Puppy 101

Puppy 101

Dog Bed c/o / Rug

Recently I’ve received quite a few emails about Boots, asking everything from what breed he is (Pit Bull + German Shepard mix) to what we feed him to how we’ve trained him. Since there seems to be a lot of interest around the pup, I decided to write a full post focusing on what we’ve learned as dog owners. Our entire lives have changed since he first came home (isn’t it crazy how much he’s grown?) and I’ve learned some important life lessons from him.

But we’ve also taught him a thing or two along the way. Everyone who meets him, and I mean everyone, says he’s the most well-behaved puppy they’ve ever met and I agree. Read more about our position on crate training, how we keep him occupied, and our exercise schedule below!

White Paws

Crate Training: This dog is obsessed with his crate. He sleeps in it every night and when we leave the house, he stays there as well. To get him used to it, we would rub his belly and give him treats whenever he walked in and didn’t force him into it for the first day or two. We wanted to make sure that his crate felt like a safe place and that he didn’t have scary feelings around it.

Potty Training: Boots was potty trained in under a week. After that he had a few accidents but for the most part was good to go. Anel would take him out every 30 mins-1 hour for the first few days and give him a treat if he went potty outside. He started associating that action with treats which encouraged him to continue doing it. We still give him treats for pooping outside because he’s so young. If he does pee inside, we give stern “no”s and make him go outside anyway so he doesn’t think he can get out of peeing outside just by doing it inside.

Meal Times: Anel has been really strict about getting Boots into a mealtime routine. While most pups jump around and get super excited to eat, we’ve trained him to sit in one spot while we pour his food and put the bowl down. Until we say “go ahead”, he won’t move. It’s pretty incredible!

Exercise: In our neighborhood, there is a 0.8 mile loop surrounded by houses with families and dogs. It makes for the perfect light walk. We do that loop once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed. On Tuesdays, my neighbor and I do it together with both of our dogs. So suburban of me, right?! We also try to take him to a dog park, on a hike, or to the beach when we can so that he can socialize with other dogs as much as possible. When he comes back from playing with other pups, he can sleep for hours without moving and walks around in a sleepy daze which is pretty cute.

Play: Like I said before, socializing with other dogs is hugely important. While he’s amazing with people and even kids, we’re trying to teach him how to behave around dogs. Puppies often can’t read signals from other dogs but the more he plays and gets put in his place when he tries to nip them, the better off we’ll all be. Anel also plays with him every night when he gets home from work. They rough house and wrestle and Boots just loves it! We work hard to train him so he knows there is play time and there is non-play time. When friends and family come into the house, we don’t want him jumping on them and getting overly excited, so we make him sit and wait for people to come in before he can go up and say hello. Now he just does it on his own!

Bathing: Although he loves to roll around in the mud, we’re only giving him baths once/month per our vets suggestion. It’s not great for his skin to wash him too often but somehow we manage by wiping him down and he has yet to start smelling. When we do wash him, we use Burt’s Bees Hypo-Allergenic Dog Wash. He loves the tub because for a week before his first bath, we’d put treats in the tub for him to find so he now thinks of it as a safe and happy treat-filled space.

Sleep: While puppies have a lot of energy, they also sleep. A lot. Boots sleeps for about 18 hours on any given day. We put him to bed around 10:30 or 11pm and he’ll sleep until 7 or 7:30 every night. When he cries in the night now, it’s usually because he’s about to have an emergency. At the beginning, when he’d cry, we’d go down and give a stern “no”. Although it’s counterintuitive and I wanted to just pet him when he cried, in the long run it has helped immensely.

Chewing: Everyone…and I mean everyone… told me that he would chew up our rugs, his beds, and all of our shoes as a puppy. He has yet to chew up or ruin one thing which is a result both of his calm demeanor and our strict training. If he starts to chew on a rug or piece of furniture, we correct him with a tap to the neck and a stern, “no”. He really is a good dog and respects us when we say no, but if he continues to push, we continue to push back. The important part in training a dog is to stay consistent, be patient, and don’t back down. It’s easy to give up and say screw it, go for it, but in the long run, all of the hard work we’ve put into training him is so worth it.

Photos: So many people have asked me how we get him to stay still for photos. I just hold a treat and say “sit, stay” over and over as Anel shoots. I move around with the treat so he moves his head at different angles. That is how we did it for the pics in this post!

Products We Love:

  • Bully Sticks made from grass-fed cows have been a Godsend. If Boots is antsy, we give him one of these and he’ll stay occupied with it for up to an hour. If we have to leave him in the crate while we go out, this makes him happy.
  • This treat ball forces him to use his brain to get the treats out. We’ll fill it with 10-15 pieces of food and he’ll get them all in 20 minutes. It is also great for getting him to move his body on days when we can’t take him out as much as we should.
  • Tea for Spot makes doggy tea (yes doggy tea) with ingredients like bone broth and turmeric so he gets the vitamins and minerals he needs on a daily basis to stay strong and healthy. The Daily Brew is our favorite.
  • He actually has three beds (for three different rooms, don’t ask) but his absolute favorite is his personalized ikat bed gifted to us by Amy Berry. I know I got a lot of heat for the price of it last time I posted but it’s incredibly soft and fluffy and it looks beautiful in any room. Considering the dog spends hours on it every day, I would say it’s definitely worth the investment.
  • While he doesn’t chew up our house, he will chew through any toy we give him so finally we found a toy durable enough for his Pit Bull side. We’ve found that anything made by Kong is good for him.
  • This leash has done us well. It’s not fancy or particularly cute but it’s sturdy and gets the job done. We attach this poop bag dispenser to the end and it so we’re never in a situation where we can’t clean up after him.
  • He has a Vineyard Vines collar, natch. We have to upgrade him soon  though, because he’s going to be too big for it! We’re thinking we’ll go with a simple brown leather one.
  • We feed him Blue Wilderness Grain Free all-natural puppy food with red meat which he loves. In my first post, some people suggested wet food but we spoke to our vet about it and he agreed that this dry food is great for him right now. We mix it with a little water and sometimes fish oil as well.

Pitbull German Shepard Puppy

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  1. Morgan Roberts said:

    Wow!!! I wish I had read a post like this before I got my puppy!! I’m still going to try to implement the training tips but my beagle is already 2 years old. I think it’s too late for me! Thank you for sharing this though! I love your site, insta, and snapchat

    3.30.16 · Reply
  2. He is such a cutie and definitely very well behaved for a puppy! I love your tip about the tub. We don’t bathe Bones at home right now, but if we did, I would totally try that. One of my favorite things about having a dog (aside from the unconditional love) is meeting other dog parents and comparing notes. So glad you shared! PS If people are looking for more affordable dog beds, I found both of Bones’ at Homegoods.

    3.30.16 · Reply
  3. Catherine Day said:

    We just got a puppy two weeks ago and oh my god it is exhausting! Everyone says that, but it’s relentless between taking him out every hour, to training, to waking up early to let him out. I’m so impressed with your training! We’re working really hard to get our pup to be trained well, but it’s no easy feat. Right now we’re struggling with barking 🙁 we’re starting a puppy training class this week though, so that will be good for him to meet other puppies and learn how to interact without barking. Loved this post because it’s so relevant right now!

    Two questions for you:
    1. Do you have any tips on how to deal with barking?
    2. When did Boots start letting you know that he needed to go out without you having to take him every hour?


    3.30.16 · Reply
  4. Theresa said:

    He’s so cute!! We have a pit bull too, they are so sweet and my favorite thing is how they love to cuddle. Great tips for training a puppy. Our dog is 10 years old, but we hope to rescue a puppy in the next year or so.

    3.30.16 · Reply
  5. Katie said:

    I have been loving all of your updates on Boots, he is such a cutie!


    3.30.16 · Reply
  6. Emily said:

    Seriously, best advice ever! When we get a pup this summer, I will be frequenting this post!


    3.30.16 · Reply
  7. Maggie said:

    He is such a cute pup! I love learning more about him!

    3.30.16 · Reply
  8. Elizabeth said:

    We use Blue Wilderness, too. You should definitely read The Whole Pet Diet…VERY eyeopening!

    3.30.16 · Reply
  9. Christine said:

    My husband and I got our puppy a few weeks after you got Boots, so I love hearing all about him! What age did you start taking him around other dogs? We’re still waiting for her to get another round of shots before our vet wants her to socialize with other dogs. Also, what age did he start walking on a leash and are you using a harness?

    3.30.16 · Reply
    • Congrats on the puppy! We started taking him around other dogs at about 12 weeks after he got all of his shots. We started him on a leash from day one and no on the harness!

      3.31.16 · Reply
      • Christine said:

        Thanks so much for your response!

        4.1.16 · Reply
  10. Jaime said:

    Congrats on your puppy! He is so adorable!

    My husband and I have a 5 year old black lab, and like Boots she was easy to train and has been such an amazing addition to our family.

    I wanted to share these 2 great products that we have sworn by since she was a puppy.

    Kiehl’s “Spray and Play” cleansing spray. It’s an awesome product for in between baths and makes them smell delicious and their fur super shiny!

    the other is Split Elk antlers. (all natural) These were so helpful when she was teething. They are life savors and they last forever! (We get ours at our local Dog shop, but I’m sure you can find them on amazon.)

    Best of luck with Boots!

    4.6.16 · Reply
    • This is amazing, thank you so much Jaime! Going to get both products now 🙂

      4.6.16 · Reply
  11. liz said:

    Hi! Love this post because I recently got a puppy and my boyfriend and I are doing many of the same things and hoping our Oliver ends up as well behaved as your Boots. Quick question though: how did you and Anel train Boots to sit and wait when company comes over? Did you physically hold him back and push his butt down to sit until he learned to do it on his own? Our puppy gets so excited that he doesn’t respond at all when we call his name or try to get his attention.

    12.28.16 · Reply
    • Congrats on your new puppy! Oliver was actually our other name idea for Boots, I love it for a pup 🙂 When company comes, we would make him sit and wait, and we’d explain to guests that it might take a while to open the door. If he got up at all, we’d make him sit back down, and basically wouldn’t open the door until he calmed down. It took a LOT of patience but I think it’s worth it!

      12.29.16 · Reply
      • liz said:

        That’s so funny- our pup’s full name is Oliver Boots!! 🙂 he has similar coloring and markings as Boots so it seemed very fitting when we named him.
        That makes sense. We’ll have to give that a shot! I agree, if we can train him to sit and wait patiently, it’ll definitely be worth it in the end. Thanks for explaining!

        12.29.16 · Reply