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Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting A Puppy

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Dogs have been labeled “woman’s best friend,” and here are a few things I wish I knew before getting a dog as a cat person. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely been thinking about getting a dog and are researching things you wish you knew before getting a puppy.

A dog will be a completely different game than what you’re used to, especially if you’re a cat person. They can even appear to be a scary, slobbering menace. However, dogs can make excellent pets, especially when it comes to companionship, travel companionship, emotional support animal, and, most importantly, service animal.

Here’s What I Wish I Knew Before Getting A Dog

I just got a puppy a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still learning how to care for a dog. As a cat person, I never thought I’d have a dog in my life, but here I am – and you’re probably in the same boat. I’m still figuring things out, and if I had to list some of the things I wish I knew before getting a dog, these are the ones I’d like to share with you.

Among The Things I Wish I knew The Most, It’s To Protect your Nipples And Ding Dong At All Costs

No matter how adorable and playful your puppy is, if you have boobs or a dick, you will not want to play with your puppy without protection. Before you think I’m crazy or weird and want to leave, consider this: you take off your bra in the evening and put on an oversized T-shirt – normal shit. Or, after a long day at work and a shower, you just put some basketball shorts on without boxers – again, normal shit. 

I wish I could make this up, but I painfully regret to say it happened more than once.

In the evening, you decide to have another round of playing with your puppy, possibly even some gentle wrestling. You’ll quickly realize that anything hanging is fair game for your puppy, whether you’re laying down and the pup is playing next to you, or you’re in front of him and playing.

I had some painful experiences thinking I could just throw on some PJs and play with my puppy – never again without a bra.

TMI: After having them pierced (one of the worst pains in the world, in my opinion), this was a completely new and different pain that came close to it.

Either way, as a cat person, keep in mind that puppies will be teething and mouthy for the first couple of months (up until like 7ish months). During this time, your puppy will want to chew and bite excessively, simply because they’re having fun and think it’s ok. Depending on when you adopted your puppy, they may have not had proper socialization and don’t know when to stop.

cute golden retriever puppy on things I wish I knew before getting a puppy

Photo: Novah Golden Retriever Puppy by Anna Dykeman I Tatted Nomad

Start training your puppy early

Potty Training

When you get a cat, they usually automatically know where to go to pee and poop..however, with a dog, not so much. They will go wherever and whenever they want. Potty training has been one of my biggest challenges with my puppy as I can deal with most other things – but if my apartment smells like pee, I’m out. Thankfully, my apartment has tiles everywhere; otherwise, this would be an even bigger mess. If you’re reading this, you may either be thinking about getting a puppy or already have one, and you’re just frustrated.

Pee Pads

Naturally, this is what people will tell you to do. So, of course, I tried it as well. Here’s what I did:

Place multiple pee pads around the area (I think I had every 3-4 feet a pee pad). This may sound excessive, but they’re more likely to pee on it.

Whenever you see your puppy pee, interrupt them, and place them on top of the pee pad – praise them hard. I’m talking as if they just won the world record in something type of hard.

This method took me about 1.5 months of consistent daily work. 

Over time I removed pee pads, and now I’m down to like 3 in the living room and one in the bedroom. I’d say my puppy has like 1 accident every 1-2 days if he can’t hold it long enough for the next walk (he’s 3.5 months old). 

Under no circumstances should you punish your puppy to pee or pooping at home; that will just decrease their confidence and make them hide to do it.

Taking your puppy outside frequently 

Obviously, this only works if you’re working from home and are flexible. In my case, I tried going outside every 1-2 hours at first to try to get him used to the thought of, “Oh hey, I can hold it because we will go outside pretty soon.”

This method, combined with the pee pads, worked best. 

I will make a separate article with things that have worked for me specifically for potty training – it was hard, and I had to use several different techniques. He’s 4 months now, and we are close.

dog rides with puppy travel early tatted nomad . com

Photo: Novah Golden Retriever Puppy by Anna Dykeman I Tatted Nomad

Etiquette and Basic Obedience

Dogs are excellent companions; they are loyal and always happy to see us. However, there are a few things that new dog owners should know before getting a dog. It’s never too early to start training your puppy – I started as early as 8 weeks, literally the week I adopted Novah.

You can either go to a dog trainer locally or one at Petco. I chose Petco because private ones are usually much more expensive. Nonetheless, since my puppy had his first puppy vaccine rounds, I didn’t want to risk him getting infected and chose the private lessons. At the time, Petco ran a 20% off special, making it $235ish for 6 private 1:1 lessons. 

They are like sponges during the first few weeks and will take everything in – perfect timing to start teaching your dog sit, down, stay, and leave it. Of course, not all at once, but one thing after another.

Something I didn’t think as a cat person was that dogs (while they’re smart eventually) they’re pretty dumb at the beginning. Training includes letting them figure it out on their own. I’m not sure about you, but I feel like my cats got a lot of things from the get-go, especially the potty training.

One of the most important things a cat person should know before getting a dog is that they require their own designated space, meaning places they can and can’t go. With this in mind, I began training him early on that he was not to be near my feet in the kitchen while I was cooking, which you can accomplish by simply body blocking them. This entails pushing them aside or keeping a safe distance from them without saying anything. They may become frustrated and try to push against your hand at first, but they will eventually sit/lay down and stay.

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One Of The Biggest Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting A Puppy Was The Patience I Would Need

Believe it or not, a dog’s mental health and confidence are incredibly vulnerable. It’s one of the reasons why hitting them is so frowned upon (aside from the fact that it’s just wrong in general). This is something I learned from my dog trainer. Dogs’ minds are highly fragile; something can frighten them once. They will associate something negative with it.

This also means that you need a lot of patience for your puppy as they’re learning.

Dogs, especially puppies, need the confidence to perform commands and tasks (especially for service dogs in training!) – if you hit them or punish them severely, you can take that confidence away, making it even harder for them.

While you may claim you’d never hit a puppy – believe me, when that little nugget bites your nipple or hand while playing, you’ll want to hit it out of reflex because it’ll bring out your inner gangster.

Instead, try positive and negative reinforcement, which I will go further in soon.

With puppies, you have to practice self-control and patience. Puppies are extremely stupid and will chew on anything – it is your responsibility to direct them to what they can and cannot chew. Don’t let your rage and feelings of “disrespect” get in the way of doing what’s right, aka “How dare he/she still chew on XYZ” – theyll test your boundaries, so redirect it to things he can chew on.

Here’s what’s going on in your dog’s mind:

Can I chew on this?” – “No

Ok, ok. Can I chew on this?” – “No

Alrighty, can I chew on this?” – “Ehhh, no


On The Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting A Puppy Was Also Him Liking To Eat Cat Poop

I am not going to lie, that this is probably the most disgusting thing about a having a dog. For the past few months, I’ve not only been fighting with him to eat cat poop, but also bird, and other dog poop. It’s been truly tough.

I believe it was the first week of having him and he was barely 8 weeks old. I was in the bathroom starting my day and getting ready, when he PROUDLY brings me a piece of cat poop. Oh boy. My good mood dropped and I was disgusted – after all, we let our puppies lick us? After this, I kept him as far away from my face as possible.

No more puppy kisses. 

Either way, I had to buy a different cat litter box that would prevent my puppy to continue getting to the cat poop. Here’s the cat litter box that I got and ended up loving more than the one before. If you’re a cat person and have a simple enclosed litter box with a clap in the front, do yourself a favor and get this one, so your pup won’t even get the taste of it *Gag*.

While the cat poop problem was fixed, I quickly discovered him having also a liking for poop in general to the point where he’d enjoy duck or dog poop as well. I read up online a lot and I wish I’d have known this before getting a puppy because then I may have either rethought my decision (I’m just kidding, mostly) or already bought vitamins prior. After much research, it seems that a lack of Vitamin D may make puppies and dog like to eat poop, while others may just like it as a snack in general *Again, gag*.

Here’s the vitamins that I bought and have seemed to have helped with this problem for Novah – this is simply my experience and not recommendation of it. For legal purposes, I’ve seen progress in my puppy and only sharing my personal review on here.

golden retriever puppy things I wish I knew before getting a puppy by Anna Dykeman

Photo: Novah Golden Retriever Puppy by Anna Dykeman I Tatted Nomad


Keep in mind that dogs will want attention – whether it’s from you or other dogs. I knew dogs need attention, but damn THEY NEED SO MUCH. As a cat person, I feel like I am used to having my cat(s) come to me for a while, get some pets and snuggles, and then leave again or fall asleep. 

Not with a puppy – Oh, no. They always want to play.

When I always say, I mean always. 

I started teaching Novah early on the commands “I need to work” and “Sleepy Time.”

Since I work from home, I need time for myself and time to work. So, when I’d say this phrase, I’d at the same time push him away and take my laptop on my lap. Over time, my laptop and this phrase became a cue for him to know that playtime was over and he needed to chill.

I had no idea how much time he would take away from me wanting to play constantly. Within the first 2 weeks of having the puppy, I bought a crate and a playing pen. The crate was in my bedroom, while the playing pen was in the living room to give me some time for myself, to work, and to just catch a breath.

Here’s the playing pen that I bought and used for over a month until he got too big. Choose a small or medium size depending on the size of your puppy. 

If you’re used to having only cats, you’re likely more used to their calm nature. A puppy will take a lot of energy out of you, and it takes a lot of adjusting until you’re ok with having them around more often, even when you’re working. 

For sleepy time (you can choose whatever word you will use most often) to signal it’s sleeping time and the playtime is over. I noticed that with a dog I really needed to signal that the play was over, either with the words or by lack of attention. Over time, he got the hints and learned when it was time to stop.

Are you curious to hear more about my training with him as my traveldoggo and service dog? Stay tuned and subscribe here, so you won’t miss out on news and training tips!


This post contains affiliate links. Therefore, should you make a purchase, I will receive a small portion of the sale at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own. View my Privacy & Disclosures Policy here.

Anna is a traveler, blogger, and entrepreneur who can’t keep herself still. She’s always on the move, whether working hard on a new passion project or exploring a new city as a part-time digital nomad. Dare to keep up? Check out The Tatted Nomad for everything digital nomad, social media marketing, mental health, and travel (and to see her latest addition, Novah, her service dog and travel companion). As a psychotherapist (to be) she also offers insights about your mental health related questions – anything you see that isn’t covered but you have questions about? Let her know!

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