First off, let’s pre-empt the lunatics that are going to get all up in arms that “raising a puppy is nothing compared to a baby!” and vilify this post for the mere insinuation that my responsibilities are equivalent to theirs. Chill out. Of course raising a human child is more demanding than a dog. Nonetheless, there are clear parallels and it’s no surprise that many newlyweds decide to get a puppy first before they start their family. I know my parents did it with our first dog Chester, the most curmudgeonly golden retriever that ever lived.
I’ve learned a lot in the first week since we brought Lemon home and even though we don’t have kids (yet), I’m learning a lot that will become invaluable once we reach that point in our lives.
1. You have to learn to communicate with each other
Cliche alert: communication is a two-way street. Raising a little one requires both parties to learn how to communicate with one another. A baby knows just as many words as a puppy (i.e. – zero) so they communicate with you through body language and primal noises. They also don’t understand what you mean when you say “eat” or “hush” so understand that it will take time for them to understand what you want just as it takes you time to understand what they want.
2. They need a lot of attention
Intellectually, everyone understands that running a marathon is hard work but it’s not until you pass mile 18 and contemplate checking into a mental institution that you appreciate how true that is. The same holds true for raising a little one: they need a lot of attention. They are completely reliant on you to perform basic life functions like eating and going to the bathroom. They look to you for social cues and how to behave when they’re frightened, excited, or tired. In short, they are selfish creatures but at this point in their lives they have to be. Work with them, teach them the skills they need to be more independent, and watch them mature before your eyes.
3. They require a lot of patience
Remember, your little one has a very finite number of life experiences to base their behavior off of. Simple things, like controlling when you go to the bathroom, did not always come as naturally to you as it does today. Yes, it is frustrating when you walk the puppy for an hour, she doesn’t poop, and immediately squats down in the living room when you get back inside. Yes, it’s frustrating when you feed your baby and they spit every third spoonful onto the floor. Being patient is especially hard when you account for the stress of your everyday life but remember that the more patience you show now, the quicker they will learn and the happier you all will be.
4. They put everything in their mouths
Shoes, dirt, clothes, pens, cell phones, remote controls…if she gets a hold of them these they are like a gourmet French dinner. And your puppy will eat them too.
5. They bite
Did I mention they put everything in their mouths? This includes fingers, toes, arms, noses…you name it, they’ll bite it. Fortunately, this is where babies win out because they don’t have sharp little teeth that break the skin but this is one of those habits that you’ll want to condition out of your little one as soon as possible.
6. They keep their own hours…
“I love 3am! It’s so quiet, if I scream now I bet it will echo throughout the whole house!”
7. …but when they sleep, there’s nothing better
Yes, I’m aware I look just like my father.
8. They go to kindergarden
Kindergarden teaches your little one basic social skills and sets the stage for advancing their education as they get older. This is just as important for your pup (Lemon starts today!) as it is for your baby
9. They grow up faster than you can imagine
Everyone is busy but once time passes you can never get it back. Don’t fall victim to one of the most common regrets of the dying and waste your precious time working too hard. If you’re in your 20s with no little ones, now is the time to work hard. Once you have a bundle of love in your life, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities and concentrate on what is truly important.
10. They are 100% worth it
Yes, they can be a pain in the ass. Yes, you will be frustrated, exhausted, and strung out. Yes, you will need to make changes to your lifestyle to accommodate their needs. And yes, without a doubt your little one is 100% worth it.
Welcome! My name is Brett Snyder and I am the owner of Knucklepuck, a digital marketing agency based outside Washington D.C.
When I'm not studying and practicing SEO, you can find me hanging out with our dogs Lemon and Hippo, going to concerts, catching up with friends, exploring new hobbies, or spending time with my son Colin.