We’ve all spent at least an hour or two pouring over cute puppy TikToks, swooning at their tiny awoos and floppy hops through too tall grass. We’ve also all thought of dropping everything and going out to add said new addition to our newly adult life. But we hardly ever stop to think of how we’ll feel in a week, a month and maybe even a year as that pupper becomes a reliant constant in your ever changing and oh-so demanding early 20s. To be honest, not everyone’s lifestyle matches that of a responsible dog owner and yet so many of us bring these cute creatures into our lives a bit too soon.
As recent college grad and an all too early dog owner, I’m here to let you in on the puppy secrets that might make or break your decision to welcome that coveted furry friend into your life.
Pro: Sticking to a routine
Puppies, like most small creatures, thrive on reliable daily routines. While it may not always seem like it, these pups know what’s up, keeping an internal clock that will let you know when to wake up, go potty, eat, play, etc. By association, their daily routine becomes your daily routine—yes, that means a wake-up call before 10 a.m. With my own puppy, I made sure to get him on a solid schedule from day one, mainly to encourage a bedtime and wake-up time that would help him get most acquainted with his kennel.
No longer was I staying up until 2 a.m. and sleeping in until 10 the next morning. Oh, no. Once my labradoodle, Ollivander, came into my life, I’ve woken up at 7:30 a.m. every morning and gone to bed by 9 p.m. every night. This solidified my own sleep schedule and in turn helped me become a morning person once more.
Con: Prepare to not stop moving for the next two years
Just like small children, puppies have hyperactive brains that are continuously growing and learning. This means that they get bored easily and if left unattended, will get into any and everything. There will be no calm moments, except during their nap times… which unfortunately must be used as your time to get everything on your to-do list complete because the puppy has kept you occupied thus far. Don’t expect to get a puppy and then sit on your couch for a day’s marathon worth of your latest show. In reality, you’ll be lucky to get through 15 minutes without getting up to corral your mischief maker.
Pro: Exercise to the max!
Depending on your personality or the day in question, this could prompt either a positive or negative response, but your body overall will thank you in the long run. Exercise was my major motivator in getting a dog—especially a large one—when I made my decision to adopt. Settling into my quarantine slump was no longer viable for my health and I knew that I needed something to kick myself into gear.
Now, I hardly go an hour without standing up at least once. I take walks around my apartment regularly and even take daily two-mile (power)walks with Ollivander that tire both him and myself out. In doing so, I’ve regained a healthy habit that I had lost since I began college and get to explore the trails in my town.
Con: Relaxing evenings after work don’t exist
While you may have spent the past eight hours of the day working, wearing out your brain and your body on the job, your puppy has been at home curled up in a kennel building their energy until your return. So, even though your day has ended, the moment you walk through the door your puppy’s day has just begun. This means going out for a potty break, maybe even a walk, having some play time and just general running around the house or barking at you until you pay attention to them. Really, once you get home, you’re just clocking into another shift of your new second job as dog parent. Good-bye endless hours of TikTok scrolling.
Pro: You get to watch them grow into their personality
Honestly, my favorite thing about being a dog parent to Ollivander has been watching him develop his personality over the past 10 months. For example, he loves scratchies, hates his harness, is dramatic to the max, and loves going on coffee runs. My little dude, while very attached to me, loooves going to the vet and groomers because he can’t get enough of people—so much so that he screeches whenever someone new enters the apartment.
He loves his teddy and his favorite spot to sleep is in the recliner in our living room. These traits didn’t start happening from day one, and while behaviors like this were developed with the growth of his brain, they also came about as we became comfortable with each other. A relationship doesn’t happen with your dog overnight, these things take time and I encourage you to document everything along the way.
Con: Say so long to the little money you had
Dogs are expensive. I knew this going in with the initial purchase, the upcoming vet visits and vaccinations, food, toys etc., but I don’t think I truly understood the amount of money that goes into the fulfillment of a dog’s life. There’s grooming, bones, treats, daycare (for socialization or depending on your work schedule), training classes, emergency visits (Ollivander has a food allergy that has led to many of these), boarding, monthly pet fee for apartments and so much more. Not to mention that your dog could completely tear that $15 toy to shreds in a matter of minutes after receiving it. They’re a constant revolving door of expense that can leave many students and recent grads in even more debt.
Pro: Many happy moments
One of the major factors keeping Ollivander in my life has been all of the happy moments he’s given me since he’s become a part of it. From his big burps to his quirky play habits, I’ve realized that he’s been the manifester of nearly all of my happy memories as of late. With COVID in full swing at the time I adopted him, I wasn’t doing much beyond the doors of my apartment. As someone who lives with anxiety and depression, my apartment morphed into a mental prison with little relief. With a new puppy though, my thoughts were geared away from the things I couldn’t control and instead towards this small animal I’ve come to love. They’ll never fail to put a smile on your face at some point in your day.
Con: Restricted life beyond your home
Obviously, there are plenty of places that you can go with your dog (once they’re old enough) including pet stores, restaurants with outdoor patios that allow pets, trails, dog parks, etc. But notice that these aren’t necessarily the spots you want to hang with your friends on a regular night. Your life truly changes as a puppy enters your life, completely dictating your actions even when they aren’t present.
No longer can you roam the city from morning until night with no stops back home. No longer can you go on an impromptu road trip out of town for the weekend with little to no plan. A puppy is entirely dependent on you for bathroom breaks, food and stimulation. This means that much like having a human child of your own, you’ll need to make sacrifices and adapt your social activities to include the needs of your puppy.
Pro: No matter where you are, you’ll always have your best friend with you
We can’t all live with roommates forever. Plenty of friends go off and get married, move cities or wish to live on their own. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to call up a friend when you’re in need of some cheering up on a random Wednesday night. Well, it’s a good thing that your best friend will always be by your side in the form of your puppers. They’re the most reliable roommate one can ask for as you navigate adulthood and all of the odd complexities that come with it. Your pal will be there to curl up on the couch for a late movie night or whenever you need a good rant session. Just make sure to keep the treats comin’.
Con: This is a 10+ years commitment
As young 20 something year olds, it’s rare to know what we’ll be doing with our lives in the next year. I mean it’s rare for me to know what I’ll be doing in the next week. This lack of stability is important to keep in mind when thinking of adopting a dog. Sure, it might be easy to move five minutes away from your current home, but what if a job opportunity comes your way that sends you across the country or even across the world?
Are you willing to make the travel accommodations for your furry friend to join you? Can you say you have access to green spaces or afford a large enough living space should you get a larger dog? If travel is something that you’re open to as you explore your desired field, then it might be wise to put adoption on the back burner until you feel you’ve settled in a city you can concretely consider home.