A great deal of planning goes into getting a puppy, and that is half the fun! You not only need to think very carefully about what type of dog is most suitable for you, your family, your lifestyle and thoroughly research any breeder to ensure they are responsible, but you also have to think about all the things your puppy will need once they arrive!
Just like baby humans, baby dogs may be small, but they need a LOT of stuff! Here are some of my absolute puppy essentials!
A puppy crate
I am a big advocate of crate training for puppies, it can be very reassuring to know your pup is somewhere safe when you leave them and they really value having a space they can retreat to and rest in. However, this relies on them loving their crate, which means you need to buy the right one and set it up perfectly!
If the crate isn’t right and they don’t find it a comfortable space, shutting the door on them can cause significant stress, as they will feel trapped.
The ideal puppy crate needs to be large enough for them to stretch out fully and have a deep, soft bed that goes up the sides a little, so they can lean in comfort! There should also be space for a water bowl and room for them to relieve themselves as they probably won’t be fully toilet trained for a while.
However, don’t panic about the mess! You can use a puppy pad but you will also need to clean up after each accident. Use correctly diluted Fresh Home Zoflora, and allow to dry thoroughly before letting your puppy back into the area.
Food puzzle toys
It goes without saying that you are going to buy endless toys for your puppy! But make sure that you put some food puzzle toys in your shopping basket as well!
By this, I mean ones that can be stuffed with food that the pup has to work to get to, Kong type ones and Licki mats are excellent choices for very young pups and there is a huge range of more challenging ones for when they get a bit older too.
These are great in many ways. Firstly, puppies have tons of energy and sometimes need it directing in a positive way! Using toys like these at mealtimes is a brilliant way of them eating but also getting rid of physical and mental energy.
Secondly, they are a great distraction for when we leave our pups by themselves. It is a very important skill for them to learn, and having something to take their mind off being alone and tire them out so hopefully once they finish they just go to sleep, is a very good idea.
A properly fitted harness
Once their vaccines are done and you are able to go out and about for walks, it is really important your puppy is wearing a comfortable and properly fitted harness that won’t restrict their movement.
I prefer harnesses over collars because our puppies' joy for life will inevitably mean they will pull on the lead and a harness will be much more comfortable.
However, they must be fitted by a knowledgeable person, so your pups gait at the shoulders isn’t restricted. It is also a good idea to choose one which can be adjusted as they grow.
The first year of your puppy’s life is arguably their most important. The experiences and training they have during their formative months have a massive impact and it is now up to you to make sure that these are as positive as possible, which is a huge task!
We don’t expect to educate our children all by ourselves, we send them to school to be taught by experts, and the same is true for our puppies.
Find a local class with a well-qualified trainer (I recommend looking for membership of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers) and don’t just book a short course, ideally, you should attend lessons on a regular basis for the first 12 months at least. It doesn’t have to be very often, monthly is fine, but to have continued input from a professional through all your pups developmental stages is vital.
Zoflora Fresh Home Range
With a puppy in the house, ‘little accidents’ are an inevitable fact of life! The key to toilet training is to be calm and consistent and most dogs learn it up fairly quickly but there is still a lot of cleaning to do!
Urine is sterile, but it is still important to clean it up quickly and efficiently so that the smell is fully removed. Our dog’s sensitive noses can pick it up and without a good clean where they left the puddle, the area could become a latrine for them. Using a pet-safe disinfectant such as Zoflora Fresh Home, will not only disinfect the area but will also eliminate any odours to help ensure your puppy doesn’t make a habit of using the same spot again.
Faeces obviously naturally carry bacteria, and cleaning it up with something that will efficiently kill these microorganisms is vital. Zoflora kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, ensuring surfaces are safely disinfected.
I do not advise feeding young dogs raw food, they are often not balanced enough nutritionally for healthy growth, especially in large breeds. However, if you do choose to use a raw diet, it is absolutely that vital you clean around the area where the puppy eats thoroughly after every meal, as these foods have a high bacterial load. You should also be even more fastidious about cleaning up their faeces, as studies have shown that raw fed dogs can shed very powerful and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their poo.
Just remember, when using Zoflora around your puppy it is important to ensure that it is diluted 1 in 40 with water and you should leave all treated surfaces to dry thoroughly before allowing little paws back in to contact.
So, just because you have bought your puppy, that doesn’t mean the spending stops! Don’t forget their health needs, there will be plenty of important vet visits in those early months and I would definitely suggest looking into insurance for them as well.