Ryan Newman is an introvert who is extremely troubled; he is struggling with trying to find his way in life. After spending all night waiting to die from an overdose of pills his sister Kristen gave him before the day he was going to work with her at the hospital she is employed at, his neighbor Jenna then asks him to take care of Wilfred, whom he then becomes friends with. He also has a bit of a puppy crush on Jenna which only Wilfred knows about, and gives him hell for possessing an attraction to his owner, seeing as it is bad enough having Drew, Jenna's boyfriend, around.
Ryan, in the first episode (Happiness), tries to commit suicide by overdosing on pills. His sister, knowing that giving out pills to family members was unethical, decides to give him sugar pills without him knowing. At first (still doesn't as of Season 2), he does not know what to think of the Aussie in the dog suit, and thinks that Wilfred is just a hallucination, but then after a visit from his sister, he figures out about the sugar pills, therefore showing that it is unknown exactly why only Ryan sees Wilfred the way he is. There are a few theories, some of them Wilfred himself may have told to Ryan and others yet not known.
Ryan is 5'6", with somewhat curly brown hair, has pale skin, a light beard, and big blue eyes. He is a former lawyer, and why he was fired (or quit) is unknown. It may have something to do with his father, Hank Newman. Normally, Wilfred pulls Ryan into a hare-brained scheme that usually involves nearly hurting himself or others. Ryan also tends to get nervous easily, but when called for, he can lie quickly (but still embarrasses himself at points) and act like he's better than he really is. Also, when under pressure or pushed to the limit of stress, Ryan snaps and gets very temperamental, seeing as he is one to keep his feelings bottled up inside him. He can be loyal when it's almost too late to save Wilfred life's from the episode (Now) for example.
As we see in the episode "Anger", Ryan had a pet Jack Russel Terrier subsequently named "Sneakers" that he loved dearly when he was a kid. However, Sneakers drowned in the pool, and Ryan believed it was his fault for his faithful dog's death. However, it was really Ryan's older sister Kristen who left the gate open that allowed Sneakers to reach the water.
He has been dating Amanda, a co-worker of his for two months after getting over Jenna. They broke up, and then got back together again only to break up again because it turns out Amanda was crazy.