Bringing home a new puppy is always a very exciting time, especially if you’ve never had a puppy before. You want to make sure your new friend has everything that it needs to be happy and healthy in his new home. You walk into the pet store, and are quickly overwhelmed with all of the things they have to offer. There are so may different kinds of leashes, collars, foods, toys…the list goes on! Growing up, before getting a new pet I would pick up a handful of books and get as much information as I could on the best way to care for them. Now we have a world of information instantly at our fingertips, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The amount of information and differing opinions can be intimidating!
While there are always new things coming out for our pets, there are a few essentials you should have for your new pup when you bring him home. While most of these things can also be applied to bringing home an adult dog, here is a list of things you should have when bringing home a new puppy.
Regardless of what you plan on feeding your pup, you should start off with some of the same food that the puppy is used to eating. Transition the pup slowly to a new food, over the course of 1-2 weeks. There are many kinds of food out there, and not one is best for every dog. Speak to the breeder/rescue, your vet, trainers, other pet owners, etc. to help you decide on what would be best for you and your pup. Finding a good food is also a process of trail and error. Just be sure to try to see past pretty packaging and read the ingredient list, and avoid foods with lots of fillers. Premium foods may be more expensive, but aside from being made with better ingredients, you will be spending less on food overall as you will be needing to feed less daily.
A simple leather or nylon buckle collar will do. At this stage, you are just looking for something to put their ID tags on and attach their leash to. Make sure that it can adjust to allow room to grow, but it should not be big enough to fit over their head and slip off.
4-6 Foot Leash – A regular nylon 4-6 foot leash works great! While flexi leashes have their uses in training, for regular everyday use you should use a 6 foot leash. Flexi leashes can be very dangerous for many reasons.
Long Line – You should have a longer leash (15-30 feet) both for training, and everyday use. In training, you use it when working on things like coming when called, and other commands from a distance. Even when you’re not training, if you are in an unsecured area the long line allows the dog the freedom to explore, but prevents them from wandering too far into trouble.
A crate is an essential when bringing home a new puppy. Just like a child, a puppy should be contained in safe space when you are not able to keep an eye on them. Once the puppy matures and has learned the rules of the house (not to chew on or eat things, not to pee in the house, etc.), they can earn themselves more freedom. Aside from the kennel being a safe spot for the pup to retreat to, it is also a safety factor. We have seen too many dogs end up at the vet with a blockage because they have ingested something when unsupervised. Either a wire kennel or a plastic airline crate are good options. Wire kennels work well because they usually come with a divider, so you only need to buy one size kennel and can expand it as the dog grows. Airline crates work well because they are enclosed, and the dog usually feels safer (they are den animals and the space will usually calm them down).
Also known as an exercise pen (or X Pen), it is similar to a playpen for a toddler. It allows them a safe space to run around a be a puppy, but not get into trouble (peeing on the rug, chewing on cords or furniture). As stated before, if you cannot keep an eye on your pup, they should be contained in a safe space. As the pup gets better at potty training and learning the rules of the house, you can make the pen bigger until they have earned the freedom of having the whole room or house.
Stainless steel or ceramic bowls work great. The dog should have something to call their own to eat out of. If you have another dog at home already, it is best to get the puppy their own. Not only are they most likely on a different food and eating different amounts of food, each dog should have their own dish to prevent issues such as resource guarding.
There are so many toys out there for dogs! Just make sure they are age/size appropriate. Before you know it, your pup will be teething so make sure you have plenty of teething toys/chews! Avoid things that have bits that can be pulled off and swallowed easily, and that the toy is big enough that it is not a choking hazard. Soft toys are great, and most dogs love them, but if you see that your pup likes to shred them, make sure they are not left alone with them. Many dogs will eat pieces after shredding a toy, and those can just as easily become a choking hazard or blockage.
Food/treats are great training rewards. In order to teach your puppy manners and good behavior, you must be able to reward them when they do something right. A treat pouch allows you to have them on you all the time without having to hold them in your hands or mash them up in your pockets. While treats are not the only thing we use to reward, it is a great place to start. And what pup doesn’t like food?
This is just a list of the essentials. Some pups will need things that others won’t (like potty pads), and some things are extra but not essential (like vitamins/supplements). Speaking with the shelter/breeder/previous owner that you get the puppy from is a great place to start on what you will need for that particular pup. Also, speak with trainers in your area. Whether or not you plan on taking your dog to a professional, training in some form starts as soon as the pup gets home. A professional trainer can help you get started in the right direction!