Surviving your dog's 'Puppyhood'

Puppy's are cute and soooo much work

Puppies are adorable, but anyone who’s raised one recently will admit they require a ton of time, energy, strategy, and patience. Here are our top ‘Puppyhood survival’ tips, tricks, and gear.

The best first step is to be matched to a puppy who will fit well in your life.

  • Before you adopt or purchase a new puppy, consider your lifestyle and goals: do you love being outdoors? Running? Hiking? Watching movies? Going to evening concerts? Staying out dancing late into the night? Do you like being around people? Do you travel? Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years? Do you love goofing around? Do loud noises annoy you? Are you able to lift more than 50lbs comfortably? Is there a dog sport (agility, tracking, dock diving, duck retrieving, etc) that you are interested in? These types of questions can help you pick the right size, energy level, and temperament dog for you.

  • If this is your first pet, check out local veterinarians, dog trainers, boarding facilities, doggie day care, and local dog-friendly spaces (trails, beaches, parks, off-leash areas). These are great places to meet local dogs and owners who may know a great local rescue or breeder.

  • Find a quality rescue organization or breeder, and apply.

  • Be patient. The right match takes time, but it’s well worth the wait.

Read up

  1. Lily Chin has a great cartoon guide to doggie body language that we highly recommend!

  2. Cesar Millan wrote a book on puppy raising using multiple breeds as real-time examples. We love his focus on boundaries, encouraging calmness, and setting a good foundation for long-term care (grooming, veterinarian exam handling, etc). There’s a whole section on baby-proofing, too, which can save your puppy’s life. There’s a great summary on his website.

Watch, listen, learn

  1. Our favorite online puppy tutorials are from McCan Dog Training. Their videos are high quality production-value with excellent attention to timing, common mistakes, and puppy wellbeing.

  2. There is a wonderful breakdown of healthy dog play here. and a follow up on consent tests, too. This is a really great introduction to dog body language and can help you avoid mismatching your puppy or dog with a playmate they don’t enjoy.

  3. Helping your puppy get used to handling and grooming when they’re young is a vital foundation. There are lots of great videos on teaching cooperative care for dogs, and the IAAC discusses it here in more detail.

  4. If you’re interested in seeing our home movies of puppy and rescue dog training, check out our informal channel here.


Covid has certainly changed the game for puppy socialization strategies, but it remains vital to raising a well-balanced adult dog. Try to connect with local trainers and pet owners to come up with safe ways to get your puppy out on the town and meeting lots of folks/seeing new sights. Every puppy is unique, so coming up with a custom plan for your pup is important. Don’t forget to recruit friends and neighbors for polite introductions and new objects/costumes, too! With confident puppies under 5 months, I try to show them at least one new thing every single day. It pays off big later in life!


Potty Training

There are plenty of potty training tutorials out there, but the AKC has a pretty thorough rundown here.

Pee Pads come in many shapes, sizes, and scent options, but we really dig the Frisco unscented for their versatility. If you have access to a washer, PoochPads reusable pee pads hold up well. Also useful to use around litter boxes to help keep messes off their paws and your floors.

Nature’s miracle has amazing products, including a virus disinfectant that tackles parvo and giardia, too. It’s truly miraculous

The Bissell SpotBot allows us to spend a lot more time with our pets and a lot less time with their accidents. Their full, stand-up ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner is also spectacular, if you have more mud to remove.

Ruggable rugs are quite tough and machine-washable, too. Great for keeping puppies and older dogs from slipping and hurting themselves, while still allowing you to clean them thoroughly.

A waterproof mattress cover is a worthwhile investment for critters young and old to safely share your home without depriving you of sleep.

Waterproof baby mattress covers fit well over most medium-large dog beds, and make cleaning up simple.



Nothing really makes teething easy, but here are some tips to get through it:

  1. Avoid hard chews! Broken puppy teeth can lead to big medical complications, so only offer your puppy chew toys and objects that are soft enough to make a dent in by firmly pressing your fingernail in the toy.
  2. Give lots of food puzzles (check out our favorite gear & recipes)
  3. Make ‘puppy waffles’ by soaking their kibble in water or doggie bone broth, then press into silicon molds (large enough not to swallow) and freeze. The goal is to create an object that, as they chew it, will soften and the cool, moist edges will press gently against their gums to relieve the pain.
  4. Avoid playing tug or pulling toys (or socks..) out of puppy’s mouth with too much vigor. Many puppies don’t realize they’re teething, so be cautious with play and when removing ‘accidental toys’(socks) from your puppy.

Just Arrived & Nervous?

Training is a great long term solution, but sometimes we need a little short term help! Thunderease sells a variety of products that are puppy-safe to help new pets acclimate with less stress (for both of you).

Find your own calm/centered self - if you feel stressed or nervous, the puppy will pick up on that, too. It’s a big change leaving momma dog and their siblings, so be patient, consistent, and kind. Try not to sympathize or get caught up in the puppy’s distress (e.g. feeling guilty) - they need you to be very Zen, to show them how incredible your shared lives will be going forward.

Bringing a calm, well-balanced adult dog into the picture can help boost a puppy’s confidence in the environment, but be aware that not all adult dogs are patient with puppies. Keeping puppies safe in a crate or exercise pen can give older dogs space while still allowing their good manners to influence the puppy. When in doubt, distance is key.