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We recently joined the pet parent club by bringing home an 11-week old West Highland White Terrier. Our puppy is named Bari White after a funny, deep-voiced polar bear character from a children’s program. As a family, we quickly settled into a new routine, made loads of mistakes, and learned a ton about raising a puppy. Since our experiences may be of value to current and prospective pet parents, we decided to compile a list of essential items to help ease others into puppy parenthood. You can revisit the first five here.
6. Chew Toys
Just like human babies, puppies have baby teeth that fall out as early as 6 weeks of age! Your delightful fur baby will suddenly turn into a “Land Shark,” which is what our family affectionately nicknamed our little chomper. The best method for survival during this stage is hiding your shoes for a few months and hoping that this phase will pass as your pet develops new teeth. During the teething stage, be sure to provide your puppy with a few different chewy options to satisfy their itchy and achy gums.
What did we give Bari White to get him through this teething period? In all honesty, his favorite thing to nibble was our fingers and socks. However, with a firm “No!” each time he attempted it, we taught him to chew on his own things exclusively.
Here are some recommendations for teething puppies:
- Soft squeaky toys. Bari liked this fabric-covered donut and rubber frog, and was delighted to discover that they made noise. One of his favorite games is running around the house, looking for the best place to hide these toys.
- Frozen treats. Crunchy, cold ice chips are oh-so-satisfying for inflamed gums! Even better are frozen fruit or veggies. Here are some cool ideas for teething relief.
- Dental chew sticks. Why not give your pet a nourishing treat that also cleans their teeth while soothing pain and soreness? We used this all-natural chicken dental chew in-between meals as a treat. We made sure that he was always supervised when chewing these treats and removed them when the piece got small. They can be a choking hazard if puppies try to swallow larger pieces.
- Empty plastic bottles. This may be a controversial choice, but for Bari White, attacking empty bottles and gnawing until flattened soothed his pain and provided entertainment. Luckily, he does not tear off or eat any of the plastic casing, but always be sure to monitor your pet when playing with plastic and remove the label, cap, and little ring around the rim to prevent ingestion.
7. Training Treats
It’s never too early to start training your puppy. Using treats ensures that your puppy will do anything to get a tasty reward and positive praise from you. From the first week in his new home, Bari worked hard on “come,” “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and going outside for bathroom breaks. Training didn’t work overnight, but by maintaining a consistent command and reward system, we managed to nurture a very obedient puppy. Of course, he still makes mistakes, but for a one-year-old, he always works hard to do better and get those reward treats!
You don’t necessarily have to buy a pet treat to use as a reward. For most dogs, a piece of carrot, a sliver of string cheese, or a bite of apple can all be really great training tools. However, it’s best not to sample a variety of treats in a short period of time. Try a small quantity of each item over a couple of days to see if your pet has a reaction. For example, we found out that Bari could not tolerate peanut butter. Our vet said that foods like peanut butter have a high fat content and that can bother some puppies. Instead, he eats frozen blueberries, carrots, apples, and cucumber sticks, and always knows to sit by my feet patiently when I’m packing my daughter’s lunch for school.
Here’s a helpful list of human foods that are safe for dogs. Of course, carrying human food when you’re away from home is not always convenient, so make sure to keep dog treats on hand. This soft treat was our pup’s favorite.
8. Brush, Lint Roller, and Pet Shampoo
What makes a puppy so irresistible? It’s probably those eyes gazing up at you and the feel of a soft furry coat. Depending on the breed and coat type, you will need a brush or comb and lint roller to keep your fur baby’s coat soft and shiny. Even non-shedding dogs may shed a bit during seasonal changes. Also, having your puppy get used to brushing daily will help keep their coat clean and prevent matting. Your puppy won’t need grooming for a few months, but they will need to be bathed every few weeks. Our breeder uses dish soap (like Dawn) to do the job, but we opted for gentle dog shampoo, since Westies are known to have sensitive skin.
9. Stain Remover Spray
Alas, accidents are in your future with a young puppy. Remember: be patient and consistent and your pet will eventually get the picture. In the meanwhile, we found this spray to be a worthy investment and very effective at removing odor and stains from rugs and other fabric materials. We’ve had our bottle for over 6 months and still have plenty left, since we’ve been using it less and less. So don’t despair, there is hope for a stain-free home!
Perhaps one of the most important must-have items for your puppy is a veterinarian. We are lucky enough to have several vets in close proximity to our home. Based on word-of-mouth recommendations, we narrowed down our choices to three vets. We then went to each website to preview their facilities and specialties, and ultimately selected the closest office with a boarding facility. The latter is a nice option in a pinch, especially when you need somewhere for your puppy to stay overnight during a family emergency. As a vital final step, I went in person to make our first appointment. The reception area was warm and the vet techs at the front desk seemed very friendly. While we knew from the breeder that our puppy was perfectly healthy, we were still anxious to have a full check up and discuss vaccinations, so that Bari could finally socialize with other dogs in the neighborhood.
Here are some tips for choosing a new vet.
We hope that our list is helpful in settling into a new routine with your latest addition.