Puppy 101: A Quick-Start Guide to Caring for Your New Puppy

new puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting, but sometimes overwhelming experience. Whether this is your first puppy or it’s been a while since you’ve had a pup, we’d like to help by answering the most common questions and offering tips to ensure you give your new pet the best care possible.


What do I feed my puppy?

puppy food

There are many choices out there in dog food, so it can be tough to feel confident you’ve found the right food to nourish your puppy. For starters, it’s important that you feed a high-quality food that is specially formulated for growing puppies. This food will have higher protein and fat levels, added DHA and EPA, and other vitamins and nutrients (such as calcium), all perfectly balanced to provide proper nutrition during growth.

Puppies’ nutritional needs change quickly as they grow, so be sure to revisit the amount you’re feeding frequently to make sure your pup is getting the proper amount for their growth stage. If you have a large breed puppy, like a lab or a golden retriever, you’ll want to avoid overfeeding, as this can cause issues with bone development as your pup grows.

Your puppy’s food will be complete and balanced, providing all the nutrients he or she needs in the correct proportions. While it might be tempting, you should avoid switching between foods or feeding table scraps because these can lead to a very picky eater in the future! Plus, some people foods can cause stomach upset and some can even be toxic. If you do give your puppy a little something on the side, we recommend these treats and other foods make up less than 10% of a pet’s daily food intake. And If you must switch your puppy’s food, be sure to gradually change the foods over two weeks to avoid an upset stomach.


When should I transition from a puppy formula to an adult food?


Our recommendation is that your pup should stay on puppy food until they are full grown, but know that “full grown” varies significantly depending on the breed. Many are done growing and can change to adult food by a year old, but some large breed puppies, such as Great Danes, will continue to grow for up to two years!


How do I set my puppy up for potty training success?

puppy potty training

Potty training is a much happier adventure for all involved when you make the experience positive by encouraging your pup when it succeeds rather than scolding when it has accidents. Puppies are still developing the muscles they need to hold their urine for the first 12 weeks, so you’ll need to take them out frequently and praise them when they go outside. Eating usually stimulates movement through their system, so you should take them out within 20 minutes after mealtime. It’s also a good idea to take your puppy out after sleeping, drinking, and playing. And always try to give a verbal cue such as “go potty” that the puppy can catch on to, along with plenty of praise as soon as they have gone.

Always keep your puppy in your sight while potty training to foster success. This is easier said than done, we know. So if you find that your puppy has had an accident and urinated or pooped inside, do not punish them after the fact. The puppy will only understand why you are upset if you actually catch him or her in the act. If you do catch your puppy going in the house, immediately interrupt the behavior with a verbal “no,” and take him or her quickly outdoors to finish. Be sure to offer plenty of praise when he or she goes outside.

Any time you’re not able to supervise your puppy, he or she should be kept in a crate. Puppies become comfortable and consider the crate their safe place to rest. They are also less likely to go to the bathroom in their crate as long as it’s not too big. For optimal success, you should allow your puppy to go to the bathroom before putting him or her in and as soon as they come out of the crate. Short periods of time in the crate will help your puppy learn to hold off until an appropriate potty time is offered. Another benefit of crating your puppy is that it prevents them from chewing on or eating things in the house while you’re not looking.

Remember that puppies often make mistakes during potty training, so do your best to keep up the positivity! If training seems to be really off course, it’s always good to check with your vet to rule out medical causes for the challenges. A professional trainer can also help smooth out the process if issues persist.


What can I expect from visits to the vet?

puppy vet clinic

You should schedule a vet visit as soon as possible after getting a new puppy and do whatever you can to make every vet visit as low-stress as possible. Be sure to give plenty of praise (and treats!) to make each visit a positive experience. This will help your puppy see the vet as a normal outing rather than an unpleasant experience as they grow older.

The vet will give your puppy a physical exam to look for any problems he or she may have been born with (such as hernias, luxating patellas, soft spots on their head, heart murmurs, etc.) or any other medical issues. In addition, your vet will deworm your puppy and get you started on a proper vaccination schedule. You’ll also want to talk about having your puppy spayed or neutered at the appropriate age.

Vaccinations are a proactive way to protect and support your puppy’s immune system from exposure to new diseases. Your veterinarian will create a plan for your puppy based on your unique lifestyle and routines, but they usually start vaccines around 6  to 8 weeks of age and booster them every 2 to 3 weeks until they’re 16 weeks old. It’s important to follow your vet’s plan as getting all recommended boosters in with the correct intervals will ensure your puppy is fully protected. Some vaccines are considered core vaccines (rabies, distemper combo vaccine) and are given to almost all puppies. There are other non-core vaccines (bordetella, lyme, lepto, influenza) that are given based on an individual puppy’s chance of future exposure. This often depends on where you live and what your puppy will be in contact with, both in the environment and from other dogs. For example, does your puppy spend almost all of their time inside or do they go to dog parks or a groomer? Will you take them for a hike in the woods every weekend? Your vet will also likely start your puppy on a heartworm preventative and possibly a flea and tick preventative regimen.

Because they are so little, puppies can get sick quickly. Watch for any diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, lethargy, sneezing, coughing, discharge from the eyes or nose, fever, decreased appetite, limping, or general changes in health or behavior. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these.
Always remember that your vet is your ally, and you both want the best for your puppy. If you have questions about something or if you miss a vaccine booster or dose of preventative medication, be sure to check in with your vet. They will be happy to get you back on track.


Time for training!

puppies playing

It’s important to socialize puppies with people and dogs, but be careful about who you introduce your puppy to until they’ve gotten all of their puppy vaccines at 16 weeks. Until then, it’s best to keep your puppy in a fenced-in yard and only let them interact with fully-vaccinated dogs. You’ll want to avoid places where other dogs frequent (such as dog parks and pet stores), and carry them in and out of vet clinics to help reduce their exposure to diseases.

Puppy classes are strongly encouraged for training and socialization, and reputable classes will require that all puppies be up-to-date on vaccines. These classes are great for both you and your puppy, and they will foster a positive long-term relationship by teaching you how to communicate and interact with each other.

Your puppy will lose its baby teeth and get adult teeth throughout its first eight months. Chewing and biting is a normal play behavior between puppies, and it provides relief to pesky teething pain. You can teach your puppy that biting you is inappropriate using a high-pitched sound to mimic the noises puppies use with each other when playtime gets too rough. Immediately give your puppy a toy to play with and praise them for playing with the toy.


Brushing up on grooming tips

puppy grooming

Now is the perfect time to get your puppy comfortable with things they will encounter in the future, such as vet visits, nail trims, ear cleaning, and brushing their coat and teeth, so they will not be afraid of these things as an adult dog. Trimming nails can be done at home, but ask your vet to show you how.  Cutting them too short can cause a bit of pain and bleeding, and it might make them wary of nail trims in the future. It’s also great to get your puppy used to daily tooth brushing. Dental disease can be detrimental to the body later in life, so keeping the teeth clean is a great way to keep them healthy. You can use a regular toothbrush or a finger brush, but be sure to use toothpaste specially made for dogs because human toothpaste is toxic to pets.

Puppies can be messy, but we only recommend giving a full bath every two weeks if possible. More frequent baths can dry out the skin. Between baths, you can spot wash your puppy as needed. It’s important to use a shampoo that’s made for dogs because the pH of their skin is different than that of people, so our soaps and shampoos can dry out or irritate their skin.


Anything else I should know? I’m a bit overwhelmed!

puppy beagle

Exercise, plenty of toys, and playing are important to keep your puppy’s mind stimulated. Gradually introduce exercise (but don’t overdo it) and keep a close eye on your puppy when it’s playing with toys. Remove any strings or small parts that can come off the toy, as they can cause choking or blockages in the intestines if swallowed. Always supervise your puppy if he or she is playing with plush toys. Their sharp little teeth can cut through and get the stuffing and squeakers out easily, and these can be hazardous when swallowed.

Most important of all, enjoy your puppy! Take lots of pictures to look back on later. They don’t stay small for long, and there’s nothing better than puppy kisses to brighten any day.


Best Friends Pet Hotel – Puppy Wellness Resources:

Puppy Play Group

Give your puppy a strong foundation for life! At our Puppy Play Group sessions, your puppy gets to play in a supervised pack environment that teaches them proper socialization, manners and play skills to prepare them for adulthood.

Click here to learn more about Puppy Play Group and to book a reservation.


Puppy Nutrition

We are proud to have partnered with Freely® – our Exclusive Nutrition Partner – to offer pet food recipes (for puppies and beyond) that are made with limited, purposeful ingredients.

Click here to learn more about Freely.


Puppy Grooming

Whether you need a quick shampoo or “the works, our expert groomers will make your furry friend fabulous. Each appointment includes a free consultation to discuss your pup’s personal grooming needs. Bonus: First time puppies receive a discounted bath for only $10 and a discounted bath and haircut for only $20!

Click here to learn more about grooming and to book a reservation.


Vet Clinics

In conjunction with Vetco, we offer vaccination and wellness services, monthly, in almost all of our convenient locations.

Click here to learn more about our vet care, see our upcoming clinic dates and locations, and to make a reservation.



Blog Post Source: https://freelypet.com/blogs/nutrition-articles/puppy-101-a-quick-start-guide-to-caring-for-your-new-canine-companion



The Name Game

Are you and your dog ready for another brain stimulating game that’s sure to keep your dog and the rest of the family entertained while you’re at home?

Let’s play The Name Game!

In this game, you’ll teach your dog the names of two favorite toys. Get ready for some learning and fun!

Not on our email list yet?… Click here to subscribe and get all new “Best Friends At Home” episodes delivered to your inbox.

7 Effective Dog Training Methods – For Old Dogs and New Dogs

7 Effective Dog Training Methods – For Old Dogs and New Dogs

By Christine A. Bournias

dog training with treat

​Something New To Think About​

Is your furry running partner showing signs of slowing down?

It may be subtle at first, then more evident over time. Yes, your new dog is getting old. You never thought this rambunctious puppy – with an abundant amount of energy – would change. But, with wisdom comes maturity.

dog laying down on floor

When it comes to learning, there are a few ​stages of canine growth. While overlapping dog development periods require further research and investigation, pet parents should be familiar with these general stages of puppy life when teaching our dog new tricks:

4 Primary Stages of Puppy Growth And Behavioral Development ​

According to the PetSmart Services Learning Institute, based on studies​ ​based on Dr. John Paul Scott and John Fuller, there are four (4) main periods of canine behavioral development:

Neonatal Period (Birth to 2 Weeks) ​

Puppies should be with their mother and littermates during this stage, however research shows
that brief, gentle human handling has beneficial effects.

Your puppy is largely reflexive during this period. If they’re touched on the side of their face, your puppy’s reflexive response is to turn and crawl in the direction of the touch. During this life stage, their core body temperature is regulated by their mother and their litter mates.

puppy sleeping on blanket

Transitional Period (2-3 Weeks) ​

In this stage, puppies transition away from behaviors that are designed to enhance the survival of a newborn. Your puppy will begin to display behaviors that are more adult-like and will discover their feet under them.

During the transitional period, puppies will display increased sensory and locomotor skills, allowing them to gain their maturity. They start to gain independence for toilet behaviors.

​Socialization Period (3-12 Weeks) ​

During this life stage, puppies become fully able to see and hear. Your puppy will begin to form social relationships and attachments to recognized locations. Around twenty (20) days, puppies will exhibit a startle response to sounds.

The socialization period is the most important time in your puppy’s life. Puppies begin to form social relationships, learning opportunities, and attachments to recognized locations. If your puppy is deprived of these critical teachable moments, they may have a tough time relating to other dogs later in life.

two dogs running in grass, playing with toy

​Juvenile Period (12 Weeks to Maturity) ​

The juvenile period allows puppies to form secondary social relationships—beyond their mother and littermates. In this stage, dogs are said to be “testing the rules”, much like a human teenager. Puppies become self-reliant and independent at this age. They establish dominance order amongst their littermates and display emotional states of fear or anger.

Your puppy is born completely dependent on their mother. At this juvenile stage, puppies begin to learn to make their own way. The human owner becomes less and less the center of the universe. This juvenile period is a terrific opportunity to diffuse your puppy’s fear response and adaptability.

Other ​canine studies ​​believe that there are more specific dog growth stages. These experts have coined fun names and interesting ways to remember your dog’s development.

dog graduate, graduation cap, diploma

​Beyond Juvenile Period​ ​

Many pet parents believe that dogs close to one (1) year of age or older need no further training or socialization needs. Beyond the juvenile stage, your dog will indeed benefit from training.

An eighteen (18) month dog is still maturing and they need you more than ever. Dedicated time investment with your juvenile plus dog will strengthen your bond together and will help curve undesired behavioral habits. This age is an ideal time to continue to train your dog.

Puppies that were well socialized when they were young could regress. Your dog may become fearful of people or new situations if their training and socialization activities aren’t continued. In fact, young adult dogs between one (1) to two (2) years of age are at greatest risk of being surrendered to shelters.

dog training, trainer with treat

New Ways To Think About Your Aging Pet​ ​

Your dog looks at you a bit longer. They hobble and hop with arthritis. Or, they may not hear your commands or see you as well. Be patient with them. Your dog wants to please you and they’re still ready to learn. ​At any age,​ all pets long for your attention and deserve mental stimulation.

Also, not all dogs are good at all things. Understand your dog’s type and breed, focus on what your dog is really good at, and recognize that not every dog is going to be good at fetch.


“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Speculated quote by Albert Einstein


Golden Retrievers may be wonderful at heeling close to their owners’ side for loose leash walking, while this breed may be much less impressive at herding a flock of sheep. Herding dogs may not be great lap dogs, but might run circles around a tiny designer dog who lives in an oversized purse.

dog training, high five with dog trainer

NOTE TO YOU ABOUT YOUR DOG: Discover who they are, find out what they’re good at, and capitalize on those unique skills. Specific canine experts that use interactive games help analyze how your dog sees the world:

“By understanding your dog’s mind, you’ll build a deeper connection with the personality behind the bright eyes that greet you every day.” — ​Dognition Assessment
​ ​

But Can You Really Teach Your Old Dog ​New​ Tricks?​ ​

Yes, you can teach ​all​ dogs tricks. New or “old”—we all need to learn. Yes, learning includes our sugar face canine companions too.

Much like us, dogs thrive on mental stimulation throughout their lives. Ongoing dog training, as well as continual ​pet parent education are ideal ways to educate yourself and nurture the bond between dogs and their caregivers.

Your own dog may not learn like a new puppy at their early life stages, but if you make learning fun, they’ll love the education process. Even if your dog doesn’t master the new task at hand, both you and your dog might enjoy trying!

dog holding leash in mouth

​7 New Tips For Old Dogs ​

1. Time investment

Finding something new to teach your pet takes time. The key is to ​make​ time with your dog. Even ten (10) minute bouts a few times a day can make a big difference in your dog’s learning curve, especially when you’re stuck indoors. A simple walk works wonders.

Many pet parents think they have to train their dog for hours at a time, but all your dog really wants are tiny — yet quality — moments of your attention each day.

“Teach them like there’s enough time for both of you.” —​Unknown

As humans, we get distracted with family life and work, but ​you are the center of your pet’s world. The least we can do for them is to carve out a small slice of time — far away from your typical routine of the world.

Make time to play and train your dog. Period.

Nobody said it would be easy — however, time investment will increase trust and help strengthen the bond with your animal.

2. Timing

Dogs live and learn in the moment. Be in ​that ​moment. It’s not necessary to repeat a command over and over again. They hear us the first time! (Or, the second time.) When it comes to training, timing is everything.

Quick thinking and rapid response will help your dog learn at their speed. Ask your trusted​ pet professionals, a dog training expert, or a recognized animal behaviorist for additional advice.

3. Simplicity

Start with basic commands like common “sits” and “stays.” Don’t try to do too much too soon. Simple requests are ideal. Remember: Keep It Simple Sweetheart (K.I.S.S.) Baby steps are key.

woman training dog to give paw

4. Showcasing

Training is not something that happens overnight. Your dog wants to please you. It’s your job to show them how. Show your dog what you want instead of telling them what to do over and over again. Show don’t tell. Be silly with your dog. And, by all means, make it fun.

101 Dog Tricks ​ by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy suggests a trick tip: “Increase your dog’s motivation by varying the consistency, amount, and types of treats. Sometimes, offer a goldfish cracker, sometimes nothing, and sometimes a jackpot of treats!”


5. Shaping

‘Shape’ a desired behavior by working with your dog in steps, known in dog training as ‘shaping.’ Shaping consists of luring, marking, and rewarding success.

​Take Small Steps. Teach In Stages. Exercise Patience.​ ​

Example: Dance between ankles: Start with your right leg, allow your dog to funnel through your ankle by luring them with a high value reward, like a tiny treat. Mark and reward desired behavior. Repeat with the left leg. Mark and reward desired behavior. Slowly add these two steps together to complete the “dance.” Gradually combine both your right and left leg to complete the entire sequence. Take lots of breaks. Make lots of mistakes. Repeat as necessary. Revert back to something simple like a “sit” often. New tricks take some perseverance, but patience is power.

6. Sequencing

If your dog knows a handful of simple tasks, practice those tricks first. Then add a few tasks and string those tasks together. Putting a series of tricks together transforms into an advanced trick. Add and rearrange as desired.

Celebrate little wins and take a little walk break. Go back to “kindergarten” with basic commands. When you come back to practice, you may find your dog will perform the last thing that you’ve taught them.

woman barefoot, walking dog on leash in grass

7. Silence

Let your dog think through the commands you give him or her. Be quiet and listen to your dog. Then watch what happens. You might be surprised at their immediate success.

“If you want your dog to learn how to play hoops, get him a basketball net and teach the task in steps. Allow him to touch the net with his nose. Mark and reward. Let him touch the ball. Mark and reward. Combine these two tasks. Repeat several times without saying a word. Then be quiet. Give your dog permission to think it through. Don’t get too enthusiastic too soon. Avoid escalating your excitement voice. You’ll break his chain of thought.” ​—Craig K. ​Pet Training Instructor

dog training with toy in yard


Not The Same Old Thing ​

Change is good. Keep things fresh and lively—and have some fun with new “old” things. String a few training staples together and ta-da—something new! Change the order of simple tasks and mix or match:

​Fresh Thoughts To Old Tricks

  • ​Wait + Recall + Sit = New Trick!
  • Sit + Down + Stay = New Trick!
  • Down + Roll Over + Speak = New Trick!
  • BackUp+Sit+Stay=NewTrick!

Do Fun Things And Keep The Skip In Their Step ​

Surprise your dog with something innovative and refreshing. Give them a new perspective on life. Maybe it’s a new toy, a new direction around the block, or a new trick. If your dog has never attended a ​dog daycare service, now may be a good time to introduce more fun into their daily routine.

Many reputable pet hotels have ​ ​training classes​​, ​play & train options, or individual behavior sessions for puppies and mature dogs alike. Training sessions keep your dog acting like a pup and continue to fine tune their basic obedience skills.

Your dogs may not learn like they used to, but they’ll appreciate your efforts and the time you make for them. Practice learning your dog and love the bond you’re forming with your pooch. You may not be successful at all tricks with your dog, however, you just might enjoy the process and impress them with your efforts. And, that’s all that matter!

● ​Keep your pet feeling fresh and frisky

Feed your pet good fuel

Practice being active

Love on them!
​ ​

New “Old” Things​ ​

Learning is lifetime. Same for your dog. Whether you have a young pup or wise old buddy, your pets deserve your attention. Present to them an abundance of tricks and plenty of interesting things to think about. Give your puppy dog the chance to ​want​ to pay attention to you and learn more fun, new things each day!

With increased time spent at home, adopting a new member into your family may be the perfect solution to helping your local shelter. If you find yourself indoors more often lately, you may have additional time to devote to your fur friend’s training needs.

dog trained, trick, balancing muffin on head


For new stuff and other fun things to think about, visit: ​Best Friends Pet Hotel ​or call your local hotel.



About The Author:

Christine A. Bournias resides in Michigan with her 2-pack; two new beautiful adopted miracles. As her “Angelwriter”, Nicodemus (1997-2010) is the wisdom behind the stories she shares. Christine champions the magnitude of building the bond between a dog and their person(s) by means of respectful communication and enduring admiration.

The Shell Game

The Shell Game for Dogs

Are you and your dog ready for a brain stimulating game that’s sure to keep your dog and the rest of the family entertained while you’re at home?

Let’s play The Shell Game!

In this game, you’ll place a treat or toy underneath 1 of 3 overturned cups and let your dog guess which cup has the treat or toy. When your dog guesses correctly, he gets a treat!

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Dog Obstacle Course

Make your own dog obstacle course! Creating an obstacle course stimulates and exercises your dog (and maybe even you too!). You can make one with items from your home, just like Kayla did with her dog DJ on the enclosed clip. Happy constructing!

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5 Stimulating & Fun Games to Play with Your Pet

dog, Einstein

Besides the usual walks, frisbee, and fetch, how about playing a mentally stimulating game with your dog (we have one in there for cats too!) that will teach them an awesome new skill and provide lots of fun and reward!

Below are five video tutorials on a few of our favorite stimulating and fun games to play with your pet. Pick one, two, three, four or all! And have fun!

1. The Shell Game

The Shell Game is a brain stimulating game that’s sure to keep your dog and the rest of the family entertained.

In this game, you’ll place a treat or toy underneath 1 of 3 overturned cups and let your dog guess which cup has the treat or toy. When your dog guesses correctly, he gets a treat!


2. The Name Game

The Name Game is another brain stimulating game that’s sure to keep your dog and the rest of the family entertained.

In this game, you’ll teach your dog the names of two favorite toys. Get ready for some learning and fun!


3. The “Find It” Game – Nosework for Your Dog

A dog’s nose knows. Learn the steps to encouraging your dog’s scent through a game called, “Find It”. Watch Molly and Magic, experts in “find it”, as they teach how to find hidden treats. Fun to play inside and outside!


4. Hide and Seek Treat Toy for Cats

Encourage your cat’s primal instinct and stimulate his curiosity with the Hide and Seek Cat Toy made from items in your home. Easy to make. Provides hours of play!

5. “Through the Hoop” Dog Trick

Turn a hula hoop and some motivation into a trick with your dog. Teach her first how to walk through the hoop and then slowly how to jump through. With a little time, your dog, young or senior, has it in her to learn and excel at this trick.