Monday, July 1, 2013

First Thing's First

What you will need to start your new puppy out on the right track!
So you have a new puppy, or are planning on bringing one home soon? Here are some things to help you get started in the right direction.
Supplies: These are essentials that you will need for your new puppy
· Food Bowl
· Water Bowl
· Collar
· Leash
· Crate/Kennel
· Puppy Food
· Training Treats
· Bed
· Nail Trimmers
· Toothbrush and Toothpaste
· Brush
· Puppy Shampoo/ Conditioner
· Heartworm Preventative
· Flea Preventative
Food and Water Bowl
When choosing a food and water dish, it is important to think about the size your puppy WILL be, not the size they are now. If you are getting a small breed dog, it is fine to have a small food and water bowl. For large breed puppies, be sure to get something bigger. Consider getting an elevated feeding dish to minimize stress on the dog's neck, back and legs. Or get a dish that is not easily tipped over or chewed on by a larger puppy, such as stainless steel. Large dogs also drink more water, so if you don't want to be filling up their water bowl every couple of hours (or cleaning up spilled water on the floor), consider a water dispenser that holds a gallon or two at a time.
Collars and Leashes
When choosing a collar and leash, the size of the dog comes into play again. As a puppy your dog will need a collar that will fit and this will probably need to be replaced a few times as the dog grows. Harnesses are okay for smaller breeds, but not the best choice for a large breed dog or puppy. Consider getting a chain/choke collar so that it is easier to start training your puppy not to pull. Choose an 8 foot nylon leash over a retractable one. It is much easier to control your dog or puppy with and is good for training inside the house because it can be easily drug around by the puppy under your supervision. (More about this subject in other training posts)
It is very important that your puppy is never left unattended. Having a wire crate/kennel can give your puppy a safe place to sleep and play while you are not around, or cannot keep an eye on him/her. Choose a wire crate that is large enough for the puppy when it is full grown. The full grown puppy should be able to stand up, and turn around inside the crate. Also, wire crates are preferred over plastic ones, because the puppy can see out of them easier and they do not feel as isolated. Plus wire crates fold up nicely for travel and storage. When your puppy is still small, it is important to either have a movable separator/insert for your cage, to be able to change the size of the space your puppy has as it grows (this insert comes with many new large wire dog crates). If your crate does not have this, you can use a large cardboard or plastic box that your puppy cannot get on top of, covered with a blanket. Place the box in the very back of the cage so that your puppy cannot get behind it and is only able to use the front of the cage. As your puppy grows, get smaller boxes to fill in the space, stacking them if you need to. (more on crate training in the housebreaking section). This will prevent the puppy from eliminating itself in one corner of the cage and sleeping in a dry spot on the other side.
Puppy Food
Puppies need special nutrition to grow and develop properly. Be sure to research what foods are best for your dog. Large breed puppies need large breed formula puppy foods. Small breeds can use either regular puppy food, or small breed puppy food. Find out what your puppy was eating before you take him/her home and be sure to buy a small bag of that. If you plan on changing the puppy's food, do so slowly by mixing small amounts of the new food with the puppy's old brand of food. Slowly increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the old food until your puppy is completely switched to the new brand. Do this over a 1-2 week span. This will help your puppy transition without cause stomach or digestive problems like diarrhea or vomiting.
Training Treats
When choosing treats, find ones that are small bite sized pieces or can be easily broken up without making a mess. When you train your puppy, you don't want him/her spending too much time chewing the treat. Something about pea sized to dime size that is soft, will usually work best.
Get your puppy something comfortable to sleep on inside the crate. An appropriately sized dog bed or cage liner works fine. You may want to consider getting multiple beds for your puppy to have a place to sleep in other rooms of the house while you are watching him/her.
Nail Trimmers, Toothbrush/Toothpaste and Brushes
Different breeds of dogs have different grooming needs, so when choosing a brush for your dog, consider the length of the hair and weather you need a long bristled brush/comb, a sheading brush, or just a soft rubber curry type comb. All dogs need their nails trimmed and teeth brushed. Don't wait until your puppy grows up to start grooming. Your puppy needs to get used to you touching inside its mouth, its paws and nails while it is still young, or you may have a fight on your hands later on. Try to brush your puppy's teeth once per week so they get used to the idea. Trim nails as necessary so that you only need to cut a small tip off each time, usually about every two weeks. If you do not feel comfortable trimming your puppy's nails, bring them to a groomer or your vet and it can be done for around $10. Consider rewarding your puppy for getting groomed with a small treat or bone, so your puppy has something to look forward to after the experience.
Puppy Shampoo/Conditioner
Always use shampoos and conditioners that are designed for dogs. Check the label and make sure the shampoo you choose it safe for puppies. Some shampoos are not safe for puppies under a certain age. Never use human shampoos or conditioners on dogs, they can harm the puppy's skin and irritate their skin and eyes (with the exception of baby shampoo). Do not bathe your puppy too often, usually once every 3-6 weeks is enough unless the dog gets extremely dirty. Bathing too frequently can cause dry skin and coat, dandruff, irritation and itchiness.
Heartworm and Flea Preventative
Talk to your vet about what medicines are best for your dog. Be sure to use puppy medicines for puppies, and dog medicines for dogs. Heartworm preventative will need to be prescribes where flea medicine can be purchased over the counter. Do research with your vet and online to find out which medicines are best your dog.

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