Should You Get that Puppy During Pregnancy or After the Baby is Born?

As you are preparing to welcome a baby into the world, you might feel like expanding your family with a pet. If it is a puppy you are considering, read on for some ideas about what to expect, and to determine for yourself whether it makes sense to get a puppy during pregnancy, after the baby comes, or to hold off completely.

What to Expect from a Puppy?

Puppies are cute, but they are also a lot of work. While the work might be good practice for having a new baby, it can also be overwhelming. These are some things that you can expect to be responsible for if you get a puppy:

  • You must feed your puppy three or four times a day. Puppies, like babies, need to eat often to grow properly.
  • Just after puppy eats and at multiple other times throughout the day, you must take the puppy out to pee or poop, so that they learn where the appropriate places are to do that and don’t end up using your whole house like a bathroom. Even with diligence, a puppy will likely have some accidents in the house that require clean up.
  • You can’t leave puppy alone for more than a few hours at a time. If you have work or need to go out of town, you must make arrangements for someone else to care for the puppy.
  • Puppies like to chew and play. Sometimes these behaviors can be destructive. If you feel strongly about a favorite pair of shoes or furniture, you must be prepared to redirect any chewing behavior toward an appropriate toy.
  • Your puppy may not sleep through the night at first. Sometimes puppies wake up needing to go out, but sometimes they just want company or to play.
  • Puppies have to be taken care of by a vet. Just like a human baby, they have to get immunizations and regular checks to make sure they’re healthy. This can be costly, especially if you end up with a puppy that has health problems.
  • You should train your puppy how to behave well. Prepare to make time to socialize your puppy with other dogs and people of all ages. Puppy training classes are also a great option to make sure that you have a dog that grows up to be pleasant to be around.
  • Speaking of growing up, puppies turn from those small, adorable fluffy beasts into adult dogs. Depending on the breed of dog, your puppy could get a lot bigger. If you haven’t trained an adult dog to pee and poop in the right place, chew appropriate toys, and behave properly around people and other animals, your life could feel pretty miserable.
  • Adopting a puppy is a lifetime commitment. Like people, dogs eventually grow old, need more medical care, and then die. They just do so on a faster time scale, which can be emotionally challenging for the people who love them.

So, when is the time to get a puppy?

If you are pregnant, it is important to carefully consider all the things above before adopting a puppy. It is probably more manageable to handle all the new puppy stuff before baby arrives—unless your pregnancy has been especially tough—and that way you won’t be trying to get both your baby and puppy sleeping during the night. But then you will be faced with helping your puppy adjust to your baby, while adjusting to parenthood yourself.

If you really want to add a dog to your family, consider waiting until after baby is born and you get the hang of parenting for a while. Welcoming a new baby can be an uncertain time. You’ll likely experience big changes to your body, as well as to your sleep, working life, and sex life. The truth is that things can be complex, and having a puppy around to worry about just adds to that. Plus, if you wait to welcome a new canine family member until your baby is older and can really appreciate how fun dogs can be, your new pup might a best friend for your child and not quite as much work for you.

Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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