Common Sense Information on The Training and Care of Puppies and Dogs

So You Have Your New Puppy – Now What?

So You Have Your New Puppy - Now What?

You have a new puppy – Now What?

It’s not a big question but it will require a pretty long answer. Hopefully you picked up all the things that you need prior to getting your new puppy home.

  • Food
  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Leash and Collar
  • Toys
  • Baby gate(s) if needed
  • Dog Crate
  • And you have picked a Veterinarian

If you read my previous post – “If you want a Better Dog then raise a Better Puppy


Then you know that I really focus on doing all that I can with my new dog in the first several months that I have him or her. That post was a bit more philosophical whereas this article is much more actionable.

These are the things I do when I get a New Puppy

Before I bring my puppy home I do a pretty good inspection of the house and look for potential “dangers”.  If there are areas that you do not want your pup to go in the house then use baby gates to keep them out of those areas. If you are in a home with small children, make sure that toys ( child’s toys ) are picked up and stored properly away. Also, if there are small children, especially toddlers, then there needs to be careful consideration as far as the safety of both the children as well as the puppy. Children and puppies go well together but they need to be supervised.  One thing that little children like to do is to hug puppies around the neck, to the point that the child might be chocking the puppy. Puppies will defend themselves and it is hard to blame them if they are choking. If your child is not old enough to understand then Close supervision is needed.



If your child is a little older then a chat about what is and is not proper is in order, and supervision is still warranted at least in the beginning. Children also have a habit ( tendency ) to carry food around, or a sippy cup. be sure to watch closely in these situations to make sure that your child is not slipping the puppy food and drink it should not have. Common sense should rule the day.

The first few days or so with your New Puppy

The first several days when your pup get’s home can be a little stressful for both you and your puppy.  The human stress level can certainly be lessoned with good planning. However, for the puppy there is just so much you can do.

During the first few days that I have a new pup I just let them get settled in. They are more than likely a bit anxious and they have been pulled out of their pack and placed into a new one.  So they need a few days to get settled in and relax.

Hopefully, you asked what puppy food the breeder was feeding. If you are going to change it, do it a little at a time. Switching out the food to quickly can really throw off their digestive system. So I like to change slowly. Your puppy needs to eat 3 X’s a day until 6 months. During the first day or so keep the puppy on the same food that it was being fed prior to you picking it up. Let them eat that for 2 days. Too many changes at one time causes too much undue stress. After a couple days you can do a 25/75 mixture. That is 25% of the new food and 75% of the previous food. Then you can go 50/50 and then 75/25 and then on the 4th day 100% of the new food. This is much easier on their body and mind.

Crate training a new puppy is a post all in itself.

I crate train all my dogs right from the beginning. The key things to keep in mind are these. Dogs are denning animals and even though you may have to listen to some Weep Weeping for a couple few days your dog will be much better for it. There will be crying either way so you might as well get something out of it. 


 Pick a crate that is the appropriate size for the puppies current size. If you have a St. Bernard don’t buy a giant sized crate at least not yet. I know that means that you will buy more than one crate over time but the crate needs to fit the dog. It’s not a playpen it’s a crate. There should be enough room for you to be able to put a food and water bowl in the crate and still have enough space so that the puppy can move around comfortably behind the bowls. Enough room to stand, and turn around without being too constricted. If the crate is too big then they will have more chance of going to the bathroom in the crate. Crate training is very much part of Housebreaking. I think it is the easiest way and that is after probably close to 100 dogs that I have crate trained.

I feed my dogs in their crates, in fact I do more than just feed my dogs in the crate, I teach my dogs to eat. One of the things that the pack leader does is control the food. Though our dogs are domesticated they still carry over 99% of the genes of a wolf. Their understanding of the pack is the same. In a wild pack when there is a kill the Alpha male and female get to eat first. And they eat what they want, All the animals in the pack that are below them have to wait their turn.

Black Lab Retriever Puppy

We can use some of that pack mentality with our dogs as well. I feed on a pretty set schedule, one because it helps in housebreaking but also dogs have an uncanny sense of time and if they are on a consistent schedule then they have the expectation of the next feeding time.

Right from the beginning, with my young puppies they get their food, but I only give them about 10 minutes to eat and whether they are finished or not I take their food bowl up.  You will find that after the first several days to a week, When it is feeding time your puppy will be happily following you to their crate so that they can eat. It help make the crate a happier place. Also, by feeding this way your dog will “learn” to eat when they get feed which helps avoid any eating problems later on.

I do not like to use any kind of cloth bedding or toys with my young dogs unless they are supervised. I have seen more than one dog swallow enough torn up cloth to end up having to have surgery. When they are a little older and past the teething stage then a nice soft bed is fine. I still don’t let my dogs have cloth toys, they don’t last anyway.

Something else to be aware of when they are little and still getting their puppy shots is that they are still somewhat susceptible to illnesses like Parvo and Bordetella ( kennel cough ) so just be a little cautious what dogs you let your pup come in contact with until they have had their third set of shots. I am talking about dogs you don’t know. As long as you know that the dog(s) that your new puppy has contact with have been vaccinated then that is fine. I would try to avoid the unknown dogs in those first few weeks.

After I have had my pups for a few days to a week and they are pretty settled in then we begin some puppy training. The first thing I want them to know is the leash or lead.

A plain old nylon collar is perfect and a standard 6 foot lead. It’s time to teach the puppy to walk on the lead. If you can find a collar that has a buckle, not the ones with the plastic snap connectors. they are harder to find in the small collars but if possible they are best. When you put the collar on your puppy you want it tight enough so that it can not slip off. This is very important. We don’t want to choke the dog but we want the collar snug enough that there is not possible way that if the puppy pulls on the lead that the collar comes off, slipping the collar is what we call that.

Since positive influences are quickly imprinted. We can’t let the puppy slip his or her collar. Just one time is enough for the dog to learn and then you have a dog that at least for a time will test that over and over to see if they can slip it again.


This is easier done outside but inside is ok if you have enough room. put the collar and leash on and try to take the puppy for a walk. I say try because the puppy is going to fight the leash. Encourage your pup to walk with you. when it stops to fight the collar, just stand there and hold the leash and let the puppy work it out. They might act like a fish on a line but if you just stay calm and don’t say anything and just let the puppy do what ever it is going to do he or she will stop pretty quickly. Once it quits then try walking again, with lively  encouragement. Don’t drag the puppy around, when the puppy stops or starts to fight the lead again, just stand still.  We are not teaching healing, that comes later. This is just to get the puppy to “give to the lead”. As you progress and the puppy starts to walk with you then as soon as the puppy gets out in front of you turn around and go the other way. This works quite well on a sidewalk. The first couple times you do this the puppy will probably fight it, again just stand still and let the puppy do what it is going to do until it stops and then start again. Don’t make these sessions too long, about 10 minutes should be fine.

You can do this every day if you want. But don’t over do it. Young puppies have a short attention span. It is important to keep things fun.

The other thing that I work on are puppy sits. This is not formal training just like all of this, it should be light and fun. You can do this inside. Just get down on the floor have the collar on the pup and do some sits. Since a at this age puppy is pretty small it is easy to work with. One hand holding the collar and then you can pull up just a little ( we are not lifting the front feet off the ground ) and then take your other hand and run it down the dogs back and then down its butt and then move your hand inward at the hocks making the legs collapse so the puppy sits. Be easy and make it fun, make it a game in the puppies mind. To do this correctly just as your hand comes in under their back legs and you just pull up slightly and say “sit”, “sit” in a light voice, then praise.

I don’t want your dog to be a treat junky, but an occasional little treat will help enforce the action.  If you do these 4 or 5 times a week, even a couple times a day for 5 minutes or so each time you will find that in a week or two your puppy will start to pick this up pretty quickly.


The last thing that I work on in the very early days is the recall, “Here” or “Come”. Again this is puppy training. For me and my dogs the recall is somewhat related to a retrieve. So I combine these two into one exercise when they are little. If you have a hallway where you can close the doors so you can sit at one end and the puppy has nowhere to go except in the hall or past you then that is perfect. Grab a couple socks, balled up. Since the puppy is in a hall it can’t go anywhere and so coming back to you is the only way out. Now this is very much a game and if at any time either you or the puppy are not having fun, stop.

You have your two socks, take one and move it around get the puppy excited and toss it down the hall. The puppy should chase it. If it does not don’t throw the second one we have that one for a reason. Just go get the first one and do it again. If the pup is not quite into it, then play a little keep away and get the puppy excited and then try throwing it again. The puppy will figure it out, chasing comes very natural to dogs, however, coming back does not. So now your puppy is down the hall and has the sock. Just let them be for a moment, usually they will play with it for a bit and then a couple things might happen, the puppy might loose interest. If so just go pick up the sock and start again or the puppy might decide that the sock is ok and that it now “belongs” to him or her. This is where the second sock comes in, if the puppy gets the sock and is playing with it give it a few minutes and then start playing with the second sock. Toss it up in the air bounce it off the floor, whatever you need to do to make the sock you have look more fun than the sock your puppy has. When you pup starts your way, say “here” “here” a couple time while your puppy is coming down the hall to you. When the puppy get’s to you, give it lots of praise but DO NOT try to take the sock from the puppy. Just let it hold it while you love the puppy up. Usually the puppy will drop the sock at some point, however, some dogs are a little more possessive. If so then start playing around with the other sock you have, roll it around, toss it up in the air, if you make that second sock look pretty enticing your puppy is going to drop the sock it has to try to go for the one that you have. When that happens you can then pick up the sock that the puppy had so that you now have both of them again. If you try to take the sock from the puppy it will not take long for your puppy to stop coming back to you. It’s not going to come back if it’s toy is taken away each time. Let the puppy drop the sock on it’s own then you can just repeat this until the puppy starts to loose interest at which time, it is time to stop.



These are the things that I like to do with my pups in the first couple or three weeks that I have my dog. It gives you good play time. The puppy is learning some things even if it is play and I think more importantly, it makes the puppy think. The more we can challenge that little brain the more it will develop which leads to better learning skills later in life.

This is fun time for you and your puppy, enjoy it, these days go fast.

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Till next time……

Happy Tails


Holidays – Dogs and The Grinch

Holidays - Dogs and The Grinch


Keeping your dogs safe during the Holidays

Now that Thanksgiving is over people are turning their attention to the upcoming holidays. I thought an article about how to keep your dogs, especially the young ones, safe during the holidays might be helpful at this time of the year.

You don’t have to be the Grinch but you do need to keep your dogs safe over the holidays

There are 3 Things to be aware of…

The first is food.

As you decorate one of the things that you might be doing is placing bowls of treats around your home. Many holiday goodies are poisonous to dogs. Anything with caffeine needs to be kept away from your dogs. Things like chocolate and anything else with coffee (caffeine) are dangerous for dogs.

Also many candies these days have artificial sweeteners in them, Xylitol, which is found in many candies as well as gum is toxic to dogs. So be very careful with with any candies that you might put out. Sugar is fine but no Xylitol.

Nuts are another common item that are put out for snacking on. Most nuts are fine, however,  Macadamia nuts, Walnuts and since these many times go together, Raisins are also toxic.

So just use common sense when it comes to these foods. Watch your dogs and when it comes to puppies, I would suggest that you not let them have access to areas where they might be able to get to any of these food items.

The second thing are certain plants

There is a wide misconception that Poinsettias are poison, they are not. They can cause slight skin irritation but otherwise they are fine. So go crazy with the Poinsettias.

However, the following is a list of very common plants that we use doing the holidays are quite toxic for dogs.

  • holly
  • mistletoe
  • amaryllis
  • daffodils
  • lilies

Each of these plants are very dangerous to dogs. Be sure to keep these out of the reach of your four legged friends. Be especially aware of your dogs behavior during the holidays. If you observe anything out of the ordinary, throwing up, acting drugged or sleepy. Respiration can be another sign of distress. If you think that your dog might have ingested any of these things, call your Vet. Do your best to determine what it might have been but call the Vet. Mistletoe will kill your dog, don’t wait.

Holiday Wreath

If you happen to catch your dog in the act of eating any of these things, try to figure out how much he or she consumed and then get your dog to vomit as quickly as possible. Hydrogen Peroxide works very well, it will not hurt your dog, it is cheap, I always have it on hand. It is given orally and the general dosage is one CC ( ml.) per pound but do not give more than 40 CC’s total regardless of how big the dog is. If you live in an area where you can get a syringe, any feed store that caters to cattle should have syringes. Otherwise a turkey baster works ok too just don’t give too much.

Here is a link to some additional information on using Hydrogen Peroxide to make a dog vomit.

I just went through this about 2 years ago. I was renting a house and was gone for a few weeks.  I asked my landlord to check on the house while I was gone. While she was there she placed mouse/rat poison blocks out around my house. She didn’t tell me, and don’t ask me why, she has dogs and she knew I had my dog. Anyway, I get home with the dogs and go in the house and I barely get my bag on the floor and I see Roz, my current Lab chowing down on some green thing. My dogs don’t get a lot of treats, and they don’t get anything like this. It kind of looked like one of the dental chews. So I grab this thing out of his mouth and I quickly start looking around and I found another one. So I’m like oh $?&#!!!

I could tell that it was some kind of poison bait but the little green block didn’t have any kind of information other than “Keep away from domestic animals” I immediately called my landlady, and though she could not tell me what exactly the product was she told me where it was on the shelf at the hardware store.

I grabbed a syringe and the Hydrogen Peroxide and squirted about 10 CC’s down his throat. Fortunately he was very cooperative and puked up everything he had in his stomach within about 10 minutes.

poison in Vomit
poison in Vomit

I know they are not pretty but you can see the green pieces in the pictures.

Once we got finished getting this stuff out of his stomach we headed for the vet. I just happened to have to go past the offending hardware store so I stopped so I could see what poison I was dealing with. I was figuring it would be one of the anti-coagulant but no, it was Bromethalin.

I know they are not pretty but you can see the green pieces in the pictures.

Once we got finished getting this stuff out of his stomach we headed for the vet. I just happened to have to go past the offending hardware store so I stopped so I could see what poison I was dealing with. I was figuring it would be one of the anti-coagulant but no, it was Bromethalin.

There are no tests to diagnose Bromethalin poisoning in pets. The signs of poisoning include include severe muscle tremors, fits, extreme sensitivity to being touched, seizures that appear to be caused by light or noise. However, the symptoms can be delayed for several days. There is no antidote for Bromethalin.

Sorry, I digressed, however, my point here is that you have to be prepared. If I had not had the Hydrogen Peroxide, I very well could have lost my boy.

Here is the list of symptoms to look for in a dog that has eaten Mistletoe.

• Drooling  • Vomiting  • Diarrhea   • Abdominal pain • Hypotension  • Walking drunk  • Collapse  • Seizures  • Death

Not a lot of difference in the end…… Please be prepared for the holidays, really for every day of the year.

Lastly as far as food I think it goes without saying no alcoholic beverages for the dogs.

The last thing we need to be aware of are the decorations themselves.

Lot’s of fun shiny things for Holiday dogs

While you are stringing the lights and setting up the tree one thing to watch for is where you run the electric cords. This is not as much a problem with the older dogs unless you have one that really likes to chew. However, for puppies electric cords are very enticing. And those little puppy teeth can go right through those rubber cords. Electrocution is not pretty, so be careful with the cords.

Then we have the tree. I have seen more than one Christmas tree pulled over by a dog. With all those pretty ornaments and candy canes etc., the tree is a puppies dream. Don’t leave a puppy alone with your tree even for a second. If you have raised children through the terrible two’s then you understand, when I say things can happen in the blink of an eye. This is just one of the reasons that I prefer people not get puppies during the holiday season, but that is a subject for a different post. Don’t shuffle your puppy off to solitary confinement – but at the same time be careful where your pup goes.

Dogs and Holidays can co-exist quite nicely

All it takes is a little preplanning and common sense and you, your family and your dogs can enjoy a fun and safe holiday season.

Happy Tails


If you want a better Dog then Raise a better Puppy

If you want a better Dog then Raise a better Puppy

Black Lab Retriever Puppy


If you have been to my site before then you will see that I have rearranged a few things. I removed and turned what had been my first post into a page. It’s not published yet but soon.

So to replace that first post I think this is the most appropriate thing that I can write. When I used to do the sporting shows my demonstration was titled  If you want a better dog then raise a better puppy.  It would be impossible for me to get all the information from that demo in a single post. It was a two hour demonstration.

However, what I would like to talk about, is the importance of the first 6 months for you and your dogs life.

You will hear me say how really nice it is to have a well mannered, mentally healthy, happy dog. And that is easily possible but it takes some effort and patience and it begins the first day that your new best friend lands on your doorstep.

The only way to raise a better puppy is to have a well thought out strategy

You only get this time ONE TIME don’t let it pass without putting it to good use. And it does not matter what breed of dog it is this goes for all dogs

It is amazing how many people that I run into that still believe that you really can’t start training a dog until it get’s to be some predetermined age. That is not the case, you can and you should begin training just about as soon as you get your new pup.

Star a female Golden Retriever Puppy

In future posts I will get into specific topics like housebreaking, walking on a leash etc.  This article is a little more about general things that you can do to make sure that you really do raise a better puppy.

First thing is to make sure that you choose well. Take time to decide what breed and gender, don’t buy on emotion choose your pup based on conscious choices.

Make sure that you have everything ready before you get your pup home. A kennel ( crate ), collar, leash, dog food, toys, baby gate if needed. make sure your house is safe from exposed electric cords that are easy to get to, no items that could be poison to a dog. Imagine letting a 3 year old child loose in your house for about an hour and then you will see things differently.


Develop a plan for how you are going to raise the pup. Do you know how you are going to housebreak your pup, do you have a schedule worked out. Young puppies can not be ignored. They need to eat 3 x’s a day, they need play time, as much outdoor time as possible, and then there are the training related items to consider. What do you want your puppy to know, sit, here/come, down, wait, etc. You need to have a plan as far as what and how you are going to train your pup. Have you chosen a veterinarian?

Have the mindset to Raise a Better puppy

In future posts I will get into specific topics like housebreaking, walking on a leash etc.  This article is a little more about general things that you can do to make sure that you really do raise a better puppy.

First thing is to make sure that you choose well. Take time to decide what breed and gender, don’t buy on emotion choose your pup based on conscious choices.

Make sure that you have everything ready before you get your pup home. A kennel ( crate ), collar, leash, dog food, toys, baby gate if needed. make sure your house is safe from exposed electric cords that are easy to get to, no items that could be poison to a dog. Imagine letting a 3 year old child loose in your house for about an hour and then you will see things differently.

In my training program there are two major areas that need to stay consistent.  The first is how you treat your dog. I can sum up in four words how my dogs are treated: Firm, Fair, Consistent and Patient.

Firm does not mean heavy handed, firm does not indicate any type of capitol punishment whatsoever. Firm means just what the definition says – in a resolute and determined manner.

Chocolate Labrador Puppy trying to retrieve a training dummy

Somebody is going to lead the pack, with my dogs it needs to be me. I have certain expectations based on age appropriate abilities. So I treat my dogs in a resolute and determined manner.

You have to be fair with your dogs. This is no different than how I try to treat the people in my life. Everybody, including the dogs get treated with fairness. If I’m having a bad day, I don’t take it out on my dogs any more than I take it out on my kids or my wife. If my dogs are having a bad day I don’t tell them to do things that would be unfair at that moment. Yes dogs have bad days too.

Consistency is very important, in everything you do with your dog. Schedules are important, the feeding schedule, when you take your pup outside, how you communicate with your dog. The need to be consistent can not be overstated.

The last one is patience. Remember these little guys are not born knowing stuff. They need to be taught, to be nurtured. Having a good plan will help, but things happen. Shoes get chewed as does furniture. There will probably be some mistakes when it comes to housebreaking. All manner of things are possible and you need to be patient. You don’t get to hit your dog, yelling at your dog does no good either. You want your dog to trust you, You want to develop a close relationship with your dog. Patience is a definite virtue when it comes to raising a dog.

The second major area that I focus on with my younger dogs is time.

I would like to encourage you to spend as much time with your dog as you possible can in that first 4 months, assuming you get your dog when it is around the 8 week old period. The first six months of a dogs life is really critical. Take advantage of it. Do everything that you can with your pup. Expose him/her to everything you can. Start your training soon after your pup gets home and settled in.  Start with some lease training, work on some puppy sits. The more that you can expose and challenge your pups little mind the better your dog will develop.

If you take the time to raise a better puppy, then I can assure you that you will end up with a much better dog!

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Happy Tails!