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Dog Ownership: Top 5 Expectations vs. Reality You Should Know

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

There are so many expectations associated with dog ownership. When reality bumps against those same expectations, it can be a rude awakening. We’ll be the first to tell you. (Read our break down of common first time puppy owner mistakes here.)

dog ownership expectations vs reality

Consider the fact that owning a dog entails more than just the occasional purchase of dog food. Owning a pet takes effort and calls for a sincere dedication to the animal. You must maintain your dog's health and safety. A dog requires a long-term commitment.

Unrealistic perceptions of the advantages of dog ownership might have unforeseen negative effects on the human/dog bond. Let’s set the record straight if you’re thinking about bringing a dog home.

Expect There to be Lot's of Exercise

Long walks are anticipated, which will not only help people keep their pledge to exercise more in the new year, but also burn off your pup's excess energy. The perfect union.

In reality, your puppy will freeze until you are three inches from your home. The puppy will dig in his heels if you pull on the leash to move him along. Instead of taking a 20-minute walk, he would prefer to remain stationary and soak in the sights, sounds, and scents of his new surroundings.

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Give up trying to walk your puppy like an older dog because of the differences in their expectations and requirements. Make time to "view the world" around you. Spend 15 to 20 minutes outside your home with your dog. Bring them to a park to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents; don't try to guide them from point A to B.

Additionally, you may begin to conduct some "leash training sessions" in conjunction with this.

Be reasonable. If pushed to continue to do something outside of their comfort zone, such as walking your pup when they don't want to be, this could cause issues continuing into adulthood. Many pups "lock up" when out for walks. So, be observant, patient and understanding as well.

Bathroom Time

People anticipate toilet training to be a fairly simple procedure. Puppy had a mishap? Show him what he did and be stern as you lead him over to the disaster. Your puppy will quickly learn not to go potty inside the home if you rinse and repeat.

Since the pup cannot let themselves out when the need arises, adding a doggie door will make the process simple.

Your puppy picks up on your propensity for anger when you encounter urine or excrement extremely rapidly. They kindly "hold it" until you are out of his line of sight or are turning away. Going outdoors is an option, but sneaking behind the sofa or into the rear room also has the same effect. Why not simply do it then?

Be aware of your role in this educational process. Giving your dog free reign of the house will almost certainly make the task of toilet training take longer. Additionally, it is unrealistic to anticipate that your puppy would use the doggie door or an open entrance to the yard to go outside.

Take the time to teach your dog proper potty-time etiquette. Be present. Follow a bathroom schedule. Within 1-2 seconds of your dog using the restroom in the proper location, reward them.

Using materials like sand or rocks, give them a safe place to pee. Whether it be in your backyard or a nearby park, it's a long-term training solution to make sure that your dog doesn’t use your family room as its facility.

Even if your yard is fenced in, it's a fantastic idea to utilize a harness and leash while putting your puppy outside. This will teach your puppy to relieve himself while walking, which can come in handy if you ever want to take your dog on vacation.

Setting a Bed Time

In so many stories from your friends and family, they tell about their adorable ball of fluff calmly laying at the end of their beds or cozily snuggled in their dog bed. It’s a myth! Or at least it doesn’t come without several sleepless nights.

The dog owners who are telling you about how wonderful it is to have their puppy placed firmly at the end of the bed are glossing over the many nights that they wake up in a puddle created by their best four-legged friend turned foe.

Or maybe their canine companions have a nightmare and have a mid-night wrestling match on your torso.

Boundaries are a must. It will take time to set them up and have them honored by a creature that doesn’t understand the alarm clock or what being on time to work means for you. Be ready to spend a few restless nights training them to respect your space as you teach them what they can and can’t do and at what times of the day this is acceptable.

Play Time Issues

The reality is that at times you want to snuggle or wrestle with your pup, but your puppy will be more interested in utilizing your hands and clothes as a chew toy. You may even be confused as to whether you actually brought home a puppy or a wild animal hunting for human flesh.

Don't try to "fix" the issue by wearing out your puppy with prolonged playtime, daycare, or dog parks. You could actually discover that your plan backfires and you end up with a puppy who has difficulties being hyper-aroused as these activities can be quite stimulating. Congratulations! You've just evolved into a huge, animated squeaky toy!

You've undoubtedly heard at least one "source" advising you to clamp your puppy's mouth shut or squeeze their lip. This method may produce a temporary solution, but it may also result in a puppy that is quite wary of your advancing hand. Promoting a connection based on trust and communication is the aim of puppy-raising.

Avoid utilizing training techniques or strategies that can endanger your relationship.

Teaching your puppy that there are other outlets for this very normal and natural energy is a part of your responsibility as a puppy parent. Your puppy will need some time to get the hang of this technique, but it will be worthwhile in the long run.

Time. Good management. Training that encourages relaxed interactions with you. Promoting healthy play. Challenging your puppy's intellect and body (ie: playing tug of war with your pup). All these combined will provide a secure play environment to serve as the foundation for the well-behaved dog of the future.

Anticipate Puppy Ownership Costs

Dog ownership is expensive both in dollar terms and in emotion when its life cycle comes to an end. Whether the costs are “worth it” is of course totally subjective, but most owners will say yes. But, before getting a dog (or any other pet) folks need to think about these costs.

There is a heavy price to be paid for the companionship of a dog. We’ve reviewed savings, as well as both monthly and annual puppy costs. Check those out to educate yourself before committing.

Pet ownership provides great health benefits that may be hard to measure in dollar terms. Dogs provide great company to those living alone.

A mismatch between reality and expectations is likely to happen when attitudes toward dog ownership are positive and time and financial commitments are underestimated.

Unconditional affection from a dog is a major element. If these requirements are underestimated, dogs may develop behavioral problems. They could have difficulties learning, problems with soiling themselves, messing up their surroundings, or even aggressive behavior.

Unlike your own flesh and blood, a pet is not a literal child. But, if the level of care and focus required is far too much for you, that's okay. Wait until you are ready and willing to invest the time and effort for not only your pup but yourself as well!

And, if and when you're ready to do so, our breedership is here to help!

Jenna and the JLDD Team

858 views2 comments


This was intensely helpful. I had these grand visions of going for long walks, and puppy wouldn’t go any further than our driveway for the first few months. We also struggled HUGELY with teething and biting issues, especially when our kids couldn’t play with puppy at first. There were many nights where I cried because my expectations hadn’t matched reality. Thank you for this post and peace of mind that this is all “normal”

Jenna Stone
Jenna Stone
Sep 17, 2022
Replying to

I'm so glad! Puppyhood can be intimidating at first, but it is well worth it in the end! I hope life with your puppy is everything you dreamed now!

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