With so many puppies going to new homes at this time, now’s a good time as any to offer readers a checklist of things they will likely need:
• Food - Selecting a food is one of the most important factors in the short- and long-term health of your pup. Breeders and rescues will usually choose foods that make sense for them, a decision in which price may be more of a concern than quality. Because you aren’t feeding a kennel full of dogs, you can afford to buy a better quality diet than your breeder/rescue would, and in most cases, transitioning to a better food is easily done without digestive upset. Frozen raw is always our first recommendation but there are many other options available. I suggest limited processing and no synthetics, at a minimum.
• Bowls - Raised bowls are always a great option for large dogs, and they come in different sizes with adjustable stands. Raising a bowl reduces neck strain and fatigue, especially for large-breed dogs, or dogs which may have compromised necks/spines due to breeding. Some dogs prefer shallow bowls or even plates. For dogs that plow through their food, there are a variety of slow feeder options as well.
• Clean up - Pee pads and an enzyme-based stain and odour remover are the essentials for young puppies. Pee pads usually have attractants in them to encourage the pups to use them, and once they are trained to the pad, you can move the pad towards the door, and then outside, and the pup will hopefully get the idea to go to the door to get to the pad. Stain and odour removers need to be "enzyme-based," as the enzyme breaks down the odour molecules. Without enzymes, we won’t smell the accident but the pup will, and will keep returning to that spot.
• Treats - Good quality treats are important, especially during training. We usually recommend two types of treats, one for everyday rewards, and another "high value" treat for special training. Something like a freeze-dried liver treat is great for everyday rewards, they are not expensive and dogs love them. For a high-value reward, used when pups are put in their kennels, or after they are taken out of the kennel and use the appropriate potty spot, we recommend something like smoked tripe treats. These are soft, packed with flavour, and are actually healthy, as well.
• Toys - I don’t think it is possible to have too many toys for a pup but there are three essentials you should have. A hard toy, like a nylabone, is essential for teething and when pups are are chewing on table legs, remote controls and baseboards, you can scold them, then offer the hard toy and say "here you go, good dog." A rubber toy, like a kong, can be used when a pup is chewing on things such as shoes or boots. Finally, you will need a rope toy, to be offered to replace chewing on fabrics such as carpets, socks or upholstery. Ropes can also be soaked in low sodium stock, or water, and then frozen to soothe gums when teething. Stuffies, unstuffies, balls, frisbees and other toys are all great, too. Your pup will end up having favourites, so don’t be afraid to buy lots of options.
• Walking gear - Poop bags, a leash, a collar or harness and treat bags are all products that make walking or going to the dog park easier. Poop bags come in different sizes, with different scents and even biodegradable or compostable. Most people use a simple collar and six-foot leash to walk their dogs, but some dogs require control collars or harnesses, and there are many options, depending on the dog and its behaviour. Treat bags are very convenient, many have tops that snap open and closed and most have clips to attach to your belt. They’re much more convenient than a baggie of treats in your pocket that spills or makes your coat every dog’s favourite chew toy.
There are a lot of other items you can buy for your pup but these are what I have found to be the essentials to have ready for when a puppy comes home.
Pets Are People, Too
Jeff McFarlane is the owner of Thrive Pet Food Market. Contact him with your questions or ideas firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thrivepetfoodmarket.com