Many owners fantasize about the playful fun they’ll have with their new puppy. The reality, however, is that being a responsible pet owner requires more than wrestling and playing fetch. And with all the puppy items sold in stores, it’s hard to tell what your new puppy actually needs.
Leash and Collar
A secure, comfortable collar and leash are essential to keeping your puppy safe. Your puppy’s collar must be made of nylon or leather. The collar must be loose enough to comfortably fit no more than two fingers between his neck and the collar. Puppies grow quickly and without regular adjusting, the collar will become embedded into his neck. Check his collar every week and loosen if it fails the “two finger” test. The leash should be at least 6 feet in length and made of leather or durable nylon.
Every puppy needs identification tags stating his name, your name and your contact information. This will protect your puppy if he’s ever lost. Dog tags are easy to make using the engraving machines available at any major pet store. Many breeders also insert a microchip inside your puppy, which you can customize with your contact information by calling the provided number.
Food and Water Bowls
Stainless steel food and water bowls are the safest and cleanest way to nourish your new family member. Puppies, like babies, enjoy playfully knocking over containers of water, so purchase bowls with a rubber ring around the bottom to make tipping more difficult. For extra large breed puppies, you’ll eventually want to use a feeding pedestal that raises the food and water to your dog’s height, rather than forcing him to lean down in an awkward position. Ask your veterinarian about the best food for your puppy.
Crate and Bedding
The crate becomes your puppy’s new den. It must be safe and comfortable, not punishing or confining. Choose a crate designed to comfortably fit your dog’s adult size, not the small size he is now. A slightly larger crate is always better than one that’s too small. The crate must be large enough for an adult version of your dog to sit, stand and comfortably lay down. Your dog’s crate also needs soft, washable lining. Bedding doesn’t have to be expensive. A few clean, old towels will work fine.
Puppies, like toddlers, get into everything. Providing safe, appealing chew toys will keep him occupied, and away from your shoes. Cow hooves, pig’s feet, Kongs filled with frozen peanut butter and bully sticks will keep your puppy entertained and challenged. Always place a toy inside his crate so he associates positive feelings with going inside his crate.
A puppy cannot “hold it” for more than one hour per month of age, and realistically most can’t go for more than two hours, at least for the first few weeks. Pee pads are coated with an attractant that encourages your puppy to eliminate on them. Unlike newspaper, pee pads are coated with a waterproof lining on the bottom, which makes cleaning up easier. Give lots of praise and a treat to your puppy every time he uses the pad or goes outside.
Puppies, like children, require vaccines to protect them against life-threatening diseases. Starting at 6 weeks old your puppy must receive vaccines for distemper, parvo, rabies and bordetella, also known as kennel cough. Regular booster shots are necessary for certain conditions, such as bordetella and rabies. Speak with your vet to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for your puppy.
- Puppy image by Ludmila Galchenkova from Fotolia.com