Updated: Feb 3
Preparing for a new puppy can be both exciting and overwhelming. There is a lot of planning and preparation necessary to ensure that you and your furry companion have everything you need to get off to the best start possible.
It's important to do research beforehand about both the breed and products for your dog that will suit your lifestyle, as well as ensure that you have the resources and training needed to raise a healthy, happy puppy.
After a lifetime of doggie companionship spanning 14 different breeds, we've had a lot of time to learn almost every lesson of dog ownership the hard way. But the memories along the way are priceless. They don't call them puppy dog eyes for nothing. The unconditional love of our dogs has made all the frustrating, stressful, and expensive moments worth it.
It's our aim to share some of our hard-learned wisdom with any and all dog owners novice to experienced. Consider this an if I knew back then what I know now kind of article. We currently have as many as seven dogs under one roof with our newest addition being our first Great Dane. We can honestly say our pack covers the gambit of toy all the way to giant breeds.
With careful planning and preparation prior to bringing home your new pup, you can create a smooth transition for both you and your furry friend. You're already on your way to being a stellar dog owner by making the effort to do a little research and planning, so kudos to you!
We've structured our article into seven sections so you can jump right to whichever topic is on your mind first.
When selecting the best toys for your pup, it's important to consider their size, age, and chewing habits. For puppies who are teething, you'll want soft toys they can chew on without damaging their brand-new baby teeth. Additionally, look for interactive puzzles or treat dispensers that will not only keep them entertained but also help their mental development.
If you have an adult dog, opt for more durable toys that can stand up to your pup's jaws and claws. Ropes, rubber, and hard plastic are often the best materials for those big chewers. Additionally, you should also consider whether your pup prefers chasing or tugging over cuddling or squeaking when picking out a toy.
These are our pup's most loved toys:
Fetching - Chuck It Launcher + Extra Balls
Your rotator cuff and arm will thank you. The chuck-it launcher is the best way to
really see your dog run for joy. With a good throw, we can send a ball almost 100 yards giving our pups a great opportunity to really stretch their legs. Though our pups love them, we always switch out the tennis ball-style toy for a rubber alternative linked above to help save their teeth. More on that in the health and wellness section below.
Chasing - Flirt Pole/Teaser Wand
If any of your dogs have the urge to hunt and chase they will love these flirt poles. But be ready to get involved in the game, your pup is fast and the rope on these things isn't that long. Maybe this will be a great way for you to have some fun while getting a few extra steps in too!
Chewing - Dino Bone
One of the big concerns with chewing is that the dog end up eating sharp pieces of plastic, cutting their gums or worse, choking on something. I can happily report that our pack has not been able to hardly make a dent in this thing. Plus if your pups don't like it, it would make a great Halloween prop!
Tugging - Three-ring Nerf Toy
If you have more than one dog this toy is a must. It's a hilariously good time when three of our dogs each grab a ring. Best to always monitor this type of play, just like little kids someone is bound to get upset or feel left out. It helps to moderate the situation before things get out of hand. But overall this is a favorite toy for group play or individual chewing. Plus you can also play a little tug of war with your dogs without quite as much slobber getting on you.
It may take some trial and error for you to find the perfect fit among these three categories of toys but it will definitely be worth it once you see them happily playing with their new toy!
Finally, always keep safety in mind when selecting toys. Look for toys without small parts that may break off and choke your pup. Something we learned later on in the game is how damaging some toys like tennis balls can be for dogs' teeth. As they play fetch and the ball traps dirt in the fiber it becomes like sandpaper on their teeth. Checking with your local vet is always a good idea if you're unsure about the safety of a specific toy.
Last but not least keep an eye on your pooch especially when they're young to ensure they cannot cause themself harm or break dangerous parts off their favorite toy.
Out & About
Taking your puppy out in public can be a fun and exciting experience. Socializing your puppy is one of the most important parts of raising a happy and healthy dog. Introducing them to new people, places, sounds, and smells early on can help them become confident and well-adjusted in any situation.
However, it also requires preparation and safety precautions to ensure that both you and your pup have a pleasant outing. Before your first outing, make sure your puppy is up-to-date on all vaccines and parasite preventatives. Once they're cleared for trips out, it's time to stock up on all the essential gear.
Whether you plan to take them on regular walks or occasional trips to the park, investing in items such as a harness and leash that fit properly and are comfortable for both of you is key.
Look for collars or harnesses made from breathable materials like cotton-webbing, neoprene, or leather which should help provide extra comfort for your dog. Additionally, select a leash that has enough length (4-6 feet) so they can explore freely while still being able to stay close by your side.
Leashes: Traditional walking leash - hands-free waist leash
Aside from the collar you choose, your leash will be your next most important tool for adventures out, training, and doing just about everything with your pup. We find traditional leashes are helpful for in and out of the car or other quick trips but our hands-free waist leashes are a favorite for any type of extended trip. From training to running with your dog and just going for walks having a waist leash can give extra control and comfort. One other type of leash you may want to have is a long-line leash if you plan to do any water activities or work on recall until they're ready to be off-leash.
Harnesses are great for keeping your dog comfortable in those excited moments when they forget their manners and start to make a dash for a squirrel or when you're crossing a busy pedestrian-filled walkway and need to keep them close. I love this harness because of the handles and minimalist design. It's easy to put on and our dogs don't seem to scratch or feel bothered wearing them. Having different leash clip positions is also great for different stages of training. The next item on our list is a must-have in the early stages of puppy ownership when reinforcing good behavior is most important.
I always keep my waist bag stocked with poo bags and a variety of my dog's favorite treats depending on the type of activity we're going to do.
This may seem like more of an extra than a necessity until you've thrown clothes in the wash with treats left in your pockets or don't like having slimy crumbs coating the interiors of your pants pockets.
When our dogs are young we get a lot of extra wear out of these bags because we're working with them more frequently. As our dogs have gotten older we will use the waist bags for long walks or more specific training sessions.
One of the things I like best about this bag is the easy snap closure. It makes getting a treat one-handed very easy while also making it easy to prevent treats from spilling.
These collapsable water bowls are so handy and inexpensive and handy we have them tucked into all our vehicles and a few in our travel kit. The last things you want to forget are dog bowls when you're leaving on a family vacation or if your dog is with you running errands throughout the day.
For our longer trips, it's also helpful to have a grab bag that can carry a few toys, food, and other essentials they may need away from home. There are some pretty incredible travel bags available now, like this Baghler doggy travel bag, that will help you remember everything your pup will need
No matter how long or short the trip may be, make sure to bring special treats that will help keep their attention as well as reward them for any new commands or tricks they learn along the way. Happy travels to you and your pooch!
Having a friendly and comfortable environment for your beloved pup is just as important as taking them out on walks or to the park.
You'll want to clearly establish which spaces and surfaces are OK for your pup to be on from the start.
It may also sound a little harsh but comfort is also something that's better to be earned. Start with inexpensive blankets for your puppy and upgrade their bedding as they get older and you can trust they won't chew and destroy their plush new bed.
if you plan to let your dog on the furniture, you may want to invest in some washable furniture covers. Not all guests are likely to love being covered in fur when they come to visit. This will also help prolong the life of your furniture protecting it from dirt, claws, and the extra wear and tear that comes with your four-legged friend.
I could practically sleep on this thing. It's well cushioned and the covering is very easy to keep clean with regular vacuuming or occasional run through the wash.
Furniture Covers: Throw Blanket - Bed Blanket
If your pup has a favorite place to sit on the bed or sofa these blankets are great. They look nice and are easy to clean. But if your pets like to have full reign of the furniture choosing one of the larger covers below may be the better option.
Furniture Cover: Sofa Slip Cover - Cushion Cover - Whole Sofa Cover
Similar to the blankets listed above these covers fit over your furniture to protect the fabric of your furniture from dirt, hair, and fluids. Most covers are water resistant and some are completely waterproof depending on your needs.
Hopefully, if you're new to dog ownership you started with this section. Training is about more than just teaching your dog commands to follow it's about learning how your dog thinks and how best to communicate with them.
Much like being a good leader, dogs thrive with consistency and knowing what to expect. Establishing a routine can help build their confidence and strengthen your connection with them.
Doing training exercises is also a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated. There are all types of skills, dogs can learn from scent work to herding and more if time allows.
Less formal types of training include taking regular trips to the park, pet store, or even inviting friends over for playdates to help socialize your pup from an early age. In these settings, it is always important to pay close attention to your dog's body language and cues.
How your pup will behave can be somewhat predictable based on their breed but just like people have varying levels of comfort in social settings so does your pup. Best not to force or overexpose them. Understanding your dog's behavior can be challenging at times so don't be shy about speaking with your vet or a qualified trainer in your area if you have concerns.
Additionally, joining doggie daycare or taking obedience classes can give them a chance to learn how to interact with other dogs as well as develop their skills in a positive environment. Overall, these activities will not only benefit your pup's emotional well-being but also enhance the bond between you two!
Additionally, having crates or playpens available can be beneficial for both you and your pup. This allows them to have a designated area where they feel secure coming back to after a long day of exploration or training sessions.
Baby gates may seem like an odd thing to include but if you have rambunctious puppies that you would like to keep near you as you work from home or to give guests some space these can be very helpful.
Health & Wellness
When determining whether or not now is the right time for your family to add a furry four-legged companion, it's important to consider everyone's health and the costs associated with maintaining an overall level of wellness.
Diet, exercise, vet visits and regular grooming should all be evaluated from a time and monetary standpoint. These costs and the time required will largely depend on the type of dog you have. A few things you will not want to compromise on are preventatives for fleas, ticks, heartworms, and the highly contagious pup cold called Bordetella.
You don't have to be ready to win best-in-show at Westminster at a moment's notice, but following a good grooming routine will save your pet from discomforts like matting fur or a painful broken nail that may need a vet's attention.
Starting your pup's grooming routine from early on will help instill good habits and less resistance. When you start make sure to have lots of treats and break grooming sessions into shorter more frequent blocks so they can become more familiar with the process.
Nail clippers are best if you feel confident trimming your dog's nails, They are quick to get the job done. But if your dog fidgets a lot or has dark nails, it can be difficult to spot the quick of the nail which can lead to accidental cuts. Best to always have some styptic powder on hand to stop the bleeding in case of an accident. An alternative is using a motorized nail file to quickly grind sharp nails.
It may take a few tries to get your dogs used to the sound and sensation of a nail grinder but this tool is a great alternative to traditional clippers. Just make sure not to hold the grinder in one place for too long or it could build up too much heat from the friction and cause your dog discomfort. When getting started with a nail grinder it also helps to have a distraction such as peanut butter on a wall lick pad like the one linked next.
Use it in the bath, when it's time to do nails, or as a way to keep your pooch occupied for a few minutes. Smear peanut butter, cheese, or any other pet-safe treat that your dogs love. The little grooves make it challenging for them to clean off all the goodies.
I have found that this style of brush works best on almost all our dogs. In just a few moments of brushing there is usually a pile of fur on the ground. The only coat that requires a finer-toothed brush is our Grate Dane's. His tight short coat does well with a comb style like this brush.
These are our two favorite shampoos. They smell great and don't seem to dry out our dog's skin or make them uncomfortable. Their coats feel extra soft after their baths too which is always a plus.
Cleaning & Home Care
Get ready to welcome the outdoors in! Even the cleanest pooches are bound to track a little dirt in every now and again. Or if you have big energetic dogs that require lots of exercise, they may find the occasional mud puddle and decide to make a spa treatment out of it.
Rain or shine your pal is going to have to get outside to do business. These are the items we have come to rely on to help us keep our home habitable and welcoming to the occasional brave guest.
Accidents happen. Some avoidable, some inevitable. Best to have the right tools to make short work of the clean-up and reduce the chances of any permanent damage. These two tools and those to follow are an absolute must for any pet parents or pet-parents-to-be.
For quick cleanup of little messes sometimes spot cleaner and a blotting towel is all you need. We have found this cleaner particularly effective without a strong smell.
We look for bagless pet vacuums that have a large capacity for dirt and fur. However, even a high-powered quality vacuum will need to be taken apart and cleaned every once and a while. But with a little routine maintenance, your vacuum should last you many years keeping the dust bunnies at bay.
We keep a stack of about half a dozen old towels around that we use for everything from wiping off muddy paws before letting the dogs inside to drying them off after a bath or cleaning up the occasional mess. They don't have to be fancy but I would highly recommend keeping one or two towels around per dog.
The most important thing you can do for your pup is to show them love and provide them with a safe environment to live in. From offering them toys to exploring the outside world with organized activities and regular vet visits, there are many ways you can ensure that your pup has an enjoyable life full of adventure.
Taking time to research breed-specific information as well as familiarizing yourself with proper socialization techniques will go a long way in helping you understand and meet the needs of your furry friend. With a little bit of extra care and dedication, you can be sure that your pup will stay healthy and content throughout their lifetime.
Happy puppy parenting! :)