Congratulations on Your New Addition to the Family!

The companionship of a pet has positive benefits for people. Puppies give unconditional love, affection and devotion. Parenting a new puppy/dog is a rewarding although sometimes challenging commitment. Here’s our guide to help you get started.

You can count on three things with your puppy: unbelievable joy, cleaning up accidents, and a major lifestyle adjustment. A new pet needs much more than a food bowl and a doghouse to thrive. And while it may be a lot of work initially, it’s well worth the effort in the long run. Establishing good and healthy habits from the start will lay the foundation for many dog-years of happiness for you and your new puppy.

There are 5 general areas you need to familiarize yourself with:

  • Puppy Basics
  • Home Hygiene
  • Veterinary Care
  • Nutrition
  • Socialization & Training

Download Our Canine Wellness Chart

Puppy Basics

Treat your young puppy just the same as if it was a newborn infant brought home from the hospital. Puppies generally sleep throughout the day, waking only to play for a short period of time, eat and eliminate waste.

Potty Training

Your quest to housetrain your puppy will require patience, planning, and plenty of positive reinforcement. It is also not a bad idea to put a carpet-cleaning plan in place, because accidents will happen. Decide the location you want your puppy to go to the bathroom so that previous urine and fecal smells can promote repetition. Make sure to give lots of positive reinforcement whenever your puppy manages to potty outside. Also, refrain from punishing him/her when there are accidents indoors.

Knowing when to take your puppy out is almost as important as giving the puppy praise whenever he/she eliminates outdoors. Here’s a list of the most common times you should take your puppy out to go potty:

  • When the puppy wakes up from sleeping/napping.
  • Immediately after your puppy eats or drinks
  • During and after physical activity
  • When he/she gives you signals like sniffing or circling
  • Or every 2 hours – whichever comes first!

Do not leave a puppy unsupervised in the house until he/she is completely potty trained. Your puppy is an infant, it is your job to teach him/her to want to be house trained. Potty training takes not only effort but also time & patience. It takes time for them to learn what to do and for their bodies to mature enough (around 4-5 months of age) to react properly.


Puppies are CHEWING machines! The inherited tendency to investigate their surroundings is very strong in the young dog. Your success in preventing chewing problems depends on how effectively you can channel your puppy toward acceptable chews, rather than unacceptable items.

Follow these tips to help avoid chewing problems:

  • Purchase puppy specific chewing toys until his adult teeth come in (around 9 months of age). Avoid small rawhides, cow hooves, antlers – items that can fracture teeth or cause choking.
  • Rotate toys each day so he stays interested in them instead of your shoes or other items. Place extra toys in a container and give him/her a “new” toy each day and save yourself from buying many more toys.
  • Use ice cubes as treats to help numb teething gums.
  • Do not use objects you don’t want chewed – a puppy cannot distinguish the difference between a toy sock and a new sock. If he/she learns that chewing a sock is acceptable, then all socks are fair game.
  • Never leave the puppy unattended unless restricted to a puppy proofed area or a crate.
  • Puppy proof your house – do not leave things on the floor that he/she could choke on or swallow.
  • Provide lots of exercise – unused energy contributes to the desire to search and destroy!

Crate Training

A dog crate can provide confinement for your puppy for reasons of security, safety, travel & housetraining. Dogs love crates! It is their “own private house” and security blanket and serves as a den. A crate should be large enough that the dog can stretch out flat on his side and sit up without hitting his head on the top of the crate. The crate should be located where there is activity in the house (kitchen, living room) & placed in a corner for some security and privacy. Do not allow children to play in or around the crate.

Establish a crate routine by closing the puppy in the crate at regular intervals during the day and whenever he must be left alone. You can give him a chew toy for distraction. After the puppy is fully housetrained you can leave the door open so he can come and go as he chooses. Do not weaken and let him out if he whines or cries or you are teaching him to cry to get what he wants. Be consistent and firm and be aware that you are doing your pet a favor by preventing him/her from getting into trouble.

Puppy Proofing – Toxins

Many substances can be harmful to your puppy. Below is a list of some of the common toxins you should avoid:

Home Hygiene

Basic puppy hygiene at home includes basic care such as baths, ear cleaning, nail trims and teeth brushing. We recommend getting your puppy used to these procedures when they are young so they are easily accepted. Make sure to start slowly and give lots of treats and positive reinforcement to make the experience fun for everyone.


Choose a mild cleansing shampoo that will not strip the natural oils in their hair coat. Use lukewarm water and rinse well. Avoid getting water or shampoo in your pet’s eyes or ears. Generally it is not necessary to bathe your dog more than every 2 months unless using a medicated shampoo for a specific skin condition.


Clean the ears with a pet specific ear cleaner. Use a wet a cotton ball soaked with ear cleaner and wipe inside the ear. Repeat with a fresh cotton ball until the wiped cotton ball is clean. Do not use a Q-tip (unless properly trained) that could damage the inside of the ear canal or eardrum. Ears should be cleaned every 2-4 weeks depending on the dog.


Trim nails frequently (every 3-6 weeks). If toenails grow too long they can cause multiple problems including nail bed infections, foot deformities, or pain when walking. Be very careful not to cut the nails too short that it results in bleeding. This can be painful to your pet and they may then resist future nail trims.


Pets who receive regular dental care can add five years to their life! A pet with clean teeth and fresh breath is happier and more pleasant to be around. There are also medical reasons for daily preventative dental care. Most dental problems occur under the gum line and can go unnoticed until there is severe dental decay and gum infections. Oral disease can lead to damage to the heart, liver and kidneys. Without proper dental care, 80% of dogs will show oral disease by the age of 3. Brushing the teeth or using dental products daily is the key!

Veterinary Care

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs and is diagnosed in our area every year. It is spread by mosquitoes without you even knowing it. Heartworm disease is completely preventable by using a monthly parasite/heartworm preventative and screening with an annual blood test to verify they are negative for the disease.

For more information, visit www.heartwormsociety.org

Intestinal Parasites

Worms are abundant in the environment. Dogs can acquire these worms from infected soil or feces in the environment. Intestinal worms can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, anemia & stunted growth. Hookworms and roundworms also pose a threat to human health if your family is exposed to these worms. Prevention is much easier and safer than treatment after the problem has developed. Monthly parasite prevention pills solve this problem.

Fleas & Ticks

Fleas can make your dog very uncomfortable and also allow a flea infestation into your home. Flea control is also important since some fleas transmit tapeworms to your dog and the fleas will also bite humans.

Ticks can attach to the skin under your dog’s hair coat where you may not realize it. Ticks are responsible for transmitting Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis. We provide specialized products to eliminate the threat of Fleas & Ticks on your dog. A blood test can screen for exposure to these diseases.


DAP (Distemper-Adenovirus-Parvovirus)

All puppies and dogs should be vaccinated with a series of two DAP vaccines that provide three years of protection. After the initial series, a blood titer may be performed to determine immunity.


Rabies vaccination is required by law for all dogs. Not only is there is not a cure for rabies but there is also a human health risk since humans can contract rabies. The initial rabies vaccination for a dog is valid for one year. Booster rabies vaccinations are valid for three years.

Kennel Cough

This upper respiratory “complex” is generally caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria.  We administer an intranasal vaccine that offers fast protection and provides immunity against these diseases systemically and locally (respiratory tract) where the infection occurs.

Canine Influenza

A highly contagious virus spread between dogs especially at boarding/grooming facilities.

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is transmitted by infected ticks to your dog. Wisconsin is an endemic area and we recommend vaccination for any dog with the potential to come into contact with ticks (wooded areas, etc.).


Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that can cause kidney and liver failure. Dogs are infected by coming into contact with urine of infected wildlife. Leptospirosis is zoonotic – people can also become infected.

Vaccination Schedule

All Puppies
  • 8 weeks: 1st DAP
  • 12 weeks: DAP booster
  • 16 weeks: Rabies
Based on Lifestyle
  • 8 weeks: +/- Kennel cough
  • 12 weeks: +/- Lyme & Lepto
  • 16 weeks: +/- Lyme & Lepto booster

Spay / Neuter Surgery

Pets that are not used for breeding should be spayed (females) or neutered (males) between 6-9 months of age to prevent unwanted pregnancies and other medical issues. Intact male dogs have an increased risk of testicular cancer and some anal tumors. They also have a higher risk of prostatic hyperplasia, scrotal hernias & excessive preputial discharge. Unspayed females are prone to pyometra uterine infections & increased mammary (breast) cancer.

There is a serious overpopulation problem in the U.S. Over 4 million dogs and cats end up in shelters every year and over 60% are euthanized. One unspayed female dog can produce 15-20 puppies each year, each one needing a home. It is our duty, as responsible pet owners, not to contribute to these staggering statistics.


Be observant and watch your pet for any early signs of illness. If you observe any of the following symptoms in your new pet, it’s time to contact the veterinarian:


Nutrition is one of the biggest factors that contributes to a pet’s overall health and well-being. Pet food comes in all shapes and sizes – from very low quality, cheap foods or average commercial pet food to high-end, or natural pet foods. Not all pet food is created equal and you generally get what you pay for – if the food is inexpensive it is generally because low cost, low quality ingredients were used.

We recommend that all dogs be fed natural, high quality, grain-free dog food (or a raw or dehydrated diet). The higher cost of high quality pet food is easily outweighed by better health. Dogs are carnivores and did not evolve to eat processed cereal grains (used so manufacturers can reduce costs). The carbohydrates of these foods contribute to obesity, diabetes, kidney stones, behavior problems, allergies, skin problems and many other conditions. Also, corn & wheat ingredients should always be avoided because they are the most common food allergies in pets.

If you have a large breed puppy (adult weight >50lbs) make sure you feed either a “large breed” puppy food or food for all life stages so they do not grow too rapidly or develop bone abnormalities. Diet changes should be made gradually over a 1-2 week period to avoid digestive upset.

Socialization & Training


Puppies need to learn about our world – car rides, vacuums, and other people/animals etc.  If they do not have a chance to learn about people, animals, and things in their environment, they may grow up to be fearful, anxious or aggressive adult dogs. Therefore, it is important to provide early socialization and positive exposure to as many people, animals, sights and sounds and places as possible. Socialization is the process of developing relationships with other living things in the environment. The first six months of a puppy’s life are the most critical for social development. Proper socialization during puppyhood helps avoid behavioral problems down the road.

Socialization classes are an excellent way to have positive social experiences with your puppy. We also recommend the book, “Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to start your puppy off right” by Sophia Yin. You can also visit www.thefamilydog.com for videos to understand dog body language and common behavior challenges.


By teaching your puppy good manners, you’ll set your puppy up for a life of positive social interaction. In addition, obedience training will help forge a stronger bond between you and your puppy. Teaching your pup to obey commands such as sit, stay, down, and come will not only impress your friends, but these commands will help keep your dog safe and under control in potentially hazardous situations. Many puppy owners find that obedience classes are a great way to train both owner and dog. Classes typically begin accepting puppies at age 3-4 months of age.

Make sure to keep it positive. Positive reinforcement, such as small treats, have been proven to be much more effective than punishment.

Professional trainers and training facilities are highly recommended for all families. This helps to make sure all family members are using the same training techniques and not confusing the puppy with different commands and methods. They also provide a wealth of knowledge to have your puppy start out on the right track and also provide socialization opportunities with other puppies.

For more information, go to www.apdt.com (the Association of Pet Dog Trainers). You can search for a professional trainer or find solutions to common problems under the pet owner section.

What People
Have Said

"I have been taking all my dogs (rescues and my own) to Countrycare for over 10 years.  It is an hour drive one way and it is well worth the trip!  Dr. Karen Strickfaden is the only vet I will trust the health of my dogs to.  Our latest challenge was my 8 year-old golden retriever with Masticatory Muscle Myositis.  The conventional treatment involves large doses of Prednisone; there was no information available on any holistic alternative.  Dr. Strickfaden and I researched and contacted several other sources and we were able to put together a protocol which included Chinese Herbs, supplements, therapeutic essential oils and Bicom treatments.  To date, nine months later, she is doing great, eating well, lots of energy and still competing in agility and loving it. I am forever grateful to Dr. Strickfaden, not only for her knowledge in holistic medicine and treatments but her willingness to research other options."
- Dana B., Neenah