Category Archives: Puppy Stuff

Puzzle Toys

Starter Work To Eat Toys -For a new puppy or dog who has never had to “work” before!
Kong - your pups first work to eat toy!

Kong – your pups first work to eat toy!


Kong Wobbler

Busy Buddy Twist & Treat

Tricky Treat Ball

Squirrel Dude

Work To Eat Toys – They get the concept, now put them to work!

Bionic Stuffer, Bionic Bone

Bob A Lot – Like the Kong Wobbler, but with adjustable treat holes for adjustable difficulty

Nina Ottosson Treat Maze

Monster Ball, Monster Mouth, Monster Girl

IQ Ball

Nina Ottosson Magic

Nina Ottosson Twister

Nina Ottosson Dog Casino

Challenging Work To Eat Toys
Dog works the Nina Ottosson casino.

Dog works the Nina Ottosson casino.

Dino Egg

Kong Genius LeoKong Genius Mike – Increase difficulty by linking these together

Buster Activity Mat

Nina Ottoson MixMax


How To Select A Dog Walker in NYC

There are many iconic scenes that come into one’s head when thinking about NYC. Bagels & Lox. Broadway. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Dog walkers managing a tangle of leashes with 15 dogs in tow.

I wish the last one on that list wasn’t so, which is why I’m here to help you select a dog walker in NYC.

Grayson wonders why the dog "walker" isn't walking those 7 dogs. Hmmm.

Grayson wonders why the dog “walker” isn’t walking those 7 dogs. Hmmm.

When Lauren’s Leash was a dog walking company, we did things differently. Each pup saw the same walker every day. Most of our pups got walked on their own. Some socially appropriate dogs had a buddy or two, but never more. If a pup was a social walker, they walked with the same dog(s) every day just like they walked with the same human every day. We were the first company in NYC – and only the second company in all of the USA – to offer GPS tracking on all our walks.

Walking dogs solo or with a buddy, guaranteeing the same walker daily, and providing GPS tracking on top of it without charging so much you price out most of the market is fabulous for the dogs but a terrible business idea. Even if solo or buddy walks are more expensive, they still bring in much less profit than when a huge group of dogs are walked together. By the time you pay your employees a good wage, pay for liability insurance, workers comp and disability (which is astronomical in the industry), shell out monthly for the software, and take the time and energy to find and properly train quality employees, you’re barely breaking even. Lesson learned: Given the quality of our service, I should have been charging way more than I was charging. Since discontinuing walking services, I have yet to find a dog walking company in Manhattan that operates the way I did. So many walkers and dog walking companies operate under the table, charging $10 or $15 to take your pup out with a hoard of other dogs. The dogs spent more time tied up outside of buildings, unsupervised and stressed, than they spend actually walking. You couldn’t pay me to put my dog in those circumstances.

Finding a dog walker that is trustworthy and knows what they’re doing can be very, very challenging. If you have a challenging dog, it can be nearly impossible. Dog walkers have little or no education on dog body language, problem prevention, and management. They think they know what they’re doing, and most give awful training advice when asked. This advice is well intentioned, but misguided. I have heard dog walkers give advice about medication, how to train the dog to walk on a loose leash, and what to do to rectify X, Y, and Z behavior problems. Most of the time the advice is inaccurate, sometimes it’s harmful.

Professionals have education and training and have passed tests to prove skill and competency. Don’t ask your dog trainer or your dog walker for medical advice. Don’t ask your dog walker for training or behavior modification advice. Stick to asking professionals for their professional opinion. If someone you know who is a professional in one area gives you advice in another area, ignore it. You wouldn’t take surgical advice from an architect and you wouldn’t trust a surgeon to draw up plans for a building.

Here are 10 things you must consider before hiring a professional dog walker:
  1. Whether you hire an individual or a company, whomever you choose must be both bonded and insured. Ask for proof of this. Your dog walker should also have gone through a background check as part of the hiring process. Make sure this happened. You may not ask to see it, but you may ask about the company’s hiring process.
  2. Your walker must be certified in Pet First Aid & CPR. Make sure your individual walker has been certified. The owner of the company being certified doesn’t count if they’re not the one walking your dog.
  3. Look for a company that has been certified by Pet Sitters International, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, or through the DogTec Dog Walking Academy. Huge bonus if the owner of the company or a member of the management team have professional credentials in dog training or as a vet tech.
  4. Look for a company that uses GPS Tracking technology. This software is available. There is no excuse for not having it. Keep in mind that the technology isn’t perfect, but choosing a company that chooses to use it means you’re choosing a company that cares about the quality of their work and holds their employees to a higher standard. I have heard owners of giant, “reputable” dog walking and dog running companies in NY say they won’t use it because “What if the dog walker goes to Starbucks?”. Really.
  5. The company should set up a meet and greet with the person who will actually be walking your dog. It’s great if a manager is also present on the meet and greet, but the person you need to meet and feel comfortable with is the person who will be coming in and out of your home on a daily basis. Ask lots of questions at the meet and greet. What is the policy if the walker arrives and the pet has (insert a scenario – had diarrhea, won’t come out from under the couch, growls at the walker on day 1)?
  6. Choose a company that will send the same walker every day, barring emergencies or illness. A rotating cast and crew is a terrible idea. When you have the same walker daily, that walker bonds with and loves on your pup, knows your pups behavior quirks, feeding schedule, medication needs, and your preferences about your home and how tasks should be accomplished. Your pup should be super excited to see your walker every day. Get a camera to make sure this is so (and to make sure your walker is arriving on time and keeping your pup out for the time you’ve paid for). Find recommended dog gear, including cameras, here.
  7. Accept now that if you choose a dog walking company, you are likely going to get a new walker every 6months – 1 year. Dog walking is not a permanent profession and even the best companies have a high rate of turnover. This is not something to complain about, it’s the way things are. If you luck out and get a college student who is in NY to stay for a while, be very very grateful.
  8. Dog walkers come in all shapes and sizes. Many of my best walkers were students, but others liked walking dogs because they weren’t naturally good with people or because they were artists who needed a flexible working schedule. When I hired employees, I made sure to choose employees that were good with the dogs. The biggest part of my interview process was watching to see how the candidate interacted with my dog. Genuinely loving dogs was a MUST for me. These are people who will be doing their jobs largely without supervision. I didn’t care nearly as much about how candidates interacted with people. When you meet your walker on your meet and greet, watch to see how they are with your dog. If they’re good with you, that’s a bonus.
  9. If the company is okay with walking more than 3 dogs at once, this speaks volumes – keep searching. If your company does walk dogs with a buddy, your pups buddy should be chosen based not only on proximity but also by size, temperament, energy level, walking speed, and play style. If your pup is introduced to other dogs in the area that might be a good match and it doesn’t go well, don’t force the issue. Buddy walks are not the right fit for every dog! It’s better to pay more for a solo walk to guarantee your pup is not stressed out. Also keep in mind that if you want your pup to be walked with a buddy your pup needs to have loose leash walking skills and appropriate social skills with other dogs. Buddy walks are not for socializing your dog, they are for dogs that are already friendly and well socialized.
  10. Do not expect your walker to be a professional dog trainer. Do not leave your puppy in it’s critical socialization period (under 16 weeks old) to be socialized by an amateur with good intentions. Socializing your pup to NYC, loose leash walking in NYC, and modifying aggressive leash behaviors are advanced skills! If you’d like someone to take your pup out during the day and also work on training skills like loose leash walking, or if you have a new puppy or rescue, sign up for day training before you sign up for a dog walker. Your dog and your future dog walker will thank you.


If you have a dog walker or a dog walking company that you LOVE – or if you are a dog walker or dog walking company that meets the criteria above – please reach out and let me know!

Puppy Shopping List For New Pet Parents


Crate with Divider (Tip: Don’t get a crate pad. They look like pee pads! Instead, put a heartbeat pillow in with your pup for cozy comfort and always give your pup something fun to do in the crate like a Kong or Bully Stick. )

Water bowl for crate

Pen and/or Baby Gates


Big plush dog bed (that looks nothing like a pee pad). Find some stylish options here.

Pee Pads & Pad Tray (if you are pad training)

Freshpatch grass pad for elimination (optional – this is a great alternative to pee pads)

Nature’s Miracle Enzymatic Cleaner & Paper Towels

Tether (optional). If you know you’ll want your pup to hang out near you in specific locations (next to the couch on a bed, for instance) a tether that you can place semi-permanently or permanently is very convenient. This way you don’t have to constantly hook and unhook the leash from your furniture. Tethers can be mounted on the wall, under closed doors, and around heavy furniture.

Travel Bag. If you’ll be flying with your pup in cabin, make sure to get a carrier that is airline approved. If flying isn’t of concern to you, there are many carriers in a large variety of shapes and sizes. You’ll be using this bag a lot in the city – for socialization, to take your pup on the subway, into cabs, and onto Metro North or the Long Island Railroad.

Collar and 4-6 foot leash

Identification Tags With Pups Name, Your Number, and “Reward” or “Needs RX” engraved

Harness (optional)

Husbandry Items: Nail clippers, Brush (this curry brush is a nice starter brush, but make sure to get tools appropriate for your dog’s coat), baby wipes (don’t waste money on expensive “pet wipes”), ear flush, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner

A way to keep track of your pups daily schedule. I recommend clients dedicate one notebook for schedule/house training tracking, or download an app to keep track of your pups progress. Poopee Puppy and Pupdate are two currently available for download.

A clicker! If you’re my client, I will give you a few.

Puppy appropriate food – whatever your pup has been eating AND what you’ve decided you’d like your pup to eat. Make a gradual transition onto your preferred food.

A variety of treats: zukes minis, wellness pure bites, dehydrated (made in america) jerky style treats, cheese, deli meat, peanut butter, cream cheese (starters for stuffing Kongs)

Chews & Toys: etta says! chews, bully sticks, grab bag of assorted chews, teething keysPlush toy, Rope toy, Squeaker toy, Ball (but no tennis balls which wear away at tooth enamel), Tug toy. It’s essential to give your pup lots of options for appropriate exploration, teething, and chewing so they develop a chew preference for appropriate items, IE: not your couch).

Work To Eat & Puzzle Toys: Kongs (4 – minimum), Busy Buddy Twist & Treat, Interactive Feeder, Omega Paw Treat Ball. Notice that I didn’t put a bowl on this list? That was intentional! Use these instead. Want more puzzle toys? Look here.

To help your new pup feel safe:

DAP Diffuser, plugged in near crate/pen area

Petzu Heartbeat Pillow with Heat Option

A camera with a live feed such as petcube or dropcam – make sure your pup is comfortable and happy while you’re gone. Verify your dog walker (or dog trainer) arrives on time and follows your instructions. De-stress during a break at work to watch your pup snuggled soundly.

Pet Health Insurance is not great for routine exams, but does wonders when your pup is sick or there is an emergency. I will always say yes to medical care regardless of cost (as long as my dog has a good quality of life) so for me this is a must and has been worth the monthly expense. Having a sick pet is difficult enough – I never want to deny my dog good care because of finances.

A veterinarian. We have some great vets here in NYC! I recommend Dr. Tu at Park East Animal Hospital, Dr. Roswell at Animal Medical Center, and Dr. Lavine of Vetcierge who provides full service veterinary care in home. Schedule a vet visit within the first few days of bringing your pup home.

The dog decoder app and/or The Language of Dogs DVD… IE: your canine translator so you can quickly learn to understand how your dog is feeling and what your dog is saying.

A pet sitter, dog walker, or dog trainer for mid-day visits to assist with house training while you’re at work. Some dog trainers (like me) will also help socialize your puppy and teach manners while you’re at work.

A dog trainer! Many of my clients call me before their puppies arrive. We set up the pups area, define goals and house rules, write a customized schedule for house training and proactive positive socialization, and go over do’s and don’ts to make the first few days and weeks after pups arrival are as easy as possible. There is so much to teach your little one, and guided instruction will save you from pulling your hair out over puppy antics.

Some of my favorite places to shop: – no tax, free shipping. chewy has almost everything and you can set up autoship so your pet supplies arrive when you’re running low – because odor free bully sticks are ideal – from barkbox, many of my pups favorite toys can be found here – everything dog, stylish. for the discerning pet parent


What Everybody Needs To Know About Socialization


…and you have spent your entire life indoors with few visitors. You’ve never stepped foot outside of your apartment. Suddenly, on your 7th Birthday you are allowed to walk out the door and experience Manhattan. Take a moment to comprehend the magnitude of that experience and you will immediately understand why socializing your pup to New York City before 16 weeks is so important.

Puppies learn more in the first few months of life than at any other time. A puppy’s sensitive period for socialization starts at 3 weeks and lasts through 12 weeks of age. From weeks 3-12 everything a pup experiences permanently shapes the way they feel about the world and what’s in it. During this time, pups are open to bonding with people and other animals. Their brain circuitry is developing, and they are *literally* making neural connections that will determine how they deal with stress, novel objects, and novel environments.

How they experience the world during this time has an enormous influence on whether they will move through the world confident and prepared to explore or nervous and ready to hide, defend, or aggress.

If you’re interested in the neurobiology behind brain development and how socialization and an enriched environment affect the development of your puppy’s personality, check out this article.


Developmental Stages of Puppyhood: Before You Bring Pup Home

The exact timeline can vary slightly between litters and individuals, but here’s what you need to know about the critical developmental stages your pup goes through between birth and 16 weeks of age:

Neonatal Period: 0-12 days

Puppies are born blind, deaf, and unable to regulate their body temperature or eliminate on their own. Survival is reliant on mom’s care & huddling with siblings for warmth. Their first experiences of the world are through smell and touch. Mom does everything for them, including stimulating their genitals so they will eliminate. Her nurturing presence lays the groundwork for healthy emotional development.

Transitional Period: 13-28 days

Pups open their eyes and begin to hear! They start to stand, walk, and play. There is so much to see, hear, experience, and talk about. They expand their vocabulary from grunts to barks.

During The First Sensitive Socialization Period, between 3-6 weeks, your pup is learning what it means to be a dog among dogs.

Weeks 4-7 are spent growing teeth, transitioning from milk to solid food, and exploring. Pups continue to be exposed to new things, play, and learn how to understand and communicate with their body language. Time with mom and pups is critical as important social skills, such as bite inhibition, can only be learned from other canines. A pup should never be removed from mom & siblings before 7 weeks of age.

Puppy should be in a high traffic area in the home and have the opportunity to explore a variety of environments at this stage in their development. They should spend the majority of their time hanging in a high traffic area where lots of humans are present, meeting new dog friendly people and exploring different surfaces, objects, smells, and sounds.

If you’re currently considering purchasing a puppy from a breeder, ask your breeder about their socialization practices. Here are a few short videos of breeders doing socialization very well… and the pups are adorable!


The Second Sensitive Socialization Period: Welcome to NYC!

Your pup will come home with you between weeks 7-8! If you can, let your pup stay with mom for week 7 and make the end of week 7 or the beginning of week 8 the time they transition to life with you.

Weeks 8-10 or 9-11 (depending on the litter and the individual – your breeder can guide you) are critical. Positive experiences in many safe environments and around a large variety of people and other pups is a *MUST* for pups during these two weeks. Preventing scary things from happening is especially important during this time. The experiences your pup has during this short window leave an indelible mark on their brain circuitry that is difficult to change. Flying a pup solo to his or her forever family is discouraged during this time. If you are acquiring a pup from a shelter, choose the least stressful option for transport and bring your pup home sooner rather than later. If your pup is in a stable foster home with a foster family that is actively socializing, bringing your pup home sooner may still better but preventing trauma is of the utmost importance. Make an carefully weighed, informed decision.

Make sure to have a veterinary appointment scheduled for their first week home and schedule a private training session in advance of pups arrival. Your pup will need to have completed one round of vaccinations and have been cleared by a vet before attending class or trainer supervised play groups. At this time it is critical that your pup interact with other healthy puppies to continue the lessons mom & siblings started.

“It is now the standard of care for puppies to go outside and socialize before they are fully vaccinated.  Inadequate socialization and lack of exposure to the New York City streets as a young puppy is the greatest cause of behavior problems later in life.To minimize risk, pups who are not fully vaccinated should avoid high traffic areas where other dogs with unknown vaccine status congregate, such as pet stores and dog parks. Lauren can help guide you through this process so that your pup receives the ultimate cognitive and emotional benefits of socialization while staying medically safe. NYC also offers many safe organized classes and playgroups to socialize your puppy with other dogs starting as early as 8 weeks old.”

Jeffrey Lavine, DVM: VetCierge – Veterinary House Calls

Weeks 7-12 are an especially sensitive time in a pup’s life. At this point pups are curious about the human world and are very impressionable. It’s essential that pups of this age be introduced to many environments in a systematic, safe way. Just as vaccines are an important part of routine preventative medical care, socialization acts as a vaccine against many problem behaviors. The majority of the second sensitive socialization period happens in pups new forever home, so it’s up to YOU to continue the good work your breeder has put in or to make up for lost time if you don’t know what’s happened in the first 2 months of your pups life. One word of thumb is that each pup needs to meet 100 dog friendly humans in the first 12 weeks of life! Yikes – that’s a lot!

As a resident of Manhattan, your puppy will need additional socialization. Pups need to explore at their own pace and have lots of positive experiences with new things, and there is a long list of stimuli that your pup needs to be safely exposed to to in a very short amount of time. They are learning that sirens aren’t scary, toddlers are erratic and that’s ok, how to deal with rolling carts coming towards them, and what different people and breeds look like.

Now that you know what socialization is, future posts will focus on the “how to” of socializing our pups so that they are emotionally and physically safe. Don’t worry, I can help!  I’ll be writing more on the how to’s of socializing your pup in NYC soon. I am always here to answer questions or help you hands on.