Recently, I got a puppy. And while I grew up in a family with dogs and thought I knew what it would be like, as it turns out, having the primary responsibility of a new puppy is very different. So in an effort to share a full picture with everyone, I will share my 5 favorite things and 3 not-so-favorite things about having a puppy. I’ll start with my not-so-favorites.
- I have been pooped on. And peed on. This one is self explanatory. Potty training is difficult and I learned the hard way that my puppy does NOT stop pottying if you pick him up to take him outside. It can be exhausting cleaning up after your pup all day and trying to teach him that he is not supposed to potty inside, even if it’s raining or hot outside.
- I am not a morning person and had to wake up very early for several months. Again this is tied into the whole potty training aspect of dogs, but also puppies tend to not sleep through the night. For at least a few months, your sleep schedule will likely be drastically different. Even when you’re done with the puppy stage, your sleep schedule will likely look different (and more consistent) than it did prior to puppy life.
- Puppies are expensive. In addition to food and bowls and treats, there’s the many vet visits, the cost of spaying/ neutering, vaccinations, and any other random sick visits. This does offer an opportunity to establish fiscal responsibility and budgeting skills, but definitely not a favorite of mine.
Now for some of my favorites.
- I have seen my hard work pay off and my puppy learn things. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of knowing that all your hard work (and ruined T-shirts) have started to pay off when your dog goes to the door to signal he has to potty. Or when he finally sleeps through the night. Or he starts to master commands you’ve worked with him on.
- I now have a very consistent schedule. Prior to having a puppy, I never went to sleep or woke up at the same time. The pandemic also made having a schedule difficult because many things were telehealth so you didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time and the days all ran together. Having a schedule is an important part of staying healthy and so it has been a huge gift for me that I’ve had since getting a dog.
- I get to take my dog to the park. He goes on walks with me and it gives me a good reason to go to the park and get outside more often. I love to get outside and go for walks, but it is very easy put it off for the allure of my bed and a movie. So having a dog helps me make sure that I get outside and get some sun because a tired puppy is a good puppy. Also, the joy I see on other peoples faces when they see him is so fun.
- CUDDLES. One of my absolute favorite things in the whole world is when my dog curls up on me and takes a nap. It doesn’t matter if I have to pee or I’m sitting in an uncomfortable position, I am going to do my best not to wake him up and to just enjoy the cuddles.
- Having a tiny, fluffy best friend. Maybe my favorite thing overall is the fact that now I have a little friend who follows me everywhere and showers me with love all the time. It’s amazing.
Overall, owning a dog can be extremely difficult, but it can also be extremely rewarding, and the physical and mental health benefits are many. If you are thinking about getting a pet for an ESA or already have one, then I’d encourage you to talk to one of our therapists. At Works, we know and believe in the benefits that pets can offer us!