Old Puppy Guide


brown and white puppy

Owning a new puppy is a wonderful, exciting and nerve-wracking time!

So below we have crunched together some of our best tips and helpful hints to make sure you get off to a flying start with your new addition…

First, a little about Barking Heads

At Barking Heads we make a wide range of complete, high quality dog foods for all ages and sizes. All our products are made with natural ingredients, plus carefully selected vitamins and minerals, to ensure your dog is always getting the very best nutrition.

We guarantee all our products to be completely free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives, and to contain only the highest-quality meat, fish, herbs, fruit and vegetables.

In short, we give you everything you need to feed a happy, healthy dog.

We are also really proud to be able to share with you that our products are accredited by the PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers Association) (www.pfma.org.uk), The Ethical Company Organisation (www.ethical-company-organisation.org), The Good Shopping Guide (www.thegoodshoppingguide.com), in addition to all our recipes being approved by UK Vets.

What do we put into our Puppy products?

Meat & Fish

We are always surprised by how little meat some pet foods contain. Meat and fish are primary protein sources for all dogs. That’s why our puppy products contain up to 85% meat or fish from defined sources, all of which are fit for human consumption, so you know you’re feeding the best to your new pup.

Why do we use a combination of dried meat / fish, and fresh meat / fish in the same product?

Dried meats and fish are essentially fresh meats that have had the moisture (water) and fat removed. What you are left with is a rich source of protein that is good for your puppy. During the drying process, however, some of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals from the fresh ingredients are destroyed. So by adding back in fresh meat or fish, all we are doing is adding back those precious vitamins and minerals. Both ingredients are then blended together to form a kibble using a gentle form of steam cooking. By mixing fresh and dry, we offer the best of both worlds, excellent protein sources and the right levels of vitamins and minerals naturally.

Carbohydrates & Grains We are pleased to announce that all our Puppy products are 100% Grain-Free – suitable for even the most sensitive of tiny tums. We also use different carbohydrates like sweet potato and potato, instead of rice and oats, as they provide both soluble and insoluble fibre sources which help aid digestion and are perfect for dogs with intolerances to grains.
Oils and Fats We predominantly use both salmon oil – a great source of Omega-6 for healthy skin and coat – and sunflower oil - a poly-unsaturated fat that supplies gammalinolenic acid, which is also important for skin and coat conditioning.
Hip & Joint Care Most Barking Heads products contain our special ‘hip & joint care pack’ that helps adult dogs with dexterity and bone health. We do include a suitable level of this in our dry Puppy recipe too, as we believe a dog can never be too young to have strong joints!
Trout A rich source of Omega-3, and a highly digestible protein source.
Antioxidants and Preservatives At Barking Heads™ we never use any artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives. They are a BIG NO NO. Instead we use a blend of naturally occurring alpha vitamin E to stop our foods from going bad and to help with your pup’s immune system.

How should my dog benefit?

Healthy Skin

Skin is the largest organ your dog has, so it’s important we ensure it is healthy. It has several functions but maybe the two most important are that it protects all the internal organs and helps maintain body temperature. A healthy skin should be supple and smooth without any lesions, growths or discolouration.


Your pup’s coat helps maintain body temperature and protect their skin from being damaged by external sources or the sun as well as making them look good too. A healthy coat should be flexible and glossy without any excessive dandruff, bald spots or be excessively oily or smelly.

Poo and Wee

Poo is a great indicator of how good a puppy’s diet is and how digestible it is. Your dog’s stool should be brown, firm and shaped like a sausage. Urine should be a clear yellow colour and not cloudy.


Your breed club, vet or the breeder you got your pet from will be able to advise you of the correct weight for a puppy of your dog’s breed. However please bear in mind that this is guide. And just like humans there has to be a level of tolerance.

Muscle Tone

Just like us, muscle tone is dependent on quality and digestibility of the protein eaten, as well as type and quantity of exercise taken.

As the proud owner of a young puppy you will want to do the best you can for your most recent member of the family. There are many things to consider, such as training, health, exercise, grooming and, of course, feeding.

I have just got my new puppy. What do I do now?

The first year is an extremely important period for a puppy’s behavioural and physical development. Several things influence good, healthy growth – one being diet. At Barking Heads we are passionate about healthy nutrition, which is so important during the early stages of life and continues to be through to old age.

puppy cuddling a toy bear


Puppies should have been wormed more than once by the breeder when you collect them. Your vet will advise on any further worming needed. Signs of worms can be: intermittent loose stools; pot belly; poor coat; failure to thrive.


If you inform your vet of the date you collect your new puppy and what age it will be, they will tell you when to bring the puppy in for inoculations. There are several vaccines available and some start at different ages and intervals. It is best practice to not have too many visitors before vaccinations and not take the pup out into public places before the course is complete. Limit exercise to your garden until then.


Most breeders will have treated a puppy for fleas as a precautionary measure before you take him or her home. Your vet will advise on treatments available as some over-the-counter products should not be used on young puppies. Signs of fleas are scratching, biting themselves & flea dirt. Brush or comb through the puppy’s coat onto a piece of damp tissue. If there are any tiny black specks that spread a red colour out from them onto the tissue, they will be ‘flea dirt’. Ticks are round, grey and about the size of a pea. They will attach themselves to an animal and fill up with blood then drop off. Places they are often found are face, chest and legs but they will attach anywhere. If you find one, do not attempt to pull off as it could leave the head attached and cause infection. It is best to use a product specifically for ticks.

Upset Tummy

Overfeeding, new or unusual food, stress, incorrect diet and some infectious diseases can all cause diarrhoea. If your puppy seems happy and not ill it could be one of the less worrying things. If your puppy is unhappy, listless, vomiting or has blood in their poo then it could be serious and you should take them to your vet immediately.


Milk teeth develop around 3-4 weeks old and your puppy will have 28 in total. They start to fall out & new ones come in between 12-20 weeks. During this period puppies can seem ‘off colour’ and become quiet. Sometimes they can go off their food. They will chew more to relieve the discomfort. It can help to give them special teething toys. Some can be put in the freezer first to cool sore gums. Your puppy will develop 42 adult teeth.

Wees & Poos

House training can be easy if your family are consistent and develop a routine. Puppies will always wee when they wake, after eating and often during playtime. They have tiny bladders and need to urinate frequently. By placing your puppy in the area you want it to ‘go’ at these key times and praising enthusiastically after they have performed, your puppy will soon understand what is expected. They almost always poo after particular mealtimes. You can note these times so you are ready to take the puppy outside. Praise and persistence will always help the house training process. It is probably best to not let your puppy have free run of the house during this house training time. It would be difficult to keep watch and the puppy wouldn’t learn as quickly.

The majority of puppies start to be clean for most of the day and partially at night by the time they are approximately four months old. By six months old, one can expect a puppy to be 99% clean with only the occasional accident. Every puppy is an individual: some will be clean by four months; others may take a little longer. Be patient and consistent with training, as they all get there eventually. When cleaning any accidents, it is best to use a product specially made for this as they get rid of bacteria that cause the smell and don’t just ‘mask’ any smell. If there is even the tiniest residue left a puppy will return to that spot.

Out and About

Often positive house training results coincide with increasing exercise, in the form of ‘walkies’. A puppy needs to have been fully inoculated before going out of your home environment, or for walks. Your vet will tell you when, after completion of vaccinations, it will be safe to do so. First walks should be very short and gentle. Young animals cannot be expected to walk as far as adult dogs. As the puppy gets older the length of walks can increase, but very gradually. Muscles and bones are developing and should not be strained at a young age. Breed or type of puppy will be a consideration in the exercise taken. It is always best to ask for advice on this aspect from your puppy’s breeder. Remember in hot weather care must be taken not to overdo any exercise or play. The length and type of walk should be reflective of the age, size and physical ability of the dog.

At Home

Your puppy will need to have somewhere quiet of their own to rest. Young animals tire very quickly and have short, frequent amounts of activity but require as many resting periods to ‘recharge’. Children should be asked to not pick up the puppy too much or disturb the puppy while he or she is resting. Some people use a dog crate in a less busy area of the house as the puppy’s sleeping area or if you have to leave the puppy for a short period. You know the puppy is safe there. It has to be a place the puppy likes to be, so they will need to be introduced to the crate gradually using treats and toys. Also staying with them for the first few times while the door is closed is a good idea. Close the door only for a few minutes on the first few occasions. They will then associate the crate as a pleasant place to be. Plenty of praise is important when the puppy is being calm and quiet in there. Don’t forget a puppy should have access to drinking water at all times. Non-spill or screw on bowls for the side of the cage are suitable. Always be in attendance if your puppy is free in an area where there are possible dangers. Examples:

• Garden – plants (many can be poisonous); sharp tools; ponds

• Living rooms – exposed electrical wires; children’s toys

• Bathroom & Kitchen – cleaning materials; cosmetics.

• Anywhere they could eat or chew something, or things could fall on them.

• With other animals -  take care with other animals. For example a cat can seriously hurt a puppy!

Training (Being Good & Looking Good)

Training is an essential part of dog ownership. Puppies must be taught to behave properly around people and other dogs. Basic commands such as sit, stay, walking calmly on a lead and allowing themselves to be groomed all need to be learned.

All puppies need time to learn what we expect of them, so patience and consistency is necessary. Be gentle but firm and let them know what is not acceptable. Do not expect too much in the early days and do not try to teach too many things all at once. Positive training is the only form of training to use. Rewards can be started very early along with praise.

Socialising is extremely important and should begin as soon as the puppy is safe to go out after their vaccinations. Adults, children and other animals should all be introduced, but in small numbers on different days so as not to overwhelm your puppy. Cars, roads and noisy places can also be introduced gradually. Build your puppy’s confidence and awareness gently over a period of time.

Puppy socialisation or training classes are often advertised at the vet’s surgery, or the Kennel Club have details of clubs that run these classes. A well socialised dog is a happy dog and a joy to own.

Grooming will differ with each breed. Ask your puppy’s breeder for specific advice. It is a good idea to spend a few minutes every day grooming, making a relaxed and enjoyable time for both you and the puppy. It will get your puppy used to being handled and examined when needed, perhaps by a vet. During grooming, check paws, ears and eyes for any foreign bodies or injuries.

An ungroomed dog should never be bathed as it will matt the coat. It is advisable to plug ears with cotton wool to stop water entering. Always rinse well after shampoo.

Tip for bathing: leave the head until last… a wet head makes the dog shake!