Thursday, 5 April 2012

Puppy Essentials

Before bringing your puppy home there are a few things you must have to start things off right.

First off, take a look at your home, now look at it from a puppy point of view. If your tall like me that can sometimes means actually getting on your hands and knees. Look for areas that need puppy proofing. Hide things like wires or tape down any exposed wires. Don't leave chewables like shoes and clothes on the floor. Keep an eye out for high risk items like table legs, banisters and chairs that may entice chewing.
Kobi used to enjoy crawling under our coffee table
Next figure out where you would like your puppy to spend their time. Are they going to have a separate room with a crate? Are they going to be in the living room with everyone but sleep in the bedroom? Try to find cozy spots for their beds, areas that are a little darker and more closed off. In the living room Kobi had blankets in between our couch and love seat and in the bedroom he was tucked between the bed, nightstand and wall.

Where are you going to feed your puppy? If you're feeding in an area with carpets make sure to get a mat to prevent water spills. Where will your puppy use the bathroom? Are you going to train your puppy to go outside or on pee pads in the house? What kind of food are you going to feed your puppy? Your puppy may be being fed a specific brand (the local SPCA only feeds IAMS and sells bags at the shelter).
If you think about these things prior to bringing your puppy home you can have them start off consistently and not have to worry about moving stuff around and having a very confused puppy.

Kobi's puppy collar (right) and adult collar (left)
Some other essential items include the more fun stuff and a trip to the pet store.
I personally love getting to choose leashes and collars. I think they're great ways of showing off both yours and your dogs personality. There are lots of options to choose from in both styles and colours. You'll need to decide if you want a buckle collar or a training collar. If you have a small  breed something like a harness might be a good idea. If your goal is to be able to walk your dog on his collar I recommend  starting them on just the collar, worry about no pull devices later when it's beginning to become an issue. If you can teach walking manners young you may not need them, but also puppies grow fast, if you buy one that fits now, it may not fit when you actually need it. I also recommend using a training collar or martingale collar for your first collar, that way if your puppy ever tries to pull back on it they can't slip their heads out. Also keep in mind to buy the right size collar. We started Kobi off in a medium training collar with it as small as it could go and it was still a tad to big. He eventually got to the point where we had it stretched as far as it could go and almost had to cut it off him when we switched up to his adult collar.

Now onto toys!

Toys are somewhere you can end up spending a lot of money so be wise with your toy purchases and cover all your bases to find out what type of toy your dog likes. A Kong is an essential. They do sell puppy Kongs but unless you have a tiny puppy, try going for the medium size. They may not be able to get it in their mouth right now, but they can still play with it and they will grow. Kobi still uses his medium sized Kong. You'll also want to get a classic nylabone, some come with flavours, ridges and tastes, pick one that fits your puppy but isn't too expensive. Kobi never liked his nylabone so we gave it to Beau instead who destroyed it in a matter of days. Get at least one small rubber toy. This can be anything, so long as its not the classic Kong. This will tell you if you have a dog who prefers hard plastic like the nylabones, or something softer. Kobi preferred rubber. I recommend at least one soft plush toy. Again don't spend a fortune on it, it will probably not live a long life. But for puppies with their tiny teeth, sometimes something soft is nice to much on. You can also use it for teaching games like tug or fetch, just remember to be easy with pulling so as not to damage any teeth. Rope toys are also great for teething puppies.
Now that you've got your toys, you can get the extras. Choosing dishes for food and water. Stainless steel are often a good choice because it is harder for bacteria to grown on the smooth surface. Buy at least one soft brush and a set of nail clippers. Even if you have no intention of clipping or brushing your puppy, your can train them to enjoy the items and not be terrified of them. My older dog Scout despite weekly brushing despises it and the second he sees a pair of nail clippers runs (slowly but he still goes away). Again if you are getting a small breed and heading into the winter months a coat and booties may be required to keep them warm when out on pee breaks.
Kobi hoarding his new toys, a rubber bone, a felted bone, his prized monkey and a rope ball in the corner.
 Crates are a personal choice, along with carriers. If you are away most of the day a crate if a great option. It may be tempting to buy the crate that your dog will need when he's full grown but this can lead to anxiety and soiling within the crate. Choose a crate that is just big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in. Another option if you have room is to use an x-pen with designated sleeping, eating and peeing areas.
Bitter Apple Spray is something some people swear by. It's a highly distasteful spray that you can spray on anything you think your puppy might chew on. Leashes, shoes, walls, kids toys, anything! I found the product to be a touch expensive so we used apple cider vinegar instead. Kobi hated it and wouldn't touch anything coated in it.

Start your puppy off with the right supplies and you'll be enjoying more of those cute moments. Enjoy them while you can because they don't last long!

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