So you finally did it- you decided to take the plunge and add a puppy to your life. Congratulations! There’s lots of chewed up shoes and pee puddles in your future, but there’s also lots and lots of love.
A puppy is a big investment, both emotionally and financially. The puppy himself might have cost you a grand, and then there are all the supplies! Where to start? Well, there’s an entire pet industry made exactly for people like you, nervous first time puppy parents who think they need to buy out the entire pet store in order to be good owners. Well, that isn’t true. We’re here to help you sort out the fact from the fiction and tell you exactly what you need (and don’t need) when you bring your furry bundle of joy home.
First things first- there are a few absolute necessities, and then there are a few things that will make your life a little easier. Let’s go with the “must haves” first.
- Food. Decide what brand to feed your puppy and buy a small bag. Don’t buy the biggest bag right off the bat, because you don’t know if it will agree with your puppy. Once you’re sure, then it’s a good idea to buy the biggest bag at the store because it’s usually cheaper. Choose a healthy brand and do your research- not all dog foods are created equal.
- A crate. It’s a smart move to crate train your puppy. Not only will it give him or her a safe place to “nest”, it is a lifesaver when it comes to potty training. Find a crate that will grow with your puppy, and make sure your pup can sit down, lie down, and turn around comfortably. Some crates have dividers so you can adjust the size as needed. Don’t buy a crate that’s too big, though. Your puppy might think that half of it is for peeing and the other half is for sleeping (and that’s not good!)
- Crate mat. Here’s a hint: don’t buy your new puppy a fancy dog bed. You see a comfy place for them to sleep, they see something that will be really fun to destroy. A thin, comfy crate mat will do the trick initially. Get something washable (trust us) and that’s tough enough that your pup can’t chew right through it. A good example of a waterproof crate mat can be found here. The Driftwood MicroLinen Crate Mattress is made of tough nylon, comfy enough for a tired pup, and will repel dirt, hair, and liquids (all things that puppies produce!) A hint: if your puppy pees on the mat, take it out and leave the crate bare for a while. Sometimes soft things make your puppy want to pee on them. Your dog won’t suffer if he has to sleep on a bare crate for a while, and it will discourage him from thinking that his crate is a great place to piddle.
- Stainless steel food and water bowls. Stainless steel is the best material for dog bowls because it is non-porous, easy to clean, hygienic, and virtually indestructible. Have you seen those cute videos online of puppies carrying around their food bowls? Well, it’s not as cute in real life because t hen they usually destroy them. Invest in a quality set of stainless steel bowls and they’d last a lifetime.
- Leash, harness, collar, and ID tag. Before you pick up your puppy, invest in a leash (not a retractable one), a harness, a collar and an ID tag. Retractable leashes aren’t a good idea for puppies, as you’ll want to have total control while out for a walk. A harness is safer than a collar for walks, so attach the leash to the harness when you take them out. A collar with an ID tag is important in case your dog ever gets lost. Include your dogs name and your phone number when you engrave the tag.
- Shampoo and brush. Pick up a soft bristle brush and some dog shampoo before you bring your puppy home. He may be quite smelly, and you’ll want to get him used to accepting the brush as soon as possible! Make it a pleasant experience for him (with lots and lots of treats and praise) and you’ll have a dog that won’t fight you when it comes to bath and grooming time.
- Dog toothbrush and toothpaste. It sounds crazy, but it’s really very important. Dental care is as important for dogs as it is for people. Dogs can (and do) have bad breath, but more importantly they can develop severe tartar and plaque, which then has to be cleaned off by the vet. And it’s super expensive- because most dogs need to go under anesthesia for a teeth cleaning, it can add up to hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Get your puppy used to having his teeth brushed early, and you’ll save yourself hassle and tons of money later on.
- Heartworm and flea/tick medication. You’ll want to get your puppy started on both immediately. Consult with your vet (where you can also buy these medications) as to the best brand and dosage info for your puppy.
- A couple of age appropriate toys. Puppies need to play, and they need to chew. If you don’t give them things to play with and safe, approved chews to nibble on, your puppy will find their own. And you probably wont like what they choose! Keep your shoes, extension cords, and couches safe – buy your puppy safe chews (like Benebones!) and appropriate toys. Words of advice- watch your puppy carefully with toys and chews until you know how they react to them. Some puppies will rip apart toys quickly and they can become a safety hazard. And you should always supervise your puppy when you give them a chew, to make sure they don’t bite pieces off.
See? That list isn’t so long. Anything else you buy your puppy is an extra. And now for a few things that will make your life infinitely easier.
- Training treats. Bite sized little treats are a great way to keep your puppy interested in training sessions and reward them when they go “potty outside” (which may quickly become your favorite part of the day. Nothing is more beautiful than a puppy peeing where they are supposed to). Soft, meaty, low calories treats are your best bet. Put them in a baggy and stuff them in your jacket pockets, and you’ll have a tasty reward for your puppy wherever you go.
- Dog booties. If you live in a cold climate where it snows, it might be a good idea to purchase some dog boots for wintertime. The salt used on the streets to melt the ice is really irritating to dogs’ paws, especially dry and cracked winter paws. If you get your puppy used to these early on, you’ll be able to put them in booties when it’s necessary.
As you can see, there are a few things you’ll have to buy when you bring your new pup home. But all of those crazy extras you’ll see at the pet store? They aren’t necessary. Of course, it’s hard to resist spoiling your pup from the get go (we’re guilty of that!) But if you’re on a budget, it’s helpful to know what the bare necessities are. Bringing a puppy home is an exciting time – print this list and bring it with you to the store and you’ll be sure to have everything your little guy needs.