Owning a puppy is no walk in the park! Here’s eight things you need to know, according to a trainer

Woman playing with French Bulldog puppy in the park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you thinking of getting a puppy? Bringing home a new puppy for the first time can be incredibly exciting, and there's no denying that these small bundles of fluff can infuse our lives with so much love, laughter, joy, and affection.

But as a prospective new puppy owner, it can be easy to get caught up in thoughts of cuddles on the couch and long walks in nature and lose sight of the fact that having a small canine companion around the house will also bring with it a fair few challenges.

It's not unusual for pet parents to find themselves unexpectedly struggling with the dreaded puppy blues during the first year of their new fur friends life. Interrupted sleep, incessant barking, toilet training issues, and changes to your daily routine can all catch you off guard.

As a prospective new puppy owner, it can be helpful to get a realistic picture of what to expect. Thankfully, certified trainer Carolyn, who is also the founder of Good Dog Training, has put together a handy Instagram post sharing everything you need to know. You can check it out below or read on for a summary...

1. It's work: "It's so much more than just puppy snuggles," explains Carolyn. "It's getting up all night to let them out, it's training, socializing, playing, exercising, feeding, cleaning up, vet visits, etc. This work will not end any time soon."

2. You may not end up with your dream dog: This can be a hard one for us to swallow as new pet parents, but according to Carolyn, even if you do everything right, you may still not end up with the dog you hoped for. "Genetics play a big role in personality. If you don't end up with the dog you wanted, will you still love them? Can you make it work?"

3. It's not easy: "It's stressful for both of you," Carolyn acknowledges. "Coming home with you is a HUGE change for your puppy. There will be a lot of crying for the first few nights as they're trying their best to cope with stress. You'll need to be patient. Take time off work if you can, so you can help them get settled before leaving the house for eight plus hours a day."

4. It may not be easy for current pets: It's important to understand that if you already have pets in the family, they may well find the addition of a new puppy to be a stressful experience. "It's not a choice they got a say in," explains Carolyn, "So make sure you give them plenty of alone time away from the puppy and with you. Supervise and run interference for your older pets and don't allow your puppy to bite and clobber them."

5. It's a big time commitment: "You'll give up sleep, spend time training and socializing and supervising and playing - and that won't end any time soon. Puppies aren't toys you can put away when you're done playing with them," Carolyn stresses.

6. It can be costly: "Puppies aren't cheap, and I don't just mean the cost of acquiring them," says Carolyn. "You'll be paying for vaccinations and vet bills, puppy class, puppy toys, chews, a leash and collar, a crate, replacing stuff they chew up, food, treats, etc."

7. The socialization period ends before vaccinations are complete: A lot of people worry about starting to socialize their puppy before they've had all their vaccinations, but Carolyn says it's a must. "The socialization period ends at approximately 12 weeks. Depending on your vet, vaccinations aren't complete until 16-20 weeks. Isolating your puppy until vaccines are complete increases their risk of lifelong behavior problems."

8. They aren't easy but are 100% worth it: "It won't feel like it in the moment, but puppyhood will fly by and the next thing you know you're saying your final goodbyes, looking back on years of loving them and wishing you could have just a little more time. You won't remember or care about the sleepless nights, vet bills, or shoes they ruined. You'll just be glad you knew them."

If you'd like some extra support with your new puppy, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer who will be able to offer you lots of advice and guidance to help you navigate the first year of your little ones life.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.