10 Mad Skills You’ll Need To Raise A Puppy

Raising a puppy is like running a triathlon. But you’ll need a different set of skills.

To run a triathlon, you must know how to drink while running, how to repair punctures, and how to keep going even when you’re in pain.

Hey, come to think of it, those are pretty good puppy raising skills too.

Honey the golden retriever as a puppy with her food toy.

How could anything so cute need so many mad skills to take care of?

Most Important Puppy Care Skills

Not every triathlete has what it takes to raise a puppy. Here are a few more skills they’d need to add:


Zoe, our latest foster puppy, arrived at our house not knowing how to climb stairs and never having been on leash.

Don’t expect any trips, even those of a few steps, to happen quickly.

Honey the golden retriever and Zoe the foster puppy are on the porch.

C’mon, Zoe, go down the stairs. You’re blocking my way and I have to pee.


You say you performed with Cirque de Soleil? Climbed el Capitan without ropes? Crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope line?

Yeah, that’s nothing compared to trying to keep your ankles from getting tangled in the leash of a tiny puppy who keeps trying to herd your ankles, sniff the bushes, and follow your other dog all at the same time.


Is deafness a skill? Well, whatever it is, it comes in handy with an anxious puppy who has not yet found her “big girl bark.”

Those high-pitched shrieks are painful. And that’s coming from a metal head who has enjoyed Judas Priest and Ronnie James Dio in concert.

Urinary continence

To house train a puppy without mistakes, you need to take the puppy out EVERY. TIME. SHE. WAKES. UP. Which means that when the puppy is sleeping, nobody moves.

You’re just out of luck if you need to pee too.

Honey the golden retriever puppy goes to work.

Why do you keep calling me land shark? I don’t bite THAT hard.

Field medicine training

Puppies are sharks with fur. You can’t believe how much those pointy puppy teeth hurt until you feel them sinking into your flesh.

And a warning to all you well-endowed women? Buy an armor-plated bra. Just saying.

Zoe the Australian cattle dog puppy on the porch.

One of Zoe’s rare, contemplative moments.

Resistance to cuteness

Nothing on this planet is more adorable than a puppy. And if you’re so busy saying, “Awwwww” and snapping pictures while the puppy is trying to pull down the table cloth, biting the ear of your other dog, and climbing up onto your counter you’ll end up with an obnoxious dog with very bad manners.

Just say no to cuteness. Puppy time is learning time.


The other trick to perfect house training is to carry the puppy outside when he needs to go. At least until you can trust him not to pee right inside the door as you try to open it.

Which makes juggling a crucial skill.

Anyone who can’t hold a squirming puppy, unlock a door, and unhook puppy shark teeth from your right breast (see above) at the same time needs to enroll in juggling school.

Wealth building

Think you make enough money to meet all your needs? Is it enough to keep a puppy in Nylabones?

Puppies need to chew. And if it’s not an approved toy or bone, it will be your desk, chair, or arm.

If you’re planning to raise a puppy, register at your favorite pet store for enough chewies and toys to get your puppy through adolescence. Otherwise, you may need to take out a loan. Or start a hedge fund.

Zoe the puppy shows her butt.

Did I mention a fast camera and trigger finger? Between my slow camera and a fast puppy, this is what most of my pictures of Zoe look like.


A puppy will keep you on your toes. And you need perfect timing to keep your puppy out of trouble while she’s exploring the world and eating everything in sight.

And don’t forget the timing you’ll need for clicker training. Puppy time is perfect training time. Our foster puppy already knows how to sit, come when I call her, and ride on my dog Honey’s back (well, I didn’t teach her that last one; she taught herself).


Love is the easiest skill to learn. Because no matter how exhausting, frustrating, and irritating a puppy can be, they’re just plan lovable.

And everyone becomes an endurance athlete with mad skills of love when they see that adorable puppy who loves them right back.

The Best Gifts Don’t Cost A Dime

Pet Blogger's Gift Exchange BadgeIf you’ve missed the news, we’re getting ready for the third annual Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange.

It’s a chance for pet bloggers to be matched at random to share the best gifts ever

  • encouragement
  • support
  • link love

Each blogger will write a post about their partner and share on social media how wonderful they are. And they’ll do the same for you. I’ll have a blog hop set up where you can share your posts and see everyone else.

We already have dog, cat, and bunny bloggers signed up. We’re just waiting for you.

Read all the details and pick up your badge. And if you’re in, use the Rafflecopter below to sign up and to get a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

And if the Rafflecopter acts weird, send me an email with the URLs for your blog and any social media accounts you use.

Can’t wait to have you join the fun.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Your Turn: Any other puppy skills I missed?

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  1. LOL…Such a cutie though. I remember Torrey kept us laughing as a puppy, they are fun. But yes, a lot of work and patience too.

    • I can imagine Torrey tearing around as a puppy. She must have been adorable.

      In reality, raising puppies is easy if you don’t have anything else to do. It’s all that darn work that keeps on getting in the way.

      Think we’ll ever see paid pup-ternity leave benefits? :)

  2. Great tips!! The patience one especially!!!! Little pups can be trying at times, but so worth while!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    • I’m not one of those people who melts smelling puppy breath. But yes, it is very rewarding. Especially when you think of what great adult dogs they’ll grow into.

  3. I didn’t know any of those things when I got Sampson. The fact that he turned out to be such an amazing dog has more to do with him than we me I think.

    Still, I love puppies and if there weren’t so many seniors in need of homes, I wouldn’t hesitate to get a puppy again. :-)

    • Some puppies are just born for greatness. Sampson is probably one of them.

      BTW, if I promise to get a senior dog next time, you can get another puppy. :)

  4. HA! You have no idea how many times I’ve entertained the neighbors doing the “pee-pee” dance waiting for either Harley or Leo to use the bathroom when they were puppies. I can only imagine the convo’s that took place through windows across the street!

    • Oh, me too. And houses are pretty close together in my neighborhood. It’s a good thing I have absolutely no shame. :)

      BTW, a smart woman once told me that if you aren’t embarrassing yourself when raising a puppy you’re not doing it right.

  5. Ha! This sounds almost like having a human baby… except a little more dangerous :) I’m going to go ahead and fill out the Rafflecopter now for you since it’s working.

    • Yeah, babies take longer to get teeth and start weaving around between your legs. But babyhood (and teenagerdom, for that matter) lasts much longer.

      And what about all you crazy moms who raise kids and animals at the same time? You deserve medals. :)

  6. If I were younger and worked from home, I’d probably get another puppy. However, my new strategy is to get the oldest dog possible. 😉

    You have double the trouble with Zoe – not just a puppy – but a CATTLE DOG puppy. My hat is off to you.

    • Zoe is one of a litter of eight. A couple of volunteers took TWO puppies home!

      I’m really enjoying learning more about cattle dogs. She’s the first one I’ve met IRL. She’s amazing and smart. I really want to see her end up with someone looking for an agility competitor. She’d be a superstar.

      But I’m learning that I would never been the perfect person to adopt an ACD myself.

      The better part of valor is knowing your limits–like adopting an older dog instead of a puppy. :)

      Of course, I took Honey to work with me when she was a puppy. I never expected my boss to say yes. He hates dogs. But I guess I had built up enough brownie points to get the special favor.

      Something for you to consider?

  7. Puppies are not easy, but they are definitely worth it!

  8. I’ll just say one thing Pamela…try have 10 at the same time!! BOL!!

  9. but she’s so lovely… I very nearly over shared that you are very lucky to have someone nibbling on your nipple, do you know how long it has been… but that would be inappropriate so I didn’t!

  10. I wouldn’t have guessed I had all of those skills, but it’s amazing what you find out about yourself when you jump into that fire!
    The juggling one made me think of my hubby last winter when Luke was little. He had taken him out in the night when it was icy, was carrying him down the stairs, and slipped and fell. However, Luke never hit the ground, he successfully held on to him (and luckily only had a few bruises afterwards).

  11. All so very true!! Callie and Shadow were relatively easy puppies — thank Dog!! — though there were times I needed more patience with their Daddy than with them, or with people at work. (I won’t go into any more detail than that.) With Ducky, well as you know, I needed super powers to raise her but every nanosecond of effort was worth it! She’s still an adolescent, and still testing her boundaries, but she’s growing into a good dog.