Neal and I are getting a puppy, and although the litter isn't due until March, we're starting to think about everything we'll need to welcome a little Australian Labradoodle into our home.
My sister works in the pet industry and is a bit of an expert when it comes to all things puppies. I looked to her for some advice. Maybe it will be helpful for you too! Here are her tips:
For puppies, avoid grain-free/high-protein foods and stick to rice, oatmeal, or chickpea-based diets mixed with "easy" proteins like chicken, turkey or fish. You can introduce beef, venison, duck, and other proteins as the dog grows.
A trick for preventing food allergies is to switch up your dog's protein source every 3-5 months. To do this, blend two dry dog foods together (keep one food consistent and add in a different food every few months).
Brands to try include:
- Great Life Dog Food
- Fromm Family Foods
- Blackwood Pet Food
- Solid Gold Health
- Lotus Pet Foods
- Merrick Pet Care
- Taste of the Wild
- Nature's Variety
It's good to avoid real bones (especially the meaty ones) for puppies. Once they're 8-9 months old you can introduce them. In the meantime, try some of these options:
- Charlie Bear treats (great for training!)
- Buddy Biscuits
- Zuke's Treats
- Ice Cubes
- Rawhide Chips
- Himalayan Dog Chews (when they get too small to be a choking hazard, toss them in the microwave and they'll puff up like popcorn!)
- Carrots and Apples (in limited quantities)
- Bully Sticks (ask for the country of origin... the South American ones are ok but bully sticks from China often still contain the ureter and will have a faint ammonia smell)
Puppies are very food oriented, so things like hole-y balls and puzzle toys that they have to manipulate are perfect. Kongs are hit are miss, but they're a staple for every new puppy!
Tips & Tricks
- Avoid wet food for as long as possible.
- If your little pup isn't eating or drinking, add a little Karo syrup to warm water. This will help them keep their blood sugar up.
- Puppy had an accident? Use Nature's Miracle, Get Serious, or a little bit of distilled white vinegar to clear up and prevent odors.
- Avoid chain/choke collars. Pinch collars are a better training tool and they won't damage the dog's trachea. These are meant to fit snug, but comfortably, around the neck and should not slide off of the head. While training, use short quick jerks, stop and stand still until the dog stops with you, and then give him lots of praise when he follows your command!
- There's no need for coat/dental/joint supplements if your dog has a healthy diet. If you see them inching a lot, try adding coconut, flax, or fish oils to your dog's food.
- In the winter, salt can be really irritating on your dog's paws and he'll try to lick it off. Many salts have additional chemicals blended in and these can cause an upset stomach. It's an extra step, but keep a towel near the front door to wipe off your pup's paws after being outside.
- Is your dog chocking or hacking a lot? Give him a small piece of plain bread. This will trap and coat whatever is stuck so that it passes more easily.
- Socialize your pup! The more you expose them to all kinds of dogs, sounds, sights, and people, the better! Take him everywhere and when your pup tolerates a new environment/situation, praise them. Positive reinforcement is key.
Thanks Kristen! We can't wait for you to visit and meet our pup this spring!