Starting your puppy off with the proper enrichment, expectations, and boundaries can lead to a fulfilling life for your dog. On this page, you’ll find resources to help you get started on your journey.

I also offer my Puppy Foundation Zoom Call which helps new puppy parents all over the country build a solid foundation and raise a well-mannered, well-behaved puppy.

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Take Sara’s Short Course

Whether you are a new (or soon-to-be-new) puppy parent or an aspiring trainer or behavior professional, Sara’s short course is instrumental in learning the basic fundamentals of building the best relationships with our furry best friends! In under three hours, for less than $35, you can pave the path for a well-mannered, well-rounded pup and kick off your training journey together, already ahead of the game.

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Frequently Asked Questions

These are a few of the most frequently asked questions I get about puppies.

Puppies are little sponges and every interaction you have with them initially is a “training” interaction so you are essentially starting training the moment your new family member is in your hands.

I begin very basic obedience skills at 5 weeks of age using body language and nonverbal communication mostly and layering in cues through weeks 6,7, and 8. I do this when I have access to the puppy prior to the puppy coming home, as leaving the mother and siblings prior to at least week 9 is not recommended for bite inhibition and social development, with the exception of orphans or unstable mothers. Outside of early access, for all puppies, I give at least a 2-week “getting to know you and the routine” period to where training is not about obedience (sit, down, stay, heel, etc.) and more about learning how to follow, learning the daily routine, learning where to potty, and very simple foundational behaviors. After that 2-3 week period, then more structured obedience work begins.

My preferred method for potty training is using a crate and crate training. Aside from speeding up the process of learning where to potty, there are so many great uses for crates that I almost always use this method. I avoid using pee pads as it can elongate potty training with the barrier being teaching the puppy that it’s acceptable to go potty in the house (on the pad) to it not being acceptable to potty in the house.

I use a portion of the puppy’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner mixed in with a few high-value treats to use little “yes – good job” markers throughout the day by rewarding them for behaviors that I want to see repeated. Some high-value treats that I like to use include Nom Nom Jerky, Fig & Tyler Turkey Hearts, Nutro Mini Bites, and Tricky Trainers. A high-value treat is really anything that your puppy just really goes gaga for! Have fun finding their favorite! Keep in mind – it is not the size of the treat reward that matters, it’s the actual treat itself so break up treats into tiny bits when you are able, to make them last a lot longer and to not accidentally get into the habit of overfeeding your puppy.

In terms of puppy socialization, the term doesn’t mean physical contact or “play” exclusively, it really means exposure.

Your puppy needs exposure to people of all ages, sizes, and colors, as they also need exposure to other animals of varying species, ages, sizes, and personalities. While your puppy is still going through those important preventive vaccinations, you want to avoid highly populated areas where urine and feces are present such as the pet store or the dog park. If you visit places such as these, keep your puppy out of the general population and out of the grassy area where other dogs potty, rather, leave them in the car with the door open to simply listen and watch or place them in a cart to get closer to those areas without increasing risk of infection or disease. Socialization also means exposure to the unexpected – whether that be sounds, smells, or sights that might be unusual.

For more information on safe socialization, visit the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior

I tether (with a hands-free leash) 24/7 for at least the first two weeks when the puppy is not actively eating, drinking, playing with another person or animal, going potty, or sleeping. Personally, I make no exception to this rule because, in my experience, it greatly speeds up the learning and bonding process for new puppies.

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