Advice to New Puppy Families

Puppies, puppies, puppies—we love them, they’re clumsy and fun and adorable…but raising a pup is no picnic.

Integrating that rambunctious ball of fur into your family can be quite the challenge. By the time you start asking yourself “how do I get THIS out of the carpet?” or “how can one body contain so much energy?” you are likely welcoming any advice that is forthcoming. Larry Oltmann, a friend of ours who owns the pet store Clark’s Feed & Seed in Bellingham, WA, has some of that advice. Larry has been in the pet business for 43 years, and he and his staff have encountered quite a few puppies over the years!


“A well-balanced nutritional diet is important for your growing pup. There is a process to teaching a puppy to eat healthily. There are a lot of options available, and putting together a healthy menu from the mess can be tricky. We recommend a raw diet as the most nutritious, freeze-dried second, and processed foods third. However, feeding raw isn’t for every family, and we suggest you take into consideration other factors about your lifestyle to determine the best choice when it comes to diet. For processed food, we suggest hydrating half of their portion the night before, and hydrating the rest before feeding – this seems to help puppies’ digestion, and it helps you if you want to adjust portion sizes in the morning. We find puppies usually eat less than the package suggests. Unfortunately, it’s hard to gauge the quality of processed dog foods; their ingredients are not inspected like human food is. A key tip is to look at the area within the label that shows nutrients. Looking closely at the ingredients, we prefer the brand Champion (makers of Orijen® and Acana®) for packaged food.”

Puppy success quoteTimeframe of A Puppy

“Puppies, despite how things may seem, really do want to please and understand you, their parents. What makes it so hard for them is their attention span—it’s around 12 minutes. For a puppy to be successful in doing what you ask him or her to do, it is important that you act as the leader in the relationship, giving clear cues as to what behavior is acceptable. One of our favorite basic training tools is PoochieBells®. This tool demonstrates the kind of clear communication needed between dog and human, as puppies have needs which in our busy lives can be inadvertently forgotten until we hear the ring! PoochieBells® provide a structure around training, giving your pup a predictable contact point with you and the rest of the family. PoochieBells® help build a foundation that your puppy needs to become a productive member of the family.”

Rewards and Consistency in Training

“Dogs have the responsibility to be a part of the family, so they should not be rewarded for doing their job. During that 12-minute teaching time you have each day, your dog’s reward is your happiness with him or her doing what you are asking– not a treat. Remember, your dog wants to make you happy! Love, hugs and treats come after teaching time, not during.”

Do you have any tried and true advice for new puppy families?

Leave a comment below.

More about Clark Feed and Seed

Located in Bellingham, WA, just 100 miles north of Seattle right on the Canadian border, Clark Feed and Seed has been in business since 1898 and is considered a Bellingham institution. Current owner, Larry Oltmann, has run the store for the last 43 years, and he is quick to point out that they are no longer a feed store, now catering more to dog, cat and fish lovers. One of the reasons we wanted to feature Clark Feed and Seed is Larry’s approach to doing business. He chooses products for the store is based upon the idea that quality people make quality products. Larry creates relationships with manufacturers to provide best products for his customers. He starts with one product from a manufacturer, and if it performs well for his customers, he will return to that supplier for other options. His goal is to be a trusted source for his customers, so he works only with companies he knows and trusts as well. He finds this approach keeps quality products in his store and his customers coming back. Poochie-Pets is proud to be one of Clark Feed and Seed’s trusted partners!

You can connect with Clark Feed and Seed on Facebook and Instagram.

The shop at Clark Feed & Seed

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