20 Things No One Tells You When You Get Your First Dog

Man in Hat Holding Golden Retriever Puppy

I hope you have the instruction manual. I'm not sure he knows what he's doing.

When you brought your first dog home you probably picked up a few books about training, feeding, and caring for him. But do books tell you everything you need?

Of course not.

Even the experts don’t tell you everything.

I just brought Bruce Fogle’s Dog: The Definitive Guide for Dog Owners home from the library. It’s a thorough book dealing with dog breeds, all stages of a dog’s life, socialization, training, health, and much more. The author is a world-renowned expert on dogs.

But he doesn’t cover everything.

When you get your first dog, no one ever tells you:

1. Puppy barking is cute. Just wait until he discovers his “big boy” bark.

2. Not every dog will enjoy a crate, no matter how carefully you introduce her to it.

3. Never take treats to the dog park.

4. If you really want your dog to to enjoy bath time, fill the soap dish with peanut butter.

5. Getting a dog is like living on a boat. Your whole world revolves around getting rid of poop.

6. If you see sweaty paw prints on the floor, your dog is nervous.

7. Short-haired dogs may be easy to groom but their hairs weave themselves into the fibers of your furniture upholstery. Unlike long hairs which only lay on top.

8. Dogs don’t know how to bargain shop. When you take her into the pet store, she will inevitably grab the most expensive toy (forcing you to buy it).

9. Nail trimming is much easier if you do it when your dog’s nails are wet. This little tidbit will save you hours of stress and effort.

10. If you take your dog to get fast food at the drive-through, she will get just as excited by toll booths and drive-up banking windows.

11. Dogs don’t always like to play with each other.

12. The purpose of a walk is not to finish the route as quickly as possible or even to cover fresh territory the entire time. It’s all about the dog.

13. You know how puppies sleep in a pile and it’s so cute? Well they do it when they weigh 90 pounds too. And this time you’re part of the pile.

14. Dogs are most comfortable standing and resting on soft surfaces–rugs, pillows, piles of laundry, breasts, testicles, kidneys….

15. If you don’t trim your dog’s nails, he can hurt himself walking around.

16. Your dog isn’t being stubborn. She just has a different agenda.

17. No one will ever see you pick up dog poop. But if you forget to bring a bag and your dog leaves a gift, you’ll face a sea of disapproving looks.

18. You can spend hundreds of dollars on expensive dog toys but your dog’s favorites will be wadded up newspaper, cardboard boxes, old socks, and toilet paper rolls.

19. Your dog will always do the cutest thing seconds after you put the camera away.

20. You will never believe how deeply you will fall in love with your furry friend.

What do you wish you had known when you got your first dog that you’ve never seen in a book? Share.

This is the Saturday Pet Blog Hop. Hop on…

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  1. I wish I’d picked up some books when I got my puppy Roxanne, I didn’t know a thing about training. Now I am far more prepared but more than likely will never have another puppy. :-(

  2. Good list! And here I thought I’d covered everything in Am I Boring My Dog. Have you considered an e-book…
    I especially like #12. I can’t tell you how many people think of dog walking as human exercise and try to turn what should be a pleasure for the pup into a forced march.

  3. I love it! I noticed that thing with the hairs when I was vacuuming the car the other week.

    I wish someone would’ve told me that I’d never be able to put the mop away again…
    I wish someone would’ve told me that all future laundry washes were going to have to be planned around being able to hang them out at a time when the puppy wasn’t going to be left unattended to take the clothes off the line…
    I wish someone would’ve told me how much wind a puppy can pass…
    I wish someone would’ve told me that a growing ridgeback can produce 8-10 (large) poos in a day, easily…
    On the flip side, I’m glad of some of the surprises that owning my first puppy has brought – no-one told me how much I would enjoy my evening walks with the dog; I would never have thought that I’d be able to pick up poo without heaving; I never would’ve thought that going away and having to leave her behind would be so hard; and like you say, I NEVER would’ve thought that I would ever love her as much as I do.

    H and the fabulously one year old Flo

  4. Great list.

    The one thing that I have discovered in my life with dogs, though I only own one (two if you count my parents’ dog), I have helped train plenty, no dog is perfect, and it seems the more faults, imperfections, outbursts the dog has, and training time you need to put into the dog, the more you adore it for all its positive sides and quirks.

  5. That is a great list. You might add: Your dog will chew what you have handled recently and has your scent. It goes without saying that this object is important in your life and probably irreplaceable.

  6. Love this list… and it’s so true about the short-haired dogs. My carpets are woven with Bella hairs, while my hardwood floors are covered in tumbleweeds. The one about the crate was really true for Bella too – she never took to it.

    I’ve been trying to think of what to add, but I can’t think of anything good… your list and the ones added in the comments are great! I don’t think anyone ever tells you how nonchalant you’ll become about poop and other bodily functions either. After taking care of a pup, changing diapers and cleaning up gross things has no effect on me anymore!

  7. Let me add my voice to those who love this post! As for the dog poop thing, don’t assume your neighbors don’t see what your’e doing; I assure you they do. We’ve had only two neighbors make a comment about it, but the fact they were impressed enough to comment about it concerns me that so many of you out there are not being responsible.

  8. Absolutely fabulous post – it resonates through this house full of twenty (20) dogs, personal and rescue. Planning laundry – dog laundry vs my laundry; they always have more. I’m w/Edie on #12, my fav – when I started years ago with my two dogs (two arms, two hands, two dogs, two horses, three cats..), I told anyone who asked the walks are for the dogs – which is why I let my hounds sniff and snort w/o concern for proper healing (though they heal my heart and life). #9 – I just trimmed a lot of nails yesterday (“step into my office with the treat can”) and thought of Madge, the Palmolive nail expert, whose customers soften their nails in dish liquid. You read my mind! #19 – my dogs think my paper bin is a toy box. Who needs a shredder? The poop? I’m a nurse – poop is at work and home; no big deal and yes, I pick it up :).

  9. Love this list! Number 16 was a hard lesson for me but such an important one.

  10. I loved this. Made me smile (and nod) through the whole thing.

  11. I wish someone had told me how to get over the pain I felt when my best friend left me to go OTRB much too soon

  12. Ours was “Don’t follow the instructions on the dog food bag – you’ll only end up with a fat dog”…

    Too cute!


  13. Oh how true!!!! Every single one of them was right on!

    The tiny little hair fibers in the furniture upholstery is sooooo accurate. Lab fur is the worst in our house. It’s almost impossible to get them out. Thus a leather cough or a cover on the couch is a necessity in our house.

    I wish someone would have told me that I would be sweeping and vacuuming every day. Wood floors hide nothing.

    Hilarious post Pamela!

  14. Number 7 absolutely– I have blankets full of fur from foster dogs that left over two years ago!

    I’m with Edie– you write the book, I’ll help edit. If you want. :)

  15. I wish someone told me that I could never impulsively travel again.
    I wish someone told me that dogs are addictive, and I’d end up with 5 dogs at my house at once…

    Great post. :)

  16. Hi Y’all,

    Growing up rural and always having everything from cows and horses to cats and dogs I’m not a good one to think of things you should or wish you had known.

    Y’all come by now,
    BrownDog’s Human

  17. Fantastic post! It’s one of my favorites of yours!

    Things they don’t tell you… One day your puppy is going to get old, much faster than you realize. Every phase of a dog’s life holds its own wonders, joys and trials. You’ll think back one day and realize you can’t choose a favorite stage, and how fleeting they all are. Never leave home without the camera, either!

  18. So true about the crates! We tried introducing Jasmine to a crate, she liked it fine as long as the door remained open. She’d sleep there, eat there … the moment we finally closed the door she was so unhappy … so that was that for her crate-training :-)

  19. I am assuming you were being sarcastic about #12 because dogs like to sniff everything but it is important to teach your dog that the walk is actually NOT about sniffing every single thing. It should be about excercise because I see way too many overweight dogs out there….especially Dachshunds.

    Stopping over from the blog hop. Happy Tails and Trails!

  20. #7… I really wish I’d known about #7. Also, that just because a dog has shorter hair and a single-coat, it doesn’t mean that dog won’t shed very often. If anything, that dog will probably shed more than the Siberian Husky you grew up with…

    I didn’t know Bruce Fogle also had a book on dogs. I just recently read his very similar publication on cats and I found it really informative. But this is coming from a place of knowing almost nothing. Maybe I will look for his dog book as well now. One can never have too many, right?

  21. That my dog(s) would be my choice over going to dinner with those people who I would have normally gone just to be nice. That I would rather hang out with, go to the beach with, or do a trail hike with my dog than go shopping. That my dog would make me feel better on days when I was not feeling so up!
    Aloha Wags!

  22. I’ve spent 24 hours trying to think of more things I would like to have known before I got my first dog, but seeing as that was 45 years ago I can’t remember that far back:)

    What I know now is that I never want to be without at least one. And while they never stay with us long enough the joy of having them is worth the grief of losing them.

  23. Peanut butter in the soap dish? Pure genius!!!! I am so using that the next time I give Dexter a bath.

  24. Great list! So many things I wish I had known…when I got my first dog it was years ago and I knew nothing about training except what bystanders told me, which tended to be on the order of “you really need to show her you’re dominant.” Fortunately my fosters are growing up in more enlightened times!

    I wish someone had shown me the clicker, and told me the basics of shaping. I think it would have made for some joyful times when my Tashi was still alive, and would have resulted in a happier, more confident Lamar!

  25. i LOVE this and am going to post on facebook. the one thing i think is missing?

    nobody told me none of my friends would understand how getting a dog completely changes your life and makes you less available. a dog can be “worse” than a baby in the sense that you can bring babies virtually anywhere with you, whereas you almost always have to leave your dog behind. makes impromptu and/or long gatherings really difficult, and forget about happy hours or other after-work activities. no one understands that if i can’t bring my dog, i probably won’t go–and if i do go, it won’t be for long. why would i want to leave my dog alone for one moment longer than is necessary?

  26. Love this list! We used to smear peanut butter on the sides of the bathtub :) Once we spent $20 on toys to take on a camping trip with us and Cali spent the whole trip chewing on the firewood!

    Everyone always says “dogs live in the moment” – if that’s true – why does my dog always go back and look for the thing I made her leave alone the day before on our walk?

  27. Oh my gosh, this is so true!!! I live every day with number five, and I never realized how true number seven was until I had both Buster and Ty. Buster sheds more … buy Ty’s fur is insidious and much more difficult to clean up. Great post!

  28. Great post – and great comments, too! I’m going to have to think of all those unspoken things…
    As a vet nurse, I try to tell clients as much as possible in their first puppy visits, but there’s soooo much to cover! You really had me laughing at numbers 1,3, and 14. Everyone giggles at puppy barks, but not a few months later…


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