31 Things I’ve Googled In My First Month As a Dog Owner

Hello my name is Riese and I am not a dog person but here I am with a giant dog living right here in my house with me. She’s sitting on a couch next to me right now, chilling, licking her feet, being a dog, smelling like a dog. Sometimes when I’m at my desk, she’s right there, too, full of needs and feelings!

dog-paw

My Mom is allergic to dogs and I was allergic to dogs as a kid so we never had a dog growing up. Then I lived in apartments in cities. Now I live in a house in the country WITH A DOG! My fiancé is very much a dog person. Like a dog can lick her face and she’s like “awww!” whereas I am like A DOG JUST LICKED YOUR FACE. Look, I’m writing a long essay about dogs and I hope you’re all looking forward to it. But man, I have had SO MANY QUESTIONS this month. It’s been such a month!

Listen, I’m one of you people now. Talk to me about your dog things. Here is everything I have googled with the word “dog” in it since this weirdo rescue dog named Fancy came struggle-running into my life after being rescued from a puppy mill where she had been making puppies for 3-5 years. Everything is brand new! For all of us!


1. what tv shows do traumatized dogs like

2. maltif dog

3. mastiff dog

4. why do dogs sleep so much

5. dog afraid of vacuum

6. work from home dog crate okay

7. droopy dog breed

8. do dogs care when i talk to them

9. do dogs know when i sing to them

10. dog rash under chin

11. dog acne

12. dog ate walnut death

13. dog ate one walnut

14. how does a dog act when she is in heat

15. can dogs go down on themselves

16. liquid dog poop

17. how to make my dog chill out

18. how to make our dog stop farting

19. why do people buy dogs from stores

20. what do dogs think about

21. dog vision

22. why do dogs hate mail

23. how to put a harness on a dog

24. how to shampoo a dog

25. how to get rid of dog smell

26. are dogs ever full

27. dog only likes food toys

28. do dogs have night vision

29. do dogs get bored

30. worried my dog thinks i’m boring

31. dog won’t watch tv

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2689 articles for us.

87 Comments

  1. I haven’t but if I had googled the weirdness that is my dog this week…

    1. Dogs stomach sounds like she has swallowed a duck…again…
    2. Dog eczema treatments
    3. Dog scabby nipple
    4. Can I put coconut oil on my dog’s scabby nipple?

    So yeah… It’s been nearly 10 years and she is still quite the handful. Wouldn’t be without her. Good luck!

    P.S. In answer to your No.4 – I used to have a calendar which stated “Dogs sleep so much because they love so hard”

  2. Welcome to doggie land and congrats on your new friend. I recommend the /r/puppy101 subreddit and if you need a search term for training ‘positive reinforcement’ is really good – especially if the dog is a nervous rescue. Leading with kindness and showing them what you want as opposed to what you don’t want is a great way to minimize anxiety and build confidence for your dog.

    We used to have a big dog, too, but he has gone off to college and it broke our hearts. But now I have a tiny dog (and a cat).

    I like having dogs in the house because they’re sensitive creatures that require we don’t raise our voices or loose our shit – it’s like having a living being reminding me at all times to stay calm and be reasonable. You can do it, they say, you can lead. And so I do. I think dogs make me kinder, more patient and more able to let things go – and they remind me that the impetus is on me to effectively communicate what I want in a way the recipient of the message can understand. I also think they give me more discipline because they.are.on.a.schedule. and not kidding around about it. Basically having dogs means waking up at 6.30 on weekends and cheering about minor accomplishments and shrugging away any accidents because they don’t matter – it’s a good life. I hope you enjoy your doggie journey 🙂

    • This is wonderful. My dog gets me up at 6 every morning and it’s perfect because every early morning walk is a gift before the shitstorm of the day starts. She taught me responsibility and putting another’s needs before my own better than any babysitting job ever did. I realized just wanting to have my shit together so my dog didn’t look at me with sad, anxious puppy eyes was pretty motivating.

  3. Today my maltese poodle hunched over and dragged his anus along a cement path for ten metres, with an unapologetically pleasured look on his face. I don’t know exactly why I’m sharing this here, but I feel like this is a safe space to share the fact he acted like I didn’t see it, but he knows I did.

  4. During our first year or so of owning Dexter (which was my mum and I’s first time ever having a dog), the tick season was particularly bad for some reason, so basically whenever we got her home from a walk, we all took turns rubbing her all over to see if she had any ticks.

    It got to the point where I was so paranoid, I came screaming to my parents that she had this huge tick on her stomach.
    My dad (for reasons I will never understand?!) had heard that, if you soaked the tick in alcohol, it would release its grip, so we proceeded to fill an egg cup with vodka and pour it over the tick.

    Nothing happened, it didn’t move, and then my dad was like, “Wait, that’s not a tick, it’s her teat…”

    We literally spent our morning soaking our dog’s nipples in vodka.

  5. My fiancée-to-be is also a dog person so we adopted an adorable chiweenie and I had no idea what I was doing at first. I spent a lot of time worrying that the dog wouldn’t like me as much cuz I had no idea what I was doing but this did not happen and now she always sleeps on my side of the bed.
    I had to stop looking stuff up cuz I read an article that said dogs licking themselves is either totally normal or it could be CANCER and that just feeds my anxiety way too much >_<

    • Is this true even when the dog licks his penis (which sometimes has Stuff on it) constantly, and often right before licking your face? Because that’s the deal with a dog I took care of for a week, and I can just not imagine getting used to that.

        • My GF loves our dog. We’ve had him 3 years. She loved her old dog.

          But if I ever heard her say anything other than “ew” when a dog licked someone’s face I would immediately rush her to the emergency room. It could only be a sign of something going terribly wrong.

          • I, for one, am really hoping that never happens, because I feel fairly confident that the reactions of the emergency room staff under these circumstances are more fun to imagine than they would be to experience.

    • It’s seems that everybody has bigger standards about the gross-factor than me.

      Let’s use an example to show how low my standards are: that classic situation where a baby offers you something that was in his/her mouth, most of the times a cookie? Well, I always have the same reaction; I always put that crap on my mouth because I wouldn’t make a child feel bad for something so minor. So, if my dog or cat (yes, my cat likes to lick my face) wants to say hello licking my face, I have no problem with that.

      By the way, all my pets were and are always vaccinated and dewormed so that helps.

  6. This is hilarious! When I first got my cat from the humane society I checked out a book called “Is My Cat Okay?” from the library.
    Just wanted to say I love the way you write; I have ever since your first blog. Thanks.

  7. I totally can relate to that as I started living w a rescue puppy in August 2014, he’d been locked up in a children’s playground and started barking for help (rather shrieking, idk). So we went to see what the deal was and iniatially thought someone was beating up a dog but there he was as is saying “save me save me save me” so we took him in for the night, planning to find his owners and yell at them, then look for a good home for him. Living in a city apartment, we didn’t think it would be good for him. He ended up staying and got used to the appartment. He’s tiny so he can still run around (not too much though). My initial reaction was: there’s a dog in the apartment. THERE’S A DOG ON MY BED. There he goes pooping and peeing all over the place. Lil puppy wants to play now… i couldn’t work for more than 20min before he’d require my attention. I was not a dog person but i’ve grown to love him, he’s awesome.

    I’d say dogs really care that you talk to them. I don’t know how much they understand (but a great deal). Of course, if you tell them about your life, there’s so much they can get, namean? He used to look at me weird when i’d start singing but understood what was going on pretty fast. Also thought i wanted to play when i’d start dancing but now he gets it: “she’s crazy and that’s fine” lol. He’s never full (only on his dog food). He doesn’t really smell like a dog cause he gets shampooed every now and then (when he starts smelling). And i read somewhere that dogs saw better than humans in the dark. However, they have great distance vision but poor close vision. My dog has NO flair. Which is funny and depressing cause he’s half jack russell so he’s supposedly a hunter. And YES, dogs, get hella bored. Some press you so you play w them, scratch their belly or just engage with them. Others will start chewing on yr stuff/destroying things out of boredom (he doesnt do that). They all have different personalities so you gotta learn to know your dog and understand/communicate w her. But you’ll see, i’m sure you’ll grow to be extra comfortable with her and not necessarily start saying “aww my dog licked my face” (i still think it’s gross tho he tries to make out quite often) but really enjoy her company. And i’d say for liquid poop/farts: either try to change her food as it might suit her stomach or take her to the vet. And vacuums lol i cannot tell you lol. I think it’s impressive to them but she’ll probably get used to it? My dog used to bark at the broom and try to catch it (which was funny/annoying cause i’m trying to sweep/clean and i’d rather do something else you know? so let me be quick here!) but now he’s clearly unfazed. Sometimes i wonder “do you realize i have to sweep every damn day cause of your hairs are all.over.the.place? Course you don’t care, you’re a dog!

    Of course, while writing this, i’ve spelled “dog” as “god” at least 3 times lol. I used to think of myself as a cat person but i realized dogs (there i go w the god again) are super chill and cool and not dangerous! (i used to be scared shitless of dogs growing up).

    Hope this helps!

  8. Are you doing voice overs for your dog yet?

    For me, that really cemented the moment when I turned into a Dogperson for real. My partner and I have this onging Q&A shtick where we have endless discussions with the dog in a special dog-voice.

    We have gotten to the point where we invented imaginary hobbies for our dog. We like to imagine that our dog does shows all over town where he performs cheesy covers in a boudoir/boardwalk like setting.

    And yes, one rainy day we even wrote our dog a production rider with all his demands, with stuff like:

    1) No green vegetables. If Artist is fed green vegetables, all vegetables will be shredded to bits.
    2) It is strictly forbidden under all circumstances for Artist to be lifted up by Promotor.
    3) If Promotor tries to lift up Artist to put him in the bicycle crate to go to the dog park: see clause 2.

    And so forth. <3

  9. Get health insurance for your dog!!! That’s the best advice I can give. When she was younger people told me it was racket. Now that she’s too old to qualify, it’s exactly when I need it. The vet bills that go along with just basic aging are devastating.

    My dog is not a big fan of mine, never has been. She needs me and knows it, but she’s never been excited to see me or anything. I didn’t really mind because holy CRAP is she cuddly. A weird shift these days is that she went deaf a few months ago and now follows me every time I move 3 feet, it’s kind of ridiculous. We have also shifted from being one of the least annoying dog/owner pairs in the building to one of the most, because she barks constantly now that she can’t hear it, and because we also now use the elevator all the time even though we’re on the 2nd floor…. poor pup arthritis!

    Oh another fun feature of doggie old age: doggie diapers.

    What a journey.

    (I am extra reflective as she became a teenager today!)

    • Counterpoint on the pet health insurance: I still think it’s a racket. I adopted a dog once that (unbeknownst to me) had kidney failure. We got through it (thousands of dollars later) and although he wouldn’t have qualified, I looked into it for my other dogs. I looked up the benefit for kidney failure specifically. The insurance company would have covered like $300 of it. $300 of a $3000 bill. You’re better off putting that $25 in a savings account monthly!

      Caveats: that was ten years ago and only one company, and I’m not an expert on it 🙂

    • well, the extra fun thing is that fancy hasn’t been fixed yet — and she was supposed to be fixed last week but when we took her to the vet, it turns out that it’s possible the anesthesia could interact with her heartworm medicine in a lethal manner, so now we have to wait til her full heartworm treatment is over in may to get her fixed. (which also means she can’t go to a doggy daycare until then, which’ll be interesting on an upcoming weekend when we’ll both be out of town 🙁 ) SO! this is just to say that diapers are already in our future for when she has her period, which i imagine will be especially special.

  10. Congratulations Riese!!! BTW one thing I’ve learned is that pretty much any vet’s office is happy to field those “poison control” calls like “my dog ate a walnut/a grape/a toblerone/my Allegra.” More often than not the receptionist just asks how big your dog is, puts you on hold, and checks with the vet, and it’s almost always no big deal (and the peace of mind is so worth the call).

  11. Congrats on being a dog Mom! Being a cat person/mom I prefer cats but I DO love dogs. I used to have a Scottish Border Collie named Pongo (think 101 Dalmations, I named him when I was 3). We finally had to put him down when he was 17! He was the dog that wouldn’t die. He had parvo, accidentally got run over by my dad’s truck and suffered hip problems for the rest of this life because of it, he had heartworms, he ran away several times (and my Dad found him on the side of the road months after he had been missing!), he had a stroke once and had bad arthritis in his old age. Dogs are smelly and needy and weird but they sure are amazing. I’m so glad you adopted a rescue dog, especially one from a puppy mill!

    I’m house sitting a chocolate lab mix right now and it is very weird to be around a dog again. They need so much attention and play time and love. I’m used to my cats just giving me the stink eye whenever I want cuddles and then rolling over to go back to sleep.

  12. This video is pretty much the truest video I have ever seen:
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/kevinmcshane/weird-things-couples-do-with-their-dogs

    I am hoping that Riese and Abby release a country album of Fancy-inspired music for A+ members.

    This list had me laughing like a madwoman on the tram today. I am looking forward to your dog article more than words can express. Dogs are pretty much my raison d’être. The dream is to have the time/space/money for 3 – a small, medium and large.

    My dog is such an endless source of joy. Every walk for him is THE BEST WALK EVER! I just start to get ready to go outside and he jumps around like I told him we are going to Disney Land.

    He’s a leaky geriatric so he needs 4 walks a day, no matter the weather. And the weather often sucks but he just gets so damn happy that walking around in the rain holding a bag of shit at arms length, I am happy too.

  13. once i was left alone in the house with someone else’s dog for like 3 hours and 20 minutes in i managed to convince myself they had eaten a lethal amount of chocolate and would die (there was no evidence to support this, not even that the dog had eaten anything). the dog is fine and i am deeply moved by this list.

  14. I read this aloud to my girlfriend in between bouts of hysterical laughter. The number of times I’ve googled some variation of “Cat + (food) = Death?!?!!?” since we started fostering kitties is frankly embarrassing.

  15. recent googles since my gf and i adopted a pup this past weekend:
    3 mo puppy can smell human menstruation?
    can dogs be queer gay genderqueer
    is he humping me because i’m moc and she’s femme
    puppy humping post neuter
    puppy too young to hump
    beyonce dog clothes
    kente cloth dog collar
    should puppy humping make me this uncomfortable

  16. Dogs sleep so much becos they can.

    Dogs *do* care when you talk/sing to them, but more important that what you say is how you say it. They react very strongly to tone.

    I have 5 dogs (2 f, 3 m), and judging by them, *yes*, dogs can go down on themselves.

    Dogs dislike mailmen becos they’re interlopers, coming into the dog’s territory. The dog barks, and then the mailmen go away, so the dog thinks, “Hey, this works.” Next day, same thing. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    One of our dogs gets full and leaves the food to go do something else. The other 4, not so much.

    Dogs *absolutely* get bored. If you notice them eating fecal matter, this is one possible cause (another is diet, tho’, so make sure they’re getting enough of what they need from food).

    –Yes, I am male, but please don’t hold it against me. It wasn’t my fault.–

  17. O, and the humping thing is a power/dominance thing, not a sex thing. All of our dogs are fixed, and the three little ones constantly try to hump all the others.

    –Yes, I am male, but please don’t hold it against me. It wasn’t my fault.–

    • So if the dog is humping you, he’s trying to dominate you? Our dog never humps me but often humps my girlfriend. He also tries to hump his crate sometimes when we’re making out, other times when we’re brushing our teeth and he thinks it’s party time like kids who don’t want to go to sleep. So he plays with the crate and then tries to hump it: does that mean he’s trying to dominate his crate??

      • No, dogs hump for a variety of reasons… It can be a pushy, “dominant” (dominance in dogs isn’t actually a very valid idea) behavior, but it’s kind of just a sign of general overstimulation. My dog is a terrible humper at the dog park because he just gets so excited to be there and doesn’t know what to do with himself/how to take it down a notch.

        • My mum, who is the person I ask about dogs (she runs a doggie daycare), would agree about the whole dominance idea. Its importance is very exaggerated… It also seems that men are much more prone to use that explanation for some reason? (I’m not really confused about that at all.)

        • OK, thank you. Cause my dog does get real excited around other dogs and will inevitable start to hump them, male or female. I never really understood it as something necessarily sexual or even as dominance, but couldn’t explain it either. He’s very playful and will get on them, big dog or small dog (he’s really short), so i always assumed it was more of a play thing?

  18. Wow. Congrats on the new dog!! Ngl, though, you kinda jumped right into the deep end with a puppy mill rescue – they tend to have a ton of extra needs (in my experience, they often have doggy PTSD and fear issues). You may want to look into a trainer who has experience with puppy mill dogs. And here’s (hopefully) a chart for common doggy body language:

    Of course, when you make a breakthrough, it’s incredibly powerful – I teared up the first time Reid played with a toy on his own, some 6 months after we adopted him.

    I’m also going to recommend you get her spayed, STAT. It’ll save you from a ton of mess, potential behaviour issues (both on her part and on the part of any male dogs you may encounter) and can prevent cancer. If you’re worried about the cost, most cities have some sort of reduced-price spay/neuter clinic(s).

    If you have any more questions, I’m happy to help. I have a bunch of experience with rescue/puppy mill dogs and animal behaviour, and not much fazes me anymore. Just send me a PM and I can give you my email/Skype/whatever’s easiest for you.

    • Oh that chart is so cool and interesting, thank you!

      And yeah, it wasn’t the plan — she was literally dropped off at our house by a dog foster mom without much discussion with the understanding that we’d foster her for four weeks until she got spayed and could be put up for adoption, but then we got attached! (well, abby did! and i came around. abby is really good with dogs.) … and it turns out she can’t get spayed until May, bc the anesthesia could interact with her heartworm medicine or something in a way that could kill her? so we have to wait til she’s done with that. 🙁

      • Yikes. Been there, done that. My mom agreed to be a weekend foster for a pair of Lab puppies/balls of chaos. We ended up with them for nearly 4 months, and nearly adopted one.

        And then there’s Oscar, our 18-year-old. He started off as a foster last year, then… never left. Yay for foster fails 🙂

        Is the rescue going to pay for her spay, when she can have it done?

        (Also, thanks for fixing the image, if that was you)

  19. i feel this very deeply because the last thing i googled about my dog was “why does this other dog keep licking my dog’s penis” which i found out is just dog curiosity beyond butthole smellage

    things to know:
    *no chocolate, avocado, garlic, onion
    *if they develop separation anxiety you have to change your routine of entering and leaving the house so they don’t get upset and basically ignore them right before you leave and when you enter
    *dogs have teething stages like children(it sux)
    *sometimes you can leave the tv on or music to make them feel safe if they have separation anxiety
    *if they have diarrhea you can feed them rice so that it’s gentle on the stomach, if it happens for an extended amount of time go to a vet
    *extensive licking of extremities can mean anxiety
    *the bigger the dog the bigger the baby(this is not yet scientifically proven but very true)
    *sometimes anal scoots leave a poo trail
    *great foot warmers
    *you don’t really have to pick up food if you drop it(unless it’s toxic) because they eat it
    *related to above: quick reflexes from snatching up food before your dog can eat it
    *sometimes they eat grass and leaves when they’re constipated or if it smells nice and interesting
    *they must hit every tree

    also it’s super fun getting to learn their personalities like my dog is really aggressive when trying to befriend dogs and people! not in a biting way but in a several loud friendly play-with-me bark way that seems to annoy some of the smaller dogs but excite bigger dogs(which then scares my dog)&&he hates men…deeply

    being a pet mom is fun! eventually you’ll have 258 photos of your dog in your phone library and show them all to people who never asked to see them

    • That grass one surprised me. My ex bff has two spaniels and I saw one of them eating grass and asked her, “should your dog be eating that?” She goes, “it’s good for him, likes it good for us to have salad.” Her other dog loved to hit trees when I walked him too.

    • I actually keep a mental list of which coworkers are receptive to animal pictures. I’m planning on making a whatsapp group with just them and then go to town on sharing pics. <3

      • She barks when we kiss. Or hug for too long. Then she keeps barking. If we shut her out she barks more. And digs at the door. It’s…distracting.

        Actually, I do have some ideas about what to do about this, but most of them are also distracting. Some of them can be done ahead of time (working on making her more comfortable with being shut out of the room in general), but I think a magic option would be better. I was hoping someone would have one of those.

        Except she sort of accepts sexiness, as long as it’s quiet, if it happens after we both go to bed at a normalish hour and turn the lights out. That is the only acceptable way.

        (Granted I’m not very dog-sex positive, so perhaps she thinks turn about is fair play.)

  20. Welcome to the wonderful world of dog ownership! I grew up with dogs (and even worked in a dog boarding kennels as a teenager) while my partner has never had a pet, so meeting my family’s four dogs has been an exciting time for both us.

    One of my parents’ three is an ex-puppy mill breeding bitch and the rescue we got her from has an information sheet. Ellie was a very scared little dog; she’s never going to be the kind of dog who thinks everyone is her new best friend but she’s very happy and you can see how much she adores having a warm place to sleep, going out for walks and her dog friends.

    Dogs definitely notice when you talk or sing to them. One of our dogs tries to put her face in my mouth if I sing to her. It’s cute and a bit gross, much like her.

    Dogs do get bored – and are smart enough to make their own fun. It can be like having a toddler around who’s much more agile and has sharper teeth. Food dispenser toys are great for keeping them busy if you’re away or need them distracted. If you’re worried about your dog’s weight or upsetting her stomach with unfamiliar treats, you can use a portion of your dog’s meal inside the toy. I also like putting things like (unsweetened) peanut butter or carrots in Kong toys.

    Dogs are pretty opportunistic eaters. Canines in the wild don’t necessarily eat every day – it depends on whether their hunting or scavanging is successful. So if they do find food they try to eat as much of it as possible to tide them over to their next meal, and this behaviour is still seen in our pets. Rescue dogs in particular may not be used to a steady, predictable food supply.

    Sometimes dogs are really weird and focused about the things they want to destroy. One of ours ate every single plastic plant label in the garden but didn’t touch anything else. Some are just general agents of chaos.

  21. Crating while you’re home is fine! It’s great to get a dog used to being in a crate even if you don’t intend to use it much. You’ll thank yourself if your dog ever has to be boarded or stay at the vet’s.

    Talking to your dog is great. I firmly believe that a lot of people with “smart” (which means well-behaved to most people) dogs have just talked to them so much that they’ve reinforced a lot of commands without even trying.

    Dog acne, especially on the chin, can be caused by plastic bowls. Use stainless steel or ceramic ones!

    The liquid poop, farting, and general bad dog smell can be fixed with a better food. Check out Dog Food Advisor (dot com) for reviews and go for something in the 3-5-star range.

    Dogs can see colors, but not exactly like we do. They see yellows and blues best. Remember that when choosing toys!

    Enjoy your new friend. She’ll be happy (and not too bored!) if you play with her, walk her every day, and train using positive methods (all that alpha stuff has been debunked for ages and was based on flawed old wolf studies in the first place). If you’d like to read a really cool book about how dogs think, grab “The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia McConnell.

  22. Ditto the crates as just regular furniture! I keep ours set up and open. One dogs gets crated for at least a few minutes daily just so it’s a routine place/behavior/food zone. Useful for non-dog friendly visitors, house repairs, vacuuming, travel etc as well as injury or boarding.

  23. Oh my gosh! I relate to this so much. Most of my life I had a very chill dog but this past summer I adopted a rescue who was very neglected and wasn’t trained at all. Thus, my Googles:

    1. Can dogs eat honey peanut butter
    2. Can dogs eat raw onion
    3. Can dogs eat paper towels
    4. How to get mats out of dog hair
    5. My dog is sneezing a lot
    6. why do dogs roll in poop

  24. I’ve had a pup for 8 months and i think i’ve experienced/thought about 60% of the things on this list. Plus what is this random red spot on his leg, why are his eyes always gross, and how can we make him not car sick and therefore car phobic.

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