So you’re bringing home a new puppy! This is such an exciting time and there is so much to prepare.
I want to make it easier for you to be ready for anything, so here is my shopping list for you. It’s long; beware… But you know that you’ve got lots of prep to do to set your puppy up for success!
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Every dog should be equipped with a flat collar whenever they leave the house as it can be a lifesaver if they get lost. It should hold your dog’s ID tag, city license, and Rabies tag (when they’ve been vaccinated). I recommend removing this when they come home, but attaching it for walks and backyard jaunts, even for quick potty breaks. This is a great one for puppies and you might choose something fancier and more fun when they’re older.
My favourite dog tags are made by the lovely Carrie Franklin at Sofa City Sweethearts in Mississippi, USA. Check out her options here! I always have a giggle when I see Salinger wearing his “name tag” like he’s at a convention for VGDs. (Very Good Dogs)
Puppies are still developing and it's so important that they are able to do that without any damage done to their neck/trachea. A back-clip harness is an excellent choice. There are many options out there and it will depend on your dog's size and shape whether you choose one that goes over the head or one they step into. Something that is adjustable and allows a full range of motion is ideal. This is a nice option by a great Canadian company, RC Pets.
When walking your new pup, you should have a leash that is 6’-8’ in length to allow some space for sniffing and greeting, and the ability to reel it in safely. You might choose a nylon lead, a leather lead, or a cotton lead. Whatever is most comfortable for you, and durable. This is a nice example of a nylon lead that we often use for puppies.
I absolutely DO NOT recommend a retractable leash as it is a) very dangerous and causes more than 1600 injuries (including amputations) per year, b) teaches your pup to pull because of the constant tension, and c) even if it’s locked, you have zero control or ability to reel them in quickly and safely. In fact, they’re banned from our classes!
If you’ve got a backyard, you’re going to want one of these for the first year of your dog’s life. You dream of just opening the door, your puppy running out, doing their business, and coming back in when called, but that’s not likely to be a consistent reality for a while. Attach this 30’-50’ line to their harness and send them out while you stand in the warmth of your home and still have some level of control if they get distracted by your rosebushes or herb garden. Gently reel them in while happy-talking them and then reward. Don’t be that neighbour who is always shouting at their dog who is digging in the garden again. Nobody likes that neighbour.
I love these water bowls because your puppy cannot flip it over and go for a swim in the dumped water. They’re dishwasher safe, skid-proof, and rust-proof. Super easy to clean and holds just enough water for a puppy to drink. It’s important that you provide 24/7 access to water, even if that means more frequent potty-breaks, and equally important that you clean/sanitise this water bowl daily to keep your pup’s teeth healthy. The biofilm that builds up in the bowl after 24 hours is what leads to plaque on their teeth. Yuck!
Oh. You didn’t think you were going to feed your puppy out of a bowl, did you? UGH! No way. Ditch the bowl - you don’t need it. Your puppy is a DOG. A natural hunter and scavenger. If you want a bored, un-food-motivated, difficult-to-train puppy, use a food bowl. If you want a dog who is sharp as a tack, food-motivated, easy to train, and who can keep themselves occupied for at least an hour, use Food Dispensing Toys for every meal and when you need some alone-time. Trust me on this one.
Not sure how to stuff ‘em? Read this article for a walk-through that’ll buy you lots of alone-time!
It’s going to happen. Your puppy is going to pee on your hardwood floor, your favourite rug, maybe even your couch or shoes. This is life. Rather than using ammonia-based products that will encourage your pup to keep going back to the same spot, use an enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solutions, made specifically for pet urine.
There is no Poop Fairy! Even in your own yard, you should be picking up after your dog immediately so that you can prevent them from eating their own poop, but also from attracting rats and other vermin to your yard. Plus…it’s gross. Don’t let it sit for days and get cycled into our water supply…! Pick up. Everywhere. I like these ones by Earth-Rated but I have to admit I hate the lavender scent so I go with the unscented. I like the rolls, but even more so, I like the one big roll that you can grab and go. Amazon lets you choose a subscription so you never run out, too!
Play is going to be happening when the puppy isn’t sleeping, peeing, pooping, or eating. Let’s get 10-20 puppy-safe toys and put them on rotation. Give the puppy five toys and then the next day, trade them out for five different ones. Keep doing this to keep the toys novel and exciting!
You’ll want a variety of plush, rubber, and ropes. Don’t forget the squeaky ones! Some of my favourites are:
- West Paw Design. They’ll last for EVER.
- Kong toys. They’ll last for ages!
- Chuck it. They’re a blast!
- Outward Hound. Nina Ottosson toys are amazing!
You might be tempted to try a laser pointer with your pup but please don’t! They’re safe for cats but in dogs, they often lead to compulsive disorders. Stick with traditional toys and puzzles.
Made in Canada and thinly sliced, easy to break, these Benny Bully beef liver treats are a sure winner for 99% of dogs. I store them in small mason jars all over my home so that I am never more than a few steps away from a quick reward for good behaviour or a speedy association with something spooky. I don’t use these for long training sessions as any organ meat is going to cause gastro-upset when given in large doses, but they’re amazing for a quick reward and in a coat pocket for treatmergencies on walks.
My favourite treat pouch is the RC Pets Quick Grab Bag. This is roomy enough to store a few little baggies of high-value treats so that you can quickly reward eye contact, appropriate potty behaviour outside, and associate anything scary out there with food! There’s a pocket for poop bags and a cell phone, a carabiner for your keys, and it comes with a waist-strap so you can have your hands free while walking your puppy.
Looking for a high-value treat that you can cut into tiny puppy bite-sized pieces for training sessions, walks, and class? Look no further. This is your solution right here. Rollover Dog Food rolls are easy to slice, dice, portion, and freeze. They defrost in minutes and dogs go nuts for them. YOU choose the size of your dog’s treats rather than over-feeding them and causing the trots. There are a ton of different proteins to choose from - lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, etc. Rotate through them and always have a few portions frozen and ready to go. This is what all the dog trainers out there use because we know it works! There are a ton of options though - don’t stop here! Keep reading…
Every puppy needs a safe place to sleep or rest when you’re not able to watch them. I’m a fan of wire crates so that there’s air flow and your pup doesn’t feel terribly isolated.
If your pup is complaining in the crate, don’t let them cry it out - you’ll have to crate-train them the moment they come home! We have a program for that in our online puppy training course, First Year.
When your pup is crated, they’ll still need access to fresh water but you won’t want a mess in there to clean up when you get home, so use a “coop cup” or a “kennel cup” as we call them. It easily hooks onto the crate and holds a bit of water so that your pup doesn’t dehydrate when left alone or resting overnight.
Most puppies need some time to earn their freedom in the home and prevent them from getting into dangerous items like plants, chemicals, cords. Of course, we also have to prevent access to personal items that we love, like books, shoes, tablets, etc. since your new puppy will need the better part of a year before they learn what is off-limits and what is theirs. For longer-term confinement and for a safe place to play and still have access to the family, use an exercise pen. You can also put one of these around your plants, your Christmas tree, the front door, or to block off a room that is off-limits to pets.
If close confinement is too difficult for your pup during the crate-training or separation-training process, you might opt for a baby gate to a puppy-proofed room. Many people choose the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room.
Perhaps you have a young child and want to block access to the nursery?
Maybe your puppy is graduating from bedroom sleeping to a living room sleeping and you want an option that allows you to keep the bedroom door open.
Lastly, to prevent your puppy from bolting out the front door, a baby gate like this one is a must! Easy for humans, hard for dogs.
I love this brush by Wahl because it’s not sharp like a slicker - it’s got soft bristles and a second, softer option for dogs who are a little weird about being brushed. It’s key to get your puppy used to being brushed from day one, even if they have a short coat. Brushing stimulates healthy oils in the skin, removes dead fur, promotes cooling in the summer, and insulation in the winter, and can even help circulation and bowel movement!
Yep - it’s going to happen. At least once a month, actually! You are going to need to get the puppy comfortable with these tools sooner than later so that they’re not stressed out and need sedation at the vet clinic or grooming salon. I have a list of favourite supplies that you can check out here.
When a puppy needs a bath, you need them to be cool. Rather than leaping out of the tub like a buttered-up flying weasel, use a Licky Mat to keep their face busy and their paws still. Peanut butter, cream cheese, yogurt, Kong stuff’n, anything sticky/tacky and tasty is good here!
There you go! you did it. You made it through.
My apologies in advance for helping you rack up a schwack on your puppy credit card. You had to know it was going to happen! 😉
Now go enjoy puppy… and take LOADS of pictures. It goes by fast.