Pet store owner offers tips for buying, caring for a new puppy

FLINT TWP. — With the holiday season over, many families probably introduced a new member to its family — a puppy. With a new puppy comes new responsibility and learning on the parts of the family and the animal and to help new puppy owners, John Stottele, owner of The Family Puppy chain of pet stores, offers families tips.

Before buying a puppy, Stottele urges families to make sure they are truly ready for a new addition to the family.

“Owning a dog is a major responsibility that should be considered seriously before choosing a breed. Knowing how to care for a puppy is one thing. Being able to take time out of your day to implement that care is another,” he said. “It will take a couple of hours each day to train, and it’s a long-term commitment.” With the hectic holiday season over, Stottele said that families with a new puppy will find their lifestyle slowing down to give concentrated time with the puppy.

After deciding if a family is ready for a new puppy, Stottele said the next step is to choose the right breed. “Get a breed that fits your family lifestyle,” he said. When it comes to choosing a breed, Stottele said there are some key questions to consider such as “How big do you want the dog to be when it’s full-grown?” and “Would you like a dog that’s more active and outdoor-friendly, or are you looking for a dog that’s primarily a lap dog?”

Stottele suggests that the family sits down and comes up with a list of characteristics they are searching for in a new, four-legged friend.

The final tip, which Stottele believes is the most important, is “Purely Positive” Training.

“We all know about traditional training by saying ‘no’ repeatedly,” he said. “We believe, as with children, that positive training through rewards works best and the dog understands more.”

“Purely Positive” training is stemmed in positive reinforcement training by relying on rewards as motivation to train a puppy for good behaviors, instead of coercion and force. Positive training uses treats, verbal praise and play, instead of force-based methods such as choke chains which cannot be used successfully by children.

“We tell people that for every negative correction, give 10 positive,” Stottele said. “A child cannot do traditional training, but we do believe that a five to eight-year-old can give treats to help a dog learn more rapidly. It is a process, but the basic concept is to get the dog thinking.”

Stottele believes that through this type of training, families will have better success in training and keeping a dog in their home. Another method of training he believes in is “clicker training” where a clicker device is implemented to train a dog. The clicker standardizes the training method, and demonstrations of this can be found on YouTube and other online websites.

When families purchase a puppy from The Family Puppy, located inside the Genesee Valley Center, the store gets the family in touch with a positive trainer, along with providing the family with a free e-mail program,, that sends them an e-mail everyday for 21 days and then once a week afterwards to help families with taking the training in the right way.

“We do want to sell dogs, but we want them to stay in the home. We know that a majority of dogs surrendered to shelters are due to behavior issues,” Stottele said. “Positive reinforcement training can be successfully implemented by all family members, not just the ‘Alpha member’ of the home. Our goal is for dogs to stay in the home for life. We feel like we need to give people who buy dogs from us the right tools to have the dog for life.”

The Family Puppy is part of The Family of Pets, a pet store chain founded by Stottele and his wife Debbie in 1998. The Family Puppy is a family-owned and operated group of pet stories based throughout metro-Detroit, specializing in only puppies. Details: Visit

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