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Puppy Blues – When You Regret Getting A Puppy or Dog

It’s normal to second guess yourself and regret getting a puppy or dog. It’s a lot of change!

The initial excitement wears off after a few days and you’re like … what the hell have I done? I can’t do this!

I went through those emotions with our puppy Remy. He was a very good puppy but it’s just the stress of normal puppy training + lack of sleep + loss of freedom + trying to manage my senior dog’s health issues & some resource guarding. Plus Remy can be a very wild puppy!

Second thoughts about getting a puppy

I told my husband Josh I wouldn’t get a puppy if I could go back in time. That’s an awful thing to say but I underestimated the amount of work and stress a puppy and a senior dog would be together.

It’s nothing to do with Remy, really, it’s about having a second dog in general right now. (And right now a dozen people are thinking, yeah, coulda told you so!)

But … as with most people I’m 100 percent committed to both dogs and making this work. I wanted a running buddy. I wanted a dog who can go hiking and to the beach and to training classes. Remy is exactly what I wanted. He’s an awesome dog!

It’s just that life never goes as smoothly as you imagine. It’s actually pretty common to regret getting a puppy.

*If you just got a new puppy, download my free puppy training guide. Click Here

Is it normal to regret getting a puppy?

Yep, it’s fairly normal to regret getting a puppy or dog. You’re not a bad person!

If you’ve recently added a new dog or puppy to your family and you’re wondering if you’ve made a mistake, just know that others go through the same feelings.

At least I have and I’m an experienced dog person whose life pretty much revolves around dogs! I knew what I was getting myself into and I STILL have regrets.

You make adjustments, you get creative, you work through the problems.

I recommend you do this if you’re having second thoughts about your puppy:

  • Make sure to set aside time for yourself away from the puppy for a few hours a day
  • Get help with dog care whether it’s hiring a dog walker, hiring a dog trainer or taking the pup to dog daycare a few times a week
  • Recruit other family members to take on more puppy tasks or ask friends for help at times
  • Get control of serious problems early
  • Invest in dog training…invest in dog training…invest in dog training!

What else would you add to this list?

If you got a puppy and now you truly don’t want it

It happens. See my post on Returning a rescue or shelter dog for some support. You are not alone. That post gets new comments every week.

The bottom line: Only you know if it is truly in the best interest to re-home or return your puppy. You may have to swallow your pride. Just know that it’s OK. Don’t feel too bad. These things happen.

Sometimes the puppy is the wrong match. This particular puppy or dog may not be right for you, and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with the puppy and there’s nothing wrong with you.

Sometimes the dog has issues you just can’t deal with. It’s not your fault.

For example, the dog has some serious separation anxiety and can’t be left alone. Maybe he’s aggressive to your other dog or to your kids. I had to return a dog I planned to adopt because of her serious prey drive around my cat. It was very sad and hard to return her.

And probably the hardest of all …

Sometimes it really is YOU. You made the mistake of getting a puppy when you truly weren’t ready. You thought you were ready but now you regret getting the puppy. That’s OK.

Remember, puppies get adopted easily and they adapt easily. Just be honest with yourself and the place you got your puppy from. If you feel you need to return the puppy, it will be OK. A puppy will get adopted almost immediately.

I can’t tell anyone what to do, but despite the stigma out there with returning or “giving up” a dog, it’s not smart to just put up with a puppy for the next 10+ years if he’s causing you, your family or your other pets that much stress or even danger.

This is not a good situation for you or your family, and it’s not a good situation for the puppy, either. The puppy deserves to go to a home where he can be truly loved and a valued family member.

What I’m trying to say is second guessing yourself about adding a new dog is normal. Usually any “doubts” are just growing pains you can work through.

But if you truly need to re-home or return your puppy, that is OK too.

*If you’re enjoying this article, I’d love to send you other helpful puppy tips in my weekly newsletter. Click Here

When you regret getting a dog or puppy

Will breeders take a puppy back?

With a few exceptions, most responsible breeders will almost always take a puppy back if it’s not working out. In fact, you probably signed a contract saying you WOULD return the puppy to the breeder vs. taking the puppy to a shelter or rescue group.

So, if you’re sure you’ve made a mistake, the first step is to contact the breeder, rescue or shelter where you originally got the puppy and talk to them about your options.

Just know that in almost all cases, there will not be a refund. This was most likely spelled out clearly in a contract you signed.

If you adopted your puppy directly from their original owner, and it was not a good situation for the puppy, then you’ll have to take some steps to find the puppy a new home yourself.

Will shelters and rescues take a puppy back?

Most shelters and rescues will also take a puppy or older dog back unless they’re hopelessly crowded.

They do this for the same reason reputable breeders do – they have the puppy’s or dog’s best interest at heart and truly want to find them their forever home. They understand that not all matches work out.

Here’s an example for you. Barbara adopted her dog Wally, a Feist mix, from a rescue organization when he was about 1 year old. He had been dropped off and then returned to that rescue two times already!

Barbara with her adopted pup Wally

As a matter of fact, Barbara had to sign a contract that stated she would return Wally (formerly Pablo) to the rescue if she could no longer care for him. See below!

Dog adoption contract

That being said, both shelters and rescues tend to be crowded and would really prefer not to have to take a dog back. That’s particularly true for rural shelters.

In high kill shelters, this is truly a problem because once they’re full, their staff may euthanize dogs or cats in order to make room for more.

One potential way to help in this situation is to volunteer to continue fostering the puppy or dog until a new adopter is found.

You could also put some sort of time limit on this such as two weeks or a month or whatever you are comfortable with. Luckily, most puppies are adopted pretty fast these days.

FYI: Neither breeders nor shelters or rescues will refund your puppy’s purchase price or adoption fee, which is understandable and fair enough.

Depression after getting a puppy

I know I keep repeating this, but it is fairly normal to feel depressed after adopting a puppy. So, to help you determine if this is something you can work through, here are 11 common reasons people regret getting a puppy.

Many of these issues will pass as the puppy gets a little more mature and you work through training.

1. Puppies are a lot of work.

There’s just no sugarcoating it – puppies bring a whole new dynamic into your life that translates into a lot of work!

2. Sleep loss when you have a new puppy.

You’ll be experiencing a lack of sleep until the puppy is about 5-6 months old and fully house trained.

Juggling a household, your family, work AND a puppy is more than a full-time job. It can be truly exhausting.

3. You’re cleaning up after your puppy all the time.

It takes a while until puppies are housebroken. In the meantime, you’ll be doing a lot of cleaning up after them. It’s no wonder so many of us regret getting a puppy while we’re in the middle of cleaning up poop for the third time that day.

4. Your puppy is destroying your stuff.

You can minimize puppy destruction by offering puppy-specific chews and toys. Also, make sure your stuff is put up and not within the puppy’s reach. However, it’s highly unlikely that your puppy won’t get a hold of at least a few of your belongings.

*If you’re enjoying this article, I’d love to send you other helpful puppy tips in my weekly newsletter. Click Here

When you regret getting a puppy

5. Your other pets appear unhappy about the new puppy.

Your resident pets might not share your enthusiasm about the new puppy addition to their family. They may be older and not appreciate the crazy puppy energy, or they might be jealous. Yep, that’s actually a thing, pets do get jealous!

6. Your spouse or children regret getting the puppy.

All human family members should be on the same page when you bring a puppy home. If they’re not, the puppy is bound to cause arguments and someone might regret getting the puppy.

7. You’re the one doing all the work.

If you don’t have family or friends to help you out with your puppy, you might get burnt out! It’s a lot to have to do everything puppy-related yourself.

8. Your puppy is sick & vet bills are high.

The cost of having a puppy extends beyond the initial adoption or breeder fee.

Besides food, beds, leashes, collars and toys, there’s always vet costs. It’s important to factor those costs into your budget, whether that’s in form of a puppy savings account for medical expenses or dog insurance.

9. You feel like you have no support from the rescue or breeder.

Sometimes, rescues and breeders are overwhelmed with all their work and may not have time or energy to offer you any support.

10. Your routine and work are disrupted by the puppy.

That puppy dynamic mentioned earlier is going to disrupt your daily routine. This can extend into your work routine if you’re used to pulling home office shifts and need quiet time to be productive.

11. You have no free time left because of this puppy.

Puppies don’t have an on/off button and require the same amount of attention every.single.day. That includes weekends and holidays as well as early mornings and late nights.

*If you’re enjoying this article, I’d love to send you other helpful puppy tips in my weekly newsletter. Click Here

When does a puppy get easier?

Well, young dogs are a lot of work too because they’re bigger and have a lot of energy. But the good news is that there ARE solutions for the puppy blues! Read on to find out what you can do to make things better.

Get help & support with your puppy

Nothing beats a reliable support system for those times when you need a helping hand with your puppy or dog! There are many different options, such as:

  • A dog trainer. Get professional help with your puppy from the get-go. This will be money well invested, even if it’s just a puppy kindergarten class and basic obedience.
  • Doggie daycare. This is a place where dogs have supervised playtime in groups. You can drop your pup off for a full day or just for a few hours, depending on your schedule. The nice side effect is that your pup will likely be tired into the next day from all the running around and playing with other dogs.
  • Dog walker/Pet sitter. They come to your home to pick your pup up for a walk and/or to watch him when you’re busy or out of town. Professional dog walkers and pet sitters carry liability insurance and will make you sign a contract before any services begin.
  • Friends/Family/Neighbors. This option is the most inexpensive one, but you should always offer a little something in return for them watching your pup. That’s just the right thing to do. You could gift a bottle of wine, make a homemade meal, or barter pet care!

Have an honest discussion with your family – does anyone else regret getting the dog?

If you and your family or roommate were on the same page before adopting the puppy or older dog, but now you’re stuck doing all the work – have an honest discussion with them.

Try to come up with a puppy care schedule that involves everyone. For example, you’re in charge of walking and feeding the pup in the mornings, and your partner or roommate will do the same in the evenings, or vice versa.

If you’re both busy midday, you could hire a professional dog walker or ask the neighbor if they could give the pup a (potty) break.

It’s a little trickier if you and your family or roommate weren’t on the same page. If they brought the pup home without your consent, they’re clearly the ones responsible for the pup.

If you brought the pup home without talking it through with them, it’s on you. Either way, you ultimately may have to return the pup if you can’t get on the same page.

Remember why you wanted the dog or puppy in the first place

So as pointed out before, life with a puppy or any newly adopted, older dog can and likely WILL be challenging for a while. When you have your moments of doubt, remember why you wanted to bring a dog into your life in the first place.

Maybe you wanted a hiking or running buddy, or a partner for road trips. Or maybe you were looking for a daily walking partner to accompany you on your weight loss journey.

Either way, puppies do grow up and adopted older dogs will adapt well to a new home. It’s just going to take some time, so remember to have some patience and look forward to the activities you were envisioning with them.

If things truly don’t work out with your new pup, they will be OK if you decide to return or re-home them, so don’t stress yourself out about that option too much.

Have any of you experienced “puppy blues”?

Did you regret getting a puppy or dog in the past? Let us know your experience in the comments below.

If you’re going through this right now, I am sorry to hear that. I know it is a difficult spot to be in.

*If you just got a new puppy, download my free puppy training guide. Click Here

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Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

Barbara Rivers contributed to this article. She writes regularly for That Mutt and is a blogger, raw feeder and dog walker. She maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

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