When you adopt or find your first dog, you’re on top of the world. You have what you’ve always wanted: a snuggle buddy, a travel companion, a loyal friend on four legs. But there’s a lot about dog ownership that comes with the territory—and for you, it’s unfamiliar territory. Here are 6 truths about being a pet parent you might not expect—but should.
1. You spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning up bodily fluids, and solids.
Your dog will poop, pee and yes, vomit. He’ll do it in the yard, maybe in the car, maybe on the carpet. It doesn’t really matter where he does it—you have to clean it up. And the amount of time you’ll spend doing that is quite high, given the frequency. The real shift in expectation there is this: you can’t predict when and where it will happen, so you’ll need to be ready at all times.
2. You live with a scavenger.
Dogs will tear a hole in your sweatshirt because you dropped a crumb on it last night. That’s real. Protect your things. They’re out to get food—and where it is and what it is are pretty much irrelevant.
3. Dogs are people, too. (Scavenger people, yes, but people.)
They have personalities. They will defy you, and be stubborn. They test the limits. They’ll be affected by change. (Having a baby? Changing homes? It’s going to affect your dog.)
4. Exercise is at least a part time job.
We’re talking at least an hour a day for puppies. Depending on your puppy, you might need to devote up to three hours to exercise and play. That’s 21 hours a week.
Seriously. This unexpected truth can’t be overstated. Dogs need exercise, and a tired dog usually helps facilitate a peaceful cohabitation.
5. You have to work much harder to communicate effectively.
All of a sudden, you can’t just ask your roommate if they left that disgusting mess of coffee grounds all over the floor. You’re instead forced to observe and understand their patterns, and that can be hard when they aren’t always predictable patterns, and when their decisions rely on your own.
6. Your priorities shift.
You might expect that, a bit. When you have to care for another being in any fashion, you’ll have to rearrange your current priorities. But each moment where you see the shift is what’s unexpected.
“When they’re sick, you have the same reaction as if a human is sick,” says Adrienne, mom of two huskies. “You’ll rush to the store, to the vet, whatever. You will do anything.”
If you are a pet parent, what unexpected truths have you learned? Tell us in a comment.
To help keep your dogs, whether new or longtime family members, in peak condition at any age, try Canine Plus.