Why Do People Get Puppies?

Golden Retriever Puppy in grass
Carolyn Ann Ryan / Getty Images

When you stroll through the park and notice the plethora of puppies walking around you, you may start to wonder why do people get dogs. There are all kinds of reasons people get dogs—from companionship to an exercise in responsibility to security—but puppies are a bit of another matter. Puppies are cute, require training, and have an extra dose of playfulness and goofiness compared to older dogs that make them extra fun for some people. Here are the most common reasons why people get puppies. (Be warned: you may be tempted to get one too!)

People Adopt Puppies Because They Are Cute

As a person who has worked with dogs most of his life, you would think that at some point I may get desensitized to the sight of a fluffy, cuddly little puppy. But I can tell you that that is not the case. And hopefully, there is never a day where I am so jaded that I feel that way. So when talking about this topic, you cannot discount the first reason people get a puppy is their immense adorable factor. 

That’s number one. You really can’t blame anyone for having this as their first persuasive argument as to why they need to get a puppy. Who doesn’t want a tiny teddy bear?? Or a big headed bull puppy running around the house trying to figure out how to use stairs and not tip over when they eat dinner? (Please note that puppies are not live stuffed animals, small people in a stuffed animal’s body, nor an actual mini bear. Please respect your puppy’s canine needs.)

One of the hardest truths of the animal industry is that puppies grow up, and that adorable, fluffy puppy grows into a mature and proportionally filled out version of her younger self. This certainly is not a bad thing, it is really just a fact of life, but some people can become disappointed that their puppy is no longer the cute fluff ball they once were. It has prompted a few of those people to try to find a new home for their dog.

When considering getting a puppy, it always important to remember that they grow up! I know it seems obvious, but it is easy to forget that the 10-pound Great Dane puppy in just a few months can weigh 100-pounds, and eat 6 cups of expensive dog food per day! If you’re not sure you will be able to handle the grown-up version of this little puppy, then it may not be the time to get one. 

People Adopt Puppies to Raise Them the Way They Want

Another reason we hear very often from people about why they want to get a puppy, as opposed to an older dog, is so that they have a chance to bond with it as a puppy, and to ensure that socialization gets done properly. To be honest, this is a big one for us. Starting a puppy the right way in life with training, socialization, handling, and desensitization is a key to having the dog you have always wanted. But, if you are not able to spend the time doing the training if you do not have the skill, or you don’t have the money to be able to hire help, then you have set up a situation that just makes your life harder down the road. 

Your own ability to assess how well you can take on the task of socializing and laying a foundation for a puppy is key here. Are you able to commit to taking a puppy new places, slowly introducing them to new dogs you know will be respectful of a puppy, and work to show them that things they may not like sometimes have to be done (like holding their paws to trim their nails)?

People Adopt Puppies as Practice Kids

Practice kids! Ah, this one is a reason I see A LOT (whether or not people admit it out loud). A nice couple in their early 20s decides to get a puppy together to make their new house a home. It is such a great way to work together and learn how good you are at raising something together before you have kids, right? Well, yes and no. Raising a puppy has some of the same requirements as raising a child (but with much lower responsibility levels). So for the couple, this can be a great test. But what happens as the puppy gets older? What happens when you are successful and responsible at keeping this little life going, and it is now time to step up to the big show and have kids? Where does the dog fall into this? She has spent her whole life as your loyal practice kid, living up to her potential and being everything she can be for you. It is not the time to put the dog aside because you are ready to move on. Life always evolves, and we readily move to new stages of it, but just remember to bring your dog along and prepare them for the next phase of the family adventure by getting them ready for a new child.

People Adopt Puppies to Replace Their Children Who Have Grown up

Replacement kids! Oh boy, do we see a lot of these as well? Kids are grown and out of the house? Time for a new dog! Honestly, this is such a great reason to get a puppy. It has been shown that having a dog around can reduce stress levels and increase happiness and purpose. Some of the best dogs we have come in are replacement kids. But, it can also go the other way very quickly. What we most often see is someone with less energy and mobility getting a young puppy and not being able to keep up with the new puppy’s energy level. In helping people find new puppies, we have found that the key is to match the breed and breed group of the puppy with the new owner’s personality. Getting an Australian shepherd puppy when you are not able to walk them for a mile or 2 a day is often not a good match. But finding an older retriever or mix breed that has matured and doesn’t require as much activity may be a better fit, not that I am implying that older people cannot do a great job with a high energy puppy. It just requires a little thought and preparation. 

People Adopt Puppies to Round out Their Childfree Lifestyle

Substitute kids! The DINK family is quickly becoming a model adopted by a lot of people. Living childfree is no longer looked at the way it once was, and a big part of that lifestyle is often our pets. To be honest, this is me. I LOVE being an uncle and hanging out with my nieces and nephew, but one of the best parts is sending them home at the end of our time together! This leaves me able to carry on with so many other things I wouldn’t have the opportunity for if I had to look after children. But, this also makes the relationship with my dogs so much more important to me. The dogs are my choice for children because of the simplicity, convenience, and responsibility level. I know a lot of other people who are opting for the same thing.

What Are Some Alternatives to Adopting a Puppy Right Now?

So I have laid out all of this info for you, right? What if I made a point that makes you think a puppy isn’t for you… is all hope lost? Nope. When deciding whether or not to get a puppy, what I said is only one part of the equation. Your friends and family and lifestyle and experiences may change all of the points I made. 

Why You May Want to Adopt an Adult Dog Instead of a Puppy

There are a few other things to think about as alternatives to getting a puppy. First and foremost, what about a grown dog? Adopting a grown dog (2+ years old) will help make your energy, training, and socialization needs easier in some ways. Most of the puppy and adolescent angst has subsided, and often times the personality you see now is fairly set. Of course, you can teach an old dog new tricks, so even an older dog can be a great student.

Why You May Want to Adopt a Senior Dog Instead of a Puppy

One of the saddest realities of our pet adoption system is that older animals get less love. People often don’t want to take on the health problems and shortened lifespan of adopting a senior pet. I can certainly understand the hesitation to get attached to a dog that may only be in your life another few years. But at the same time, having an older dog allows for a very casual lifestyle. They often require very little exercise and only want to soak up all the love and affection that can be heaped upon them. I always try to steer people in this direction is they are not sure how their life will look 5 or 10 years down the road but are sure they will have stability for the next few years. Consider giving an older dog a chance to be the dog you have always wanted. 

Why You May Want to Adopt an Animal Other Than a Puppy

Sometimes, a dog isn’t the right choice at the time. So why not consider another pet? A cat maybe? Or a bird or bunny? At The Spruce Pets, we have plenty of information on owning cats, fish, birds, and more! But, just like all the things I have said about puppies, no pet is an accessory. Be sure to do your research; you may be surprised to learn that many other pets have more intensive needs than dogs, require expensive equipment, and/or have even longer lifespans. They all deserve a loving home where they are considered a part of the family!

Deciding Whether or Not You Should Adopt a Puppy

So does this mean that it’s time for a puppy for you? This one is harder to answer and requires you look closely at your lifestyle and what your time looks like. Dogs need structure and schedules. They need some rules and order so that they know where they fit in. The need regular bathroom walks, exercise, and mental stimulation. In addition, they need routine veterinary care and some need regular grooming. These are expenses that every owner should budget for, in addition to their daily expenses including food, toys, and treats. I am lucky having my own daycare to take my dog to, that takes a load off my mind that she is having the life she needs. When we travel that is one of the first things we find - a reputable daycare that we trust and that my dog likes. But there are times that having a dog is much harder. She requires us to be very thoughtful of places we live – not only must she be welcome, but it must be a good place to walk her where she feels comfortable. Does the area support have dogs around, taking the dogs to restaurant patios (or at least convenient and safe places to leave them in your line of sight), taking them into stores and public parks?

There are lots of good choices in this world when thinking about getting a puppy. We appreciate you visiting us here and checking out all of the great info we have to offer!