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What Our First Pup Taught Us.

Here are a few tips and tricks that we've learned in the first few months of having our puppy Sophie. We hope that this blog post will help you out with your pup!



If you can, before you get your puppy, find a vet. Do your research. Check for reviews and ask people you know that live in your area who their vet is and what their experience is like. You should book an appointment to verify your pup’s health.

Brooklin Veterinary Hospital (Sophie’s)

Helped us with Lilli a lot. They were very nice with telling us the news and what needed to be done, including letting us know what things cost and what was needed and what could wait.

Millenium City Veterinary Hospital

Helped us with Daryl when she got parasites. I was freaking out here and they were very helpful.

MINIMUM of what you should have before you pick-up your new puppy:

Leash & Harness: Bring this if you are picking up your puppy during the day as you might want to bring your puppy for a short walk in the front yard before introducing him to the from door of his new home :). He can go potty and then have a proper introduction to the new den.

Doggy Bags: Your pup will need doggy bags from day 1.

Blanket: Bring a blanket and maybe a pee pad where you can have our pup. I had Sophie on my lap on top of a blanket and pee pad in case she had to pee and we couldn't stop.

Treats: Have treats handy as you can feed your pup on the ride home. It will reinforce a positive association with you as well.

Food: The breeder should send you off with what the pup is currently eating, but you can have a small portion of what you'll want your pup to ultimately eat. You can mix a bit of the new food every meal so the puppy can slowly transition to the new food.

F&W Bowl: Make sure your pup has something to eat from, preferably stainless steel or ceramic bowl for proper cleaning.

Crate: have a crate ready so your pup has a designate safe place to sleep in from day 1. You can use blankets as the bed. (Not all puppies like fluffy beds so you'll have to see what your dog likes)



Pet Smart & PetValu

Ask for the new puppy package, they give lots of discounts (bedding, cleaning materials, harness, toys, etc). (PetSmart more than Petvalu) The discounts apply on top of their store sales. Woot woot!

Online Second Hand Sites

We got our crates from a bunch of different size. ie. Some people only need crates for the beginning then they keep their dog on beds so they sell the crates for cheaper online.

Puppy Proof Your Place

Anything he can chew or swallow needs to be gone. Check what plants you have - are they safe for pets?

Limit Area Access

Either block areas or have a crate and/or playpen. Yes, our home is their home, but this teaches your dog to respect the owner of the home, you. This also teaches the dog to respect other people’s homes. Sophie still needs to learn this, but more exposure helps.

Zero supervision: crate only.

Semi supervision: Playpen – where you can pop in and out or you are on the couch and can see if he is about to go potty then you can correct him if he isn’t on the pad.

Full supervision: Blocked area or open area. You want him to explore, but correct him so he does not fail by doing something he shouldn’t.

Training Tips

The aim for training your pup is for YOU to be the MOST FUN/IMPORTANT thing to them.


You have 1 second to correct or reinforce your dog’s behaviour.


Say your “Yes” quickly and then you have a few seconds to reinforce the yes with a treat.


Totally different tone, no need to yell. Keep a calm and assertive energy. You are the pack leader. LOL, it’s true though


Start with a “Training area”, one that has little distractions. Once the pup has nailed those commands, you can expand a little. Every NEW "Training Area" should start from the basic commands with shorter durations.


Reinforcement: The younger the pup the shorter the duration between “YES” and the treat/food

Session: Start with only a couple of reps multiple times a day then 5 mins a few times a day, to then 10 mins sessions twice, etc.

Food Training

Our trainer encourages training with food, because food is a necessity to the pups and you can make meal time, fun-training time with YOU. It has worked with us especially since Sophie’s food drive is crazy high, so meal time is when our training is most successful.


(Be consistent with commands) Below are the commands we use and the order of when we introduced them:



Reinforce good behaviour followed by treat and/or praise


Correction followed by redirection to a treat/toy OR (a few weeks older) something the pup doesn’t like (ie. remove the toy, loud noise, move into his space)


For potty. When you move him to the potty area and he goes potty, you say “Yes! --- Outside! --- Good outside!” (Space out the cue words as dogs will most likely hear the last word better)


To teach her what the crate was and to go in it.


For recall. Try to use other words for when you know your pup is going to fail to come to you. (ie. let’s go, here, whistle, etc) Avoid saying “come on”, since the word “Come” is in the phrase.


During feeding before we give the bowl, before we open her crate door or any door, before we give her a treat.


To let her know that the behaviour she is doing is what we want. (ie. we say SIT, she sits, we say GOOD so she sits for a second longer, we say “YESSS!” and give the treat <duration is shorter while the pup is young>)

After she started “nailing” the commands above, we introduced the following:


Have him learn the difference between sit and down. Apparently some dogs don’t want to do the down position as it is a more vulnerable position.

Get it!

Teaching Sophie to get something, whether it’s food or a toy



Whining (in crate)

Place an old shirt with your scent in his crate to calm him down as well as increase the bond with you.

Reinforce with treats. When teaching your pup that the crate is good and that he should stay there, say “Crate” and reward him with a treat. Feed treat from the back of the crate so it encourages the pup to go in.

Your pup will whine a lot and eventually howl at night. You will need to bring your pup out for potty starting every 2 hours (even at night) and slowly increase the time between potty breaks.

Continue to reinforce with “Yes, good outside” even at night, just much more quiet then straight back inside the crate. Night time is not play time, otherwise you’ll have a puppy waking up at night just to play.


This happens because the pup is teething and if the pup is overtired.

Teething: give him a chew toy

Overtired: crate him, he will whine for a bit then fall asleep


They happen. Clean, clean, clean!


Time to train(physically/mentally), play or walk!


Puppies sleep A LOT! They need to sleep to grow.



Pet Cam

We love this! It’s super easy to set-up and cheap. Worth it, because it’s the only phone-laptop app we found and it works really good!

Car Seatbelt

We love this! You have a hook on the sear already, but this could be an additional safety measure.



It’s worth buying because you will use it all AND they smell good which help cover the poop stink ahaha!

We use these 2 brands to clean puppy pee and poop:

Nature’s Miracle for poops

Only Natural Pet (Smells really good!) for pee




This was Sophie’s first comb. Now it’s her shower comb and we have different ones for grooming. Maui will have different hair so you probably will need a different brush compared to Sophie.


- For in between showers and/or after shower (the vanilla is very calming 😊 ) : Top Paw® Deodorizing Dog Wipes - Vanilla Bean, 100 Count

Puppy Shampoo (Unscented)

Burt's Bees® 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner for Puppies Burt’s Bees is the safest and best brand based on research and what I have learned from others (including our trainer).

Shower Wand

We got this as a gift from our wishlist and I love using this. I used to use the regular shower head, but it wasn’t long enough so my back hurt constantly bending to reach Sophie.

This wand is good, because:

- It’s long enough that I can squat, wash Sophie and my back is saved.

- The wand has different settings that control the flow strength and how small or large the “comb” is so you can target areas.

- The flow is strong enough to “comb” through the fur but still gentle. You can use it indoors and outdoors!

Nail Clipping

We let the vet do this, because Sophie’s nails are black and I’m too scared that I might hit her cuticle area and hurt her, but I know people who do with filers.


For the crate (easier to clean/wash) and for drying after shower. (You can also put a pee pad on top of the bed and then a pillowcase to cover both the bed and the pee pad so you don’t have to wash the bed?)




Open Range Beef Tendon We now buy our tendons from the Raw place, but we used to buy the tendons from PetValu. These tendons are hard enough to last and keep Sophie occupied, but also soft enough to not break Sophie’s teeth.


A staple chewable. You can fill it with more treats and freeze it to help with teething.

Frozen towel

Get a small tower, soak it with water, twist and freeze. It helps with their teeth, it’s reusable and cheap lol




We feed Sophie RAW. Sophie's energy is higher, her coat is shinier, her poop smells good (I know lol, but it really does! WAY BETTER than when she ate kibble). TIP: It was easier to test Sophie for allergies since we could just give her different types of proteins and see how she reacted. If she reacted then we would stop feeding that protein and switch to another.

Training treats

Rollover Beef Our trainer uses this and we are buying this to use moving forward. Sophie loves this!

Food Bowl

Any is fine as long as it’s either stainless steel or ceramic for better cleaning and avoid bacteria stuck in the bowl.

We are constantly learning and we'll probably do a follow up blog with what more we have learned.

Just remember:



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