9 Tips For What To Expect During Your Dog's First Year, According To Reddit

Cindy Ord/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If you're a new pet parent, and you've adopted a sweet little puppy, it's totally normal to feel like you're in over your head. When I got my first puppy, I learned that puppies are like babies that can run, jump, bite, and don't wear a diaper. Luckily, that phase doesn't last forever. If you need some moral support, knowing what to expect from your dog's first year, according to these Reddit posts, can help.

Puppies can be exhausting. In fact, I have a friend who adopted a puppy and had a baby at the same time. She said caring for the puppy was much more stressful than caring for her newborn daughter. You know, because the newborn human doesn't run amok and poop on the floor every few minutes. Yep, one thing you might not be prepared for is how much your new dog has to go to the bathroom.

"[Your puppy is] still too small to 'hold it' for long, so hourly potty breaks are best, and consistent positive reinforcement when she goes outside. It’s no use reprimanding a puppy for eliminating indoors; remember, she only just started going to the bathroom on her own (her mom was helping up until a couple weeks ago), and it will be several weeks before she has consistent bladder control," animal advocate Elisabeth Geier wrote for the dog website The good news is that your pup will eventually master the whole potty thing, but there will be more challenges to navigate. Here's what to expect from your dog's first year, according to Reddit.


It's Going To Be More Work Than You Expect

Puppies, and even older dogs adopted from the shelter, are going to be a lot more work than you expect during the first year. "It's the same as having a child. It needs to be fed, cleaned up after, medically cared for, and trained — no matter what age, breed, or size," Reddit user AlfredsDad said. "It's going to take up a lot of your time, especially a puppy. Some breeds require a lot of human activity to stay occupied and happy. Some dogs need to run with their human every day." Obviously, it's not really the same as having a child for many reasons, but you're still going to need to be prepared to put in a lot of work.


You're Going To Have To Exercise Patience

Your dog has its own personality, and might engage in some behaviors that drive you bananas. "There will be some problem that you did not expect so you need to be ready to deal with the unexpected. It may be barking, digging, chewing or something unique that your little buddy comes up with ... gotta take the bad with the good. You CAN change their behavior or divert that negative energy. It just takes a bit of time and energy," Reddit user beaniececil said.


Your Dog Will Look To You For Leadership

It's extremely important to develop a positive relationship with your dog by establishing yourself as the pack leader. Your dog will look to you for leadership and how to behave, and if you don't provide guidance, your dog will make its own rules. That's not good for anyone. "Be your dog's role model. Your dog will read your reactions to situations. If you struggle with certain things, use this as a time to tackle those negative reactions, because your pup depends on you," Reddit user stbarric noted.

Reddit user bxball offered similar advice: "Your dog will feed off of your energy whether you realize it or not so freaking out over nothing will in turn get the dog freaked out. A calm, firm tone will deescalate a situation before yelling will."


The Sleep Deprivation Is Real

Similar to having a new baby, puppies don't sleep through the night. This means that you're going to be hella tired your first few months as a new pup parent. "You have to take the puppy out to potty a couple times per night, and that obviously disrupts sleep. One thing to help with that is to go to bed earlier. I know that it is really tempting to stay up after the puppy crashes in order to get some quiet time, but your mental health is better served by getting more sleep," Reddit user Zootrainer said.


You Might Worry You're Failing

While there's a lot of good advice out there, every dog is different and they don't come with individual manuals. It's totally normal to worry you're not succeeding at parenting your pup. "It is a scary time, worrying that you're going to mess your little dude up. You're doing your best, and puppies are resilient," Reddit user teaandtalk said.


You Might Question Whether Or Not You're Cut Out To Be A Pup Parent

A common theme on Reddit is people questioning whether or not they've gotten in over their heads. Puppies are a lot of work. However, most people stuck with it and realized that just like the terrible twos, puppy hood doesn't last forever. People report everything from sleep deprivation to full-on crying jags. It's all totally normal.

"Just wanted to say, for me, during those harder days when I'd have spent the morning crying and wondering if I should rehome [my dog], I would start to look through all the pictures I'd taken. Seeing my dog when she was a bub on her first bed, then seeing when the bed disappeared beneath her, it always made me smile and realize that everything we had gone through together, it had made us stronger and gave me the encouragement to wipe those tears, take her for a walk and just relax, enjoy the fresh air and the adorable strut she had," Reddit user Flicksterea revealed.


Dogs Are Expensive

Before you add a dog to your family, make sure you can afford it. Aside from vet visits, food, toys, training classes, etc., you'll also need to be prepared for the unexpected. My dog was diagnosed with a chronic disease when she was 3, and it's cost me a lot of money. She's worth every cent, but it's a good idea to know what you might be in for ahead of time.

"My dogs cost me too much, on the other hand they never complain, are always happy to see me, and make scary sounds that get the burglars to go find an easier house to break in [to]," Reddit user dwinps said. "Big bag of kibble once a month $50-60, toys and treats $10/mo, Dr visits $200/yr if nothing goes wrong (routine, vaccinations, ..), sky is the limit if they are seriously hurt or ill. Throw in an extra $100/yr to replace bedding, leashes, food dishes, etc. from time to time (not that you will replace a leash every year ...)."

Another Reddit user said: "The cost. OMG the cost. Teeth cleaning, which is a yearly thing, is at least $200. The emergency vet visit I had to make because she somehow got into ibuprofen was $1,000. She had surgery on her knee which was $3,500, then two yrs later another surgery that was $2,000. Grooming is $50 every six weeks. When I rented, I had to drop a $500 pet fee and another $25/month on pet rent. Dog walker is about $300/month. There is nothing cheap about having a dog."


A Tired Dog Is A Happy Dog

Dogs, especially puppies, have a lot of energy. Even if you have a fenced-in yard, your dog is going to need plenty of exercise. This means a few walks a day, trips to the dog park, and a good amount of play time. "First, please be able to give your dog at least one hour (depending on the breed, it will vary either way) of exercise time per day. They are energetic little buggers and really enjoy walking," one Reddit user recommended.

"I know we come home from work and/or school and all we want to do is crash into bed, but your little pup is going to want exercise time. If you can't afford to exercise them, have someone else do it and/or consider hiring a reputable dog walker. Also, please spend time with them. They are excited to see you. Toss a ball, do some tricks, or cuddle up into their soft fur."


You're Going To Fall In Love With Your Dog

I love my dog so much, and I miss her terribly when we are apart. Even though your dog might be frustrating AF at times — did she really just barf on the couch again? — you will love your pup more than you ever imagined. "I would say after the first year my pup finally became the lover that I'd wished she was, and she just keeps getting better. You can make it, getting through the puppy phase is a right of passage for dog ownership. Once you make it through that, you can make it through anything! You can do it!! It's worth it! I can't imagine life without my pup now," Reddit user choleramouth said.

Reddit user roosking gushed: "He is the light of my life. I love his floppy ears, his dumb eyebrows, and his droopy lips. I love how he howls at the ceiling when I come home, and when anyone else in my family comes home, too. I love how he buries his head into me to get me to pet him. I love how he rests his head on my lap and shoulder. I love how he licks people softly. I love how he is obsessed with being underneath blankets and makes himself a cave under my covers every night, sleeping at my feet ... I know that he's going to die one day, and that makes me very sad. But I don't think about that now. I'm just so glad that he's my dog, and that I get the chance to experience his life with him." I'm not crying, you're crying! OK, I'm totally crying. Because dogs.