So, You Think You Want a Puppy

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newpuppyHaving a puppy can be a lot of fun. I wish I could just leave it at that but unfortunately there are a lot more things I’d like to point out about having a puppy. Some of these things may make you second guess whether or not you want one. My goal isn’t to talk you out of it; it is just to inform you of what it is really going to be like.

The main thing I want to do is point out how much of a time commitment a puppy really is on a daily basis.

Socialization:

Socialization is EXTREMELY important. To sum this up you need to get your pup out to meet lots of different people and dogs that results in a positive experiences. I cannot stress enough that these experiences are always positive. When doing this it is perfectly okay to keep some distance and just reward your pup every time it looks at the foreign thing. (Person, dog, garbage truck etc.) *(Make sure your pup is up to date on all vaccinations.) Also, when doing this it is important to start off in areas that will not be too overwhelming. For example you wouldn’t want to take your young pup to the county fare. You have until age 16 weeks to get most of this done, though it is never over. Socialization is something that needs to happen over the pup’s entire life.

Time dedicated to this everyday = .5-1 hour.

Physical Exercise:

It is no secret that puppies need exercise. How much is dependent upon their age, breed, and temperament. In the very beginning most puppies sleep a good portion of the day. That is when it is the easiest. Don’t be fooled though, it gets harder. As your pup gets older its need for physical exercise will be more and more. Physical exercise consists of doing things like going for a walk, a hike, playing fetch, or a game of tug. Be aware that you can actually over-do physical exercise. If you do indeed over-do the physical exercise you could be building your pup’s stamina resulting in a need for more physical exercise.

Time dedicated to this everyday = 1-2 hours.

Mental exercise:

Mental exercise is something that a lot of people forget to do, or do not do enough of. Forms of mental exercise consist of teaching tricks, basic obedience, and playing with interactive toys. I recommend doing multiple training sessions a day for this. 2-3, 10-minute sessions a day will not only make your puppy better behaved, but will also tire him out. They say that 10 minutes of mental exercise is equivalent to roughly 30 minutes of physical exercise. This is when I recommend teaching your pup how to sit, lie down, stay, loose leash walk etc. The more mental exercise the merrier. The more you work your pup’s brain, the more tired it will get.

Time dedicated to this everyday = 20-30 minutes.

Supervision:

This is one of the most important things when it comes to puppies. They say something along the lines of silence is golden, except when you have a puppy. This is because if a puppy is being silent there is a good chance it is up to no good. There are ways to limit the amount of time you need to spend supervising your pup like using a crate or playpen. While it is okay to use them from time to time, I don’t recommend using them as a full time babysitter. This is because the interactions that your puppy has with people are very important. The best part about supervising your pup is it allows you to teach what is correct and what is incorrect. I recommend focusing on teaching your pup what is correct. If it is doing something incorrect, show it what the correct thing is and reinforce the behavior, which will make it likely that your puppy will choose that next time instead of doing the incorrect thing.

Time dedicated to this daily = 3-4 hours.

Potty/House Training:

This is something that takes dedication. Some puppies figure it out quicker than others and that is usually because of the consistency on the owners’ part. This falls under “supervision” as well. In the beginning you may be letting your puppy out every 30-45 minutes. If everything is going to plan you will start increase the amount of time in between each bathroom break. But this adds up. If you are letting your pup out every 30 minutes for 16 hours a day that equals 32 times which will be roughly 5 minutes per time.  I’ve chosen not to add the 8 hours of sleep time, but most young pups will not make it through the entire night. This means you will not get to sleep through the entire night for a couple weeks.

Time dedicated to this daily = 2 hour and 40 minutes.

Training:

I’ve already mentioned training a little bit in the “mental exercise” portion of this but I want to talk about it a little bit more. You are never done training your puppy. This is a lifelong adventure. If your puppy’s skills aren’t increasing they are decreasing. Doing multiple 10-minute sessions per day is a good start, but ultimately every interaction you have with your puppy is an opportunity to teach.

In closing:

Did you calculate what my estimations add up to? It added up to between 7 hours and 30 minutes – 10 hours and 10 minutes everyday dedicated toward raising your puppy.  If this sounds like something you have time for then go for it, you will have lots of fun. Some of the things I mentioned can be put together. For instance, socialization can be paired with training etc. But overall I wanted to give a general idea of how much time it actually takes to raise a puppy. The good news is that as long as you stay consistent with everything I mentioned above, it will get easier. The bathroom breaks will spread out and eventually won’t have to happen as frequently. You will not have to worry about constant supervision. You also won’t have to put as much time into socialization. Also, if you have multiple people in your household this will help balance everything out. I hope this didn’t deter you from getting that puppy, but I hope it helps you have a better understanding of what you’re in for.

12 COMMENTS

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  2. Getting a puppy is always an exciting time. They are loving, caring and are always a good friend. But when you are deciding on getting a puppy you must make sure that you can dedicate the time needed to take care of it, train it, exercise with it and so much more. They are not just a pet they are a part of the family and need to be treated that way.

  3. My husband and I adopted a 10 week old Great Dane puppy. I wasn’t working at the time and was able to devote myself to his training. He was completely house trained in 2 weeks…win! I took him for daily walks and at first he was allowed to take his time and sniff and just check out his world. He was totally fascinated by the kids skateboarding at the park by our house. Now at 18 months, he’s still very puppy – like only huge. He walks well on a leash, loves everyone and is turning into the best dog ever. But he took a lot of time. Sometimes I think I’d like a second Dane, but I don’t think I’m truly ready yet!

  4. The last time I had a puppy I also had a 2 year old. I had the time and energy. Now I’m old enough to have two grandkids. I had my heart set on a Springer Spaniel again and couldn’t find an adult to adopt – after trying for 6 months. So, I got a puppy. It really was like having another baby. Getting up in the middle of the night to potty, settling the him when he fussed – I didn’t get a full night’s sleep for several weeks. I still don’t always get a full night’s sleep because Pup, who is now not quite 8 months old, is on a very regular feeding schedule and wants out of his crate at 7:30 every morning. On lucky mornings I get to sleep in if he decides to. Hubby lets me sleep in on weekends. (I’m pretty much a night owl)
    I’m tired a lot!! And if I don’t properly supervise, things get chewed up. I am having fun with the training though, it’s very rewarding to watch him learn and see the constant improvement. I do have an older dog, a Malamute we adopted in April, who is about 2-3 years old. They love to play and run around the acre, so for a lot of exercise time, I can simply sit and watch them run and play and tire themselves out.

    I’m very glad I have Pup, and love him to death, but he is a LOT of work, and I can’t send him home to Mom when I’m tired because I AM Mom. He’ll be the last pup I ever have.

    Yes, getting a puppy is a major commitment. And our local shelter is overflowing with dogs, many of whom are there because their owners discovered they didn’t really have time for that dog after all.

    Thank you, Kevin, I hope a lot of people read and heed this article.

  5. One and a half years ago I adopted two three month old unsocilized boarder collie/ blue healer pups. One pup is a full time job two pups is constant motion and a full time job with over time. If you want to know what it will be like just babysit your friends baby and his two year old sister twenty four hours a day for a week. Then think this will be your life for the next year and a half. If you can do this and come out smiling go adopt a a shelter puppy. I am still smiling, but very tired.

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