Whether you have always owned dogs or you are about to become a first-time dog owner, the process of adopting a new puppy or dog is an exhilarating experience. In addition to all of the excitement, you want your new dog to be happy and comfortable in your home. Through proper advance planning, you can help ensure that your new dog enjoys a smooth transition from their previous environment to their new home. Below are 10 things you MUST have before bringing home your new puppy or dog.
Your dog’s collar is the single most important possession that you will buy for your dog. A collar should be chosen with care, as it will bear your dog’s name as well as your contact information in case your dog is lost. Below are the three most important factors to consider when you choose a collar for your puppy or dog:
- Size: You should be able to slide two fingers under your dog’s collar with ease
- Durability: A collar should be strong and weather resistant with a sturdy fastener
- Style: Common styles include flat collars, martingale collars and head collars
Of the three styles referenced above, flat collars are the most popular choice among dog or puppy owners. They are typically constructed of nylon and feature heavy-duty quick-release closures. Tip: A collar bearing a reflector will help people see your dog more easily at night.
A dependable leash is the key to your dog’s safety and security while outside the home. A leash helps to prevent your pet from running into the road or venturing onto private property. Choosing a leash can be a bit overwhelming due to the wide variety of options available for dog owners. Most leashes fall into one of the following categories:
- Standard flat leashes: Typically made of nylon or leather, this leash clips to the ring of your dog’s collar and has a loop for your hand on the other end. They are typically 4 to 8 feet in length and are used with dogs of all sizes.
- Retractable leashes: This type of leash has a plastic handle and enables your puppy or dog to walk up to 30 feet in front of you with its retractable style. In general, retractable leashes are best for small dogs that are well-trained.
- Chain leashes: Owners of dogs with a penchant for chewing through their leashes often choose chain leashes. They are extremely durable and can be used with dogs of all sizes.
3. Dog bowls
Feeding time is often the most exciting time of the day for puppies and dogs. Of all of your new dog’s possessions, your new puppy or dog will learn to understand the role of their food and water bowls and will quickly learn to associate their bowls with feeding time. You will need to have one bowl for your dog’s food and a second bowl for water. Below are four common types of dog bowls used for food and water:
- Plastic bowls: Many new dog owners opt for plastic bowls because they are lightweight, affordable, and dishwasher safe. However, they can easily be chewed up by a new puppy.
- Individual stainless steel bowls: Stainless steel bowls are an excellent choice due to their durability. Unlike plastic bowls, dogs and puppies cannot chew them to bits, making stainless bowls a safer option for puppies.
- Adjustable height feeding bowls: Adjustable height feeding stations allow tall dogs or larger breeds to eat and drink more easily when bowls are elevated.
- Ceramic bowls: While ceramic bowls are sturdy and durable, they are prone to cracking. Bacteria may form within cracks, which can be dangerous to puppies and dogs.
4. Potty-Training Pads
If you have a puppy or dog that has not been potty-trained, you will need to purchase a supply of potty-training pads. Typically sold in packages of 50, 100 or 150, dog potty-training pads offer the following:
- An odor neutralizer
- A pheromone attractant
- Multiple layers of absorbency
- Roughly 12 hours of protection from urine
Ideally, potty-training pads should be positioned away from your dog’s food bowls and dog bed. The tissue side should face up and the poly side to the floor for the best protection. Be sure to reward your puppy or dog for properly using the training pads!
5. A dog bed
A dog’s bed is like a home base for many puppies and dogs. While newly adopted adult dogs may recognize the role of a dog bed immediately, it may take some time for a new puppy to associate a bed with resting or sleeping. As tempting as it may be to bring a whimpering puppy into your bed at night, you should resist the urge to let your puppy crawl under the covers with you. When you are selecting a bed for your puppy or dog, you will need to consider the following factors:
- Size: Dog beds are typically available in sizes XS – XXL with each size corresponding to the bed’s diameter. If you are unsure about which size is appropriate for your dog, choose the larger size.
- Your dog’s age: Puppies are prone to chewing everything in sight, including their beds and other possessions. Consider a rugged model or a blanket if you have a new puppy.
- Breed: Short-haired breeds or dogs that live in a cold environment often love a plush bed or a bed with a coverlet.
- Your dog’s health: If you adopt a senior dog with health ailments, you should choose a bed that offers the proper support and cushioning. Hypo-allergenic beds are also available for dogs with allergies.
6. Dog treats
Popular dog treats include biscuits, rawhide bones, training treats, and treats with meat inside them. Dog treats are an excellent way to reward your dog for learning key commands and achieving behavioral milestones. For instance, treats are often used to reward puppies and dogs for accomplishing the following:
- Learning how to use the puppy pads (and ultimately your yard!)
- Responding to his or her name
- Obeying basic commands
- Learning simple tricks!
In general, smaller treats are more appropriate for puppies or dogs in training, while larger treats are a better fit for larger dog breeds. All-natural treats are also available for health-conscious dog owners.
7. A dog carrier for smaller dogs
Findings by the U.S. Travel Association indicate that nearly one-half of travelers view their pets as a member of their family and that nearly one in five people surveyed take their pets on vacation with them. A pet carrier helps to keep puppies and small dogs safe and secure when traveling by car or by plane. In addition to selecting a model that is the appropriate size for your dog (the carrier should be compact but large enough for your dog to turn around inside), you should seek a lightweight carrier with sturdy handles and mesh ventilation panels.
8. Dog food and fresh water
Make sure that you have a hearty supply of dog food and fresh water before you bring your new puppy or dog home. In general, your selection of food should depend upon your dog’s weight and age. Most puppies can begin to eat solid food after they have reached four weeks of age, though some veterinarians recommend feeding puppies softer food during the first couple of months of feeding. Soft food is also a good option for dogs who do not consume enough water during the day. If you choose dry dog food, make sure to keep food stored in a sealed tub away from contaminants and animals. TIP: Whether you choose to feed your dog one larger meal or two smaller meals each day, try to keep your puppy or dog on a regular feeding schedule.
9. Dog toys
Toys are an important addition to your dog’s new home for many reasons. Your puppy or dog will quickly learn that the toys are theirs, and that they may chew on toys without penalty. Safety should always be a consideration when selecting dog toys, and you should avoid toys with small plastic parts. Popular toys include the following:
- Hard rubber toys shaped like bones or balls
- Comfort toys, such as soft stuffed animals or soft blankets
- Sturdy knotted ropes for playing tug-of-war
Toys can play a valuable role in training your puppy or dog not to chew on furniture, shoes, or household possessions. For instance, if you catch your dog chewing on one of your shoes, you should remove the shoe from your dog’s mouth and insert one of your dog’s chew toys.
You can have the most expensive gourmet dog treats and the fanciest carrier on the block, but your relationship with your puppy will not thrive without your patience. Remember that your home may be comfortable to you, but it is strange territory for your new puppy or dog. The first few nights may prove to be especially difficult for your new family member, and you should be prepared to hear the sound of your puppy whimpering or your new dog roaming around your home. Try to resist the urge to interfere, and strive to be patient as your dog adjusts to his or her new routine. You will quickly find that your patience is the key to happiness and a smooth adjustment for your new puppy or dog!