“My Daughter Brought Home a Puppy Without Asking”

My 17-year-old daughter brought home a puppy this summer as a “surprise.” She knows she should have asked me first, but she went ahead and did it anyway without checking in with me. We already have two dogs and a cat at home, two of which are hers.

As a busy family, we don’t have the time to dedicate to a new puppy. He’s a Cane Corso, which is a large breed, so being an inside dog is not an option. He stays in a fenced backyard with our other two. For the past few weeks, the puppy has been A LOT to handle. He tears up everything in the yard, and he barks all night long. I know he’s driving our neighbors crazy.

I’ve continually told her to spend more time with him, getting him out of the fence so he can run around and burn off energy, but she doesn’t have enough time to dedicate to him either. I’ve tried to reinforce that he is her responsibility by making her do most of the daily tasks.

I’ve mentioned several times that we need to find him a new home, but my daughter gets emotionally upset and distressed when I bring it up. I try not to come down on her too hard because we’ve dealt with severe depression issues for many years now and I try not to “set it off.”

What do I do? Please help…this puppy is making me crazy! — Not Feeling Puppy Love

If your daughter “knows she should have” asked you first before bringing a puppy home but did so anyway without checking on you and there were no repercussions for her because you are trying not to “set it off,” what she learns is that it doesn’t matter what she “should” do because she can get away with whatever she wants. This doesn’t do you OR her—-or the rest of your family or the poor puppy in this situation—-any favors. By trying to avoid upsetting your daughter and disrupting whatever carefully-held equilibrium your family enjoys, I’m not sure you succeed at any of the goals you have. I’m not sure you’ve even avoided upsetting your daughter.

Surely, your daughter can’t feel great about neglecting a puppy who needs a lot of attention. I would imagine the stress level in your home has soared. You’re unhappy, your neighbors are unhappy, and the puppy is likely pretty unhappy. None of this will be addressed as long as you keep the puppy and avoid setting boundaries with your daughter.

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is re-home the dog. The second priority is getting some help for your daughter’s depression so that she is better positioned to deal with the realities of life that, at 17, she will soon be facing as a young adult. YOU may be willing to walk on eggshells around her to avoid getting her “emotionally upset,” but the rest of the world isn’t going to do that. And if she doesn’t have practice dealing with her full range of human emotions at home, where she is loved unconditionally and is safe and protected, how is she going to manage when she’s out in the world? What you’re doing by trying to avoid upsetting her is setting her up to collapse at the first signs of stress. You can do better by her.

If your daughter is not already getting treatment for her depression, then that’s the first step. If she already gets treatment, then talk to her doctor about adjusting the treatment with a goal of better regulating emotions. That might mean starting or increasing talk therapy, starting or adjusting medication, and exploring other tools available to her and you. There are countless parenting books and even social media accounts devoted to parenting tips, some specializing in parenting children with depression. Even though you’re busy, you need to make time to learn some ways you can better support your daughter and set her up for success in her young adulthood and beyond.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. This is all good advice. But don’t just take the puppy to a shelter. Call places like a rescue organization for his breed, a local breeder for his breed, and a reputable dog training organization in your area to ask for advice. Involve your daughter if you can so she can be part of solving this problem and finding a good situation for this puppy. Maybe you pay to get him some solid training or sponsor him while he’s in foster care or something. But do it now while he’s still a puppy, don’t wait and have it get worse and now he’s an adult dog with serious behavioral issues and unadoptable.

    This can be a good life lesson in making mistakes, fixing them, and moving on from them. Also boundaries and consequences.

    1. A Cane Corso is not an outside dog.It is a personal guard fig and needs to stay next to its master. Otherwise it destroys all obstacles.

  2. Anonymous says:


    Thank you for the feedback and comment. I would like to clarify my daughter sees a psychiatrist on a regular basis, and has seen counselors. Our family experienced a tragedy 3 years ago, and we’ve worked hard to get back where we are now. There’s still a lot to work on. Unfortunately that tragedy left her with long term trauma that manifested into depression, self-doubt, and suicidal thoughts. I try my best not to make it worse, without being too easy. She is a great kid, good grades, a job, responsible. The biggest thing she gets in trouble for is leaving messes around the house, which in my opinion is minor for a 17 year old.

    We had a serious talk earlier this week, and I explained to her that a bigger effort needed to be made in spending time with the new puppy, or we would start looking for a new home. I explained that he is her responsibility since she didn’t ask before bringing him home. She took it maturely, and said she would work harder. I will continue to help her with him when I can, and watch to see if there’s improvement over the next couple of weeks.

    Again, thanks for the feedback. I’m open to more.


  3. Element_Girl says:

    Mom, you say she’s seeing a psychiatrist and has “seen counselors.” Well she needs an actual therapist – a psychiatrist prescribing meds is not enough. They are not trained for the talk therapy that your daughter will need to overcome her depression. If she’s being medicated, she should absolutely be in talk therapy as well.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cane Corsos are not a beginner dog, nor are they a hands-off dog. You’re going to be in way over your head in a second if you don’t get your arms around this and start taking that pup seriously.

  5. Hi,

    First of all, I agree with Wendy’s advice here…

    Your daughter will have to learn boundaries at some point, which is really the bigger picture behind your stressful situation. While I don’t know your circumstances surrounding your family’s “severe depression,” I would suggest you explore the root of this issue in-depth, whether that be possible on your own or with professional guidance.

    In addition, much like launching into a relationship won’t “fix” a person, adopting a new puppy – especially when it’s against your wishes as the authority figure – won’t fully “cure” anyone’s now or in the long run.

    To continue on with what Wendy said, there is actually a book called “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend that might really be insightful in your situation.

    Best to you and your family in this situation,


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