How to Know If You Will Regret Getting a Dog

Regrets about getting a dog may occur if:

  • You do not properly prepare for it
  • You don’t recognize it will change your life
  • You’re not ready for the puppy blues
  • You fail to consider the financial side of ownership
  • You aren’t consistent with training
  • You don’t tackle challenges that arise

As I write this, my five-year-old Bichon Frise, Freya, is curled up on the chair next to me.

There isn’t a day that passes where I’m not grateful I got her. I am also glad I pushed through the challenging period when she was a puppy. Toilet training was demanding, and it felt like Freya would never master it.

Puppies and dogs become part of the family. If you’re asking, ‘will I regret getting a dog,’ you’re asking a sensible question.

I’m going to reveal the answers here. Yes, there is more than one. If you are thinking about getting a dog or a puppy, don’t do anything until you have read the rest of this article. I’m going to supply advice and insight to help you make this decision.


Getting A Dog Will Change Your Life

It doesn’t matter if you get a puppy or a rescue dog. You’re introducing a pooch into your existing setup. You’re going to experience changes in the way you live.

The same applies whether you’re single, have a young family, or a partner. Think about how you’ll manage the responsibility of being a dog owner.

How will your pet fit into your life? Will you need to make changes? Chances are you will, so how will you cope with them?

Puppies are harder because you need to train them. Training is important, and the earlier you start, the better.

When your puppy learns proper behavior – both in the home and out of it – your life is going to be much easier.

Rescue dogs have issues of their own. Some are loving, well adjusted and simply want to be loved. Others have issues stemming from past mistreatment or other negative experiences.

So, regardless of whether you want a puppy or a rescue dog, know that your life is going to change.

Do plenty of research to learn how that might happen. Ask friends and family members with dogs what to expect and what you should know.

Make sure everyone is on board with getting a dog or puppy too. It’s much harder if there are two of you and only one person does all the walks, toilet training, and so on. You need to all be on the same page and prepared to show consistency in training.

The more you prepare, the better equipped you’ll be, and the less likely it is that you’ll regret getting a dog (or puppy).


You Will Experience the Puppy Blues

Yes, even if you’re well prepared, this can still happen.

I spent a year researching the idea of getting a puppy before I got Freya. Despite this, and despite knowing the grooming demands of a Bichon, I still felt frustrated and stressed to start with. It turns out I was going through the puppy blues.

It was a massive change in my life. However, it was one I adjusted to. I was also aware that Freya was experiencing a massive change. She settled in okay, but it took time.

Tiredness often magnifies what you’re feeling too. If you feel frustrated, upset, or regretful, it could well be a kneejerk reaction to the situation. Give yourself time.

Whenever I struggled, I usually felt better after some sleep. Even if I had to nap when Freya did!

Bottom line? The puppy blues usually pass. It doesn’t normally take long either. I read a thread on Reddit about a guy who bought a Husky puppy and regretted it. He admitted to being in tears wondering what he had done.

He updated the thread to say he felt better (he’d had some sleep!) and was going to persevere. So many people shared similar experiences. Everyone said this period passed.

Lots of people with puppies  experience similar moments of regret. Every one that I know have said that it got easier.


Regret is Less Likely if You Are Prepared

I work from home, so I could adjust my schedule when needed. Luckily, Freya stayed dry through the night quite early, so I didn’t need to get up for toileting that often.

That said, I was lucky. If you get a puppy, you should be prepared to wake up through the night for the first few weeks.

Potty training is one of the most important parts of bringing up a puppy. You need to follow a plan and stick to it. Even then, it takes a while before your pup gets the hang of it.

One forum discussion included this phrase: “A dog is only as good as its trainer.”

That’s you.

You need to recognize that you’ll be teaching your puppy:

  • Where to go potty
  • How to walk on a leash
  • How to obey commands
  • How to behave in various situations

It’s down to you to do this. If you’re not ready, unprepared, or not willing to devote the time to training (and it does take a lot of time every day), you’ll regret getting a dog.


Consistency Helps You Get Positive Results

Even if you get an adult rescue dog, you might need to train them. You may need to undo some unpleasant habits. Puppies certainly need training, all of which takes energy.

If I could give you one word to help you understand what is asked of you when you get a dog, it’s this.


Be consistent in how you approach the training. Set a time for a daily walk when your puppy is old enough to go outside. Be consistent and focused on all aspects of training.

If a problem develops, such as peeing in the house or barking when you go out, get onto it straight away. Do some research. Look at solutions. Commit to a solution and stick with it.

It can take days or even weeks to resolve an issue. It won’t happen overnight.


Be Prepared to Problem Solve

I bought a couple of books to help me prepare for bringing Freya home. One was a general guide on bringing up a puppy, including training, toileting, and related topics. The other was about the Bichon Frise breed. This included information on bathing them, trimming their coat, and managing other grooming needs.

Despite this, I came up against problems as she grew from the nine-week-old fluffy bundle I brought home.

Separation anxiety was a big one. Bichons are more prone to this, and since I worked from home, she was never on her own all day. Even today, she much prefers coming with me whenever I go out, but I can leave her alone for a while.

There are lots of resources you can seek out if you experience any issues with your dog, such as:

  • Training manuals
  • Websites
  • Your vet
  • Dog trainers
  • Puppy classes
  • Online videos

Oftentimes, regret about getting a dog or puppy stems from a problem you’re having with them. If you can resolve that problem, your regrets should disappear.

Some problems are temporary, such as training them to ‘go potty’ and needing to get up to take them outside during the night. Keep this in mind before you get a puppy.

Remember – if you are prepared and you know what’s in store, you’ll fare much better.


Consider the Financial Aspect

Always, always, always get your dog or puppy insured. I cannot recommend this enough. Veterinarian bills can be stratospheric. Get the best cover you can afford.

Research the cost before you adopt a rescue or bring home a puppy. Purebred dogs are more expensive to insure.

Also consider the ongoing cost of food, vaccinations, and grooming if necessary (Freya goes every six weeks otherwise she looks like a floor mop). You should also consider whether you can afford to pay for dog training if you need it.

You are more likely to regret getting a dog if you get caught up thinking about the positive side and don’t consider the costs.


Bottom Line? Prepare as Much as You Can

You can never be 100% certain that getting a dog or pup is going to be the best decision you ever made. Most pup parents are delighted they got a puppy. And yet most will also tell you there were moments when doubts crept in.

Be prepared for this. Even if you’ve had a dog before, all dogs and breeds are different. If the first one was a breeze to look after and train, it doesn’t mean your next one will be!

I cannot imagine my life without Freya now. I love the commitment to regular grooming. During lockdown amid the COVID-19 crisis, the groomer closed and that meant I had to take over. Clippers, claw clipping, and regular baths all became my responsibility.

Yes, I was nervous (Freya was too). But I stuck with it and learned on the job. I did my research on how to safely clip claws. I read my book on how to clip a Bichon. She didn’t get a salon cut, but she looks okay. I’m getting better… so much so, I’ve stuck to home grooming now.

Adopting a puppy or dog throws you into unfamiliar territory. It’s territory you can learn to enjoy and become familiar with if you prepare, though.

And if you’re prepared for setbacks and doubts along the way, the whole ride might just be smoother than you think.


Writer: Allison Whitehead

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