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Mentioning that you’re bringing home a new pet inspires a variety of opinions and advice from neighbors and friends, particularly what to feed your pet, how to train them, what vet to take them to, and when to spay or neuter them. All this info and wisdom, while very helpful, can be a bit overwhelming! So, we’ve decided to simplify the collective knowledge and create a list of items that are essential for new puppy parents, without breaking the bank.
1. Leash, Collar, and ID Tag
Whether you’re adopting a new puppy, a leash and collar may be required for “gotcha day”. That was the case with our breeder, who was also helpful enough to provide us with the weight of our puppy, so that we could purchase an appropriate collar and leash. Though walking our dog wasn’t in the cards due to his age, we also got a harness and training leash for easier, safer walks when he was ready for them.
In the 8 months he’s been with our family, Bari White has outgrown several collars and harnesses, so it’s always best to be prepared for growth spurts. An ID Tag is also an essential item and best purchased as soon as you choose a name for your pet, since the potential for a puppy to run off and get lost is rather high and always at the front of a pet parent’s mind. Choices abound for these types of items, so look for ones that suit your taste and your pet’s personality.
Another handy use for your leash is puppy containment and safety indoors. Due to their curious nature and physical limitation when it comes to bathroom breaks, puppies will get into mischief and often leave a mess for you to clean up. We created a puppy-specific area within weeks of bringing Bari home, which provided him with a safe territory while he acclimated to our home and worked on his potty training. He was leashed to one of us or placed in his safe area to limit wandering, which is a trick we adopted from an informative YouTube series. When not in this area, which was in our kitchen and in close proximity to a door that led outside, he would nap in his crate. Though leashing indoors seems inhumane, it helps to keep your pet within arm’s length and maintains consistency during the housebreaking process.
Our puppy came to us at 11 weeks old, and was already used to being in a crate. Whether you plan on crate training or not, having a crate is a must for a pet’s safety, especially for puppies.
We received a gently-used crate from friends whose pet had recently passed, and hand-me-downs, since they help conserve costs. If you’re cost conscious, do a quick search on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to track down some good deals. Just make sure the size is suitable for your pet.
A good rule of thumb is that the crate should be small enough so that a puppy doesn’t have space to go to the bathroom, but roomy enough for it to turn around to reposition itself. We call our crate “The Nest,” since Bari makes himself incredibly cozy inside. Here are some good tips on shopping for a crate.
3. Training Pad
The joy of a new puppy inevitably also brings housebreaking challenges. You have to keep your eyes on them at all times and monitor physical signs like sniffing, walking in circles, and sneaking off into corners. Within a few days, if carefully observed, you will notice your puppy’s subtle signals when they need to go potty. Keep in mind, young dogs cannot “hold it” like their older counterparts. Since they haven’t mastered this skill yet, we’ve found that it’s most helpful to designate a “puppy area” in the home, limit your puppy’s activity to that allotted space, and line the floor with training pads for potential accidents. Some smaller dogs will always do their business on a training pad, but if you intend to house train, I say do it as soon as you bring your pet home. This will likely mean bringing them outside every half hour or so, depending on water intake and activity level. It took two full days of convincing to get our puppy to eliminate on grass, and it required gentle praise and rewarding with a special treat.
If you need more help, here is an excellent article on house training your puppy.
Typically, your puppy will be sent home with a bit of the food they’d already been eating. If you and your dog liked that choice, there’s no reason to make a change. If, for whatever reason, you’re not happy with their food, try transitioning to a new diet in small measures and over the course of a few days, which can prevent any stomach issues. Start out with ¼ new food and ¾ old food for a couple of days, then increase to ½ : ½ and then ¾ : ¼ progressively, and so on. Puppies typically eat three meals a day, so you will know how well they’re tolerating the new food rather quickly. Here is a vet’s recommendation on switching your pet’s food.
Wet vs. dry food? What is best for your puppy? I will leave that discussion to you and your veterinarian. Bari gets a combination of dry and wet food mixed together. Of the hundreds of food choices out there, pinpoint a few options and discuss them with your veterinarian to make sure that they are the best choice for your puppy.
5. Bowls for Food and Water
We started out with sturdy stoneware bowls for both food and water, assuming that we’d done everything right. Though it may seem like a simple choice out of all the items listed above, choosing how to feed your puppy is a serious topic of discussion. Let me explain.
We quickly discovered our puppy, and I’m sure most puppies, LOVE to eat, and absolutely inhale their meals very quickly. Often, our pup will even gag and vomit because he’d swallowed too much or forgot to chew! Due to his ravenous appetite, we switched him to a slow feeder. Mind you, he still eats rather quickly, but timing has gone from gulping down everything in one minute or less to a leisurely pace of 5+ minutes.
As for the water bowl, we stuck with the cute stoneware one. Other options could be a plastic or metal bowl as puppies can be clumsy and break a stoneware or ceramic one.
Click here for 5 more essential items for your puppy!