Everything I Wish I Knew Before Getting A Puppy
When I got my first puppy, I had no idea what I was doing. I learned many things the hard way, so I wanted to write an article to help other people learn from my mistakes, as well as get other information they should have about keeping their puppy happy and healthy.
New Puppy Checklist - What do I need for my new puppy?
- Puppy food: At Pawsarotti's, we carry plenty of puppy food options. My favorite puppy formulas we have are Tikidog Aloha Petites for puppies, which is made specifically for smaller breed dogs. For larger breed dogs, I usually suggest the Fromm Gold Puppy, or the Nutrisource Large Breed Puppy formula. All of these are made in America, and get high ratings on Dogfoodadvisory.com. We also offer a 100% guarantee on all of our dry food, as well as frozen & freeze dried, so if what you pick first does not agree with the puppy, just come back and trade it in for something different! It is common for puppies to have sensitive stomachs, so don't be surprised if you have to try a few different foods before finding the one that works best for you. If you dog does happen to have a sensitive stomach issue, and is having unwanted bowel movements, you can try giving them some pumpkin or sweet potatoes, which help firm up their stool and should hopefully bring it back to normal. We sell cans of organic pumpkin at our store. You should also give your dog some wet food, especially if they are younger, since their teeth are not all the way developed yet, so the hard kibble is hard on their teeth. If you want to feed them only kibble, I would suggest mixing it with a little bit of warm water if they are under 3 months old to make the pieces of food softer. Wet food is also important to give dogs because it helps them meet their nutritional needs that the kibble might not meet.
- A crate: Puppies can often be destructive, and you probably can't give your puppy your 100% undivided attention, a crate will be your best friend. If you need a break from the puppy for a little bit, or need to leave them home alone while you go to work, you can leave them in a crate so that they do not wreak havoc on your home. Crate training is always hard, you have to leave them in their crate and let them cry their hearts out, but eventually after 2 or 3 days of that, your dog will get used to it and will be able to relax in their crate. I found that if i cover my dogs crate with a sheet, it will help them calm down and go to sleep faster, because they can't see what is going on in their surroundings. You can also play instrumental or classical music, or even leave a TV on for them while you are gone, because the background noise helps them relax.
- A crate pad: not only will it help your dog be more comfortable in their crate, but machine washable crate pads are a lifesaver when your dog has an accident in their crate. Instead of having to wash the crate, you can just remove the pad and throw it in the washing machine.
- A collar, name tag, and leash: once your dog has their last shots at 16 weeks, they are set to go outside and start going on walks, taking training classes, and going on new adventures. In order to keep them safe, they need a collar and leash, as well as a name tag with their name, your contact info, and any other pertinent information.
- a harness/martingale collar: If your pup was anything like mine, they will not have the best manners on leash. He would want to explore everything, and would pull on his leash, and grab it with his mouth and try to play tug--o-war with me if I was not going fast enough. If he found something interesting, like a cool stick or an interesting tree, he would refuse to move unless I actually picked him up. He would also jump up at passing people, and would lunge at birds, squirrels, or falling leaves if he saw them. To correct these behaviors, I got him a harness, which gave me more control over him. The Puppia harnesses we have at Pawsarottis are great, they are super simple, and pull on the dogs chest, not their neck. Martingale collars are also an option for even more crazy dogs, which are basically choke collars made of the regular collar material, not the ones with metal prongs. I eventually had to move up to those when my dog became bigger and outgrew his harness.
- Training treats: To teach a dog all of their basic commands- sit,stay, come, leave it, etc, you should have some regular training treats, usually people use the small little meat bites. Zuke's, Cloudstar, and Nutrisource all make reasonably priced training treats that all get the stamp of approval from my dog. For other training needs, where you want your dog to know you are especially happy with them, High value reward treats are important too. These are treats that are high quality and should not be given to them all the time. For example, my dog had a problem learning potty training, so anytime he went to the bathroom outside instead of on the carpet, I would give him a Dogswell Jerky treat, which is pretty much like a little piece of steak. I reserved these treats for things like potty training so he began to associate going to the bathroom outside with the really good treats, so he began to go outside more frequently.
- Stain and odor remover spray: As I mentioned before, puppies often have accidents inside. If done on a carpet, it can leave stains and an unpleasant smell. We carry stain and odor removal sprays, which both remove the urine, and make it so the dog knows not to go there again. The spray has a pheromone in it which repels the dog from going in the same spot again. I found that the Nature's Miracle advanced formula is the best one, at least in my opinion.
-Chews & bones: Around 3-4 months old, your puppy will begin teething, and will want to chew on anything and everything that they can. It is important to get them things to chew on so that they do not chew on things you don't want them to chew, like furniture, or in my case phone chargers. We have frozen bones which are my favorite things for teething puppies, as they are cold so it helps reduce swelling on the dogs gums. They also have marrow and real meat on them, so the dogs love them, and they are thick enough to not have to worry about splintering. We also have Nylabone chew toys, regular bones fresh from Humboldt county, and one of our customer fan favorite treats, Earth Animal No Hide Chews. These are a rawhide alternative made with all natural ingredients, are completely digestible, and come in 5 different flavors.
- Skin & coat health : It is important to keep your dogs skin and coat healthy. It is recommended to give your dog a bath every 2-4 weeks. We carry Earth bath shampoo, which is all natural and based in San Francisco, and their Ultra Mild Puppy Shampoo s fantastic and makes your puppy smell like cherries for a day or two after their bath. If you do not want to give them a bath yourself, You could bring them to a grooming salon, like Sadie's Pet Spa, who just moved around the corner from us on Montgomery Drive. Michelle does nail trimming at our store on Sundays, and she works at Sadie's during the week as a groomer. You can also add fish oil supplements or omega 3 supplements to your dogs food, which will help keep their skin and coat nice and healthy.
- Anxiety: Many puppies have some level of anxiety or stress, so it would be good to have some things on hand to help calm them down if they ever have an incident. My puppy had extreme separation anxiety, since he was taken away from his mom too young. Because of that, anytime I had to leave him home alone, he would throw a fit, and I could hear him crying from outside. I felt bad leaving him like that, and didn't want my neighbors to complain, so I tried out a few products. The one that worked best for me was the Thundershirt calming spray. It has a natural pheromone which reminds the dog of their mother when they were younger, so they relax. We also have thundershirts the dog can wear which has a less highly concentration of the same pheromone in it, as well as calming collars and treats with natural ingredients which help calm the dog down as well.
- It is absolutely necessary for your puppy to get proper socialization. After 16 weeks, they can go out and meet other dogs, which is important so that they learn how to appropriately interact with other dogs. Group training sessions are a great way of doing this, because the trainer can help correct any inappropriate behavior. Dog parks are also great, but you need to keep your eye on a puppy if they are going to be playing with larger and potentially more aggressive dogs. A great way to socialize your puppy is by bringing them into a pet store, even if you are not buying anything, just to get them used to being out in public and around other animals and people.
Some places to bring your pup in Sonoma County
Sonoma County is one of the best places in America for dog parents. Anadele State Park is an awesome place to bring your dog, with two lakes to walk around, and they have dog events pretty regularly. You can also bring them on a hike at Taylor Mountain in South Santa Rosa. Bodega Bay has lots of dog friendly beaches and restaurants. Dillon Beach is a great place to bring your dog to play with other dogs off leash. (it costs $10). Farther north, in Healdsburg, you can take your dog to Riverfront State Park, where they can walk around the lake. For a full article on what to do with your dog in Sonoma County, check out our article, https://www.pawsarottis.com/post/places-to-bring-your-dog-in-sonoma-county