responsible for replacing ruined things.” 

“Basically being prepared to replace anything ruined. Puppies don’t care if your shoes were from the thrift store or were your birthday gift of new Off-White Air Jordan 4s. They don’t care you just had your kitchen remodeled or about the legs on your new coffee table.”

“Learn some DIY puppy grooming at home to save money on things like nail trims, dental care, dematting, and baths.”


Expect an unexpected change in plans 

“Like Ross from 'Friends' says, 'PIVOT! PIVOT!' Throw your agenda out the window. Your puppy will dictate how you spend your time now, and you have to just surrender to the flow.” 

“It was one of those mornings where we had to leave precisely on time to keep everything on track the rest of the day. I had finally gotten the kids ready and was about to leave the house when my puppy rammed into my leg covered in diarrhea. The next series of events were straight from the plot of a tragicomedy. I couldn’t leave the mess or her like that all day, so I had to abandon my plans, put my kids in a safe place while I handled everything, bathe the dog, clean up the mess, change clothes, and start the washer with my soiled clothes, therefore messing up my entire day.” 

“Your time isn’t really your own anymore! You can make all the plans you want, but your puppy never got those calendar invites.”

“I work from home and thought it would be fun to have a companion by my side while I worked on my TPS reports. Instead, I had constant interruptions. Just when I thought I’d get her set up with a toy, I’d find her eating tissues out of the bathroom trash can, always one step ahead of me. She didn’t like it when I got on conference calls. Instead of her cute face making my coworkers say ‘Awww!’ they were saying ‘Auuugh!’ when I couldn’t get her to stop barking when I was trying to conduct our weekly meeting.”

A tired dog is a good dog: Activity tips

“Finding a reputable doggy daycare 2x week will do wonders for socializing the pup and exhausting the puppy energy that otherwise leads to destructive behavior.” 

“Walking and exercise can be two different things. Walking can be more about reinforcing training, and exercise is for their mental and physical health with some playtime in there.”

“A training session can be more exhausting than physical exercise. It’s a great mental stimulation method to keep their brain sharp.”  

“Use snufflemats or a slow-feeding dog bowl to keep your puppy from gobbling up its food. What I also did sometimes was tossing the kibble into the grass for him to snuffle out would give him some activity during mealtimes.”

For when you go away

“I wish I would have known that I wouldn’t be able to vacation without the stress of worrying about my furbay when I was gone.” 

“I forgot to price boarding fees ahead of time and hadn’t really budgeted for an unexpected trip out of town. I also didn’t have a backup plan, and had to scramble last minute for a place one town over.” 

“Pet sitters book up quickly. You want to have time before you need one to keep a few in your back pocket. Will you do in-home, a facility, etc.? Look into how to find a good pet sitter so you’re not overwhelmed with choices.” 

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You’ll learn new things about yourself & others

“I’m an introvert. I wasn’t expecting that I’d wind up liking my dog more than I like people!” 

“I happened to meet a dear friend by chance at the dog park. I’m forever grateful to my puppy for bringing us together.” 

“I developed a healthier schedule and had no idea how owning a puppy would be so good for my mental health.”

"I'm a single mom to one child. I don't have the words to describe the bond our puppy has with my son that will last them a lifetime. It's really helped him during the divorce." 

“My puppy strengthened my relationship with my partner. We’re more active and spend more time together.”

“I had heard about puppy bonding, but I was blindsided by how MUCH I would love my puppy. She is my entire world! I had no idea such a deep bond like this existed.” 

Find Your 4-Legged Best Friend at Pawrade

As puppy pawrents ourselves, we know both how exciting and overwhelming it can be to begin your puppy-buying journey. That’s why we are ready to help you find your new best friend from reputable, vetted breeders. Browse our puppies for sale, and we’re here for you every step of the way. 


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Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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