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It's a very exciting time for you and your family. I regularly get asked, what do you recommend? What do I need for our puppy? Well you've landed in the right place. I may include affiliate links in posts where I recommend specific products or supplements for your puppy. If you purchase something through one of my affiliate links, I may receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
Having the right products and set up is essential to your success. It will make your life easier and save your sanity. Trust me... I've been there! I've spent money on things I didn't need or didn't like. The local pet supply store can be a bit overwhelming and you might purchase things you don't need or doesn't work as well as other products. For example, the latch on the kennel; you don't want the metal kennel with a straight bar. You want one that has a L shape to it. Why, the puppy can paw it enough to slide the bar open and thus, escaping! Have you ever come home to an escapee?! I have and trash was everywhere! Raw hides are an absolute no! Stay away from them. Some toys can break and cause a blockage.
There are 3 MUST HAVE items...
#1 Crate for sleeping
Crate training is going to help immensely with potty training and keep your puppy from eating and chewing things they shouldn't. I 100% suggest crate training your puppy. I use a metal crate with a blanket or crate cover over it. This provides a den like feeling. Your puppy should have enough room to stand up, turn around, and lay down but not cramped while being housetrained. Also not big enough to have a potty area and a sleep area. That won't teach them to hold it and potty outside. Look for a crate that has a L shaped lock on the end. Like I mentioned above, they can paw the door to side open if it's a straight bar. Okay, I realize you're probably like, what size do I need, Lauren!? I would get a bigger size crate and remember to use the divider to make the area smaller while in puppyhood.
Mini (20-30lbs): 24-30" crate
Medium (30-45lbs): 30-42" crate
Standard (50+lbs): 42-48" crate
I like this crate cover and kennel pad. Don't spending a lot of money on a bed. Chances are they will like the cool floor or sitting at your feet.
I like a 2 door style. This is completely up to you and where you plan on putting it.
This is a garage style kennel. I have it and like it especially if you are tight on space.
Hands down my favorite kennel pad. It's not too thick and hot. Most dogs run hot anyways! It easily fits in the washing machine. No zippers or padding to take in or out.
#2 Confinement Space
You want to create a fun, safe place for your puppy to play when you can't keep him tethered to you - that's called umbilical training. Place an xpen and the crate in an area easy to clean (think about your floors and pee and poop), somewhere near where you spend a lot of family time, and close to the door you exit to go potty. The kitchen or living room are great areas. Maybe a room off the living room (which would be my laundry room in my case) is a good option too but honestly, my dogs hate the laundry room. They whine more and are upset they aren't closer to the family action. Crates are fine for a short duration but puppies who are kept confined are bored, destructive, don't sleep well, are noisy and don't get a chance to learn manners from you! BUT, I know you can't always keep eyes on your puppy and this is a safe place for him to play. I do not suggest pee pads ever. This teaches them to potty on soft surfaces - rugs, carpet, etc..
A plastic option.
24" and he might figure out how to climb out quickly. 30" is safer and 36" is what I use.
I have a gate similar to this one. I like it but it requires tightening to really stay in place.
#3 Urine cleaner & potty Option
Your puppy is going to have accidents. It's said they can hold it for their age in months +1. So a 3 month old puppy can hold it for 4 hours tops. The more accidents you prevent, the quicker your puppy will be house trained! That being said, please don’t panic or obsess over puppy accidents; prepare for them with great cleaners. Hover your puppy over the scene of the crime and show you how upset you are as you clean and then take her outside for another opportunity to potty and a TREAT, even if she’s empty. Outside, mark the experience with, “Good Girl! Potty outside!” She will glue those ques together with time and practice!
This makes is easier to clean up carpets and rugs.
I always have this on hand. It helps neutralize the urine enzymes making that potty area not smell like urine.
For those of you who can't stay home with your puppy, unless you can give the puppy potty breaks throughout the day, you'll have to provide a potty station. Set up the kennel, place the xpen around it. Give some play toys (and you'll have to rotate these daily bc they get bored.) and invest in a cat litter tray and buy some alfalfa pellets from Tractor Supply. They are use to this set up at my house and use it fantastically.
Note: Think of this as an actual toilet. The toilet never moves. It stays in the same spot. Think about it, if the toilet changed spots every time you had to use it, you might have accidents too!
A litter box filled with alfalfa pellets is what your puppy has been using at my house. Alfalfa smells like grass and is safe if ingested. Do this if you are going to be gone all day and can not let him out to potty. You must provide a suitable potty place whether thats potty breaks througout the day or a spot in the house.
Buy the small pellets at Tractor Supply. Do not buy the cubes. The cubes are too big.
And while we are on the subject of potty training. Look into Bell training your puppy. Bell training is when they hit the bell to tell you they want to go outside and play or potty.
Do you plan to travel with your puppy or dog? Maybe you're flying in and we're meeting at the airport or maybe your puppy is less than 20lbs and can travel in the cabin of the plane to your next vacation! You'll need an airline approved bag that MUST fit under the seat. You don't want to get one too small and cramped. Get one large enough! Call your airline, tell them flight numbers and check the under seat dimensions.
Simple design with lots of ventilation. And it's afforable.
If you plan to travel a bit more, I would invest in a SturdiBag. This is what most flight nanny's use.
Great Backpack option. I don't suggest the ones with wheels bc the wheels take up valuable space under the seat.
If your puppy is traveling via flight nanny, the flight nanny will have their own airline bag. If I am meeting you at the airport and you are flying back home with your puppy, you'll need to bring a few things: Your airline carrier bag, baby wipes, poop bags, treats, pee pads, collar, leash, expandable bowl. I will provide the puppy, Heath Certificate, blanket, and a small bag of food. I can mail his big Go-Home Puppy Packet to your home address prior to his departure.
If you're traveling long distances, we use one of these in the car.
If you travel a lot, you might want to invest in a crash tested approved carrier. Gunner Kennels are 5 Star Crash Tested and proven to save dogs' lives
Choosing a kibble for your puppy can be absolutely overwhelming and vary from 1 professional to another. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT FEED A GRAIN FREE kibble unless your veterinarian says to. It is linked to dilated cardiomyopathy and studies have proven this food related health condition. If you want to switch foods, wait a few weeks until your puppy is settled. They may have upset tummies while adjusting and switching foods could make it worse. If you do switch, we suggest doing it slowly over 10 days. Feed a high quality food found only at big box stores like your vets office, PetSense, PetSmart, Tractor Supply, Chewy, etc. and buy a small bag and see if your puppy likes it. We feed Victor brand foods in All Life Stages. This food is suitable for puppy growth as well as adult growth. It it made in Texas and locally sourced.
In the past we have used Victor Hi-Pro Plus (green bag)and moving forward, we will be using Victor Multi-Pro and Professional.
In the past we have used Victor Hi-Pro Plus (green bag)and moving forward, we will be using Victor Multi-Pro (yellow bag) and Professional (purple bag).
Don't forget a food storage container. Food that stays in an open bag can go stale. I use this plastic gravity bowl. I only fill the clear top about half full and then set it up. The reason being: the water gets funky and we never make it though the whole container. It last about a day and half and we clean and refill it again. I like stainless steel bowls because they are chew proof. And I like these Snap'y bowls to secure to the kennel.
#4 Preparing your home
With everything in life, a good set up will get you far. It will save your sanity and make things easier. You MUST dog-proof your home. This is a time of adjustment for everyone. You are learning your new puppy's personality, abilities, wants and needs. He is learning rules and manners. Once you get to know your dog, you can relax. While going room to room keep in mind, can my puppy chew this? Can he eat it? If it's a maybe, then put it up and out of reach.
Kitchen: Dogs love the kitchen and what's not to love. Smells and flavors can be tempting for any dog and plus, there's an occasional surprise treat on the floor. Use the xpen or a babygate to keep them out of the kitchen. Move any wires, cords, and cables they can chew on. Trash cans should have a tight fitting lid they can't get into.
I have this exact trash can. They can't steal food out of here nor can they knock it over.
Living Room: Your puppy will probably spend a lot of time here. Remove cords he can chew on. Make sure book shelves and TV's are secure and aren't a risk to fall and cause injury if bumped. Check if any plants in your home are toxic to dogs and remove it. Provide a basket of dog toys just for him. If you have kids, make sure they have the living room picked up. Shoes, pencils, plastic pieces of toys, socks, etc. are all things you puppy might enjoy chewing. Remove it so it's not an option.
Backyard: You'll likely spend a lot of time playing with your dog here. It can be one of the best parts about owning a dog!
Physical Fence - check it for any gaps or holes they or another animal might can fit through.
Invisible Fence - Make sure the transmitter and receiver collar are in working condition. Read up on how to train your puppy to recognize the boundaries of the invisible fence.
No Fence - You'll need some supplies such as a collar and a 20ft long leash or longer. This also gives you the opportunity to work on "recall" and teaching your puppy to "come" when called. You can also purchase another xpen to place outside. I like 24" for my smaller pups but a bigger pupy might be able to climb out. Best to go with the 36"
Pools are so much fun! Be sure to have a fence around it. Your puppy doesn't know how to swim nor does he know how or where to exit it.
Never lay a pee pad down by itself because it will likely get destroyed and shredded by your puppy.
Apartment or City Living: It can be fun to live in the big city and also challenging with a new puppy. Maybe you live in a high-rise or it's snowing and 15 degrees outside! Yikes! If you can not go outside every time, invest in a turf or litter tray option or even a pee pad station as a potty area. Make sure the pads are the right size for the holder. While on walks at first, use a 6ft leash while training. For hikes or exploring, a retractable leash gives a little bit more freedom. I don't suggest retractable leashes for every day walks because it's hard to control your dog, they snap and break, they wrap around legs easily and can cause injury.
#6 Training options
Your puppies success depends on you. Training your puppy is not only encouraged but without a doubt essential. Make sure you give your family the best friend you all deserve! Before you get your puppy, decide what obedience is important to you. Then google, read, or watch video's on how to train your puppy to do it. Your puppy is likely going to nip. How do you get them to stop? What about jumping on furniture? Is that okay with you? If you know how to train it, you can address these situations as they come about.
I really like Zak Georges methods of training. Look him up on YouTube.
Amy Jensen is a genius when it comes to training. I highly suggest signing up for Baxter and Bella. Use BOXWOOD for 25% off. It's a LIFETIME membership with vidoes, charts and checklist, and even one-on-one chat with a trainer! I'm a member and can speak first hand at how easy her program is to follow.
I found this book on sale and gave it a try and I LOVE IT. Don't let the "for KIDS" part fool you. It is simple and to the point and covers EVERYTING. I'm an adult and this book is great for all ages and especially of those of us short on time.
Treats are going to help with potty training and teaching your dog manners. Any manner you see them do, mark it with a YES and a treat. Puppy Culture teaches us that dogs who are rewarded for a behavior are more likely to repeat that behavior so lets reward the GOOD things your puppy does. I do this when I am teaching them to mand. Jumping on me doesn't get a treat, but sitting down and engaging in me does. I mark it with a yes and treats. If you don't want your puppy to jump on you, don't pet him when he does it. He learns, I can jump on her and it gets me attention so I'm going to do it again because I like attention. Here are some of my favorite High Value and Low Value treats.
Freeze Dried Liver
All treats come from your hand. Not the floor or the bowl. YOU take credit for giving your puppy the treat. The floor didn't give the treat; YOU did!
In a perfect world, maybe you have fresh treats on hand and though they are preferred, I don't. Above, these are my favorite packaged treats you can buy anywhere. Freeze dried liver/hearts, etc are always a favorite. Pill Pockets are very easy to give. I like these Bil-Jac treats as well. I know the Bil-Jac says grain free and that's fine. This treat isn't your puppy's main food source. The kibble is. If you hear your puppy kind of hack, it means the treat was too small and got stuck in his throat. Time to size up a little bit!
While you're busy giving all those treats, you'll need something to put them in. I LOVE this treat bag. It clips to the top of my pants or you can use the optional belt and wrap around your waist. It has a magnetic shut top. I can easily place my iphone in the front pocket along with my car fob and poop bags in the side pockets.
Since we're on the subject of treats, lets move onto chew toys. I beg you to not give your puppy or dog Raw Hides found at any store. Please google it and see how they are made. They are complete junk and can cause intestinal issue's. These options below are all great options to place in the crate if you leave them and it gives your puppy not only a treat but something to get their mind off of "my human is leaving!"
I give Bully Sticks. They stink to high heaven but the dogs loooooove them. Warning, they can cause diarrhea so use these with caution.
Kong's stuffed with peanut butter and kibble are good too. There are many recipes online. You can stuff kibble in the Kong too, or buy one of these interactive kibble toy dispenser. Your puppy will have fun trying to get snackies while working his mind too!
Nylabones! These have been a long time favorite especially during the chewing stage.
Some people like Horns, Hooves, and Antlers. I'm not a big fan because they can chip or fracture teeth. Ask me how I unfortunately know.