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The Benefits of Puppy Daycare: A Happy and Social Pup

Welcoming a new puppy into your life is an exciting journey, but it also comes with responsibilities, including ensuring your furry friend is happy, healthy, and well-socialized. Puppy daycare is a fantastic option for pet owners with busy schedules or those seeking to provide their puppies with socialization opportunities. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of puppy daycare and why it can contribute to a well-rounded and content canine companion.

Socialization Opportunities:

Puppy daycare offers a controlled and supervised environment for your pup to interact with other dogs. Socialization is crucial during a puppy’s early months to help them develop positive behaviors, communication skills, and proper play etiquette. Regular interactions with other puppies and trained staff at daycare contribute to a well-socialized and friendly adult dog.

Mental Stimulation:

cute puppy barking
Puppies are curious and full of energy, and they require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and undesirable behaviors. Puppy daycare provides a variety of activities and toys to engage your pup’s mind, keeping them entertained and preventing destructive behaviors that may arise from boredom.

Physical Exercise & Play:

puppies playing
A tired puppy is a happy puppy. Puppy daycare provides a structured environment where your furry friend can engage in supervised play and exercise. This not only helps them burn off excess energy but also contributes to their physical well-being, promoting a healthy weight and muscle development.

Puppy Self-Sooting Time:

A good puppy daycare will also carve out some important self-time. This is time for your puppy to relax on their own with a toy or treat. Also, this time is used to walk around – one-on-one – with a professional puppy daycare counselor to get accustomed to different sounds, smells and other important environmental stimulus. If your daycare is in the same facility as your pup’s place of grooming or other services, having them see and hear the noises of things, like a hair dryer, will help them not to develop any fears when they get a little older.

Professional Supervision:

puppy with counselor
Puppy daycares are staffed by trained professionals who understand canine behavior and can manage group dynamics. Having experienced supervisors ensures a safe and controlled environment for play, reducing the risk of injuries and conflicts among the puppies.

Consistent Routine:

Puppy daycare often follows a structured routine, including playtime, nap time, and feeding schedules (depending on how long your daycare sessions are and your puppy’s unique needs). Consistency is essential for a puppy’s well-being, and a regular routine helps them feel secure and comfortable in their environment. This can be especially beneficial for puppies who thrive on predictability.

Alleviates Separation Anxiety:

Puppies are known for forming strong bonds with their owners, and separation anxiety can be a common challenge. Puppy daycare allows your pup to spend time away from you in a positive and supervised setting, helping them become more comfortable with short separations and reducing anxiety.

Convenient for Busy Puppy Parents:

two puppies
For pet owners with demanding schedules, puppy daycare offers a convenient solution. Whether you have work commitments, appointments, or other responsibilities, knowing that your puppy is in a safe and engaging environment provides peace of mind.

Puppy daycare is more than just a convenience for busy pet owners; it’s an investment in your puppy’s overall well-being. From socialization and mental stimulation to physical exercise and professional supervision, the benefits of daycare extend far beyond the time your pup spends there. Consider enrolling your puppy in a reputable daycare to ensure they grow into a happy, well-adjusted, and sociable companion.

Learn all the essentials for successfully caring for and raising your puppy via The Essential Guide to Puppy Care: Nurturing Your Furry Bundle of Joy and Puppy 101: A Quick-Start Guide to Caring for Your New Puppy

Are you located near one of our pet hotels? … Our signature Puppy Play Group will allow your puppy to socialize with friends in a safe, supervised, and fun environment – designed just for them. Our Puppy Play Group Counselors are exceptional for both supervising play and training your puppy to be their best furry selves – from now into adult-dog-hood.

The Essential Guide to Puppy Care: Nurturing Your Furry Bundle of Joy

Bringing a new puppy into your life is an exciting and rewarding experience. These adorable furballs fill our days with giggles, love, and companionship. However, alongside the joy they bring, puppies also require proper care and attention to thrive. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of puppy care to ensure the wellbeing and happiness of your new addition.

Puppy Nutrition:

puppy eating from food bowl
A nutritious diet is crucial for a puppy’s growth and development. Consult with your vet or breeder to determine the appropriate food for your specific breed or mix. High-quality puppy kibble will typically contain the necessary nutrients in the right proportions. Also ensure that fresh water is always available.


Puppy Vaccinations and Veterinary Care:

puppy vet care, veterinarian
Just like human babies, puppies require a series of vaccinations to protect them against diseases such as rabies, distemper, and Parvo. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are also essential to monitor their health, provide preventive care, and address any concerns promptly. Schedule an initial visit soon after bringing your puppy home and follow the recommended vaccination and check-up schedule.

Located near one of our pet hotels? … Our vet clinic partner offers monthly clinics, at our centers, for many of your pup’s vet care needs. Be sure to check our vet clinic schedule.


Puppy Exercise and Mental Stimulation:

two dogs running in grass, playing with toy
Puppies have boundless energy that needs to be channeled properly. Engaging them in physical activities like walks, playtime, and interactive toys are necessary to keep them fit and happy. Mental stimulation is equally important. Puzzle toys, obedience training, and socialization with other dogs and people contribute to a well-rounded puppy. Aim for a balance of both physical exercise and mentally stimulating activities. Learn more about The Benefits of Puppy Daycare and Choosing the Right Puppy Daycare

Located near one of our pet hotels? … Our signature Puppy Play Group offers all your pup’s exercise and mental stimulation needs to help them grow into a healthy, happy, well-rounded dog.


Puppy Hygiene and Grooming:

Maintaining your puppy’s hygiene is vital for their overall health. Regularly brush their coat to remove loose hair and prevent matting. Pay attention to dental care by brushing their teeth with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Trim nails regularly and check ears for debris or infections. Bathing should occur when necessary, using puppy-friendly shampoo to avoid irritating their sensitive skin. Learn more on our blog post: The Ultimate Guide to Puppy Grooming

Located near one of our pet hotels and want to leave your puppy’s hygiene and grooming needs to our exceptional professionals? … Book a Puppy Grooming appointment with us today.


Puppy Socialization and Training:

puppies at daycareEarly socialization plays a significant role in shaping a puppy’s behavior and temperament. Introduce your pup to as many positive experiences, various environments, and different people and animals as possible. This will help build their confidence and ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted dogs. Basic obedience training is also essential for establishing boundaries, teaching commands, and reinforcing good behavior. Furthermore, a good puppy daycare program will integrate some self-soothing time for your puppy. Learn more about The Benefits of Puppy Daycare and Choosing the Right Puppy Daycare

Located near one of our pet hotels? … Our signature Puppy Play Group will allow your puppy to socialize with friends in a safe, supervised, and fun environment – designed just for them. Our Puppy Play Group Counselors are exceptional for both supervising play and training your puppy to be their best furry selves – from now into adult-dog-hood.


Puppy Safety and Puppy-Proofing:

Creating a safe environment for your puppy is crucial. Puppy-proof your home by removing any potential hazards, securing electrical cords, and blocking off areas that may contain toxic substances or plants. Ensure they are always supervised, especially when outside or in unfamiliar surroundings. Additionally, a secure fenced yard or leash training will prevent accidents or your puppy wandering off.


Welcoming a puppy into your life can be an incredibly rewarding experience, as long as you provide them with the proper care and attention they need. From nutrition to exercise, vaccinations to grooming, socialization to training, each aspect of puppy care contributes to their overall wellbeing. By committing to these responsibilities, you are fostering a strong and loving bond with your furry companion, ensuring a healthy and fulfilled life for them and countless joyful memories for you.)

Learn more about caring for your puppy with our Puppy 101 guide: Puppy 101: A Quick-Start Guide to Caring for Your New Puppy

The Benefits of Walking a Dog – A Guide to Guide the Way

Embarking on a walk with your dog is likely part of your daily routine. However, walking your furry friend isn’t just a necessary chore; it’s an activity that offers a wide range of advantages for both you and your pet. From physical health benefits to mental well-being, walking a dog is an essential part of their overall care and happiness. Along with benefits to walking a dog there are also some helpful tips and tricks to make your dog walking experience better based on common challenges that pet owners encounter. So, let’s delve into the details and discover why regular walks with your dog are so important and how to curb walking issues you may face.

Physical Health Benefits of Dog Walks

Walking your dog is not only a great way to bond with your furry friend, but it also offers a wide range of physical health benefits for both of you. Let’s explore some of the reasons why regular dog walks can be beneficial for both you and your canine companion:

Increase physical fitness: Walking your dog provides a fantastic opportunity for exercise. Whether you’re strolling through the neighborhood or exploring a nearby trail, the physical activity involved in walking can help improve your overall fitness level. Plus, it gives your dog a chance to burn off energy and stay active.

Improve cardiovascular health: Regular walking can have a positive impact on your cardiovascular system. It can help strengthen your heart, increase blood circulation, and lower the risk of heart disease. Taking your dog for a walk is a simple yet effective way to keep both of your hearts healthy.

Help maintain a healthy weight: Walking is an excellent form of exercise for weight management. By engaging in regular walks with your dog, you both can burn calories, build muscle, and maintain a healthy weight. This is not only beneficial for you but also for your furry friend, as obesity can lead to various health problems in dogs.

New to dog walks? If you are not a frequent dog walker, VCA Animal Hospitals suggests starting the new year with a fresh slate. They suggest, starting “out slowly by taking a few 10-minute practice walks around the neighborhood. When you – and your dog – are ready, increase the time and distance”. Read more about how to start out

Walking a Dog – Mental Health Benefits

Walking a dog is not only beneficial for their physical health but also for their mental well-being. Here are some of the mental health benefits that come with regular walks:


  • Reduce stress and anxiety: Walking allows dogs to release pent-up energy and reduces stress levels. It provides an outlet for their natural instincts and helps them relax.
  • Improve mood and happiness: Going for a walk exposes dogs to different sights, sounds, and smells, which stimulates their senses and boosts their mood. The fresh air and exercise also contribute to a general sense of happiness.
  • Enhance cognitive function: Walking engages a dog’s brain as they explore their surroundings, encounter new experiences, and engage with their environment. This mental stimulation helps improve cognitive function and can even help slow down cognitive decline in older dogs.

By incorporating regular walks into your dog’s routine, you can help improve their mental well-being and provide them with a happier, healthier life.

Behavioral Benefits of Dog Walking

Daily walks can provide numerous behavioral benefits for your furry friend. Here are three key ways that walking a dog can positively impact their behavior:

Prevent destructive behaviors: Dogs are naturally active creatures, and without regular exercise, they may resort to destructive behaviors out of boredom or excess energy. Walking your dog on a daily basis can help alleviate this problem by providing a healthy outlet for their energy. By tiring them out through physical activity, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of destructive behaviors such as chewing furniture, digging holes in the yard, or excessive barking.

Promote socialization with other dogs: Walking your dog allows them to interact with other dogs they may encounter along the way. This socialization is crucial for their mental well-being and can help them develop proper dog-to-dog communication skills. Meeting and playing with other dogs during walks can reduce the likelihood of fear or aggression towards other animals, making your dog more comfortable and confident in various social settings.

Increase obedience and training opportunities: Walking your dog on a leash provides an excellent opportunity for obedience training. It allows you to establish control and reinforce commands such as sit, stay, and heel. Regular walking sessions also help strengthen the bond between you and your dog, making them more responsive to your commands and enhancing their overall obedience. Additionally, exposing your dog to different environments, sights, and sounds during walks can help desensitize them, making future training sessions more effective.


Bonding and Building Your Relationship During a Walk

Walking a dog is not just about getting exercise; it also provides numerous bonding and relationship benefits between you and your furry friend. The American Kennel Club states in a recent article that, “a prime motivation for walking our dogs is that it makes us happy. And why does it make us happy? Because we believe it makes our dogs happy, too”. Here are some ways that regular walks can strengthen the bond between you and your dog:

  1. Strengthen the bond between dog and owner: Taking your dog for a walk allows you to spend quality time together. The shared activity of walking creates a sense of companionship and reinforces the bond between you and your pet. It is a chance for you to connect with your dog on a deeper level and show them your love and care.
  2. Create shared experiences and memories: Each walk you take with your dog becomes a shared experience and an opportunity to create lasting memories. Whether it’s exploring new paths, encountering other dogs, or simply enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, these moments build a strong connection between you and your pet.
  3. Enhance trust and communication: Walking your dog requires trust and communication. As you navigate different environments and encounter various situations together, your dog learns to trust your guidance and rely on your cues. This mutual understanding strengthens the bond between you and helps improve overall communication.

Overall Dog Walking Benefits

Walking your dog regularly not only benefits their physical health, but also has a positive impact on their overall well-being. Let’s explore some of the ways walking can improve your furry friend’s overall well-being:

Improve Sleep Quality: Dogs need regular exercise to help them burn off energy and maintain a healthy sleep pattern. By taking your dog for a walk, you are helping them to release pent-up energy, which can result in better sleep quality for both of you.

Boost Immune System: Regular exercise, such as walking, can help strengthen your dog’s immune system. When your dog is physically active, their body produces more white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infections and diseases.

Increase Overall Happiness and Fulfillment: Dogs are social animals, and walking provides them with an opportunity to explore their surroundings, interact with other dogs, and receive mental stimulation. A happy and fulfilled dog is more likely to exhibit positive behavior and have a better quality of life.

Overcoming Common Challenges During Dog Walks

Embarking on a leisurely stroll with your canine companion is often portrayed as a serene bonding experience, but the reality can sometimes be quite different. Overcoming some of the most common challenges during dog walks will create a better experience for you and your pooch.

Leash reactivity, characterized by excessive barking, lunging, or pulling, can turn a peaceful walk into a stressful ordeal. Understanding the triggers and addressing the root cause is the first step in overcoming this challenge. Gradual desensitization and positive reinforcement techniques can help modify your dog’s behavior over time. Consider enrolling in obedience training classes or consulting with a professional trainer for personalized guidance.

Meeting other dogs during walks can be unpredictable. Some dogs are social butterflies, while others may display signs of anxiety or aggression. Teach your dog basic commands like “sit” and “stay” to help manage interactions. Always ask the other owner if it’s okay for your dogs to greet each other, and be prepared to gracefully redirect your dog’s attention if needed. Keeping a safe distance and using treats as positive reinforcement can make these encounters more pleasant.

From enticing scents to captivating sights, dogs are naturally curious creatures. While exploration is healthy, excessive pulling or darting towards distractions can pose challenges. Invest in a comfortable and well-fitted harness to minimize pulling, and practice loose leash walking during training sessions. Reward your dog for walking calmly by your side, reinforcing the desired behavior.

Walking in different weather conditions can present unique challenges. Hot pavement can burn sensitive paw pads, while cold weather may require protective gear for your dog. Always check the temperature and adjust the length and intensity of walks accordingly. Carry water to keep both you and your dog hydrated, and invest in appropriate gear to shield against the elements.

Dogs, like humans, can experience fear or anxiety during walks. Identify the triggers and introduce positive associations. Gradual exposure, treats, and calming body language can help alleviate fears. If anxiety persists, seek guidance from a professional behaviorist to develop a tailored approach to address your dog’s specific needs.

From bustling city streets to serene parks, the variety of environments during walks can be overwhelming for some dogs. Gradually expose your dog to different settings, starting with less stimulating areas and gradually progressing to more challenging environments. This helps build confidence and adaptability over time.

Conclusion – Navigating the Path to a Happy and Healthy Bond with Your Dog

In the tapestry of life, the daily walks with your four-legged companion weave threads of joy, health, and connection. The benefits of walking your dog extend beyond the physical exercise, delving into the realms of mental well-being, behavioral harmony, and the strengthening of the unique bond you share. As you stride through challenges like leash reactivity, unexpected encounters, or weather woes, remember that each obstacle is an opportunity for growth, learning, and an even deeper connection with your furry friend.

By understanding the intricacies of your dog’s behavior, employing positive reinforcement techniques, and gradually exposing them to various stimuli, you can transform your walks into delightful adventures. The physical health benefits of exercise, the mental stimulation derived from exploring the world, and the shared experiences that enhance your bond all contribute to a happier, healthier life for both you and your beloved pet.

So, leash up, embark on the journey, and revel in the shared moments, for each step you take together contributes to the rich tapestry of a fulfilling life for you and your furry companion. Happy walking!

Puppy 101: A Quick-Start Guide to Caring for Your New Puppy

new puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting, but sometimes overwhelming experience. Whether this is your first puppy or it’s been a while since you’ve had a pup, we’d like to help by answering the most common questions and offering tips to ensure you give your new pet the best care possible.


What do I feed my puppy?

puppy food

There are many choices out there in dog food, so it can be tough to feel confident you’ve found the right food to nourish your puppy. For starters, it’s important that you feed a high-quality food that is specially formulated for growing puppies. This food will have higher protein and fat levels, added DHA and EPA, and other vitamins and nutrients (such as calcium), all perfectly balanced to provide proper nutrition during growth.

Puppies’ nutritional needs change quickly as they grow, so be sure to revisit the amount you’re feeding frequently to make sure your pup is getting the proper amount for their growth stage. If you have a large breed puppy, like a lab or a golden retriever, you’ll want to avoid overfeeding, as this can cause issues with bone development as your pup grows.

Your puppy’s food will be complete and balanced, providing all the nutrients he or she needs in the correct proportions. While it might be tempting, you should avoid switching between foods or feeding table scraps because these can lead to a very picky eater in the future! Plus, some people foods can cause stomach upset and some can even be toxic. If you do give your puppy a little something on the side, we recommend these treats and other foods make up less than 10% of a pet’s daily food intake. And If you must switch your puppy’s food, be sure to gradually change the foods over two weeks to avoid an upset stomach.


When should I transition from a puppy formula to an adult food?


Our recommendation is that your pup should stay on puppy food until they are full grown, but know that “full grown” varies significantly depending on the breed. Many are done growing and can change to adult food by a year old, but some large breed puppies, such as Great Danes, will continue to grow for up to two years!


How do I set my puppy up for potty training success?

puppy potty training

Potty training is a much happier adventure for all involved when you make the experience positive by encouraging your pup when it succeeds rather than scolding when it has accidents. Puppies are still developing the muscles they need to hold their urine for the first 12 weeks, so you’ll need to take them out frequently and praise them when they go outside. Eating usually stimulates movement through their system, so you should take them out within 20 minutes after mealtime. It’s also a good idea to take your puppy out after sleeping, drinking, and playing. And always try to give a verbal cue such as “go potty” that the puppy can catch on to, along with plenty of praise as soon as they have gone.

Always keep your puppy in your sight while potty training to foster success. This is easier said than done, we know. So if you find that your puppy has had an accident and urinated or pooped inside, do not punish them after the fact. The puppy will only understand why you are upset if you actually catch him or her in the act. If you do catch your puppy going in the house, immediately interrupt the behavior with a verbal “no,” and take him or her quickly outdoors to finish. Be sure to offer plenty of praise when he or she goes outside.

Any time you’re not able to supervise your puppy, he or she should be kept in a crate. Puppies become comfortable and consider the crate their safe place to rest. They are also less likely to go to the bathroom in their crate as long as it’s not too big. For optimal success, you should allow your puppy to go to the bathroom before putting him or her in and as soon as they come out of the crate. Short periods of time in the crate will help your puppy learn to hold off until an appropriate potty time is offered. Another benefit of crating your puppy is that it prevents them from chewing on or eating things in the house while you’re not looking.

Remember that puppies often make mistakes during potty training, so do your best to keep up the positivity! If training seems to be really off course, it’s always good to check with your vet to rule out medical causes for the challenges. A professional trainer can also help smooth out the process if issues persist.


What can I expect from visits to the vet?

puppy vet clinic

You should schedule a vet visit as soon as possible after getting a new puppy and do whatever you can to make every vet visit as low-stress as possible. Be sure to give plenty of praise (and treats!) to make each visit a positive experience. This will help your puppy see the vet as a normal outing rather than an unpleasant experience as they grow older.

The vet will give your puppy a physical exam to look for any problems he or she may have been born with (such as hernias, luxating patellas, soft spots on their head, heart murmurs, etc.) or any other medical issues. In addition, your vet will deworm your puppy and get you started on a proper vaccination schedule. You’ll also want to talk about having your puppy spayed or neutered at the appropriate age.

Vaccinations are a proactive way to protect and support your puppy’s immune system from exposure to new diseases. Your veterinarian will create a plan for your puppy based on your unique lifestyle and routines, but they usually start vaccines around 6  to 8 weeks of age and booster them every 2 to 3 weeks until they’re 16 weeks old. It’s important to follow your vet’s plan as getting all recommended boosters in with the correct intervals will ensure your puppy is fully protected. Some vaccines are considered core vaccines (rabies, distemper combo vaccine) and are given to almost all puppies. There are other non-core vaccines (bordetella, lyme, lepto, influenza) that are given based on an individual puppy’s chance of future exposure. This often depends on where you live and what your puppy will be in contact with, both in the environment and from other dogs. For example, does your puppy spend almost all of their time inside or do they go to dog parks or a groomer? Will you take them for a hike in the woods every weekend? Your vet will also likely start your puppy on a heartworm preventative and possibly a flea and tick preventative regimen.

Because they are so little, puppies can get sick quickly. Watch for any diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, lethargy, sneezing, coughing, discharge from the eyes or nose, fever, decreased appetite, limping, or general changes in health or behavior. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these.
Always remember that your vet is your ally, and you both want the best for your puppy. If you have questions about something or if you miss a vaccine booster or dose of preventative medication, be sure to check in with your vet. They will be happy to get you back on track.


Time for training!

puppies playing

It’s important to socialize puppies with people and dogs, but be careful about who you introduce your puppy to until they’ve gotten all of their puppy vaccines at 16 weeks. Until then, it’s best to keep your puppy in a fenced-in yard and only let them interact with fully-vaccinated dogs. You’ll want to avoid places where other dogs frequent (such as dog parks and pet stores), and carry them in and out of vet clinics to help reduce their exposure to diseases.

Puppy classes are strongly encouraged for training and socialization, and reputable classes will require that all puppies be up-to-date on vaccines. These classes are great for both you and your puppy, and they will foster a positive long-term relationship by teaching you how to communicate and interact with each other.

Your puppy will lose its baby teeth and get adult teeth throughout its first eight months. Chewing and biting is a normal play behavior between puppies, and it provides relief to pesky teething pain. You can teach your puppy that biting you is inappropriate using a high-pitched sound to mimic the noises puppies use with each other when playtime gets too rough. Immediately give your puppy a toy to play with and praise them for playing with the toy.


Brushing up on grooming tips

puppy grooming

Now is the perfect time to get your puppy comfortable with things they will encounter in the future, such as vet visits, nail trims, ear cleaning, and brushing their coat and teeth, so they will not be afraid of these things as an adult dog. Trimming nails can be done at home, but ask your vet to show you how.  Cutting them too short can cause a bit of pain and bleeding, and it might make them wary of nail trims in the future. It’s also great to get your puppy used to daily tooth brushing. Dental disease can be detrimental to the body later in life, so keeping the teeth clean is a great way to keep them healthy. You can use a regular toothbrush or a finger brush, but be sure to use toothpaste specially made for dogs because human toothpaste is toxic to pets.

Puppies can be messy, but we only recommend giving a full bath every two weeks if possible. More frequent baths can dry out the skin. Between baths, you can spot wash your puppy as needed. It’s important to use a shampoo that’s made for dogs because the pH of their skin is different than that of people, so our soaps and shampoos can dry out or irritate their skin.


Anything else I should know? I’m a bit overwhelmed!

puppy beagle

Exercise, plenty of toys, and playing are important to keep your puppy’s mind stimulated. Gradually introduce exercise (but don’t overdo it) and keep a close eye on your puppy when it’s playing with toys. Remove any strings or small parts that can come off the toy, as they can cause choking or blockages in the intestines if swallowed. Always supervise your puppy if he or she is playing with plush toys. Their sharp little teeth can cut through and get the stuffing and squeakers out easily, and these can be hazardous when swallowed.

Most important of all, enjoy your puppy! Take lots of pictures to look back on later. They don’t stay small for long, and there’s nothing better than puppy kisses to brighten any day.


Learn more about puppy care and raising a successful dog with The Essential Guide to Puppy Care: Nurturing Your Furry Bundle of Joy

Best Friends Pet Hotel – Puppy Wellness Resources:

Puppy Play Group

Give your puppy a strong foundation for life! At our Puppy Play Group sessions, your puppy gets to play in a supervised pack environment that teaches them proper socialization, manners and play skills to prepare them for adulthood.

Click here to learn more about Puppy Play Group and to book a reservation.


Puppy Grooming

Whether you need a quick shampoo or “the works, our expert groomers will make your furry friend fabulous. Each appointment includes a free consultation to discuss your pup’s personal grooming needs. Bonus: First time puppies receive a discounted bath for only $10 and a discounted bath and haircut for only $20!

Click here to learn more about grooming and to book a reservation.


Vet Clinics

Click here to learn more about our vet care, see our upcoming clinic dates and locations, and to make a reservation.



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The Name Game

Are you and your dog ready for another brain stimulating game that’s sure to keep your dog and the rest of the family entertained while you’re at home?

Let’s play The Name Game!

In this game, you’ll teach your dog the names of two favorite toys. Get ready for some learning and fun!

Not on our email list yet?… Click here to subscribe and get all new “Best Friends At Home” episodes delivered to your inbox.

7 Effective Dog Training Methods – For Old Dogs and New Dogs

7 Effective Dog Training Methods – For Old Dogs and New Dogs

By Christine A. Bournias

dog training with treat

​Something New To Think About​

Is your furry running partner showing signs of slowing down?

It may be subtle at first, then more evident over time. Yes, your new dog is getting old. You never thought this rambunctious puppy – with an abundant amount of energy – would change. But, with wisdom comes maturity.

dog laying down on floor

When it comes to learning, there are a few ​stages of canine growth. While overlapping dog development periods require further research and investigation, pet parents should be familiar with these general stages of puppy life when teaching our dog new tricks:

4 Primary Stages of Puppy Growth And Behavioral Development ​

According to the PetSmart Services Learning Institute, based on studies​ ​based on Dr. John Paul Scott and John Fuller, there are four (4) main periods of canine behavioral development:

Neonatal Period (Birth to 2 Weeks) ​

Puppies should be with their mother and littermates during this stage, however research shows
that brief, gentle human handling has beneficial effects.

Your puppy is largely reflexive during this period. If they’re touched on the side of their face, your puppy’s reflexive response is to turn and crawl in the direction of the touch. During this life stage, their core body temperature is regulated by their mother and their litter mates.

puppy sleeping on blanket

Transitional Period (2-3 Weeks) ​

In this stage, puppies transition away from behaviors that are designed to enhance the survival of a newborn. Your puppy will begin to display behaviors that are more adult-like and will discover their feet under them.

During the transitional period, puppies will display increased sensory and locomotor skills, allowing them to gain their maturity. They start to gain independence for toilet behaviors.

​Socialization Period (3-12 Weeks) ​

During this life stage, puppies become fully able to see and hear. Your puppy will begin to form social relationships and attachments to recognized locations. Around twenty (20) days, puppies will exhibit a startle response to sounds.

The socialization period is the most important time in your puppy’s life. Puppies begin to form social relationships, learning opportunities, and attachments to recognized locations. If your puppy is deprived of these critical teachable moments, they may have a tough time relating to other dogs later in life.

two dogs running in grass, playing with toy

​Juvenile Period (12 Weeks to Maturity) ​

The juvenile period allows puppies to form secondary social relationships—beyond their mother and littermates. In this stage, dogs are said to be “testing the rules”, much like a human teenager. Puppies become self-reliant and independent at this age. They establish dominance order amongst their littermates and display emotional states of fear or anger.

Your puppy is born completely dependent on their mother. At this juvenile stage, puppies begin to learn to make their own way. The human owner becomes less and less the center of the universe. This juvenile period is a terrific opportunity to diffuse your puppy’s fear response and adaptability.

Other ​canine studies ​​believe that there are more specific dog growth stages. These experts have coined fun names and interesting ways to remember your dog’s development.

dog graduate, graduation cap, diploma

​Beyond Juvenile Period​ ​

Many pet parents believe that dogs close to one (1) year of age or older need no further training or socialization needs. Beyond the juvenile stage, your dog will indeed benefit from training.

An eighteen (18) month dog is still maturing and they need you more than ever. Dedicated time investment with your juvenile plus dog will strengthen your bond together and will help curve undesired behavioral habits. This age is an ideal time to continue to train your dog.

Puppies that were well socialized when they were young could regress. Your dog may become fearful of people or new situations if their training and socialization activities aren’t continued. In fact, young adult dogs between one (1) to two (2) years of age are at greatest risk of being surrendered to shelters.

dog training, trainer with treat

New Ways To Think About Your Aging Pet​ ​

Your dog looks at you a bit longer. They hobble and hop with arthritis. Or, they may not hear your commands or see you as well. Be patient with them. Your dog wants to please you and they’re still ready to learn. ​At any age,​ all pets long for your attention and deserve mental stimulation.

Also, not all dogs are good at all things. Understand your dog’s type and breed, focus on what your dog is really good at, and recognize that not every dog is going to be good at fetch.


“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Speculated quote by Albert Einstein


Golden Retrievers may be wonderful at heeling close to their owners’ side for loose leash walking, while this breed may be much less impressive at herding a flock of sheep. Herding dogs may not be great lap dogs, but might run circles around a tiny designer dog who lives in an oversized purse.

dog training, high five with dog trainer

NOTE TO YOU ABOUT YOUR DOG: Discover who they are, find out what they’re good at, and capitalize on those unique skills. Specific canine experts that use interactive games help analyze how your dog sees the world:

“By understanding your dog’s mind, you’ll build a deeper connection with the personality behind the bright eyes that greet you every day.” — ​Dognition Assessment
​ ​

But Can You Really Teach Your Old Dog ​New​ Tricks?​ ​

Yes, you can teach ​all​ dogs tricks. New or “old”—we all need to learn. Yes, learning includes our sugar face canine companions too.

Much like us, dogs thrive on mental stimulation throughout their lives. Ongoing dog training, as well as continual ​pet parent education are ideal ways to educate yourself and nurture the bond between dogs and their caregivers.

Your own dog may not learn like a new puppy at their early life stages, but if you make learning fun, they’ll love the education process. Even if your dog doesn’t master the new task at hand, both you and your dog might enjoy trying!

dog holding leash in mouth

​7 New Tips For Old Dogs ​

1. Time investment

Finding something new to teach your pet takes time. The key is to ​make​ time with your dog. Even ten (10) minute bouts a few times a day can make a big difference in your dog’s learning curve, especially when you’re stuck indoors. A simple walk works wonders.

Many pet parents think they have to train their dog for hours at a time, but all your dog really wants are tiny — yet quality — moments of your attention each day.

“Teach them like there’s enough time for both of you.” —​Unknown

As humans, we get distracted with family life and work, but ​you are the center of your pet’s world. The least we can do for them is to carve out a small slice of time — far away from your typical routine of the world.

Make time to play and train your dog. Period.

Nobody said it would be easy — however, time investment will increase trust and help strengthen the bond with your animal.

2. Timing

Dogs live and learn in the moment. Be in ​that ​moment. It’s not necessary to repeat a command over and over again. They hear us the first time! (Or, the second time.) When it comes to training, timing is everything.

Quick thinking and rapid response will help your dog learn at their speed. Ask your trusted​ pet professionals, a dog training expert, or a recognized animal behaviorist for additional advice.

3. Simplicity

Start with basic commands like common “sits” and “stays.” Don’t try to do too much too soon. Simple requests are ideal. Remember: Keep It Simple Sweetheart (K.I.S.S.) Baby steps are key.

woman training dog to give paw

4. Showcasing

Training is not something that happens overnight. Your dog wants to please you. It’s your job to show them how. Show your dog what you want instead of telling them what to do over and over again. Show don’t tell. Be silly with your dog. And, by all means, make it fun.

101 Dog Tricks ​ by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy suggests a trick tip: “Increase your dog’s motivation by varying the consistency, amount, and types of treats. Sometimes, offer a goldfish cracker, sometimes nothing, and sometimes a jackpot of treats!”


5. Shaping

‘Shape’ a desired behavior by working with your dog in steps, known in dog training as ‘shaping.’ Shaping consists of luring, marking, and rewarding success.

​Take Small Steps. Teach In Stages. Exercise Patience.​ ​

Example: Dance between ankles: Start with your right leg, allow your dog to funnel through your ankle by luring them with a high value reward, like a tiny treat. Mark and reward desired behavior. Repeat with the left leg. Mark and reward desired behavior. Slowly add these two steps together to complete the “dance.” Gradually combine both your right and left leg to complete the entire sequence. Take lots of breaks. Make lots of mistakes. Repeat as necessary. Revert back to something simple like a “sit” often. New tricks take some perseverance, but patience is power.

6. Sequencing

If your dog knows a handful of simple tasks, practice those tricks first. Then add a few tasks and string those tasks together. Putting a series of tricks together transforms into an advanced trick. Add and rearrange as desired.

Celebrate little wins and take a little walk break. Go back to “kindergarten” with basic commands. When you come back to practice, you may find your dog will perform the last thing that you’ve taught them.

woman barefoot, walking dog on leash in grass

7. Silence

Let your dog think through the commands you give him or her. Be quiet and listen to your dog. Then watch what happens. You might be surprised at their immediate success.

“If you want your dog to learn how to play hoops, get him a basketball net and teach the task in steps. Allow him to touch the net with his nose. Mark and reward. Let him touch the ball. Mark and reward. Combine these two tasks. Repeat several times without saying a word. Then be quiet. Give your dog permission to think it through. Don’t get too enthusiastic too soon. Avoid escalating your excitement voice. You’ll break his chain of thought.” ​—Craig K. ​Pet Training Instructor

dog training with toy in yard


Not The Same Old Thing ​

Change is good. Keep things fresh and lively—and have some fun with new “old” things. String a few training staples together and ta-da—something new! Change the order of simple tasks and mix or match:

​Fresh Thoughts To Old Tricks

  • ​Wait + Recall + Sit = New Trick!
  • Sit + Down + Stay = New Trick!
  • Down + Roll Over + Speak = New Trick!
  • BackUp+Sit+Stay=NewTrick!

Do Fun Things And Keep The Skip In Their Step ​

Surprise your dog with something innovative and refreshing. Give them a new perspective on life. Maybe it’s a new toy, a new direction around the block, or a new trick. If your dog has never attended a ​dog daycare service, now may be a good time to introduce more fun into their daily routine.

Many reputable pet hotels have ​ ​training classes​​, ​play & train options, or individual behavior sessions for puppies and mature dogs alike. Training sessions keep your dog acting like a pup and continue to fine tune their basic obedience skills.

Your dogs may not learn like they used to, but they’ll appreciate your efforts and the time you make for them. Practice learning your dog and love the bond you’re forming with your pooch. You may not be successful at all tricks with your dog, however, you just might enjoy the process and impress them with your efforts. And, that’s all that matter!

● ​Keep your pet feeling fresh and frisky

Feed your pet good fuel

Practice being active

Love on them!
​ ​

New “Old” Things​ ​

Learning is lifetime. Same for your dog. Whether you have a young pup or wise old buddy, your pets deserve your attention. Present to them an abundance of tricks and plenty of interesting things to think about. Give your puppy dog the chance to ​want​ to pay attention to you and learn more fun, new things each day!

With increased time spent at home, adopting a new member into your family may be the perfect solution to helping your local shelter. If you find yourself indoors more often lately, you may have additional time to devote to your fur friend’s training needs.

dog trained, trick, balancing muffin on head


For new stuff and other fun things to think about, visit: ​Best Friends Pet Hotel ​or call your local hotel.



About The Author:

Christine A. Bournias resides in Michigan with her 2-pack; two new beautiful adopted miracles. As her “Angelwriter”, Nicodemus (1997-2010) is the wisdom behind the stories she shares. Christine champions the magnitude of building the bond between a dog and their person(s) by means of respectful communication and enduring admiration.

The Shell Game

The Shell Game for Dogs

Are you and your dog ready for a brain stimulating game that’s sure to keep your dog and the rest of the family entertained while you’re at home?

Let’s play The Shell Game!

In this game, you’ll place a treat or toy underneath 1 of 3 overturned cups and let your dog guess which cup has the treat or toy. When your dog guesses correctly, he gets a treat!

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Dog Obstacle Course

Make your own dog obstacle course! Creating an obstacle course stimulates and exercises your dog (and maybe even you too!). You can make one with items from your home, just like Kayla did with her dog DJ on the enclosed clip. Happy constructing!

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5 Stimulating & Fun Games to Play with Your Pet

dog, Einstein

Besides the usual walks, frisbee, and fetch, how about playing a mentally stimulating game with your dog (we have one in there for cats too!) that will teach them an awesome new skill and provide lots of fun and reward!

Below are five video tutorials on a few of our favorite stimulating and fun games to play with your pet. Pick one, two, three, four or all! And have fun!

1. The Shell Game

The Shell Game is a brain stimulating game that’s sure to keep your dog and the rest of the family entertained.

In this game, you’ll place a treat or toy underneath 1 of 3 overturned cups and let your dog guess which cup has the treat or toy. When your dog guesses correctly, he gets a treat!


2. The Name Game

The Name Game is another brain stimulating game that’s sure to keep your dog and the rest of the family entertained.

In this game, you’ll teach your dog the names of two favorite toys. Get ready for some learning and fun!


3. The “Find It” Game – Nosework for Your Dog

A dog’s nose knows. Learn the steps to encouraging your dog’s scent through a game called, “Find It”. Watch Molly and Magic, experts in “find it”, as they teach how to find hidden treats. Fun to play inside and outside!


4. Hide and Seek Treat Toy for Cats

Encourage your cat’s primal instinct and stimulate his curiosity with the Hide and Seek Cat Toy made from items in your home. Easy to make. Provides hours of play!

5. “Through the Hoop” Dog Trick

Turn a hula hoop and some motivation into a trick with your dog. Teach her first how to walk through the hoop and then slowly how to jump through. With a little time, your dog, young or senior, has it in her to learn and excel at this trick.