The 10 Puppy Must Haves
You’ve brought home a puppy! Congratulations! Your new bundle of joy is adorable, intrigued, exploring, possibly teething, potty training, and into E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! Overnight, your life has gone from a certain level of normality to now trying to maintain and make sure that your new bundle of fur doesn’t get into something s/he shouldn’t be into, or even worse - cause damage - you know, like chewing your computer power cord as you think the puppy is just laying at your feet working on their bone diligently while you are working on your laptop. And, to your horror when you look down, you realize that somewhere along the line s/he decided that this wonderful cord was super interesting and decided to chew and split the wires. Not speaking from personal experience or anything! 😉
Being in the Pet Industry long enough, we have seen quite a few items. Some that work well, and others - meh - they’re just great at marketing, however, not as great on the delivery or benefit.
Here is our list of the Top 10 Puppy Must Haves! We’ll keep the descriptions brief, however, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out for more information!
A Sturdy Reinforced Crate
Stay away from the flimsy wire crates. They can be extremely dangerous. We have seen horror stories where the puppy was so determined and pushed and squeezed and worked their way to push a panel part way and then squeezed their little body through only to get to a point where they were caught and in essence being crushed - causing internal damages. This happens more often than one would think. A dedicated hard crate that is non collapsing such as the Aspen Hard-Sided Dog Crate is a great solution. This ensures your pet is safe, can’t work their way out of the crate and has a dedicated safe space. If you do opt for a wire crate that collapses, please make sure that you select a heavier guage steel with multiple latches. Always secure all latches when putting your pup in the crate. They can be very crafty at learning how to slide the latch and then trying to squeeze out and this is where everything can go horribly wrong. The Petco Premium Two-Door Dog Crates we have had success with as it features a heavier guage steel and is also collapsing. Keep in mind though that the crate can always be a great place for your pet to feel safe and secure and make it his or her own.
High Quality Food
Your puppy is growing fast! And, you want to give them the very best nutrition. Don’t fall prey to the marketing that looks all beautiful and intriguing and says this is great for your pup. Think species appropriate diet. We have an epidemic happening as pets are living shorter and shorter lives and we are on a mission to help change this. Look to organizations such as the Paws For Change Foundation and Know Your Pet Food to select the food. You may also always opt for fresh feeding from home as well! There are loads of resources available and it is much easier than you might think! Look to incorporate high quality meat selections as well as vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, kale, blueberries, yams, pumpkin, etc. There are so many options that can help boost your pup’s health. Setting your pup up with a strong immune system and proper nutrition will help ensure the best quality of life.
The Power of Raw Bones with Meat!
Think about it. When pups were in the wild, they didn’t roll up to a drive through order window and request a cup of kibble in a bowl. How did we in less than 100 years convince Pet Owners that a bowl of kibble will provide all the nutrition their pup will need in life. If this is true - then our pups should be living much longer lives and the cancer rate should be going down. Pet manufacturers with deep pockets are looking to increase their reveneues. You, as the advocate for your beloved pet, must be diligent, ask questions, know where the food is sourced, and be aware of the money trails. Ask, and then always verify. Find a local farm or go to your local Whole Foods and ask the butcher if you can purchase raw bones with some meat on them. Raw bones are AWESOME for your pup! This includes beef, chicken, alpaca, rabbit, etc. The list goes on and on. Chicken is usually the most popular. But, wait, wait, wait!!! You thought chicken bones are bad for your dog - correct?! IF THE BONES ARE COOKED, THEY ARE ALL BAD FOR YOUR PUP! This is because cooked bones become hard and can break off in shards that may cause damage to their digestive track. Cooked bones = BAD. Raw bones = GREAT! Raw bones allow them an outlet to clean their teeth as well as get the marrow and collagen from the bones and really work away at it. Additionally, there are loads of nutrients. Think about bone broth and the power of helping to boost your immune system. This is exactly what you want to help do for your pet! Here is a farm we use to source our raw bones and meat. Start with appropriate size and cut and introduce slowly.
Appropriate Chew Toys
The marketplace is flooded with loads of toys. The sad fact is that the majority of these come from China. Not all are bad. However, one must do their research and know how the toys are made. What kind of dyes are used? What type of plastic? What kind of stuffing? The more natural you are able to stay, the better. Also, consider items like Bully Sticks, Dehydrated Thick Cut Yam Treats, Dehydrated Fish, Dried Fish Skins, Lamb Horns, etc. Never source any treats, food, bully sticks, etc. from China.
A GPS Tracker
God forbid, the most horrible situation happens and your pup gets away, time is critical. Unfortunately, there are more dog thefts as well and you want to be able to act quickly in either scenario. Many people do not realize that the chips do not provide for any GPS tracking. They only work if a) someone catches the dog; b) that person is honest and takes the dog to a verified facility where the pet may be scanned; and c) all information is current and up to date. We are not saying that chips are not good, just that they don’t work as well as one might think. Instead, here is a super easy fix that helps provide some level of tracking. Use a Tile! The latest version of the Tiles even have the ability to swap out a battery. Put one on their collar and put another on their harness. That way, you have two mechanisms, in case one comes off, helping to narrow down the area quickly as to where your pup might be. Remember, time is of the essence in any sort of lost or pupnapping situation.
An appropriate leash
We are NOT fans of flexi or retractable leashes. We get it. Many an owner thinks they are great for allowing their pup some level of freedom. The problem is that the distance is also where things can go terribly wrong. You want to be in control and train your pup to be able to Sit, Stay, Come, and Heel. The importance of manners will be one of the greatest gifts you are able to help instill in your pup. There are times to play, however, if you can achieve the importance of instilling commands and manners for a well trained pup, then you are able to provide some off leash play time as a reward. When looking for a leash, opt for a thicker leash with both a clasp and a D ring. Our DCDS branded leashes are a one inch width and six feet long. Additionally, they have a neoprene padded handle, which provides for a comfort grip. If not choosing our leash, another popular leash is by Max and Neo. Make sure you are choosing a leash that is thick enough for the amount of strength your dog has. Most common mistake we see is a flimsy leash on a dog that pulls too hard. Not a good combination.
An appropriate collar
One of the biggest mistakes we see is people opting to use a super thin collar on their pup. Be sure to use an appropriate thickness/width to the collar as well as the type of collar for the purpose you are planning on. For example, there will be a dainty, blinged out collar that is super adorable. However, it will be on a pup that should really have a 3/4 inch or one inch width type of collar. Look at it this way. The thinner the width of the collar, the more it may act like a tight band should the dog get caught on something. The very item you have could cut off air supply, cause neck damage, and injure your pup. One of our favorites is a martingale collar, which has an additional section to the collar that tightens. These are secure, safe, and can be a great benefit to hold the tags for your pup.
A breed appropriate harness
One of my favorite topics. Every pup should be using a breed appropriate harness. It is time to get away from attaching to the collar and then having your pup pull and choke her/him self. Did you know there is now research showing that the act of connecting your leash to the collar/neck may cause neurological damage? Not good. We want to do everything possible to ensure our pups are set up for the healthiest, best lives possible. Any jerking motion to the neck is no good. This means even the jerking motion to correct a dog is not good. The point of consequence for leading a pup should always be from the front of the chest or the upper part of the head. Because so many people use slip leads, pincher collars, and martingale collars incorrectly, we lean towards harnesses that have the lead attaching to the chest area as this is a primary point of consequence for a pup. Favorite harnesses we like include:
Deluxe Easy Walk Harness by PetSafe
Freedom Harness by Two Hounds
Ruffwear Harness by Ruffwear
Gentle Leader by PetSafe
A Tactical Style Vest/Harness for Large Strong Breeds such as a Pitbull, German Shepherd, Belgian Mallinoise, etc.
Take time to watch the videos on how to best fit your pup. Make sure there are no points that are rubbing or chaffing, which could create raw and sore areas. Just like humans have all shapes and sizes, so do our pups and it is important to find the appropriate harness that will ensure security as well as allow appropriate freedom to move.