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



How to Maintain a Long Haired Coat (Dog Grooming)

Looking for some coat maintaining tips from our groomer, Val, to keep your pet feeling good? Check out this video on how to maintain a long haired coat as we work our way through a grooming session with our pal, Levi. Happy brushing!

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DIY Dog Toothpaste

In this “DIY Dog Toothpaste” episode of Best Friends At Home (A Pet Friendly Video Series Bringing You Comfort and Fun While You’re at Home), we show you a quick and easy dog toothpaste recipe to get your dog’s chompers clean and healthy!

The only challenge will be getting your pup to know it’s toothpaste and not a treat. 😉

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Groom & Zoom: 5 Grooming Tips For A Healthy Pet

dog after bath in towel

Does Your Pet Get The “Zoomies” After A Groom?

You know how terrific you feel when you pamper yourself? Well, our furry companions feel the same way! But, our pets express themselves in a much more exuberant way. Have you ever watched your pet after a refreshing bath or grooming appointment?

It’s hysterical.

Pets – especially young dogs – zip and zoom from room to room, diving into pillows, scratching blankets or digging into carpeting. If your pet’s zoomies get real crazy, there may be a little sand involved.

dog digging in sand

Yes, our pets love to be pampered.

When they’re groomed it’s as if they want to tell the world how happy and healthy they feel. Most of the time this excitement is about pure glee, other times it’s their attempt to get relief from the scent of products we use to clean them.

A Real Phenomenon Called “The Zoomies.”

‘Zoomies’ are categorized as crazy outbursts of energy after a bath. They’re usually accompanied by yelps, yips, and yodels. This odd behavior is common in dogs, but both cats and dogs seem to get more rambunctious during these energy explosion episodes, commonly known as zoomies.

Zoomie frenzies usually begin with your pet running in circles and a playful dig into anything they can get their paws on. Far too often, they get into mischief like mud after their bath. (Ugh.)

They might jump on furniture, or worse, wreak havoc in your home—making a wet mess everywhere.

‘Zoomie’ behavior typically means your pet is satisfied. But, it’s vital to keep your pet safe if and when they “zoom.” 

happy dog with pet parent

5 Grooming Tips To Keep Your Pet Happy, Healthy—And Safe.

TIP #1: Bath & Brush

When people approach your pet, you want a pleasant scent to linger in the air versus having a pooch with a stale “wet dog” syndrome.

Be aware, our pet’s noses are many million times more receptive than ours. Therefore, the smells of products like shampoos and conditioners are intense. A dog’s sense of smell is so extreme that the sweet smell of fruity or flowery products will often heighten the zoomie activity as they often try to run away from their new scent.

Nonetheless, starting from a shiny outside coat, your pet likes to feel clean and tingling all over. You’ll notice that they often get frisky after a good bath and brush out.

  • Protect your precious fur companions from the harsh outdoor elements during winter months or in extreme heat with pet friendly paw balm.
  • Your pet’s face, feet, and fanny are all important areas to keep free of dirt and debris.
  • A grooming professional will know the perfect water temperature to use on your pet and will be aware of any allergies they may have.
  • Ask your Groomer what products are best to use for your pet.

dog grooming bath shampoo

TIP #2: Towels & Drying

A good schnoz roll from a wet dog is entertaining. But, pay heed before the zoomies begin.

If you give your dog a bath at home, and they get the zoomies, be certain that they’re completely dry before they make a dash for the door. Drying your dog thoroughly with a pet friendly, absorbent towel will keep your pet from going outside in the frigid elements when they’re still damp.

Your Groomer will carefully blot your pet with appropriate toweling versus a rough feverish rub. A fluffy warm towel and professional blow out after the bath will keep your pet warm and dry.

Also, when your Groomer blow dries your pet, they measure the ideal distance to stand away from your pet’s paws so they don’t irritate sensitive areas of the body.

dog grooming bath towel rubber ducky


TIP #3: Nails & Paws

Trim your pet’s toenails and keep their paws tidy in between their pads. Shortened dewclaws have less chance of snagging on carpeting and rugs. Your groomer knows the proper tools to use on your pet’s feet.

Grooming professionals are trained on proper pet approach too. They prefer appropriate handling techniques and will care for your pet as if they’re their own.

TIP #4: Ears & Teeth

Gently wipe the inside of ear flaps without poking into the ear canal itself. Avoid infections by inspecting your pet’s ears on a regular basis. If you see anything unusual like tiny, black caffe grind looking pellets, consult your Veterinarian immediately. Ear mites are a serious medical concern.

Making time to brush your pet’s teeth is a challenge. However, it’s vital their teeth and gums are in good condition. Small dogs are especially susceptible to poor health due to shoddy teeth hygiene.

EXTRA TIP: Place pet friendly toothpaste on a crunchy biscuit to allow the crunch motion to help break up any accumulating tartar on their teeth. Try using a toothy baby washcloth in between brushings. Tenderly, yet thoroughly, wipe your pet’s teeth and gums – top and bottom.

dog grooming toothbrush

Ask your Groomer about brushing their teeth at your next grooming appointment.


TIP #5: Safe Grooming

If you give your pet a bath at home, wet furniture and messy floors are common zoomie problems. Keep your pet behind a latched gate or in a comfortable, cozy safe zone until they’ve had a chance to settle down. A pleasant grooming environment during bathing time is a quiet, clean, and contained room.

“Bath Zoomies: Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAP), otherwise known as the zoomies, happen to pretty much every dog, especially young ones. Everything is just SO FUN, suddenly, and they cannot possibly contain their excitement. Baths may very well bring out the zoomies.”rover.com

Zoomies are funny to watch; however, be careful that your pets don’t harm themselves, others, or your home in the process. Monitor them after their bath. It’s easy for them to crash into walls, fall down steps, or slip off a sofa during a mad dash of happiness.

dog grooming shaking off water

The grooming environment is just as important as the groom.

Remove collars, bandanas, tags, and leashes before their bath and during the drying process to avoid injury. These items could get caught in styling apparatus or holding crates. A tidy, safe, contained area where the zoomies won’t cause harm to your pet or to their surroundings is your best bet. Appropriate, sterilized, and spacious grooming rooms are made with zoomies in mind. A friendly, safe grooming environment is ideal for optimal health.

dog groomer hair dryer

A Healthy “Zoomie” Solution

Allow your pet an opportunity to exercise before relaxing in the tub.

Consider expanding their energy at a size appropriate, temperature controlled day camp environment before their bath or grooming appointment. Socializing with other dogs and humans helps keep your pet content during their grooming session.

dog relaxing on back

Choose Your Groomer Wisely

Be selective when it comes to Groomers. The best grooming professionals will notice your pet’s body. They’re your pet’s first line of defense for any unforeseen medical concerns. They’re trained to look for things on your pet’s body that other people might not see. Thus, they understand your pet from nose to rear end – tip to tail.

An ideal Groomer will strive for your pet’s health, happiness and well-being. Also, regular scheduled baths and grooming appointments help grooming professionals get to know your pet’s needs most.

Groom & Zoom. Clean & Coiffed. Safe & Shiny.

We love our pets and want them to stay well.

They deserve to stay clean and healthy – all year round. However, winter months are especially important to keep your pets groomed, as your pets typically spend increased time indoors. Make your pet’s grooming experience this year fun. And, keep your pet safe if they catch the zoomies afterwards.


Keep your pet happy, healthy, and safe this winter. Schedule your next grooming appointment today!

dog groomer grooming


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.