5 Tips for Surviving Puppyhood

November 16, 2021

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We welcomed our dog, Annie, into our home in April of 2020. I mean it when I say that we NEVER thought we would be dog owners. Justin and I were both against it for years, but had slowly been warming up to the idea as we saw our children longing for one, and their scope of responsibility maturing over time. As fate would have it, we selected her as a newborn puppy before the pandemic began, and she arrived after that first month, while we were filled with so many unknowns, anxiety, and fear. The timing could not have been more perfect for our family. We were in dire need of some positivity and comfort. 


But, as some of you may know, puppy life is HARD! It felt equivalent to having a new baby in the home, and definitely tested us at times. We were fortunate to have good resources and advice from several other families, and somehow we made it through and LOVE having a dog! She is the best thing we have done for our kids. Now, in an effort to support others, I want to share the top five tips that helped us thrive during those early phases!


  1. Find the right dog for your family

It’s super important to understand the dynamics, specifications, and needs of each breed before diving in, to ensure you can provide the best care. We did a lot of research into different breeds before choosing one. Our family has several members with pet allergies, so a hypo-allergenic breed that didn’t shed was a must. With young, wild kids, we wanted a smaller, more tame breed, that would be content living indoors. We are huge proponents for adopting dogs without families, but we weren’t able to find one that would work for what we needed, so we found a local family-run breeder @happydoodlebnb with a new litter of F1B Mini Golden-Doodles. And that’s where we fell in love with our girl! 


2. Schedule

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a set schedule! Right from day one, we followed this recommended schedule from a trainer. This daily itinerary provides the right amount of play, sleep, and emotional breaks for Annie. Although this is a great general schedule, make sure you understand the specific needs of your breed!



*The schedule below is for 3 feedings a day. Eliminate the noon meal when she/he reaches 6 months old. 


Feed the puppy, wait 15 minutes, offer water

Take him/her out to go potty

Spend 30 minutes playing with the puppy


6:00 am  

  1. Take puppy outside to go to the bathroom
  2. Take him/her to the same spot every morning
  3. Initially, take him/her out on leash so she/he has to go in the right spot in the yard 
  4. Praise him/her and pet him/her after they potty. Say “good potty!!!”

7:00 am  

  1. Feed & water pup
  2. Offer them 1/3 of food in morning 
  3. Make them sit then put food down and leave it out for 10-15 minutes (even if it’s not gone after 15 min.. put food away. They’ll catch on)
  4. Walk pup and take to potty spot
  5. Play briefly with puppy
  6. Pup stays in crate

Mid morning

  1. Walk pup to potty spot
  2. Puppy stays with you 15-30 min
  3. Pup returns to crate


  1. Feed pup second meal and offer water
  2. Walk pup to potty spot
  3. Go back inside and stay with pup
  4. Pup returns to crate for at least an hour

Mid afternoon:  

  1. Offer water
  2. Walk pup to potty spot
  3. Pup returns to crate

6:00 pm        

  1. Feed pup third meal and offer water for the last time (5 hours before bed should be their last time drinking water)
  2. Walk pup to potty spot
  3. Allow pup to play in the kitchen while making dinner, play with kids etc. 

7:00 pm   

  1. Walk puppy briefly to potty spot
  2. Play with pup until they’re worn out
  3. Pup returns to crate

Right before bed   

  1. Walk puppy to potty spot
  2. Puppy sleeps in crate

The first 1-2 week you may need to wake up 1-2x throughout the night for quick potty breaks. Set your alarm and be the one to let them out, don’t wait for them to whimper.


3. Training

Neither Justin, nor I, had much experience with training. For the benefit of everyone, we worked with the incredible Maligator Kennels to learn everything we could. We sent Annie to a three-week board/training camp with them while we were out of town for family trips. Prior to attending, Annie portrayed typical puppy behavior–nipping, barking, growling, potty accidents, and hyperactivity. When we picked her up, she was significantly more calm, sweet, obedient, and affectionate. It was straight up magic! They educated us on how to continue her training at home and keep a consistent environment for her. 


4. Grooming

A clean puppy is a happy puppy (and mama!) My biggest fear about getting a dog was the smell. Having a clean-smelling home is high on my priority list for my mental health, and I didn’t want that compromised. Henry Clean makes a vegan, cruelty-free scent spray that is not only safe for dogs, it promotes a healthy coat for them as well. It seriously smells amazing! 

Our favorite groomer is Kibbles and Cuts, located in Sandy, UT (they also have a Stansbury Park location), but if you aren’t local to these areas, find a well-reviewed groomer near you, and learn how often your breed needs a full grooming. 


5. Helpful products

The following are the starter supplies that helped us from the get-go:


This crate was key to a successful adjustment for both puppy and family


Cozy, cute, and WASHABLE dog bed


Potty pads that will save your flooring


Stuffed mommy puppy with a heartbeat and heating pad to comfort young puppies 


Aesthetically pleasing dog bowl stand to prevent spills. For food, we love The Farmer’s Dog! They make fresh, human-grade food for dogs, to promote health, energy, and eliminate fillers.


Retractable leash


Recovery suit for any procedures (spaying/neutering)


Wishing you the best of luck with your pup! Don’t forget to paws and breathe every once in a while (couldn’t resist an easy dog pun!)



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I'm Ashley Reeves!

I'm a body positive mother, entrepreneur and speaker who has spent the last decade building better body love and empowering others to do the same.

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