Puppy Basics: Your Complete Guide to Raising a Happy and Healthy DogPuppy Basics: Your Complete Guide to Raising a Happy Dog

Are you a proud new puppy parent? Congratulations! Welcoming a furry bundle of joy into your home is an exciting adventure. To ensure a smooth transition and a lifelong bond, it’s important to establish a solid foundation of puppy basics. In this comprehensive guide, brought to you by Stateline Canine, we’ll walk you through all the essential aspects of raising a happy puppy.

Leashes and Collars

Your new puppy will need to get used to wearing a collar and walking on a leash. They will most likely scratch at the collar and this is normal because it feel a little funny on their neck. To get them used to a leash you can let them wear something light like a shoe string on their collar while playing, then move
up to their leash. DO NOT pull them on the leash; this will instinctually make them want to resist or fight it. Encourage the dog to move and use treats if you need to.


Do not allow your dog to have too much freedom. The more freedom they have the more chances they will have to do something wrong. It’s much easier to avoid
wrong behaviors than it is to fix them. For example, if your dog doesn’t know that it is an option to get into the trash and realize there is some fun things in there, then they will likely not bother the trash when they get older. So keep an eye on your puppy! You can let them drag around a leash to guide them away from things that you don’t want them to get into. If you can’t watch your puppy, they need to be in the crate.


At a young age your dog will not destroy toys such as stuffed animals but that phase doesn’t last long. I recommend using toys that will not destroy quickly; this will not only be easier on your pocket book in the long run but safer for your dog.  Nylabone, Starmark, Orbee (Planet Dog), Kong and JW are brands that I find last and dogs enjoy. The Starmark “chewball” is a favorite for many dogs! I highly discourage the use of rawhides and tennis balls; these can be dangerous to the dog! Dogs do enjoy games of tug but most of the fun tug toys can easily be destroyed if you leave them with your dog. I recommend keeping a tug toy that you only bring out for play time. Ropes tend to be a favorite and last pretty well.

Playing Tug

You may hear various opinions on playing tug with your dog. Some say it will make your dog aggressive or they may mistake a kids arm for a toy and bite it the
same as a tug toy. PLAY TUG WITH YOUR DOG! Many dogs have the desire to play tug and it is a great outlet for their energy and drive to play. This comes from having prey drive. If you do not give them a proper outlet, dogs will make their own outlet, usually choosing the wrong outlet. Dogs also have food drive.

Would we deprive them of this?

And by giving them food does it make it worse?

Just the opposite; if we deprive them of this they will mostly likely try to find food in ways that we do not like. In fact if they learn to take their energy and  excitement out on toys that will help stop things like mouthing, jumping up, etc.

Positive Reinforcement: USE IT!

We are very good at pointing out things we do not like our dog to do. Some dogs may even think their name is “NO”. While it is necessary to correct unwanted behavior it is more important to reward the behaviors that we like. A lack of reward for these behaviors is the biggest reason dogs will perform unwanted behaviors for attention, even if that attention is negative. If they don’t know what will get them positive reinforcement, how can they offer it? An example of this: when our dogs are behaving nicely, chewing on their toy we tend to ignore them thinking “aw, finally some peace”. The dogs soon realize that gets them ignored so jumping and mouthing at us is way more fun because we can’t ignore that. If you notice your dog playing with its toys, let them learn that will initiate play from you and that will become more fun than getting yelled at.

Motivational Obedience

You can start some motivational obedience as soon as you get your puppy. Dogs are very quick learners, especially if they are working for something they really like. Just keep the sessions very short and only practice one or two commands at a time until they get older and more experienced with the training.

Come Command: Use It When You Need It!

Another thing that we are very good at is demanding that our dogs come to us when they are doing something wrong or we want to take them inside, put them in their crates, etc. Why would they come to us for these things to happen? Makes sense when we think about it yet we are still very quick to get upset with them when they don’t come. If we make the come command something fun then they will have the desire to respond properly to the commands. For example, while the puppy is just hanging out in the house call them in an excited manner and reward with a treat, and then let them go back to hanging out. If we create that habit and fun mind set for them, the chance of them coming when we really want/need them to will be much greater!


Your dog needs socialization with a variety of people and dogs. All people look differently, act differently and interact with dogs differently. Even though we see people as people dogs are experts at reading body language and notice every little movement and posture we offer. The larger variety they see during their fear
imprint periods the more they will become accustomed to the many strange things they will see from us humans and know to interact the same with everyone. Even though they are dogs, all dogs have different personalities and they need to learn how to adapt and play with a variety of them. It is important to let them interact with dogs that already have great social skills and not just ANY dog. Not only will the dog give proper interaction with your puppy but will pass on those skills. When it comes to interaction with other dogs, only other dogs can teach them.

Environmental Exposure

Again dogs notice many more things than we do and have to adapt to these strange noises, surfaces, buildings, etc. The more exposure they can get during the fear imprint period the better. We want these experiences to be positive so lots of food, toys or anything else that your dog loves. If they have things they love available, they will focus more on those but also get used to the new environment at the same time. If your dog shows any sign of being nervous DO NOT force them and DO NOT baby them through it. Try using food to bait them and if they will only go to a certain point, let them enjoy that point and only try progressing later or ask a trainer for advice.

Congratulations on embarking on this exciting journey of puppy parenthood! By following these essential puppy basics from Stateline Canine, you’ll be well-equipped to raise a happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog. Remember, love, patience, and consistency are the keys to building a strong bond with your furry companion. Start implementing these guidelines today and enjoy the wonderful rewards of having a puppy in your life.