Did you decide to get yourself the ultimate gift this year and get yourself a puppy for Christmas? It can be so exciting to finally get to bring home that soft, warm ball of fur that we forget to have everything we need! The secret to success with a puppy is being prepared, and that includes making sure you have all the right things before she comes home.
It is never too early to start training a puppy. As soon as you bring them home, you are going to want to help him get used to a brand-new routine, new rules, and life without littermates and mom. Making sure you have the right tools from the start will set you both up to be more successful.
Crate training should be a must for a every dog owner. Done correctly, crate training gives your dog a safe and happy place to go when you need them contained (for example when you leave for a few hours before they are potty/chew trained), at the vet’s or groomers, for travel, or whenever your dog needs a “break” from everything. There are some great crate game DVDs out there that help you teach your dog to love their crate!
Puppy pens are another must. They keep your puppy from chewing on things and going to the bathroom in spots you don’t know about. You can even have the crate inside the pen, so your puppy gets used to going into it to sleep on their own. Being den animals, most puppies will choose to sleep in the crate if given the choice.
Harness and Leash
It’s tempting to carry a puppy everywhere, and sometimes, it’s necessary. BUT the sooner you get them used to wearing a harness and a leash, and get her used to not getting to go where she wants all the time, the better. Have them wear their harness while playing with you, so they just get used to having it on, then add the leash. (Don’t leave a young puppy with a harness on unattended, they could get stuck, hung up on something, or chew through it.)
Usually a rope or cable with two snaps on either side (you can also use a long leash), the tether is great for training! You can wrap it around your waist while you wonder around your house, doing chores, etc. This allows puppy to experience what you are doing and get used to noises and sights, but does not let him wonder off to chew on something or go to the bathroom. You can also attach it to a sturdy piece of furniture or a ring in a stud in your wall and use it for mat training when he gets a bit older. Give them a chewie and some quiet time on their dog bed while you watch TV or eat dinner.
You may have noticed we left something off this list. Puppy pads. Puppy pads may seem like a great thing – BUT they can actually make house training harder since you are literally allowing and actually encouraging, your dog to do the very thing you don’t want them to – which is go to the bathroom in the house. It is better to use tethering, crating and the puppy pen for house training. The exception would be if you want your dog to always have puppy pads available – for example maybe you have a small dog, you live an apartment, and you work all day. In that case, puppy pads, or better yet a dog litter box, is something you should get before bringing home your new best friend.
Be sure to have on hand a high-quality puppy food. If you are switching foods from what the breeder was feeding, ask the breeder for a small bag of her food, so you can transition your puppy gradually. Stay Loyal’s All life stage products are great for medium to small breeds and large breed puppy for large to giant breeds, high quality foods to start any puppy off on the right paw!
Be sure to have a water and food bowl. Metal or ceramic are best, as plastic is porous and absorbs bacteria.
It’s definitely good to have something for your puppy to chew on when you bring them home! Young puppies have very sharp teeth but they can also break, so be careful about what types of chews you give them. Their digestive system may not handle a lot of new stuff, so better to introduce new chews slowly, and one at a time, in case your puppy has a reaction. That way, you know which one caused the stomach issue and you can avoid in the future. Raw meaty bones always make a good, teeth-cleaning treat that satisfies your dog’s chewing desire and will help your dog keep their teeth clean throughout their life.
It should be no surprise that puppy’s need toys! Make sure you buy ones that are not too hard for their teeth – nylon bones, rawhide, and other hard plastic toys should be avoided. Ropes (great for cleaning teeth!), teething rings (they can be frozen just like the ones for human babies!), soft stuffies (it’s okay if they rip them up – better a toy than your shoe!), balls, and squeaky rubber toys are all great. You may want to get a variety at first to see what kinds of toys your new best friend prefers. Some like ones that squeak or crinkle, other’s want to chase or tug, or shake and shred.
Puzzle toys and feeders are also great. They tire out puppies because they have to think to figure out how to get the food and it also takes them longer to eat.
In addition to toys, it’s good to have surfaces and objects for them to climb under, over and through. Having unusual surfaces to walk on is important – ever seen a dog that’s only been on carpet or grass, get terrified when they see the tiled floor of the vet’s office? You can find scrap tiles of flooring for your puppy to walk over, or lay down blankets, wood planks, etc. They can crawl under chairs or a table, walk over a broom pole, nose over empty tin cans (great for noise desensitisation) etc. Use your imagination, anything works!
Go shopping and get all these items set up before bringing your puppy home, you will be glad you did! That way, you can immediately sit down and just enjoy your new best friend without suddenly realising you have no food or safe place to put your puppy when you need to leave. Having these items should set you both up for success!