Deciding to bring a puppy into your life is a big decision! Whether you get your puppy from a rescue group or reputable breeder, you want to make sure you’re prepared. We also want to make sure you’re prepared both mentally as well as having appropriate items (without over buying!). Mentally speaking, we find it helpful if you expect a puppy- not an adult dog in a puppy body. Puppies have accidents, bite, chew, bark, cry, vomit, knock things over, and more! They are so rewarding from a training and raising perspective when you know what to expect and help guide your puppy in the right direction. Going to a puppy class that specializes in positive reinforcement, setting rules and boundaries from the beginning, socializing, and enriching your puppy’s life will all be helpful in your journey as you raise your puppy into a wonderful family member. Another helpful resource is a support system: friends, family, trainers, dog walkers, and your veterinary office. A support system can really turn a dismal experience into a learning moment where you look back and are thankful for the guidance or pressure release another person can provide. If you ever have any questions or need help raising your puppy you can always count on us at Canine Country Academy to help point you and your puppy in the right direction.
Where we find people are often OVER prepared is in the physical stuff department. Owners start off, sometimes even before they get their puppy, with multiples of the same items in every color and size. We’ve compiled a list of the necessary items that you want to check off before you get your puppy, but we also advise you to not over-prep. If you already have a dog (or have had one recently) you may not need to actually buy much more. Sure puppy-specific items are appealing, but you most likely don’t need a toy or crate that will only last them a month or two. Save yourself some money and plan for the future by purchasing things like crates, toys, bowls, blankets, and beds that will be the appropriate size of your puppy when it’s fully grown. A puppy’s parents are the best way to gauge how large it will be. If you’re going into your puppy experience not knowing the parents, your vet may be able to give you the best estimation through growth charts and examining your puppy. Here are some tips to help you save some money on puppy supplies:
- Many crates come with a divider to allow you to expand the crate as your puppy grows. The crate space only needs to be large enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down; any larger and you may find your puppy soils the crate and moves away from it.
- Food bowls or puzzles can be purchased with your puppy’s full grown size in mind since you will most likely feed your puppy less as it becomes older. We advise using interactive feeders or puzzles to feed your puppy since they enrich your puppy’s life and help stimulate them mentally.
- Your leash doesn’t need to grow with your puppy like their harness does. A standard 6ft leash for training and walking and a 20ft long line for recall practice and adventure walks are generally the only leashes most people use for the life of their dog. *If your puppy is particularly small, or when it is full grown will be particularly large you may want to purchase a smaller puppy leash before they are fully grown so it isn’t too heavy.
- Puppy Kongs are easily broken up as your puppy matures so go for the classic red Kong in the largest size your puppy can manage currently. Make sure you check them constantly for pieces missing or major chew indentations. If your puppy is too rough on a Kong toy you can go up a size or purchase a black Kong in the same size.
- Some collar and harness brands have a larger size ranges, when you see them in person in a store choose the largest size that currently fits your puppy when sized down. This will give you and your puppy a longer use of the collar or harness.
- Nail clippers for puppies really don’t work on adult dog nails. You can use human nail clippers on a smaller puppy, and when its nails get hard enough you can use the full sized clippers or grinder on them.
- Puppy treats are often sold as softer, but there are plenty of regular soft treats that you can purchase in larger quantities/varieties for a lower price.
- Purchasing larger chews like bully sticks and cutting them down to size will save you money since a pack of 12” are often cheaper in the long run than 6”.
- Unless you want your adult dog to use potty pads its entire life, steer clear of them! We find a lot of dogs do not do well distinguishing potty pads from carpets, towels, or rugs. Potty pads are also REALLY expensive! If you need a way for your puppy to use the potty inside, a grass patch will be more clear and help with your potty training in the long run.
- Depending on your puppy’s adult size, it’ll be eating puppy food for a good while, so you can purchase larger bags of food for a cheaper cost. Do rotate your puppy’s proteins when you finish a bag to help expose them to different protein sources.
- Your puppy’s food, if approved for puppies by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), should contain all of the nutritional components they need. Don’t overcompensate with extra powders or nutrients/vitamins because you may throw off your puppy’s development. As always, contact your vet if you think your puppy needs any supplements or additions to its diet.
- Purchasing baby gates or x-pens will help contain your puppy as it begins to earn its freedom. Make sure you’re calculating for how tall your puppy will grow when you decide on the height of the pen/gates. Purchasing a 3ft gate may work for a 3 month old puppy, but if you want to contain it at 9 months you may find it pushes the gate down or jumps it! X-pens come in heights as tall as 5 or 6ft, so you can buy one knowing most puppies/adult dogs won’t be able to escape it.
- Tiny puppy toys can quickly turn into a choking hazard as your puppy grows an insane amount in a short time frame! Purchase toys that are appropriate for your puppy’s current size but that won’t be outgrown within a month.
- If you want your puppy to be able to lounge on pet beds throughout the house, get ones that it can grow into. Getting one or two different types like a soft or raised bed will help your puppy as the seasons change. Most dogs don’t enjoy lying in a hot bed on a hot day so a cot-type bed may be more useful in the Summer while a snuggly warm bed is more useful in the Winter.
We hope that this blog post and checklists help you in your puppy prep! Let us know what your dog’s favorite items were as a puppy, what you realized was well worth the money, and what items you purchased that you never used!