After a long search, you’ve finally found your new furry friend. Now what?
Any visit to a pet supply store overwhelms you with an abundance of food, supplements, toys, and gear. But what do you really need? Should you get refrigerated food or dry? Collar or harness? Supplements? What kind of toys are appropriate for your pup?
Before dropping a small fortune at your local pet store, check out suggestions for what you must have, helpful (but not necessary) items, and the ones you can skip.
Puppy Must Haves
These pads are a great way to housebreak your puppy. Newspaper doesn’t keep liquid off the floor. Potty pads are backed with plastic for easy clean up. As your dog gets better at using them, you won’t need as many to keep them from having accidents in the house.
Instead of using a wire playpen to keep your pooch safe, wire panels can be used to block off rooms and dangerous areas. Fasten them together for a play area when needed. These panels can create a size and shape that works for your space.
Dogs love the security of having their own space. Purchase a crate that has three walls with a see-through front door. If the crate is too large, your puppy is likely to have an accident. But they should have enough room to comfortably stretch out. Add some soft blankets or old t-shirts to make it cozy and comfy for your new fur baby.
Your new pet will chew on everything. For things you can’t keep out of Fido’s reach (like the corners of your furniture), be sure to have specially-formulated spray on hand. It won’t smell bad to you, but puppies hate the stuff. Chewing problem solved.
Stay away from fluffy teddy bears and soft stuff. When it comes to puppies, the harder the better. Choose a few different toys and don’t skimp. More expensive toys may put a larger dent in your wallet, but they’ll last longer and be safer for your dog. Puppy teeth are notoriously sharp, and you’ll be surprised at what they’re capable of.
No matter how vigilant you are, accidents happen. Unfortunately, soap and water won’t cut it. Purchase a special cleaning solution meant for these types of “special occasions.”
Water and Food Bowls
Don’t just grab a couple of oversized bowls from the kitchen. When possible, choose bowls made from stainless steel instead of glass or plastic. They’re easier to clean and less prone to hold bacteria.
Choose a leash at least four to six feet long. Puppies sometimes chew through retractable leashes, so you may want to wait until they get older to invest in one.
Collar or Harness
There’s no definitive answer on the collar vs. harness debate. Harnesses are helpful for dogs that have problems jumping on people or behaving during walks. A harness allows you to pull your dog without fear of choking. Collars are easier for animals to slip out of.
If you have a laid-back pooch that doesn’t get overly excited when visitors arrive or during walks, a collar works just fine.
No matter which you choose, make sure they are not too big or too small. You’ll likely need to buy at least one or two larger sizes as your puppy grows.
Puppies have much different nutritional needs to aid in their development. Never give a growing puppy adult food. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not straight carnivores. The grains that some dog food companies call “fillers” provide nutrients essential to your dog’s health. Choose food created with puppy nutrition in mind. If your dog has special health concerns, consult a vet before making your final decision.
Don’t grab the first flea shampoo you see on the shelf. Dogs under six weeks shouldn’t be exposed to it. Unless your dog has a serious flea problem, skip the flea dip altogether. When they’re old enough, invest in a monthly topical flea medicine instead.
Choose a shampoo with ingredients you can pronounce. Skip the fragrances and chemicals that can irritate your puppy’s skin.
Regular brushing stimulates production of natural oils that protect your dog’s coat. Choose a brush made for your dog’s fur.
Don’t be intimidated by the amount of gear you need for your pooch. You won’t need to buy puppy pads and bitter spray forever. Research reviews, talk to other puppy parents, and choose high-quality gear that will last for years to come.