New Dog Owner Guide: 21 Items to Put on Your Shopping List
What’s almost as much fun as welcoming a new dog into your home? Going on a shopping spree to make that welcome complete! Let’s face it. Even though your new dog can thrive on love and attention, even dogs have a materialistic streak, and they won’t turn down a plush bed, a fun toy or an entertaining chewy.
Consider the following items for your shopping spree:
Fence. If you plan to let your dog loose in your yard, you will need a fence. The fence should be dog proof from the start, so your dog is never encouraged by successful escapes. Make sure it also prevents marauding animals from getting in. Buried electric fences, while better than no fence, are not ideal because they don’t prevent other animals from getting inside the boundary, and your dog can also run beyond the barrier even though he’s getting a shock, and then not be able to get back inside.
Crate. All dogs should be crate trained, and the best time to start is now. Crates come in three types: wire, which folds flat and has better ventilation; plastic, which is cozy and is approved for airline shipping; and cloth, which is lightweight but can be shredded by dogs who want to get out. Wait until your dog behaves in a hard-sided crate before trying a cloth one.
Baby gates. Baby gates allow your dog freedom while still blocking off restricted areas in your house. Don’t use the old-fashioned accordion style, which can close on a puppy’s neck. Even a long, sturdy piece of cardboard can possibly do the job in a pinch.
Exercise pen. An exercise pen (X-pen) is a 4 foot-by-4 foot portable enclosure that functions as a doggy playpen. It’s safer than locking your puppy in a bathroom, and he’s less likely to object because it doesn’t have that closed-in feeling that a small room gives him. Set the pen in your kitchen or den, where he can be out from underfoot yet still be part of the family when you can’t watch him. They’re also great for traveling to keep your dog from bolting out of motel rooms.
Bed. Beds can range from a cardboard box packed with comfy towels to a miniature bedroom suite that matches your own. But leave the fancy ones until your dog is over his chewing urges.
Anti-chew spray. Like an off-limits sign for your furniture legs, these sprays taste bitter so your puppy will be discouraged from chewing inappropriately.
Collar or harness. A collar or harness is a means of controlling and identifying your dog. A buckle collar is OK for most dogs. A slip (“choke”) or, better, a martingale collar is a good choice for walking on leash because your dog can’t let it slip over his head. However, it’s dangerous to leave them on your dog unattended, as they can get caught on things and strangle your dog. In fact, don’t leave any collar on a puppy unattended, as they have a penchant for getting their lower jaw stuck in it. Make sure any collar is loose enough for you to get a couple of fingers between it and your puppy’s neck, but not so loose that it could slide over his head when walking on leash — or that he can reach down and bite it!
Leash. Start with a sturdy lightweight leash, 4 to 6 feet long. Don’t get a chain leash, which is hard to hold on to.
Retractable leash. These give your dog more freedom, but too many people give them so much freedom that the dog wanders into the road or up to strange dogs or under people’s feet. Retractable leashes should be retracted unless you’re in a safe place away from other people and dogs. They’re an unpopular choice in veterinary waiting rooms.
Identification. Almost any large pet supply store sells identification tags you can make on the spot. Get one.
Cleaning supplies. For rug accidents, use an enzymatic carpet cleaner, which destroys the odor-causing molecules rather than simply covering them up.
Poop scoop. Scoops with a rake on one side are better for grass, and the flat-edge pusher varieties are better for cement surfaces. Two-part scoops are easier to use than hinged versions.
Poop bags. A variety of special doggy poop disposal bags are available, but you can also use a baby diaper disposal bag or a cheap sandwich bag.
Bowls. Stainless steel bowls are durable and easy to clean. Ceramic bowls can be put in the microwave. Plastic bowls hold germs, and a few dogs are allergic to them. Self-feeding or watering bowls are handy but must be cleaned just as often as regular bowls.
Brush. A soft-bristle brush is ideal for getting your puppy used to grooming. Later, you can buy more appropriate grooming tools for his adult coat.
Rinseless shampoo. When you can’t give your dog a real bath, just squirt some rinseless shampoo on him, rub it in and wipe the dirt away with a towel.
Toothbrush. A doggy toothbrush and toothpaste is ideal, but a child’s toothbrush will do. Don’t use human toothpaste, though, which is not made to be swallowed.
Toenail clippers. Cat nail clippers work fine for tiny puppies. For adults, scissor-type or guillotine-type is a matter of choice. You can also use a grinder.
Plush toys. Puppies love soft fuzzy toys. Make sure no parts can come off and that your puppy can’t gut it and swallow any noisemakers. Avoid bean or Styrofoam stuffing.
Throw toys. Balls and other toys that encourage playing with people are especially good for social development.
Interactive toys. Toys that challenge your puppy to dislodge food treats can occupy him while you’re away. Rotate several interactive toys with different challenges to help prevent him from getting bored.
And that’s just to get you started! Happy shopping!
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