During this exciting time, it can be quite overwhelming when getting a puppy, there are so many items to chose from, it’s hard to know where to start. To help you navigate through this period I have compiled a checklist of items with examples, that I feel need to be added to your inventory, the images can be selected for further details:
These following books I recommend to all puppy owners, they are great to set you off on the right foot. With the amount of outdated information that is so readily available on TV, in books, on the internet, and even from friends/family with good intentions, it can become more than a little confusing. In order to prevent using techniques that can be possibly detrimental and baffling to your puppy, these books should be your go to.
Adaptil Collar and Comfort Aids
Adaptil Collars are an ingenious way to help calm your pup via the use of Appeasing Pheromones. These Pheromones naturally occur when the Mother communicates with their pups using ‘comforting messages’, released from the mammary zone. These “comforting messages” provide a strong signal of comfort and security to the puppies, but also have the same effect on dogs of all ages. Recent studies have shown that using an Adaptil collar which releases a the Pheromone for the first few nights (at a minimum) helps them settle better in their new home, and aids in them being calmer in general. The Adaptil plug is also good to pair with it
Another comforting item for dogs is the warm plush toy with the heart beat monitors helping with the journey home and first nights this is suppose to simulate the warmth of the mother and the sound of her heart beat.
Food and Water Bowls
Think about the type of dog you have if they have long ears there are bowls to help stop their ears going in when drinking, there are bowls for flat nose breeds like pugs and French/English bulldogs so they are able to breath better, deep chested breeds sometimes need higher bowls but not to high, anti tip bowls are great too if you have a high energy dog or a breed that generally likes water, as they sometimes like to dig in them! I personally avoid the metallic bowls as these are reflective and some dogs are not comfortable with these. There are water fountain types but your puppy might not be sure of this at first so I would offer a bowl alongside them. Ensure bowls have anti slip bottoms and that your dog is able to stand on an anti slip surface whilst eating and drinking. Do not forget one for your walks, what ever the weather its good to have water with you so they do not drink stagnant water and when training they will not enjoy/take treats with a dry mouth.
Start by asking your self ‘Would I be comfortable on this?’ Dogs need multiple locations to sleep particularly if you are not letting them on beds or sofas, the hard floor is not adequate, dogs will always find a comfortable place, even outside they often dig the earth to make it more comfortable before lying down. A couple of thick comfy beds is where I would start, the average beds I see in care givers homes are too small the bed should be big enough for the dog to stretch out in a superman pose and when lying on there side stretch out fully, the bigger the better. Some dogs prefer raised ones or bean bag types, some like cave beds particularly smaller breeds, cat beds sometimes work well. Short nose breeds often prefer raised side beds to open their airways whilst sleeping, other bigger breeds generally like thick flat rectangular beds, I personally don’t recommend plastic beds but with good cushioning some dogs like these. If you plan to let them on the sofas etc that’s great, most smaller dogs like to be up higher as heat rises. If a dog on the couch is not for you, ensure what you are offering is much more comfortable than your sofa or you will have trouble convincing them not to get on it! You might not want to start with the most expensive but comfort is important, you will work out what your puppy prefers as they get older. Some of the thicker coated breeds may also eventually need cool gel beds (ensure they are out of the chewing phase) or like faux leather type beds. Find one with an anti-slip backing if you have laminate/tiled type flooring. One of my personal favourites is the calming bed. Tip place multiple layers of blankets on top of the bed dogs often like to dig to get comfortable so this can help prevent them getting carried away tearing the bed.
Puppy pads save your surfaces from little accidents, alternatively if you are planning to work on them going outside from day one, you might not need them but if you have surfaces you want to protect its much better to cover them rather than you getting frustrated with puppy, when they go when they need to! An alternative is to provide the substrates in a tray that you are planning for your puppy to go on grass turf, small paving slab, large stones etc as some puppies love to rip up puppy pads. When training your puppy to use the garden you will need them to let you know when they need to go out in the garden, some people do not like their dogs scratching the door or encouraging them to bark, as this can lead to barking for other things. An option available is to teach them to ring a bell to let you know, there is a simple versions of these that can be found below which I would always op for first, incase your puppy learns a way on their own to indicate they want to go and you no longer need them. Some people love using servant bells which gives a kind of humour to the training, when they ring it and you get up “Service”!
Odour Eliminating Cleaning Spray
Be prepared for your puppy to have little accidents. It’s important to get a odour eliminating cleaner to clean up mishaps thoroughly, this will help to also prevent your puppy remarking on spots they have already been. A non biological washing powder can also reduce the smell to prevent puppies going where they have previously been.
Soft Collar with identity disc (not bone shaped)
It is a legal requirement for your dog to wear a collar and identity disc when in public places, under the control of dogs order 1992. The law states, the disc should have your name and address on it, however I recommend also putting your phone number, as everyone has a mobile these days this will get your dog back to you as quickly as possible. If it fits your dog’s name as well, other people may disagree with this notion because they think it makes it easier to steal your dog, but my thought is if they are going to they will with or without knowing the dogs name. I feel this helps the puppy/dog that is lost, feel a little more at ease if people are using a familiar word. When buying a collar think about comfort as opposed to design and what looks good, too thick particularly leather studded ones are not going to be comfortable when resting and sleeping or in general, this includes when they are adult dogs too! I prefer the softex material ones. I personally believe they should have their collars taken off at night just to give their neck a rest, but especially when puppies are in crates or when two dogs are left at home together. There have been many cases of them getting caught with devastating consequences. A good way to create a positive associate is habitually putting it on before their breakfast or when letting out of crate. As I very rarely recommend collars for as a means of attaching a lead as I prefer the comfort of a harness, the main functionality for me is to conform to the legal requirements of identification.
There are number of different types you will need to wait until your pup arrives so you can measure them, but below are a couple of the ones I prefer. You want to always look for a fixed point Y shaped harnesses (do not buy ones that state they are non pull). Many puppies and dogs have poor fitted harnesses making it uncomfortable to walk. If they’re finding it painful every time they walk it can then start to become something they fear. Each dog is slightly different so it should fit without rubbing, and should allow full range of movement in their legs not restricting the shoulders. It’s crucial to get your puppy liking the harness before you associate it with the scary big wide world, rewarding them for voluntarily putting their head through and dropping treats on the floor when doing the girth. You want them to come forward towards the harness wanting to put it on. Play with them as soon as the harness is on, keep doing this until they learn to love the process, be sure not to rush your pup at any stage. Yes puppies let you shove anything on them but that does not mean they are comfortable, over time they can start seeing it as a negative and become fearful, or worse aggressive at your approach. Once your pup is comfortable with it go out in the garden, walking with lead and harness, no pulling on the lead just encouraging them with you, introducing the lead positively too. You do not want their first experience of a lead and harness to be on their first walk out of the front door, as this walk will be scary and in turn can make them associate the harness and lead as a negative experience.
For a long time the Mekuti brand have been my go to lead. The material is really soft for your hands, it is a great length lead which can be adjusted and it comes in a wide range of colours. I generally go for the 3/4 inch and always 2.5m or for the tiny breeds the 1/2 inch. You can make a handle using the smaller clasp on the first ring, I love this lead length because most shop bought leads are far too short, which actually can contribute to pulling, frustrating you as an owner and frustrating to your dog because they cannot reach down to sniff. Alternatively Perfect Fit and T Touch do fleece lined double ended leads which are great too. I always recommend getting a double ended lead, and never a flexi/retractable lead as these are too dangerous.
Interactive feeding dispensers/toys
On a daily basis dogs need things to do no matter what age, but particularly when they’re a puppy. If you want a calm puppy that is not constantly biting, stealing and chewing things, use interactive feeding toys to slow fast eaters down, tire them out, keep them occupied and entertained. Think about the breed/type of dog you have, if they’re spaniels they may like things such as snuffle mats, kongs stuffed with their wet puppy food or healthy moist food. This can keep them calm, puzzle feeders and food dispensing balls can keep an active puppy using their natural instincts. Play is not the only thing you should do with a puppy, and if this is all you rely on you will get a puppy that is constantly over aroused. A lot of behaviour problems in dogs are due to lack of mental and environmental stimulation. I suggest a kong (not always suitable for short nose breeds, as they struggle to lick), a snuffle mat and an easy food dispensing toy (I personally avoid slow feeding bowls as these can be frustrating, lick mats or snuffle mats do the same job). Be aware, to make it as simple as possible for your puppy at first, stay clear of freezing the Kongs at this stage. Whatever you choose be aware of inducing over arousal, frustration or knocking their confidence if they’re finding it too difficult. Focus on using these more so around morning time and evenings when dogs are more active, and when visitors arrive. Scattering treats in a snuffle mat whilst your visitors come in keeps some puppies occupied rather than jumping all over your guests, or give them a kong on their bed every time a visitor arrives, this also helps to create a habit of ‘visitor arrives go and relax on my bed’. I also suggest a lick mat for the bath, they’re available in different styles, some can stick on tiles or even the below one would work, helping your puppy enjoy the bath. See further ideas here http://www.johinds.com/dogentertainment
Stair gates and temporary garden fencing
Stair Gates help protected your pup from injury due to over exercising the joints ascending and descending stairs causing potential problems in later life. It also functions to prevent them accessing areas you would prefer them not to, having the gate prevents them rehearsing a behaviour you do not want. A child’s gate will suffice for the smaller breeds, but for bigger dogs an appropriate dog gate like below is recommended, particularly as a double safety measure if your front door opens to a busy road. There are also front door gates you can get to, which you can hook on whilst getting a parcel see below. Temporary garden fencing is also advisable if you have shingle in the garden or poisonous plants.
These are really useful particularly for working on separation issues and settling them at night. The idea is to go to them before they get distressed, which really helps with toilet training during the night. Don’t let them cry it out this is an outdated method that causes stress in dogs. Below is an example of a dedicated camera, but to start off with there are great apps available like Dog Monitor where you can use an iPad/Tablet as the monitor and iPhone for the camera.
Biodegradable bags is the preferred choice for many, as seen below. But I know others that just use nappy sacks. Its a legal requirement to pick up your dogs waste, a glorious job but essential, soon you will find one in every coat pocket!
In my opinion dogs can not have enough toys! These are items you mark as legal chew items (items they are allowed to chew as apposed to your treasured goods). Its important to rotate them so your puppy does not get bored and go on the hunt for something of yours to munch on. You want rubber chews that they can bite on to, to help with teething. Chewing is also generally calming and reinforcing, long tug toys help prevent them accidently nipping hands. Toys they can rip if they like too and chase (but not too much of this, or you will have a very over excited puppy which can cause injury to joints as your puppy is growing). The bobbly nylabone toy is also great for a licking activity. Once you become more familiar with your puppy, you’ll have a better idea of what they like. Its our job to make them interested too. Below are some of my favourites:
Puppies chew a lot and its reinforcing. Its important to provide them outlets to help sooth those aching gums, always aim for natural products and avoid raw hide as these often contain glue, and some dogs find them hard to swallow. There are wooden chews that crumble to save your furniture, and help to prevent your puppy getting splinters, but supervision is always important in case they bite large bits off which could be a choking hazard. Be aware some treats have a minimum age restriction as puppies tummies are delicate. Always supervise initially.
If your breeder has used them it’s a bonus, it should be a safe place, not somewhere you send them for punishment. It’s important to introduce it positively, do not force them to enter their pen hoping they will get used to it, this will only distress them. Let them explore it and have everything they need in there. Have enough room for your pups very comfy bed, leaving a space where they can lay where its cool too, have a blanket over one section, if they like being under something, a space for puppy pads, toys, chews, food and water. Otherwise they maybe forced to toilet in their own bed area which is unnatural, distressing for them and can cause urinary track infections due to holding their urine for too long. This area should be where all the wonderful things are and a place they love to be. Have a side and front opening too, this is useful to get the puppy acquainted to being inside the pen without shutting the doors. Close the gate for very short periods, placing treats in after, opening before they try to get out or get distressed building the time up.
Brush and Nail Clipping
Look for a brush that is recommended for your breeds coat, but even short haired breeds benefit from a brush. Like any equipment it is important to introduce it gradually with plenty of treats, and before they have to go to the groomers. It’s important they’ve already had some positive experiences of it. There is the standard nail clippers you can find for dogs but I find a lot of owners feel more comfortable with the pet nail grinder below.
Your puppy will arrive from the breeder with some sort of an established diet. Its advised your pup should stay on this diet for at least a week so their is not too much change. Sometimes they are sent home with a not so nutritious or healthy diet. A good resource for the latest recommend diets and updates on recalls of food is: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/
Most dogs like variety, eating the same thing day in and day out can make dogs go off their food just like the rest of us. I always recommend adding fresh foods like meat, fish, veg and fruit to their diets. Always ensure you go for a complete puppy food as these are specially formulated for your puppies development. Below are a list of my favourites, but do your research, get samples and see what your puppy enjoys.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of only using treats you find in shops. More often than not the best kind of treats are natural fresh options from your own fridge! Things such as broccoli, peas, carrots (these are great frozen for puppies), fruit in moderation, meat and fish are all better options. For training try and find what your dog likes the best by doing a preference test. Check the back of the packets for the age, and the softer the better for training. Sometimes it is more convenient getting shop bought treats, be mindful treats should only make up 10% of your puppies diet and ensure you check what age they are suitable for, here are some of my favourites:
Treat bags are vital for training. My go to are the silicone based ones, they’re easy to clean, fits in your pocket and are to quick access. Alternatively below you’ll find another one of my favourites where you can access the treats quickly.
You will need one of these to work on your dogs recall, a.k.a coming back when called. Go for at least 10m long line, out of the two different lines shown below I mainly use the black one, it is a softer material, and the other is biothane which is easy to wipe down, and doesn’t get smelly although the others can be thrown in the wash. If you have a smaller breed go for a thinner line as the leads can be heavy.
Puppy Shampoo and Conditioner
Not needed straight away but is a must have. It is important to introduce puppies to bath time in a positive way, slowly like you would a new born baby. The first bath I always avoid the shampooing, you just want them to enjoy the water and find it soothing. One trick is to get a lick mat to use in the bath with something like Mutt Butter on it to help them find it positive and remember soap can hurt dogs eyes too!
Crash Tested Car Harness or Crate
Its a legal requirement for your dog to be secure in a car, like us a crash tested car restraint is vital to keep your pet safe on car journeys and a loose dog in the car can be distracting to drivers.
Anti Slip Mat
Your puppy should have a save space where ever you take them, restaurants, cafes, other peoples home. You want this to be familiar and somewhere they have learnt to relax on and somewhere they are left alone. This is one of my favourites as it’s anti slip, reasonably thick and doubles up as a snuffle mat too and light weight to transport around. It comes in different sizes too.
Dog First Aid Kit
Hopefully you will never need it but it’s really useful to have in the car you would not believe how easily they can cut their paws when exploring the world, make sure you get one with a tick remover as well this little critters can cause a whole heap of problems.
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