Life with a new puppy is so exciting. I remember when I first brought Hugo home. I had things ready to welcome him into the home to make the process easier for all of us. It is like bringing a baby home, you must be physically and mentally prepared to make it a joyful experience.
These are some of the things I used to make the transition go as smoothly as possible, and products that I discovered that helped making the puppy phase better for all of us.
Your new dog can appreciate a cozy den of their own at every stage of their life. Crate training is important in several ways. It makes potty training easier; it gives your puppy safe space to go when they get overwhelmed; it’s wonderful if you have company or workers in your house and you can’t have the pup underfoot. Hugo loves his crate so much we never have to close the door. He loves going in for a nap during the day, or if he has a bone, that is where he will go to enjoy it. At bedtime we can find him happily snuggled up in the crate. Our cat is even jealous and sometimes can be found napping in the dogs’ crate. Our crate is very sturdy but still decorative, so it fits in the décor, we call it the Tiki Hut.
Be sure your crate has a comfy bed. If it is a large crate put a divider in to make the crate smaller for the puppy, you don’t want it too large during the potty-training phase, or you risk the puppy pottying in the crate. You can go online and find lots of fun ways to help your new puppy enjoy the crate. As an added bonus, when my dog goes to the groomer, he is very comfortable using the crates the groomer has.
Puppies love to chew! Hugo’s favorite toy is a Kong. Kongs come in several sizes. They can be filled with treats like peanut butter, cheese or even their puppy food. They are also good empty to give the puppy something to chew on. Soda Pup also has great chew toys. You will need several toys on hand so when you see your pup start to chew something inappropriate like your shoes, furniture, or your hand, you can replace that with the chew toy that is much better for them and you and your house. Chew toys are good for their teeth and gums, and they can also help relieve anxiety in your pup.
Pick up a few leashes for both play and training with your new pup. I’d recommended 3 or 4 because you will want them at each door as well as one for your car. Leashes come in many sizes, colors and designs so have fun picking them out. Get ones that are 6-8 feet long and are very sturdy. They will go a long way of keeping your new pup safe when they are outside. You will need some specific ones for training classes and the trainer will give recommendations of what will work best for their class. Avoid chain leashes or retractable leashes. Both can be dangerous for you or the pup. Retractable leashes take precious long seconds to reel in when your puppy is in danger, especially if you are in a panic, too! I prefer thicker leashes, so they are more comfortable in my hands.
Now that you have the leash, your hands will be full with all of the accessories you will need for walks and training. Poop bags, treats, toys, your phone and even other things are necessities, so a training bag can come in handy. I use the Bentley training bag which can go around my waist or be worn as a cross body bag. It is also great for puppy class. Another must have is the Dooloop which is great for keeping the warm poo out of your hands.
To keep your pup safe all the time, a collar with identification is an important item on your puppy peep list. Puppies can quickly rush out the door, or run away when they are frightened by something like a loud noise, an unfamiliar type of vehicle, or a bike or scooter. Losing a puppy even for a few minutes is so scary. I had a puppy get away from me at a very busy park and I was so scared. It was just a few minutes, but I was so grateful he had his tag on with his name and my number. There are now smart tags like Pet Hub, which have more information than just a tag with name and number. They have several phone numbers, information about the dog, and any allergies. All this information can be accessed with a QR code. My dogs both have them on all the time. Having your puppy microchipped is also very helpful incase they get away without their collar. Getting your pup back home quickly is the very important.
For training, a harness another great essential. Most puppy classes prefer harness over collars because they are safer for the pup and they also have several on the market that keeps your puppy from pulling on the leash as they walk. Your local pet store will have a variety of harnesses and will even help you fit one to your pup. I still prefer harnesses on my dogs when we go for a walk. It makes a more pleasant walk for both of us.
Don’t just grab a bowl you no longer use in the kitchen. Puppies are developing their motor skills and need sturdy food and water bowls that stay put and won’t be mistaken for chew toys. Getting good bowls are a great addition to the puppy list. I prefer Stainless Steel bowls with a rubber bottom, so they don’t slide around as the pup eats and drinks. You also want one that are easy to clean. Puppies can be messy eaters, I like to have a little mat under the food and water to keep the meal area looking tidy.
Puppies are adorably messy! They accidently step in their own poop or play in the mud. A puppy generally needs more clean-up than an adult dog, so plan on more than a single bath each month. True Blue Pets has great puppy shampoo and puppy wipes for keeping your pup clean on the go. You will also want towels, there are great microfiber towels the help dry your pup quickly. Aquapaws makes a suction, treat lick mat to attach to the wall of you bath to keep your pup happily distracted while you bathe them. You will also want some nail clippers. Start young with handling your pup’s feet and trimming their nails so it makes it easier throughout their life to keep their nails a safe, healthy length. Hugo is a doodle and scissors with rounded end makes it easier to keep the hair around his eyes trimmed between grooming. The appropriate brush or comb is a must to have on hand. Your local pet store will have many styles and will be able to direct you to the correct item for your new pup’s coat.
Even the smartest puppy will have a few accidents as they are potty training. It doesn’t have to be a cause of stress for you or the pup during this learning stage. Always have a high-quality stain and odor remover on hand. We always recommend a bacteria-based cleaning product because the bacteria actively eat stains and odors, meaning a thorough clean. We recommend Unique Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator Concentrate for potty-training puppies. The concentrate offers great value. Your house will stay fresh and clean smelling during the training process. These products can also be used to clean the pet beds, cars, or anywhere else accidents occur.
There are many videos by positive trainers that make the process more fun for both you and the puppy.
Treats are the magic in learning a new behavior. If you are in a puppy class be sure to ask the trainer for the best way to potty train the puppy. Potty training is another reason crates are so helpful to use from the very beginning with your puppy.
Besides great chews you will also need some fun toys to make puppy playtimes extra fun. Snuggle Pup will probably end up being your pups favorite toy. They also can be a huge help in crate training, they have a heartbeat and it will help make the transition to moving from littermates to your home more enjoyable. For great interactive play, tug toys, fetch toys, and balls are a great choice. Hugo’s favorite toy is a Kong Wobbler.
Our other dog, Baci, must have a toy in his mouth when he goes outside, so we have a basket of toys for him to choose from. He prefers stuffed animals with squeakers. Have plenty of toys on hand to find what your pup will prefer to stay happy and active.
A great addition to training your puppy is the Pet Tutor. It helps with crate training, and keeping your pup distracted when you have guests. I love having one even though my dogs are 5 and 6. Having a reliable, fun way to slowly give your dogs kibble can be a powerful tool.
The Klimb is another great training item for you new family member.
Baby gates will be a lifesaver to keep your pup in the area of your home that is safe for them.
Like when a baby can start crawling, look for any thing that may attempt your pup to chew, like electrical cords, phone chargers, plants, anything at their eye level that might tempt them into doing something that will damage them or your items.
Be sure to sign up for Puppy Training classes because they will help with socializing and learning basic skills. I have found them so fun I have that I have gone on to learn more advanced programs, even agility. There are so many ways to enjoy you new pup and you will have a wonderful life together.
The first year with Hugo was so much fun. His favorite thing from the puppyhood was snuggling up with us. 5 years later, he still makes us both happy. Baci was adopted as a 10 month old and he is my toy boy who also likes to snuggle there is nothing more fun for me than hanging out with both my boys and going for walks. They bring me great joy. I hope you have that kind of relationship with your new puppy. Even if the essentials on my list here turn out not to be your puppy’s favorite, they’ll make your first days and weeks together so much easier and set you up for a lifetime of love and fun.
Did I miss any essentials you think a new puppy parent needs for the first year? Let me know!
Chances are that if you’re adopting a new cat, you want everything to be just right for your new furry friend. From food choices to scratching posts, you have many different choices to make and it can all feel overwhelming!
If you're a cat lover, then you know that one of the downsides of having a feline friend is dealing with the litter box. While cats are relatively clean animals, cat urine and waste can produce an unpleasant odor that can be tough to get rid of.
If you're looking for ways to control the litter box smell in your home, check out these top tips.