Getting a Dog 101 & Happy 3rd Birthday Jax!

I can’t believe our baby Jax (yes, he’ll always be my baby) is officially 3-years-old! Time has surely flown by! We, of course, spoiled him with cookies and toys! Getting a dog has been one of the greatest things I have ever done. With it comes a lot of responsibility, endless unconditional love, and a house that’s never quiet! This post is made in partnership with our friends at Stella & Chewy’s and I am so excited to share more of our experience with all of you.

Let’s look back in time! Jax went from this little, tiny guy…

Little Jax: Getting a Dog 101

To present day: this big, sweet, snuggly boy…

With his birthday here, I thought I’d take today to share with you what I’ve learned in the process of getting our first dog (the best decision I’ve ever made), and answer some of the questions that I often get asked!

Getting a Dog 101: 7 Things To Know

  1. Do Your Research: Whether you go with a breeder or choose to adopt, do your research about the place. I can’t tell you how hard it was for us to find someone we trusted!
  2. Prep the House & Get Your Supplies: Before your puppy comes home, prep your house and get your supplies. From our experience, letting a puppy have free reign over your house is a bold move. They chew on EVERYTHING. Their teeth are s-h-a-r-p, and they aren’t potty trained yet. Aside from crate training, we purchased baby gates and decided to only let him have free reign over our kitchen area, aka no area that had rugs, just yet! More on supplies below!
  3. Those First Few Nights… Aren’t Easy:  I’ll never forget calling my girlfriend Carissa, who grew up with dogs, in a panic because of the noises Jax was making those first few nights. She assured me it was normal, but man, was it hard to deal with! I mean, think about it, they just left their family and are in a strange, new place, let alone in this weird crate/jail contraption. I ended up sleeping on the couch with the crate near me so Mike could get some sleep a few of the nights! Don’t be alarmed, the intense crying does stop after a few days.
  4. Healthy dog food (and our experience): When Jax first came home, he had horrible stomach issues (diarrhea). The lab results came back with no parasites or anything major, so we then realized it was his food that he came home with from the breeder. His stomach was 1. too sensitive for chicken (very common) and 2. needed a really good-quality, limited ingredient diet! I couldn’t be happier that we found Stella & Chewy’s raw kibble. This is the food I actually feed Jax! It’s packed with nutrients he needs and ingredients that I trust. Their Raw Blend Kibble is a protein-rich gently baked kibble with each piece of kibble in coated raw plus additional freeze-dried raw pieces mixed in.It’s completely grain, gluten, & potato-free, and is made from responsibly sourced proteins like grass-fed beef plus organic fruits and vegetables. There are added probiotics for optimal digestion, so we stopped giving him additional probiotics! Lastly, it’s rich in omega fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat!
  5. Going to The Vet & Costs to Expect:  Year one with Jax had a handful of vet trips and vet bills that racked up. Why? For starters, expect a few hundred dollars off the bat for initial visits, shots, etc. Dogs when they’re first born, like humans, have weaker immune systems that get stronger over time. So they often get sick in the first year. Don’t worry though, it gets better! I promise! Costs- During year one, aside from Jax’s initial shots and all of those things, he got a cold twice from daycare and a random skin rash. The first year racked up well over $1000 between vet visits, training, supplies, pet insurance (see below), and him destroying a rug. After year one that cost drops significantly though, so be prepared but know it gets better!
  6. Training Your Dog & Training YOU: We started training pretty immediately after Jax came home. We found a trainer that was a reasonable price, and that one who has worked with goldens specifically for years!  She was the absolute best. We learned so much with our trainer, and mostly that it’s really about training the owners! You must be consistent, work at it every day, set boundaries, and establish routines.
  7. Socialization: Starting training early was especially great for socialization. You want your dogs to be around other dogs as soon as possible (once cleared with your vet after the first few shots), so they begin to get to know how to act around other animals! I think this is SO important to start early on!

Jax for Stella & Chewy's: Getting a Dog 101

Must-Haves For Year One:

Crate: Crate training was critical to our first 6-months. After 6 months, we decided to stop.
Food/Water Bowls: Have a few sets, in case you travel, etc.
Collar/Leash: We use this harness and absolutely love it. It’s safe, he doesn’t pull, and he’s comfortable in it.
Dog Food: As mentioned above, I can’t say enough amazing things about Stella & Chewy’s raw kibble. This is our go-to choice for Jax!
Treats, Treats, Treats: Find treats your dog loves, these will especially be important for training!
Poop bags: You can never have enough!
Gates: We decided to let Jax only have free-reign over our kitchen. We did this until he was about a year and half and we could trust him. If we had let him anywhere he wanted while we were out, he would’ve destroyed even more rugs! We purchased these gates and loved them! They are sturdy and nice looking!
Flinger:  Really called a ChuckIt.  This was a game changer for me taking Jax to the park! It makes it so you can throw the ball REALLY, REALLY FAR!
Teething Toys: When your puppy is teething it is SO sad. The best thing that worked for us was the old fashion way, we would wet a small rag and froze it and let him chew on it!
Groomer: Do your research and ask ANYONE AND EVERYONE. I have had a bad experience and found it to be so difficult to find someone you trust with your baby dog!
Flea & Tick Prevention: Whether you decide to go the medicine option through your vet or a holistic option, stay on top of this! It’s super important.
Toys: Jax is spoiled. Enough said!
Carpet Cleaner: Trust me, you’ll need this.
Spray for Biting: We bought a natural bitter spray to spray on the legs of our furniture for those initial months!
Vet: Just like your groomer, do some research on the local vets in your area!
Trainer: You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on trainers. Find someone you like and be consistent!
Pet Insurance (optional): We have pet insurance for Jax and while it’s totally a personal preference, it gives me peace of mind! Look into it and make the decision that works for your family.
Someone to watch him/her if you’re away: If you don’t have family or friends you can rely on, find a daycare/pet sitter you like. You can even interview them! I was teaching full-time Jax’s first year, so we had somone come mid-day to let him out!
Jax for Stella & Chewy's: Getting a Dog 101

Jax for Stella & Chewy's: Getting a Dog 101

You can also read my 10 Reasons Why Having a Dog is The Best post here.

Above & Beyond Contest: win a year’s supply!

Share your story about how you go above and beyond for your dog by creating an original post on Instagram or Facebook, using the hashtag #akibbleabove for a chance to win a grand prize of a years supply of our kibble and a custom illustration of you and your dog. Three additional lucky winners will also receive a six-month supply of kibble!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Stella & Chewy’s. I love the integrity of their products and think you’ll love them too. All opinions and text are always 100% my own. Thanks for continuing to support LCK and the brands I work with!