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What new puppy parents need to know

Patrick Ferland, Canine Services Coordinator with Duo, shares tips on bringing a new puppy home.

ST. LOUIS — There are several things Patrick Ferland, Canine Services Coordinator with Duo, says new puppy parents should have on hand when they bring their new dog home.


  • You want to get a collar on your puppy as early as possible so he gets used to it.
  • The right size collar will allow you to fit 2-3 fingers inside it.
  • You should check at least weekly to make sure the collar isn’t getting too tight: Puppies can grow 10 pounds per week and quickly outgrow them.


  • Just like the collar, you want to get your puppy used to a leash as early as possible.
  • It doesn’t matter what material your leash is – nylon, leather, etc. – it just needs to feel comfortable and secure in your hand.
  • Patrick doesn’t recommend a retractable leash for puppies. They need one that will keep them within a consistent distance from you. (Preferably within 6’.) This teaches them consistent boundaries as well as keeps them safe if there are larger animals around


  • Bringing a puppy home is like bringing him to an entirely new world. It can be overwhelming. A crate can create a sense of security for a puppy... even if they cry at first!
  • The crate should be large enough for a puppy to lie down and twirl around, but not so large they can pace around. You can buy a larger crate that will grow with them as long as it has dividers inside.
  • A crate is your #1 tool for potty training. Puppies don’t want to make messes in their crates, so keeping them in there helps them learn control.


  • Know how much your puppy weighs before you bring her home. This will tell you how much food they should be eating. There will be a chart on the back of the food bag that tells you amounts in relation to weight.
  • Have the same food on hand that the puppy was eating before coming home with you. New food can cause tummy trouble for puppies, which means accidents. This can cause discomfort for your little one and set you back in potty training.


  • Puppies don’t need a lot of physical activity. Too much can be tough on joints that are growing very quickly.
  • Once you see them start to pant, it’s time to back off and let them recover.
  • Be aware of the surfaces a puppy is playing on. Their paw pads are delicate and can get damaged by gravel or very hot/cold surfaces.

Philosophy for training a new puppy

  • A new puppy is all about patience, love, and reinforcing good behavior. This little animal is bonding with you; they want attention and they want to please you. You’ll train their good behaviors by rewarding with petting, soothing, and treats. Puppies don’t need punishment.

About Duo

  • Website: DuoDogs.org
  • Phone: 314-997-2325
  • Duo has been in St. Louis for 36 years (since 1983)