We often get customers visiting the shop in advance of the arrival of their new puppy. Some come with a shopping list and others need a bit more help. We generally say - don't go daft! We appreciate it is an exciting time but there is no need to get too much to start with. We have compiled what we hope will be a handy check list of essentials, good to haves and optionals.
Essential Guides from one of the Worlds Top Trainers - and they are free!
We always recommend referring to Dr Ian Dubars guides "Before You Get Your Puppy" and his second free guide "After You Get Your Puppy". These are great invaluable resources. These guides cover all the essentials with everything from socialisation, chew toy training, house training, bite inhibition and more.
Collar and lead - It is a legal requirement for your dog to wear a collar in the UK with an ID Tag. So even if you have a very small, or pully puppy who you want to use a harness on then a collar and lead are essential. We generally recommend a nylon collar and lead to start with. They are very light weight (so as not to have something too cumbersome around your pups neck), they are easy to adjust as your puppy grows and they are inexpensive.
Bowl/s - You will need at least one dog bowl to allow your dog to have access to water during the day and for feeding time. Most people prefer to have seperate bowls for food and water. Which bowl to select is very subjective as they all have their advantages and disadvantages but do make sure you don't select one that has too high a lip otherwise your pup may struggle to reach the inside of the bowl! Ceramic bowls are not so easily tipped up but if they are they can break. Stainless steel bowls are easy to clean and inexpensive but some dogs don't like the noise they make (especially if their tag hits the side) and plastic bowls are inexpensive but are easy to crack and slide about.
Something to sleep on/in - There is no absolute right suggestion for this one. It will be a personal judgement. We generally don't recommend that you purchase a fluffy, fibre filled bed to start with. Some puppies will have accidents in their bed initially and the bigger, fibre filled beds are more difficult to wash and dry. Also often puppies will go through a bit of a chewy phase and their beds can often bear the brunt of this chewing - espcially fibre filled one. If you do invest in a bed like this try not to spend too much to avoid dissapointment! We often recommend towels and/or blankets for your pup to nest in to start with. They are less likely to be chewed and if they are they are not so expensive to replace. They are also quick and easy to dry.
Puppy food - We generally recommend that, at least for the first couple of weeks, that you keep your dog on the food that the breeder gave you a supply of. Because the first few weeks of being in a new environment can be a bit stressful for puppies keeping their digestion calm is a good idea and being on a food that they know is usually a sensible idea.
If the food is not suitable for budgetary, quality or accessibility reasons going forward we always recommend gradually introducing a new food to their diet. Whilst some dogs can handle a complete change of diet immediately others can get an upset tum.
At Just Dogs we try very hard to offer good quality foods and they all have their own good qualities. Each food has a variety of ingredients and whilst one set of ingredients may be no better or worse than another certain dogs, like humans, can have ingredients which work better for them than others.
We recommend steering clear of foods which do not have named ingredients (i.e. those composing of generic cereals and meat and animal derivatives).
ID Tag - The Control of Dogs Order 1992 mandates that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name (your surname rather than the dogs name) and address (including postcode) of the owner engraved or written on it, or engraved on a tag. Your telephone number is optional (but advisable).
GOOD TO HAVES
Treats - At Just Dogs we like to promote positive reinforcement as an ideal technique for training. There is no one treat that is best for puppies. We do have a range of treats specifically for puppies such as Harrington’s Puppy Treats and Coachies Puppy Treats however, if you are using the treats for rewarding good behaviour we would always recommending varying the treats you give. When rewarding your pup think of the treats in terms of low value up to highest value treats. Lower value treats may be pieces of your dog’s dry kibble and these would be used when your puppy is practicing commands such as sit and down in the house with limited distractions. Higher value rewards are used for rewarding new behaviours,, for rewarding difficult commands or for when you are working under distraction i.e. recall in a busy park.
The natures-menu treats are our best selling reward treats in the shop and these are suitable for puppies. They can be broken into small pieces to make them spin out further and as they are rich in meat and soft in texture they are highly palatable. They are quite rich though so try not to feed too many in any one day.
Other high value rewards are things like chicken, cheese or Primula squirty cheese.
Clicker - "Clicker training uses a distinct and consistent signal to mark a desired behavior in real time and then follows that signal with a motivating reward. Because animals understand precisely which action earned the click and their reward, they learn new behaviors quickly, easily, and enthusiastically" Karen Pryor. For more information on using a Clicker for training check out Karen Pryors site Clickertraining.com
Toy/s - We generally recommend that when you are purchasing some toys for your new pup not to by too many until you have seen what sort of play they reserve for their toys. Some pups like soft toys but see them as something to "kill" so unless you want to be replacing them often this may not be the toy for your pup. Other puppies "baby" their soft toys and they act as a comforter for them.
Some pups are real power chewers and this is when our tough toy selection may be good (including Nylabones for example). Some dogs, even power chewers, lose interest in Nylabones though as they are very tough and for some the challenge is in the destroying!
Some dogs are motivated by squeaks and our JW range of rubber toys offer a good in between option - they are not completely indestructible but are much tougher than soft toys. Classic Kong Dog Toys are also a good one to consider as they are tough and adaptable. Find your dog's favorite and check out the Recipes on the Kong website.
We LOVE this article from the great doggy website DogStarDaily. It lists 50 things to do with the Kong Toy to keep your dog entertained.
This Video is also a fantastic guide on how to introduce a stuffed Kong to your dog by increasing the challenge gradually.
Training Crate - At Just Dogs we believe that a crate can be a marvelous tool. A dog can learn to be patient and to calm themselves whilst in a crate and it can be a place that they see as a safe haven. There are a number of situations in which a crate can be a good management tool. It can help when leaving dogs or puppy for a short time on their own as they can be taught to relax and rest in their crate. It can also be safer than letting a pup roam in a bigger space when they may get themselves into trouble or mischief. It can also help with toilet training. Whilst we think it can be a marvellous tool we would also stress the importance of using it correctly. A Crate is not an appropriate tool to use for leaving a dog in for long periods of time when you are out or a place to put your dog as a punishment!
We are a huge fan of Ian Dunbar and the DogStar Daily website and think this link offers some useful advice for introducing a dog to a crate
Puppy Pads - Puppy pads can be a useful addition to your puppy starter shopping list. Not only do they encourage your pup to toilet in one place, rather than all over the house, they are also super absorbent making it easier to clean up after little accidents and protecting your floor! They are also ideal for in the car if your dog suffers from travel sickness or is a nervous traveller.
Research - We would also recommend checking out some handy websites/books. We have gathered a list of handy resources that you may wish to refer to.
Copyright Note - We are happy for these articles to be shared but would ask that these are credited to us as it has taken us a long time to pull together all this information and research and it is our own wording so we would be upset to see this being reproduced without the appropriate credit.