7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got the Puppy (Plus Pumpkin Dog Treat Recipe)

The day Chris and I picked up puppy Calvin (he was 8 weeks old and weighed in at a heartbreakingly miniature 4 pounds), we felt prepared.

We’d had our yard completely fenced in. We’d bought the dog food, the crate, the chew toys.  We thought we’d thought of everything.

About one week in, we realized there was a lot we hadn’t considered.

Now that Calvin is eight months, I thought some readers may appreciate learning from some of the little surprises Calvin has thrown our way:

1.) You’ll Be The Shadow

I thought it was the puppy that was the loyal shadow, trotting faithfully at your feet as you move from room to room.

Doesn’t quite work that way.

Here’s why: during the course of the two minutes you turn your attention to making a phone call or fixing a snack, your puppy has time to knock over a houseplant, rip a pillow to pieces, and have an accident in the hallway.

Until puppy is fully housebroken (which can take several weeks, by the way) count on becoming his 24/7 devoted shadow.

 2.) You’ll Be Gifted With Plenty of Fresh Air

If you spend the majority of your day glued to one type of screen or another, be prepared for a minor life change when you get a puppy.  Because in addition to 20+ outdoor trips per day during housebreaking, puppy has a few hours worth of boundless energy to burn daily.

This is actually wonderful when the puppy is your reason for getting outside for a walk on beautiful, crisp, early fall afternoon.

Not so great when it’s 10:30 pm, cold, raining, and you’re just waiting for him to go to the bathroom please so everyone can go to bed.

3.) …As Well As Plenty of Guilt

I no longer remember the feeling of stepping outside my door without a slight pang of guilt.

Because a sweet puppy with sad puppy dog eyes is clearly not happy to be left behind.

Chris and I used to stay in the city for dinner after work once in a while.

Those days are long gone.

We now hurry home every day because we know Calvin has been cooped up inside and he needs company and time to get outside and play.

4.) You’ll Become A Vacuuming Pro

Take the time you currently spend cleaning and multiply that by 5 to anticipate your new life with a dog.  Because not only do they shed like crazy, they also have a knack for redistributing the dust and dirt from their paws and coat all over your floors and furniture.

Accept that, along with your dog, your vacuum will be your other new best friend.

5.) You’ll Spend a Small Fortune

Chris and I never intended to spend a small fortune on a dog, but it definitely happened to us.

Here’s how: toys, replacement toys for the ones he chewed apart, and replacement toys for those too, vet bills, obedience classes, dog bed, second dog bed to replace the one he chewed, dog walker for days we’re at work, fence to keep him in the yard, baby gates to keep him out of the living and dining rooms, dog groomer to trim his nails…

…and that’s just part of the list.  It all adds up very quickly.

6.) You’ll Laugh Out Loud – Often

A typical evening scene in our rec room these days: Calvin becomes overtired and, instead of laying down for a nap, he “snaps” and starts sprinting around the living room at full tilt, literally bouncing off the back of the couch, ears pressed flat out behind him with the speed.

The show he puts on is more entertaining than anything on TV.

The other day, he grabbed a shoe box and went prancing off, head in the air like he’d just been crowned king.  Then the box flapped up, covering his eyes, causing him to stumble, almost fall, and careen full-speed into the couch (he was okay).

If you need more laughter in your life, I’m convinced a puppy is your best cure.

Because Calvin’s antics have kept Chris and I cracking up daily since the day we brought him home.

7.) You’ll Realize You’d Do It All Over Again

I may be exhausted from a day of cleaning (please see #4 above) and in need of a shower from an afternoon of throwing tennis balls and sticks (see #2).

And then Calvin will look up at me with his big beautiful eyes and I’ll scoop him up and feel his little heartbeat, his soft warm ears tickling my face.

And I remember that there’s not much better than the feeling of your heart completely melting.

Would I do it all over again if I knew everything then that I know now?

No question.

And A Bonus #8: You’ll Find Yourself In The Kitchen, Spoiling Your Puppy Rotten With Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats

This recipe for homemade dog treats, with healthy pumpkin, may come in handy when you completely cave to big puppy dog eyes.

(Yes, these are Calvin approved – he loves these!)

Here’s the recipe for Easy Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats:

Easy Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats
Recipe type: Homemade Dog Treat
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Yield: 25 small treats
  • 4 tablespoons 100% pure pumpkin purΓ©e
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or rye flour or brown rice flour)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Knead dough on a well-floured surface and, with a floured rolling pin, roll out to about one quarter inch thick.
  4. Cut treats with a cookie cutter and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until treats are firm to the touch.
  6. Before freezing or storing, allow cookies to cool and harden, about 50 minutes.

Always consult your veterinarian before introducing any new ingredients into your pet’s diet.


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  1. Sam
    November 7, 2012 / 9:53 am

    So true, Jen! Great post!

  2. November 7, 2012 / 10:03 am

    Too cute and what a handful of a beagle! Literally like raising another child alright lol!

  3. simplyfreshcooking
    November 7, 2012 / 10:08 am

    Awwww, I love this post! I’ve considered getting a puppy, but I’m just not sure I’m up for it. Your baby is sooo adorable I can’t even stand it!! Double AWWWWWWWW!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  4. November 7, 2012 / 11:20 am

    Beautifully written and so true.

  5. November 7, 2012 / 12:33 pm

    Yay!! A dog biscuit recipe! Ours is 16 and still acts like a puppy.. he’s brought so much joy to our family! He deserves a batch of homemade cookies!

  6. November 7, 2012 / 1:17 pm

    Awwwww, Calvin is just the cutest! And this post is so informative! Jason and I plan on getting a puppy sometime in the near future so I will be referring back to this soon πŸ™‚

  7. November 7, 2012 / 2:26 pm

    What a gorgeous post, all the work definitely is worth it in the end πŸ™‚

    Choc Chip Uru

  8. November 7, 2012 / 4:50 pm

    Awww what a sweet (and funny :P) post! And what a cuuuute puppy! Is he a beagle? I had a beagle growing up and I love them πŸ™‚

  9. November 7, 2012 / 5:19 pm

    Loved this post and every word is so true and yet so funny. Thanks for a good laugh!

  10. November 7, 2012 / 6:54 pm

    I’ve have been second mother to soooooo many animals, between those my children brought home and those I did. Calvin looks like a lovable handful. For the most part my animals have always brought comedy and joy along with their poor bathroom habits and consumption of enormous bags of food and an occasional couch arm or door frame. Beagles, I believe he might be one, are so smart and often comical. Looks like fun.

  11. November 7, 2012 / 8:22 pm

    They are truly like children. Mine are my furry babies. One is now 12 and the other is about 8. I’ve had them both from when they were just about 10 weeks old. They may be feline, but I love them dearly. Calvin is too precious in his photos and he obviously loves his human mom and dad! Thanks for updating us on his growth. Love it every time!

  12. Eha
    November 7, 2012 / 10:18 pm

    Sheesh: been there, done that and not had such a wonderful collection of photos to show for it!! Have posted too much today, but hope you do not mind this going out to a lot of my friends a day or two late πŸ™‚ ?

  13. November 7, 2012 / 11:03 pm

    Oh how I can relate to this list! But I agree, somehow it’s all worth it in the end. πŸ™‚ Bella would love these treats – I”ll make her a batch once my anger (from her eating ANOTHER one of my shoes AND chewing a hole in my duvet cover – what the?) has dissipated. πŸ˜‰

  14. November 8, 2012 / 7:32 am

    Jen, thanks for this post … he are still the most adorable puppy I know … and it’s so true what you have pointed out here – things that as dog owner becomes very quickly aware of. Fresh air – plenty of it in all shapes and forms.
    My favorite photo (they are so wonderful all of them) is Calvin waiting by the gate.
    He still looks still like a small puppy even if he has grown. Have been waiting so for this post – thanks a million, Jen. What a big personality in a small dog.

  15. November 8, 2012 / 9:40 am

    Awww Calvin is the sweetest little pup! Those pics are too cute πŸ™‚ Haha and I can totally relate to that list – I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I bought my puppy, love her death… even if she still pees all over my carpet.

  16. November 8, 2012 / 11:14 pm

    Calvin is such a cute puppy. I don’t have a dog, but I can imagine it is a lot of work.

  17. mjskit
    November 9, 2012 / 12:12 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been waiting for another Calvin post! He’s still the cutest thing in the world!!!! I bet the guilt feeling when you head out the door without him is enormous!!! What a funny post and it made me realize that kittens/cats are SO much easier than puppies/dogs – but darn – I would hesitate to take home a Calvin! πŸ™‚

  18. November 9, 2012 / 9:58 am

    Great post and great tips! With a face like that, who wouldn’t melt and do it all over?? He’s so adorable, and it looks so sweet and cuddly! Have a great weekend and have fun with Calvin! πŸ™‚

  19. November 10, 2012 / 2:15 pm

    OH MY GOSH this post melted my heart!! SUch an amazingly adorable dog my goodness!! These tips are amazing, and I am sure they are SO spot on. I spend an hour with a puppy and I am burned out!

  20. November 10, 2012 / 7:58 pm

    I know how your feeling ,we’ve been through it. Now going through it for the fourth time. We have one that is 7 now but he was 2 he chewed up our leather couch two cell phones, two remote controls. I don’t remember what else. He was a hand full. He just showed up at our motor home when he was two months old. We love him a lot. In fact all of our dogs have been rescued dogs including this one that showed up two weeks ago. Boy is she a hand full.

  21. November 11, 2012 / 1:46 am

    what a well written post, Jen. I have wanted a King Cavalier for so long, but I’m scared of the work involved. Recently, my sister and brother-in-law had bought a dog and after 6 months could not handle the work. The dog was so cute, but ripped everything, it was a puppy. I give you so much credit and so many others for being able to handle it. It’s a good way to prep for a baby, get a dog, which is apparently a LOT less work. πŸ™‚
    btw.. Calvin is just adorable. Beautiful eyes.

  22. November 11, 2012 / 7:01 pm

    I just want to smush his face around! He’s SO cute!

    And if you think vacuuming after 1 dog is a nightmare, try having three dogs and carpeted floors. I long for the days when we had hardwood floors and all I had to do was sweep up the mounds of dog hair. Now I have to vacuum twice a week.

    But it IS so worth it.

  23. November 13, 2012 / 3:02 pm

    I miss spoke. I meant to say that he grew out of destroying everything by the time he was two. The new puppy made a total mess of our place, Sunday while we were out to lunch. A whole box of Kleenex and a bag of dog food strewn all over the place. We thought we had doggy proofed everything.
    Thanks for the like on Veteran’s ay

  24. November 14, 2012 / 1:54 pm

    He is so cute… and your amazing at photography, love the snap shots of him!

  25. March 19, 2013 / 3:18 pm

    Very nice post! Calvin’s eyes are so big and beautifull. Puppy is amazing)

  26. May 15, 2013 / 1:01 pm

    This definitely hits home! I got a new puppy recently too and wrote about it on my blog (http://newyorknotebook.net/2013/04/08/023-pecan/).
    Couldn’t agree more about the entertaining shows they put on (esp. during the evenings when it’s hyper time)

  27. Joanna
    October 24, 2013 / 6:56 am

    Thank you so much for this post. My Fiance and I are thinking of buying a dog, and we thought we had already prepared so much i.e who takes care of him when we are at work, what time I will have to get up to take him out, who can be home when and how patient we will have to be with our puppy. And even though reading this list makes me think ‘Oh Dear, didn’t think about the money, and didn’t give to much thought into the destruction of our home’ I can still sense how worth it, it will all be in the end πŸ™‚

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      October 24, 2013 / 10:02 am

      It’s very worth the first several months of work – – Calvin is now a year and a half and is so sweet, cuddly, and well-behaved (most of the time)! πŸ™‚

  28. May 4, 2016 / 2:08 am

    I agree with you that before buying a puppy we have to know many things related with this. We have to know about the food, medicine, recreation etc. for the puppy before having it. Thank you for sharing such a nice post with details.

  29. Ivy
    September 28, 2016 / 11:56 am

    I have a 5 month old springer spaniel and everything you said in your post is spot on! The first 8 weeks after Ruby came home are a blur. I cried, laughed and wondered what the heck I’d gotten myself into while cuddling and kissing her warm, soft nose. We survived housebreaking, purchasing multiple beds, toys and more rolls of toilet paper than I care to think of (apparently, it’s the high point of fun to shred toilet paper!). I’m exhausted and broke but love, love, love my little bundle of craziness.

    • Jen @ Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      September 29, 2016 / 2:44 pm

      So true! Getting a new puppy is a bit like bringing home a new baby. Be prepared for plenty of mess and exhaustion (and also so much love)! Thanks so much for your note πŸ™‚

  30. February 12, 2020 / 5:20 am

    He is gorgeous! I love Beagles but have an American Bully myself. Thanks for the recipe, I’ll definitely give it a try.

  31. September 4, 2020 / 11:05 am

    Calvin is such a cutie pie πŸ˜€πŸΆ!!! Sounds like you love Calvin with all your heart! And vice versa. That’s the way it should be! Thanks for sharing your recipes πŸ˜€.


    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      September 4, 2020 / 12:23 pm

      Yes it’s a beautiful relationship: we bring the treats and Cal brings the cuteπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ’• Thanks so much for your sweet note!

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