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Hi all! First time poster here, and first time dog owner, too.

My family always had cats and since I was a child I wanted a dog. My long time boyfriend always felt similarly and so, a few months back, when we moved into a dog-friendly building we were so ready to take the plunge. We do live in a condo with no yard and did a lot of research and planning. We accepted the fact that our lives would change dramatically. We went through a long screening process for a great rescue organization and decided to attend one of their adoption events. Of course, we were swayed by the beautiful puppies and ended up with a 5 month old instead of an older dog. We were assured by the organization that he was potty trained and very obedient. Of course, we have had some accidents and some stubbornness, but nothing not to be expected from a pup. He doesn't seem to want to walk on his leash, despite my best efforts, and I'm struggling to give him the exercise I know he needs. He gets spooked very easily and refuses to even walk from the parking lot to the dog park and has had almost no off-leash time since we've had him. It's been about 10 days.

Really though, there are no problems with the puppy. He's healthy, seems happy enough (if not a little anxious, to be expected), well-behaved, and eager to please. But I am not feeling anything like what I thought I would. I always thought a dog would bring me so much pleasure and happiness, but instead I've been a total wreck since adopting him. I know this sounds selfish: please feel free to judge me. But I miss my old life. I miss only dealing with the responsibilities of my career and education, which were burden enough. I knew a puppy would be work and I feel stupid. I had no conception of the commitment and responsibility. Even though I knew it would change everything, I had no idea how stressed and anxious this whole thing would make me. I feel stressed when I'm alone with the puppy. I feel stressed just thinking about crating him. Instead of feeling excited to see him when I get home, I feel stressed thinking about all the work I'll need to put in and all the other responsibilities I have. I've cried multiple times a day since getting him, can't eat or sleep well. I don't know what's wrong with me! I've experienced problems with chronic anxiety in the past and somehow I think this is triggering it. I know it's early and that we've only had him for 10 days. I want to be able to control my anxiety and bond with this pup, but right now my anxiety is definitely controlling me. I'm thinking: is this the right time for a dog? Is this going to be too much on our schedules? On our wallets? We're just starting out in our careers and we have broken the bank on him already.

I'm considering returning him to the rescue organization. They take back any of their dogs no questions asked. He's young and gorgeous; I know he'll find a wonderful home. But, should I? I know that with patience and time he'll be a loving dog (he already is!) and a great addition to our family. I just don't know if I have the time to put in without losing my mind. I know I should have thought about all of this beforehand and most of all I feel guilty as hell about this whole thing. I put in tons of research and I should have known better. I feel like a stupid, selfish, impulsive, bad person. What should I do?
 

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I'm not going to tell you what to do.

I am going to tell you that almost everyone who gets a dog - even people who add dogs to households with dogs already - goes through this. It's very, very common and the result of the disruption and responsibility. Things settle into a new shape and a new normal with time.

That said, there's nothing wrong if you decide this isn't for you, either.
 

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I agree with CptJack. It's often called the 'puppy blues' but it can apply any time anyone gets a dog or puppy, whether it's their first or thirteenth. Personally, it takes me 2-3 weeks to get used to having a new puppy around, and I don't bond with puppies until they are around a year old.

I think if you stick it out you'll end up being happy with him, once he's older and more mature and you don't have to worry as much about him being alone or about him having accidents/destroying stuff. But that could be years. He will always need walks, other forms of exercise, will always need you to commit a certain number of hours to him a day. He'll always require regular veterinary care, and chances are he will get ill or have some sort of injury that will really break the bank. If these aren't things you are prepared for or willing to deal with, then you might be right to want to return him. Dogs aren't for everyone, and it's better to accept that fact than to keep the dog, if that's the case here. But it's a personal decision that only you can make.
 

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It's completely normal to feel that way - I did with both my dogs too. In fact, I didn't really feel "bonded" to Pepper for several months. But it will pass, with time. If you CAN stick it out, I'm sure you won't regret it; it sounds like you have a pretty good puppy already, who will probably grow into a wonderful dog. The fact that you are so stressed and worried about it shows that you care for the puppy and will take good care of him. Try to think more about what it will be like to have an adult dog (since the puppy phase is short lived).

Like CptJack said though, there's nothing wrong with taking him back if you decide you've made a mistake and the whole dog thing just isn't right for you.

Edit: I also want to add that you may be pushing too far right now. He's only been with you for 10 days; it will take weeks for him to be comfortable in his new home. Don't worry about taking him for walks, etc. right now. Let him get comfortable with his home and you first. Just be with him, play with him, do small training things at home.
 

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Yeah dude it's normal. The first week or two (or three) I had my baby puppy I could barely eat, I didn't want to be alone with her, and I almost returned her. I was frankly scared of her.

Personally, I'm happy I stuck it out. It took a few months, but she grew into herself and I grew as well and now I can't imagine life without her.

That said there are times my life would absolutely be easier if I didn't have a dog. She's a big responsibility, but I'm planning on her being around (hopefully) for a dozen or so more years, at least.

Can't give you any answers or tell you what to do, but what you're feeling is normal.
 

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Puppies are a pain in the butt, that's for sure. I currently have an 11.5 month old and a 4.5 month old. It's annoying as heck. I can't sleep in and wake up then spend an hour or 2 just chilling in my bed on the weekends. They do allow me to sleep in till around 9:30 which is nice but then it's up and letting them out to potty and feeding them.
My younger bigger puppy likes to play with my MUCH smaller older puppy and younger puppy can be too rough so I'm constantly having to work at separating them. Yesterday I was singing along to a movie I was watching and it went like '525,600 minutes, how do you ASHER BE NICE! measure a year'
You can't come home and plop down on the couch and not do anything for the rest of the evening, you have to be going for a walk, playing fetch, picking up toilet paper after they pulled it all off the roll, etc.
It IS a giant pain. But it's also rewarding. Having a puppy learn new things, having the new things come quicker and easier, great for snuggling (well, my st poodle puppy is a little piranha so not much snuggling), the joy you see in there face when they see you after you've been gone (whether just to the bathroom or after a day of work), new experiences like agility, or rally, possibly new friends. And when it's all said and done and you've done your homework a well trained adult dog you can rely on.

Cats really are a completely different ball game than dogs, especially a single dog. Dog's need human interaction, they need exercise, they need mental stimulation, they need training. Not everyone can handle that, especially in a puppy. A 3+ year old that's come from a decent home is going to be much easier in general.
If you can properly care for the puppy and aren't taking your frustrations out on the puppy then there is no harm (except your mental wellbeing) in trying for a while longer if you wish too. Maybe try puppy classes.
 

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I went through this with my second dog. my first was so relaxed and so easy that she just fit in. My second was a ball of stressed out crazy when I brought him home. I want to share this blog post I wrote with you because it describes so much of my feelings that sound like the same ones you have. The "WHAT HAVE I DONE" moments. So many of us have the same feelings. Trust me. And sometimes you just have to push through them to get to where things are really awesome.

http://teamunruly.com/?p=8625
 

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I'm considering returning him to the rescue organization. They take back any of their dogs no questions asked. He's young and gorgeous; I know he'll find a wonderful home. But, should I? I know that with patience and time he'll be a loving dog (he already is!) and a great addition to our family. I just don't know if I have the time to put in without losing my mind. I know I should have thought about all of this beforehand and most of all I feel guilty as hell about this whole thing. I put in tons of research and I should have known better. I feel like a stupid, selfish, impulsive, bad person. What should I do?
You shouldn't feel like a stupid, selfish, impulsive or bad person. No amount of research or reading can prepare you for the reality of adding a dog to your home for the first time. Much like having a baby, you can read up on it and prepare as much as possible, but you'll never really *know* what it's like until you actually have one.

Like everyone else, I have also adopted dogs and then immediately regretted it. Actually, I've done that with every single one of my dogs. I suffer from some rather crippling anxiety, so changes to my routine, even small ones, can send me into a tailspin of worry, regret, doubt and fear. So I get it. No judging at all - most of us have been through it. I regretted my choice to keep Loki for about two years after adopting him. I recently purchased Zephyr and had such an overwhelming panic attack once I loaded him into my van that I couldn't stop shaking or crying for about twenty minutes. I stuck with it, and it happened to work out pretty well, in both cases.

If you stick with it, you'll find that the stress will decrease as time goes on. I'd recommend a few things to help with that. First of all, if you're missing your old routine, do your best to hang onto pieces of it. If you used to go work out at 6:30 pm, then go work out at 6:30 pm still. If you watch a tv show at the same time every week, do that. There are some things that may need to take a back seat, like social events, after work dinners, etc. But do your best to work your puppy in around your schedule - it's difficult, but it'll become easier.

The other thing I'd recommend is that you give yourself mental breaks. This is one I struggle with to this day. If you're feeling overwhelmed, and you just need a break, there's no shame in putting some peanut butter on a Kong, putting your puppy in an exercise pen, and vegging out for a little while. Not everything has to be about the puppy 100% of the time. I made my life about my puppy 100% of the time and it was a living hell, so try not to do that! Your life still exists outside of your dog. It probably doesn't feel like it right now, because your dog is the source of your current worry and is therefore taking up all of your free thought space.

That being said, there's no shame in returning him if you don't think it's the right time for you to add a dog to your household. Especially if he's going to disrupt your academics or worsen your anxiety to a point where you find it hard to function normally. The only way to know if it's going to work is to try it out and see. You shouldn't feel guilty that it didn't work out. Sometimes it doesn't, despite extensive research and thought. You're not a bad person for making that choice, not by any stretch of the imagination.
 

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The other thing I'd recommend is that you give yourself mental breaks. This is one I struggle with to this day. If you're feeling overwhelmed, and you just need a break, there's no shame in putting some peanut butter on a Kong, putting your puppy in an exercise pen, and vegging out for a little while. Not everything has to be about the puppy 100% of the time. I made my life about my puppy 100% of the time and it was a living hell, so try not to do that! Your life still exists outside of your dog. It probably doesn't feel like it right now, because your dog is the source of your current worry and is therefore taking up all of your free thought space.
Everything you said was brilliant but this. THIS. So important. I felt so guilty about giving myself mental breaks. Like, I would just go out to the grocery store just to get away because I was so overwhelmed and panicked that I could not give this dog what he needed. I wanted a Border Collie forEVER and then I ended up with this stressed out ball of crazy who could not settle in the house at all and needed constant stimulation and I was just EXHAUSTED.

But eventually, I started to feed him from a frozen Kong (GODSEND I SWEAR -- I mixed together his kibble with high quality canned food, topped with peanut butter, and VOILA! 45 minutes of complete quiet) and sitting down to read a book or watch something stupid on TV.

It took about a month for him to actually start to settle on his own and about 3-4 before I started to really look forward to coming home to see him.

In all honesty, I'd give it a little more time. Maybe take an obedience class with him or get out a book on basic training (e.g. Pat Miller's The Power of Positive Training) and work with him on some basic stuff. You may find yourself bonding with him and soon you'll not want to be without him. Or you might not. And that's ok too. If you decide you can't give him what he needs, then you'll do the best thing for him by returning him to the rescue so he can find the right home. It doesn't make you a bad person at all. And it doesn't make you selfish.
 

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Look up "puppy blues" and I guarantee you'll find a lot of posts that will make you feel normal :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow guys, I really don't know what to say. I registered for an account here because I was so desperate and was not even sure anyone would respond. After I posted, I crated the pup and went for some "me" time with a close friend. She's a dog person and talked to me a lot, I felt so good just being away and having a break. When I got home the pup was quiet and has been just chewing away on his pig's ear ever since. When I saw all these responses I felt so much better. Thank you. I don't know what I'm going to do, but you're all right. I need to give it time and not make any rash decisions. If it gets to be too much, I'll have to make a rough decision that will ultimately be better for everyone.

I feel like one of the major sources of my stress has been trying to over research everything. There is SO much information out there about puppy training and frankly it's scaring me. All the basic commands, leash walking, off-leash walking, barking, separation anxiety, crating, potty training. Some people say some types collars are great, some say they're harmful to puppy health. Same thing with all the foods and treats. The lists are endless. All things I should be thinking about and a million different opinions on how or when. I enrolled us all in Puppy Kindergarten starting Monday night and I think it will be really helpful for just answering my questions.

I guess mostly I just don't know when to draw the line. If I'm still freaking out in a week, okay. In a month? By some of your accounts it could take months or even a full year to start feeling better. I don't know if I'm ready for a full year of stress.
 

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Just take a deep breath and remember you don't have to do it all.

Your dog does not have to be good off leash.
Your dog can pull on his leash if you don't care (mine still does, don't care!).
Your dog can jump on you when you come home if you don't care.
Your dog can bark at the moon all night if you don't care.

We ALL have our preferences. My younger dog? Pulls on the leash, barks and carries on like a maniac when I come home. He wants to chase every squirrel and bunny he sees. His off leash time is limited because he gets distracted easily. My other dog? She barks at the UPS truck and wants to chase it and sometimes she loses her fool head over another dog because WANT TO GREET NOW. She's super obnoxious in play groups and so doesn't get to play in large groups of dogs.

My dogs are not perfect.

Your dog does not have to be perfect. And what annoys other people you may shrug your shoulders and say "meh I don't care about that." And that is totally ok.

My main concern is: Are my dogs happy? And can I live with them as they are or do I need to teach them something new?

My young dog was a door darter. I couldn't live with that. I didn't want him rushing out the door if I so much as looked at it. We worked on impulse control. My older dog was reactive to other dogs on leash. I could live with that but I didn't LIKE it, so I worked on games to make her relax and stop being so frustrated at not being able to greet other dogs. They have behaviors I just couldn't stand and some that others might hate but I didn't care about.

Yes there are behaviors that are really super beneficial (e.g. coming when called or stopping on command) that I would recommend everyone teach their dog. But outside of that your dog does NOT have to be perfect. No one's are. I know we want to do it all and have the perfect dog, but the perfect dog for YOU and the perfect dog for ME may be two totally different dogs. And that's ok.
 

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Just take a deep breath and remember you don't have to do it all.

Your dog does not have to be good off leash.
Your dog can pull on his leash if you don't care (mine still does, don't care!).
Your dog can jump on you when you come home if you don't care.
Your dog can bark at the moon all night if you don't care.

We ALL have our preferences. My younger dog? Pulls on the leash, barks and carries on like a maniac when I come home. He wants to chase every squirrel and bunny he sees. His off leash time is limited because he gets distracted easily. My other dog? She barks at the UPS truck and wants to chase it and sometimes she loses her fool head over another dog because WANT TO GREET NOW. She's super obnoxious in play groups and so doesn't get to play in large groups of dogs.

My dogs are not perfect.

Your dog does not have to be perfect. And what annoys other people you may shrug your shoulders and say "meh I don't care about that." And that is totally ok.

My main concern is: Are my dogs happy? And can I live with them as they are or do I need to teach them something new?

My young dog was a door darter. I couldn't live with that. I didn't want him rushing out the door if I so much as looked at it. We worked on impulse control. My older dog was reactive to other dogs on leash. I could live with that but I didn't LIKE it, so I worked on games to make her relax and stop being so frustrated at not being able to greet other dogs. They have behaviors I just couldn't stand and some that others might hate but I didn't care about.

Yes there are behaviors that are really super beneficial (e.g. coming when called or stopping on command) that I would recommend everyone teach their dog. But outside of that your dog does NOT have to be perfect. No one's are. I know we want to do it all and have the perfect dog, but the perfect dog for YOU and the perfect dog for ME may be two totally different dogs. And that's ok.
This is all super important. It's kind of odd when you're a beginning dog owner, but eventually you'll realize that what constitutes a well-behaved companion dog (meaning a non-working, non-sports, non-conformation dog) is really up to the individual owner.

For instance, my dogs sit on my lap. They take up my entire bed. They rest their heads on the table while I eat. They obnoxiously demand attention by mouthing my hands. They drop drool-filled toys on my head (and sometimes in my water glass). They mostly don't settle down in the house for hours and chase each other around the couch like giant lunkheads. A lot of that stuff would drive people absolutely nuts. It just doesn't bother me.

On the flip side, my dogs don't door dash, they loose leash walk very well even in crowded and busy environments, they don't demand bark, they stay out of the kitchen when asked, they don't counter surf and they come when called. Because those are all things that are super important to me, and things that I have worked hard to train.

So in the long run, all you need to do is narrow down behaviors that you would prefer to see that make it easier for you to live with your dog, and make it easier for your dog to live with you. And that list is different for almost everyone.

Also, while you might get some differing opinions, I think if you started a thread and laid out your basic puppy questions in a post on this forum, you'd get some valuable (and probably not as wildly varying) input. If you number your questions we can answer them in list form and it may help you to concisely go through a bunch of info from actual dog owners (and not from people who are trying to sell you stuff).
 

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Bottom line is don´t over reserch; don´t over think; don´t over react. Keep it simple.
Raising a dog is not rocket science (although with so many - contraditory - "scientific studies" we find in the net, sometimes it seems that way).
Find your pace and enjoy the dog day by day
 

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In addition to the other great advice, remember you also don't have to fix everything -right now-.

I totally know where you're coming from, it feels like you need to do it all 'right' and need to fix all the things. You don't. Things that aren't life threatening don't need to get addressed RIGHT NOW. Take a breath, take your time. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Something that really helped me was taking my dog on a hike on a long line and just forgetting the 'rules' to just enjoy time with her.
 

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In addition to the other great advice, remember you also don't have to fix everything -right now-.

I totally know where you're coming from, it feels like you need to do it all 'right' and need to fix all the things. You don't. Things that aren't life threatening don't need to get addressed RIGHT NOW. Take a breath, take your time. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Something that really helped me was taking my dog on a hike on a long line and just forgetting the 'rules' to just enjoy time with her.
This is excellent advice too! Take the things that are the most life threatening, followed by the things that are the most irritating, and worry about one thing at a time.

I like the idea of just not worrying about the rules and having some fun time like that. Great idea, that!
 

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But outside of that your dog does NOT have to be perfect. No one's are. I know we want to do it all and have the perfect dog, but the perfect dog for YOU and the perfect dog for ME may be two totally different dogs. And that's ok.
This is SO true! A LOT of my stress when we first got Pepper was from my thinking I had to train her to be perfect. For example, I would get so embarrassed when she would get excited and jump up on people that I was stressed every time we saw someone. Of course, training a large breed not to jump up is important, but it takes time for them to learn and she needed to mature a bit before she could be calmed down. I was so obsessed with training her right, and feeding her the best food, and making sure she was awesome. I finally did come to the conclusion that some of it is just her personality. She is who she is. She's always going to be excited to meet new people, and that's OKAY! She doesn't jump up anymore so why not let her be excited?

I am like you in that I research everything! You do have to find what works for you and your dog. It won't be the same for everyone. Sometimes you have to try several things to discover what works (whether in food choice, or training, etc.) Once you know your dog a bit better you'll be able to make those decisions better.

You've found this forum, which is AWESOME for getting advice on any subject from people who've actually been through it. Feel free to ask us anything! :)
 

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In addition to the other great advice, remember you also don't have to fix everything -right now-.

I totally know where you're coming from, it feels like you need to do it all 'right' and need to fix all the things. You don't. Things that aren't life threatening don't need to get addressed RIGHT NOW. Take a breath, take your time. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Something that really helped me was taking my dog on a hike on a long line and just forgetting the 'rules' to just enjoy time with her.
This!! I wish someone had told me that when Bella was a pup. I thought I had to teach her everything NOW - it really stressed me out and strained our relationship. I had no idea what I was doing. I almost did give her up...but thinking about it just broke my heart. Then I found this forum :becky:

Like crysania said - work on the serious stuff first. Door-dashing and nipping/biting, housebreaking up front. And don't think you have to pick ONE method of training. Bit and parts of different methods are usually better, IME.

I think you'll be okay. ;)
 

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I think the best thing I have ever learned with my dogs is to give myself a 2-3 year timeline. Otherwise I get frustrated. I decide what is important to me when the dog is 3 years old. And then I start working toward that,and I don't really... assess the dog in the interm. It makes all those setbacks and stages and regressions less threatening because, hey, still have 2.5 years to deal with them.

And no. No dog is perfect, no matter what it might seem like from the outside looking in.
 
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