Food and Treats - This the fuel your puppy uses to grow big and strong
- Food designed specifically for puppies – This is a must. It’s ideal to get a small bag of food from the breeder and use it to transition to the food you are going to be feeding the dog. Feed the best food you can afford and education yourself about nutrition.
- Treats for training – Training starts the moment you get home so you better have some treats ready to go. Keep the treats small and reward everything that the puppy does right and soon he will be doing more right than wrong things. Look for treats with ingredients that you can pronounce and stay away from inferior treats with colors added.
Supplies – This is all the “boring” stuff you need.
- Water bowl – You need a water bowl that is easy to clean and hard to tip over. I recommend using food toys for meals so you don’t need a food bowl. Just a water bowl.
- A treat bag – You should be rewarding your puppy for all the right things and if you put treats in your pocket you’ll end up washing more than you care to admit. If you leave them in the bag you will inadvertently teach your puppy the wrong thing. If you use a treat bag your voice “Yes, Smart Puppy!” indicates great things are going to happen not the crinkle of a treat bag.
- Crate (to be replaced by a bigger one as he grows) – Using a crate will help with housetraining and it’s not “mean”. What is “mean” is letting your puppy roam, make a bad choice and then yell at them about it.
- Dog gate(s) – Need to keep the puppy out of the fancy dining room? No problem, use a dog gate! Limiting the areas of the house that your puppy can roam will reduce destructive chewing and housetraining accidents.
- Soft, adjustable collar and harness -Don’t spend a lot of money on these items. They are going to outgrow them and you’ll have to get new ones soon. Save your money now to afford high quality equipment when they are almost adults and won’t outgrow them.
- At least one 6-foot leash -NO retractable leashes! Just a plain leather or nylon web leash. Again, I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on this right now. Puppies like to chew and it’s not uncommon for a puppy to chew through a leash if you aren’t paying attention and if you buy the fancy fun leash now and your puppy chews through it you will be disappointed.
- Incontinence pads -I don’t recommend pee pads. They are a waste of money and because you just end up throwing them away they are not good for the environment either. If you get a few incontinence pads from a medical supply store you can wash them and reuse them. Much kinder the to environment and a better investment in the long run.
- Cleaner – What will you use when they pee on the floor? Better get it now and make sure it’s an enzymatic cleaner.
- Play pen / Exercise pen -Think of a crate as a crib where you puppy sleeps and a playpen as a safe place that they can hang out and play. They have a few toys, a water bowl with ice cubes and a toilet. This is where they stay when you can’t be monitoring them, like when you go to work. I encourage you to get a scrap of linoleum from the hardware store so you can make a playpen area anywhere in your home. I use ice cubes in the bowl so they can’t spill it or drink it all at once and then have to urinate. See my handout below on “Housetraining” for additional information.
- Grooming tools - Ask your breeder what grooming tools and shampoo you need for your breed. Don’t skimp on quality. Like everything, get the best you can afford because not all tools are created equally and better quality tools make the job easier.
- Dog Bed / Cooler Bed – Which do I get? It depends on the time of year you get your puppy and your climate. In the summer or warmer climates it’s not uncommon to see puppies seeking out the tile floor to sleep. Why is that? Dogs run hotter than humans to start with and when you have a puppy who is spending their energy on growing they can run even hotter! Use a cooler bed so that your puppy has a cool place to sleep while still protecting their growing bodies. If you get your puppy in the winter or live in a colder climate you will need a warm bed that is designed to retain heat. If you live someplace that has seasons you might need to get both types of bed for your puppy.
- Temporary contact information -If you get a cheap dog name tag it’s going to wear off. Make an investment in a stainless steel guaranteed for life tag like Red Dingo or a stamped tag from Etsy. If you aren’t sure what style fits your puppy or they are going to grow quite a bit and can’t carry an adult size tag you can make a temporary tag. Go to the hobby store and get a package of shrinky dinks and make your own. If you have kids in the house it can be a fun activity for them as well. Make sure to poke a hole in before you bake it! This is a great option for camping and traveling as well. You can put your campsite info or destination address on a temporary tag.
Toys & Chews – Can end up being expensive so make an investment instead of just an expense.
- Stuffable Food Toy – Kong™ is by far my favorite stuffable food toy for dogs. I recommend getting at least 5 adult size (based on predicted adult weight) Kongs to use with your puppy. One day out of the week you will stuff these Kongs using their dinner kibble. See my handout below on “How to stuff a Kong” for more information and recipes. I don’t use peanut butter but rather food and treats that benefit the dog, not just empty calories. They should be getting at least one of their meals from a Kong every day.
- Food Toy for dry kibble - If you plan on feeding a dry food get at least two food toys that hold dry kibble that the puppy needs to manipulate to get the food. See my handout below “Mental Enrichment Food Toys” for more information. For young puppies I love a Wobbler by Kong and a Snoop by Planet Dog as my first food toys.
- Animal Chews – Bully sticks, pig’s ears, lambs ears, tracheas, no hide chews are fall into this category. I use these sparingly and as a special treat. All puppies are teething and need chew toys which is why I recommend using a Kong as a refillable “bone”. I use bully sticks for bone sharing, animal handling and grooming training exercises. See my handout below on “Bone Sharing” for more information
- Play Toys – These are toys that they get access to when they are playing with you. These are the cute, soft, fuzzy toys that make us smile. They are also the toys that dogs love to rip apart and can sometimes each the fabric. So, until you know what your puppy will do with a style of toy keep these in the cabinet and pull them out when you have time to monitor and play with them.
- Balls & Bumpers – If you are going to have a hunting dog don’t let them have squeaky balls and give them bumpers instead. If your dog is going to be a pet go ahead and give them balls, bumpers and frisbees. If you stay in the rubber category you will still need to monitor them but they are usually more durable and therefore appropriate for self-guided play. I love just about anything from West Paw and Planet Dog for this.
- Tug Toys – I LOVE soft fleece tug toys for puppies. I have them in every room of the house because they are easy to make (or cheap to buy) and work great as a soft toy to redirect a biting puppy. Don’t bite my pants, bite this instead!
- Toys - Get a variety of toys and rotate them. It won't take long and you will discover their toy preference and then you can go get more of the toys they really like.
- Puppy Training Class – Every puppy should attend a well-run puppy class that is taught by a trainer who specializes in puppy training. Just like every profession there are specialties and you want someone who has the experience to spot problems early before they become major behavior issues. You get what you pay for and this is the last place you want to pinch a few pennies. Stay away from harsh training methods and use positive age appropriate training.
- Adult Training Class – Learning with your dog should become a way of life. Plan to attend multiple training classes (and budget for it now) so that as your dog grows their education does too.
- Books – You can learn a lot by reading but what you read matters. Two of my favorite dog trainer’s are Suzanne Clothier and Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.
- A Vet - You need someone who you are comfortable asking silly questions to so make sure you have a vet that will listen and talk WITH you not AT you. If they are condescending or patronizing find someone else.