Dr. Brent Bilhartz
Adding a new furry friend to your family is a huge cause for celebration! If you’re trying to find ways to fend off excited fidgets while you wait for your new forever friend to come home, may I suggest a little retail therapy? Dogs don’t need much, but what they do need is important for making them comfortable and happy in your new home.
Toys, toys, toys!
Your dog doesn’t need a ton of toys, just a few old reliable they can always play with and chew on. Choose sturdy toys made for hard ware, and consider a mix of hard, rubber, and soft plush toys. Several companies make indestructible rated toys but the kong and AussieDog Toys have been proven to be the longest lasting and the best according to the reviews of both our clients and our patients. Select size appropriate toys for your puppy: too big toys are hard for small pups to play with and too tiny toys area choking hazard for larger breeds. (Puppies who will grow to a significantly larger size will need to have size appropriate toys throughout their growth and development to ensure they get the enrichment they need in a safe and satisfying form.) Always supervise your pet when they’re playing with toys that can readily come apart with just a bit of concerted effort such as rope toys, Frisbees, soft balls and plushies.
Pick a quality crate.
Crates are NOT meant for punishment. They are your dog’s room, her ‘fortress of solitude,’ if you will. A crate is a dog’s place to rest, nap, or take a few minutes for herself, should she become overwhelmed. Find the right size crate—your dog should have just enough room to stand to her full height and comfortably turn fully around, any larger and your dog may think she has a one bedroom with a private loo!
Dogs housed indoor do not need cozy blankets or towels, and these, with aggressive or bored chewers, can end up sometimes being consumed. If you do feel the need to line your dog’s den, use readily launderable linens and be sure to carefully clip any frayed pieces since they can be enticing for chewing. In addition to a crate, your pup should have a cushy, appropriately sized bed for resting time outside her kennel.
Get one set of good quality food and water bowls for your dog. Ceramic bowls may be decorated with cute designs, but they are also dangerous because small pieces can crack off and harm your dog. Our favorite dog bowl is by Durapet. It’s metal, easy to wash, and has a non-slip rubber grip on the bottom to keep floors dry. Talk to your veterinarian about the best type of food for your pet and how to start transitioning him to the brand of food you and your veterinarian choose. Large breed puppies, for example, do not require the same ration type as small breed puppies and feeing him a higher calorie and higher protein food and result in growth defects and future, possibly severe, orthopedic problems.
Mark your territory.
Every pet should have a comfortable, safe, clearly visible collar with YOUR name and contact information easily available. My older blog on microchips has great advice about what should and should NOT be on your dog’s collar and why.
Couple your collar with a well-constructed, non-extendable leash to get your dog used to walking outside as soon as possible. (Extendable leashes are best used ONLY for dogs who are comfortable on leash and know how to “heel.”)
Grooming supplies are a must.
Even if you plan to take your dog to a groomer, you should be prepared to brush them regularly. Choose a brush that suits your pet’s coat be it curly or straight, fine or thick. Regular brushing collects shed hairs, eliminates tangles and is a great bonding opportunity for you and your dog.
In addition to brushing, a dog’s nails need regular maintenance and puppies often need theirs trimmed every 2-3 weeks. Select a nail care system best suited to your comfort zone and experience. LazyPaw Animal Hospitals staff members will provide free nail trimming training for clients who wish to learn this basic husbandry skill. Some owners prefer to use a dremel to maintain their pet’s nails. Dremels can be great when used properly; however, they create heat via friction so care must be taken not to apply one too long to one nail otherwise significant discomfort and even pain can result. The spinning portion can also readily become entangled in long hair.
You don’t need much for your new pup, but having these items on hand will ensure a good start in his new, forever home.