Getting a puppy? Wondering what you should go shopping for? Let’s go through a list of must-have puppy items (worth considering if you’re getting an older dog too!) that I recommend getting before or after bringing home your new pooch.
Are we starting the list with a cat product? Yes! Think of a cat bell in the same way as a baby monitor for a newborn baby. A little cat bell on your pup’s collar can let you know when he/she is just getting ready to wake up and perhaps needs to pee, poop, or spend time with you!
Responding to a cat bell will prevent your pup from feeling the need to let you know that they need something themselves, through nipping, barking, whining, etc. Who doesn't like to have their needs met without having to ask? While on the topic of bells, what about potty bells by the door? Our thinking is that if you use a cat bell or if you know your pup well, then your dog will likely not need to let you know when they need something. Bells attached to the door can also be a way that very smart dogs can indicate that they're bored and just want to step outside/are in need of attention. All of which is preventable!
Collar & harness
Even if you don't believe or like using harnesses, either because you're been told that harnesses encourage pulling (which is incorrect), if there is one thing about harnesses that's irrefutable is that harnesses are the safest option for dogs, especially puppies. A properly fit harness is very difficult for a dog to accidentally slip out of. But above all, puppies who wear harnesses are then at zero risk of developing any neck injuries while they're still young because their leash will be clipped to their chest or back, instead of their neck. And safety is simply #1! What about collars? Get one, even if you get a harness, because you want to use harnesses mostly when you're going to take your dog for a walk or go to a social setting. While a collar can be worn for longer periods and hold their relevant tags and information. Pee pads
Prior to your pup being ready to start going potty outside, pee pads are still the number 1 option as far as indoor potty training goes. This is because they are easy to clean, meaning they will leave little to no odors behind (unlike grass patches or other options) and the goal will be to stop using pee pads sooner than later, as you get to know your dog's bladder better and better. There are exceptions to this recommendation, however, such as if your puppy or dog has a really tough time not chewing destroying them when they're out (please consult your trainer if this is the case) or if you want to opt for a plastic or fake grass alternative that you can simply wash often, not avoid having to purchase, use, and throw away a large number of pee pads. Crate
The way we see a crate should be the same as the way we see our bedroom. It's the place where we go to rest, take a break, calm down, relax, and sleep after a long day of work, or simply when we need a nap! Crate training also encourages pet parents to avoid using the crate as a means of punishment, or giving a dog, especially a puppy, a time out as this can cause frustration for them and they won't always fully understand why they got placed in there unless, you practice guiding them mostly because you know they're feeling sleepy, and are in need of rest.
Every crate should come with a crate cover! Covers help make your dog's crate feel a little bit more like a den that a dog would burrow into because it's darker and drowns out exterior noise. Perfect for all dogs, as well as puppies and sensitive dogs. You will want to be most mindful with long-haired breeds and dogs who get hot easily, as this can instead make for more of an overly warm room that your dog won't find comfortable. To prevent this, make sure the room in which your dog's crate is in is well ventilated, and that their bedding also helps them feel cool. Want to know what type of bedding is best for your dog's breed? Click here to find and join its corresponding Facebook group where you can talk with pet parents who live with your dog's breed and know better than anyone else!
Speaking of bedding, selecting the right bed for your dog is key! Especially when you're hoping that your dog will learn to stay on it, particularly if you're not relying on their crate all the time. If you chose to place it inside your dog's crate, our recommendation is that you make sure that it doesn't the inside of the crate in full, so that your dog has the option between laying on their bed or directly on the crate tray. Some dogs like that! Especially when they feel too warm.
Yes, this one won't be applicable to all dogs, depending on their breed, but chances are that while your pup is still really young, it will still fit in a portable carrier bag designed for dogs.
This is a great means of transportation for them, especially when going to new and very stimulating places like the veterinary or groomer. Not having to worry about walking all the way in can be helpful for a puppy. You can also work and train your puppy to like its carrier by turning it into an outlet for them to snuffle food inside it.
Licky mats and Kongs are perfect for when puppies have had a chance to play and run around, as well as use their brain to learn new tricks and try out new puzzles, and other mental stimulation games. They're not the best at providing much of a challenge for smart dogs, so be sure to use them to help your puppy lick, relax and mellow out.
Kongs/chew toys It's no secret that dogs need to chew, especially when they're still growing. This helps them feel better, soothe and relax. And just like licky mats, it's best to provide them when your dog is feeling mellow and n needs to just have something to nibble on, before a nap or bedtime.
The misconception about Kongs and chew toys is that they provide mental enrichment, which they do to a certain extent, especially for very young puppies but as far as problem-solving and mental stimulation, you should look into other options first and have Kongs or chew toys act more like a pacifier for a baby.
Tug and pull toys
A must! Dogs naturally tug and pull with their bodies when they play with one another, or when they find an object they want to start a game with. It's natural for them and really satisfying. And contrary to popular belief, this isn't something that neither instigates prey drive, 'aggression', or any kind of 'dominance'. If your dog exhibits any of those things, it wouldn't be because of a game that is meant for dogs to feel good playing together, and build trust and companionship, no different than how we see sports and other competition and game-like activities. And speaking of building trust, this also applies to dog-to-human relationships! So get on the ground, grab a tug-and-pull toy, and do your best to get your dog interested in playing a game with you! Do keep it short and sweet but trust us when we say that this will only help in strengthening your bond with your dog, and let them know that it's fun to do things with and for you.
Fetch, digging and hiding them, pulling treats out of them are all ball-related activities that dogs love doing with you, but also on their own. Get all different types of balls for your dog and keep them on a rotation, to continuously keep your dog guessing and engaged! Snuffle mats
Suffle mats are a human-made recreation of a dog's grass-like environment where they would scavenge and search for bits of food to eat. Bringing home a snuffle mat for your dog and even going as far as using it to replace his or her dog bowl is something your dog will thank you for. It's also a great way to help them burn energy, slow down their eating, and slow down their energy as a whole, especially after a long, over-stimulating day.
Food puzzles Compared to snuffle mats, food puzzles are a more challenging, generally plastic-made, snuffling and scavenging option for dogs.
Typically much more difficult and problem solving-like than snuffle mats, these are great for feeding your dog, slowing them down, but above all providing them with a very engaging exercise for their brain on a daily basis. Getting a more challenging level to start instead of an easy one is recommended, as you can always find ways to make it easy for your dog and go from there without having to purchase multiple levels.
Doggy Water bottles
Water bottles are my preferred method of giving my pup water (unless I need to be away from them for long periods of time) as opposed to water bowls, mainly because it makes it easier to keep track of their water intake (preventing unnecessary pee accidents), especially with multiple-member households and it also creates for a great opportunity to share a moment with your dog as you provide them their water directly to them, instead of them going to their water bowl on their own with little to no interactions with you at such a young age when sharing should be a top priority. Winter gear
Make sure that your pup's body temperature is where it needs to be at all times. Even if you've gotten your pup way before the cold winter months, now is the perfect time to begin socializing them with their winter coat and boots, so that by the time the cold weather comes, you're all set and ready to face it together!
The umbilical cord exercise is one of my favourites and the best way it can be done it's with a waist leash. The exercise consists of walking around your home with your dog and rewarding them for choosing to join you on your chores and other activities so that they find pleasure in walking alongside you. This also helps minimize surprise potty training accidents and if you use a waist leash, you will be hands-free to do what you need around your home. Get one that comes with, or add to this a treat pouch for extra pet parent awesomeness.
Start walking your dog on a short leash. By walking in and out of your home randomly, to help him or her get used to the idea of simply stepping out with you but comfortable coming back with you as you need. You can get a longer leash (often called a log line) as they get older and you feel as though you have more and more trust in them outside.
Nail clipper/trimmer Probably the least fun item on the list, for both your pup and you, but a definite must. Grooming is inevitable, whether you practice your way to doing it for your dog their entire life, or if you hire someone. But one of the most challenging aspects of getting your dog groomed is their nails getting clipped. This is where you can do a lot to help prevent future discomfort, by socializing them to different types of nail clippers and trimmers. Consult with your future groomer, I'm sure that they'll be happy to share any tips that'll also help them do their job more easily!