Our family added a puppy to our lives back in December and it has certainly been an adventure. Buddy is sweet and loving but quite mischievious. Our girls adore him, though and it has been such a joyful experience to see them take care of him, teach him, scold him and grow to love him. I tell them the way they feel about Buddy is how I feel about them only times a zillion. They get it.
Having never owned a dog before, this puppy ownership is all new to me. I'm learning right alongside my kids and there is so much to learn! So, as we've gone through this four month journey, we've discovered some things that have really made our puppy ownership better. We just completed an awesome puppy class locally and learned even more. Our trainer gave us some really good tips and I thought I'd share a few of those with you today.
So here they are . . . my 7 Must-Have Essentials for a New Puppy
1. Identification Tag
So, you can get an ID tag from a few places, but I wanted ours to be cute! Right?! I ordered one through Sassafras Paper and I love it. It's super cute, and we've gotten lots of compliments on it at the dog park and puppy class. Our Buddy wears it on his collar along with his rabies vaccination tag. At some point, we will also get a microchip for him, but for now it makes me feel good knowing that if he should get out of my sight, someone could contact me.
2. Crate/Crate Pad
A good crate and a crate pad are a must for your new puppy. It will help keep your sanity when the little pup starts darting around to every corner of your house and leaving little deposits for you to clean up. Plus, if you are going to be gone from your house at all, you are going to want that little guy to be contained so he can't get hurt and neither can your belongings.
This is the Midwest iCrate that we found on Amazon and the crate pad. It was easy to put together, seems very sturdy, and has served us very well. I highly recommend it! Make sure to get the one with a divider - your puppy will want a small space to begin with and then you can remove the divider as he grows. Also, if the crate is too big, puppies tend to make a bathroom out of part of it. You do not want that!
We had several books suggested to us and I also scoured the reviews on Amazon. Our ultimate vision for Buddy is to be a therapy dog. It's going to take a LOT of work, but it's something that has always interested my daughter and I love the idea that this could be a way our family could serve others together. So, I ordered more than a couple books and found some good information that was easy to follow and really helped at the beginning before we started a puppy training class. Here are our favorites:
Good Owners, Great Dogs - Lots of fantastic information about puppies in general, and then step-by-step ways to train specific commands.
How to Speak Dog - We love National Geographic books around here, and this is no exception. My daughter loves this book.
Puppy Training for Kids - Ideally, you would get this book before you get a puppy and read this to your kids to prepare them for the responsibility of owning a dog. It is great and my kids have read this on their own to work on certain things with Buddy. Highly recommended if you have kids!
|photo by hbrowns photography|
4. Training Treats
Small treats are essential when you are training your new puppy to follow your commands. Our trainer will tell you the most important command to each your dog is "come," because it could save his life one day. In our house, the command "Leave It" is pretty important, too.
When you train, you need small treats to reward your puppy. This helps quickly reinforce any of your commands. Our trainer really discourages anything that's not a natural treat. They tend to make your pup gassy and bloated. She recommended Blue Buffalo and Zuke's. We love Zuke's - you can buy it on Amazon and the prices there are WAY better than the pet stores. Buddy is a fan of Wild Rabbit. ;)
5. Easy Walk Harness
If your little angel is a pain in the butt and pulls on his leash like ours did, I highly recommend the Easy Walk Harness. Buddy went from 8 lbs to 31 in less than three months and just about jerked my shoulder out of its socket one day when he was pulling on his leash. It was becoming impossible for my 9 year old to walk Buddy without dissolving in tears.
The Easy Walk takes some concentration to put on your puppy and get it fitted appropriately, but it is totally worth it. My first walk with sweet Buddy after putting it on him changed our lives! He's so much better behaved and I think with use, it will just become better and better.
Oh, and just a note on it. You leave your dog's collar on him and put the Easy Walk on with it. Then you can take the Easy Walk off when you don't need him to wear it. Make sure to get the right size for your pup!
6. Chewing Deterrent
Puppies chew. Everybody told me that before we got our puppy, but I really didn't get it until the corner of my kitchen rug was in shreds. Two different trainers have recommended these specific brands as being the best chew deterrent: Grannick's Bitter Apple Spray and Fooey. I believe the Fooey brand also comes in a "dabber" bottle that will apply well to baseboards and window casings, etc.
We have both! They have been very effective and stopping the rug chewing. You can also spray these on clothing and hands. We didn't try this with the kids, but I probably should have. Puppies can be quite nippy and it would have probably helped stop that quicker.
7. Urine Destroyer
Last, but not least of course, is the Urine Destroyer. There will be accidents no matter how closely you watch your little guy. You want to put a good Urine Destroyer on the spot so that it does not become the "go-to" bathroom. These are usually safe for all kinds of rugs and blankets. We got ours at Target and it's been absolutely perfect. I was also recommended to use Nature's Miracle, which you can find on Amazon. You want to make sure that whichever one you buy is enzymatic and addresses odors and stains. You'll be happy you have one when you need it!
|photo by hbrowns photography|
That's it! My 7 must-haves. What are your must-haves with a new puppy?