The trouble with puppies

Who wouldn’t want a puppy? That soft fur, the pint-size body, and signature puppy prance all add up to one irresistible package. Yet there are people who admire the puppy charm from afar–and happily bring home an adult dog. Generally, they’re the ones who know that raising a puppy is a whole lotta work.

If you’re trying to decide whether to adopt a puppy (or an adult), chew on this.

The truth about puppies

  • Need lots of time and attention. Hourly bathroom breaks during housetraining, feedings three or four times a day, intensive socialization, puppy classes…by the time you add it all up, you may wonder if you should have saved yourself some time and just had a baby instead.
  • Take longer to housetrain. Puppies can get the hang of housetraining within a few weeks. Even then, they still aren’t very good at holding it, and you’ll be cleaning up messes for a while. Adult dogs, on the other hand, have much better control.
  • Wake you up at night. A young puppy who’s used to sleeping with littermates will cry and whine during the first nights alone in her new home. And pups younger than about four months need a moonlit bathroom run until they’re big enough to make it through the night.
  • Are more destructive. During teething most puppies turn into chewing machines. This means you’ll always need to keep an eye on your pup and put away anything you don’t want to wind up in a million infinitesimal pieces. No more kicking off your shoes when you come through the door!
  • Aren’t the only ones who can be trained. Forget the saying about old dogs and new tricks. It’s perfectly possible to teach an adult dog new commands.
  • May not be a good match for a family with young kids. Many parents find out too late that this isn’t the time to bring home another small creature that wakes you up at night and pees on the floor.
  • Can turn out different than you expected. You don’t know what a toddler’s going to be like when he’s grows up, and it’s the same with a puppy. With an adult dog, you know what you’re getting: his size, looks, personality, exercise needs, and shedding level won’t take you by surprise.
  • Don’t make good jogging partners. The impact of running on hard pavement can damage a pup’s growing body, so if you’re looking for a running buddy, you’ll have to wait about a year until his joints are fully formed.

End note: If you’ve read through all this and still want a puppy, go for it. You’re already more informed than most new puppy parents.