First Dog Owners - What you need to have?

A friend of mine asked me what to buy for his new puppy and I thought I would compile a list of essentials to get before your new puppy enters her home. I approached this “survival kit” from three different angles: feeding your puppy, walking your puppy and caring for your puppy. It is important that you know how to feed your dog properly. In addition, it is important that you can walk your dog for exercise and for toilet training. Finally, the basics for caring for your puppy such as toenail clippers or brush belong to those essentials. Of course you won’t have to buy everything at once, but it is important to have the necessities ready before your new family member arrives.

How to feed my puppy?

Earlier, we wrote about how to feed your dog properly, which is one of the most important things concerning dog ownership. Some of the basics related to this topic are that your dog is not offered a continuous buffet, rather than that she has regulars meal times. Usually a puppy is given three meals a day and an adult dog two. A second important thing related to feeding your puppy is the availability of fresh drinking water at all times. Thirdly, you should stick to one brand and type of kibble at a time and use a so called four day method if you need to change between foods.

The essentials for feeding your dog.

The essentials for feeding your dog.

  • Two stainless steel dog bowls, one of which is for water and the other is for food. Steel bowls are the easiest to clean and survive the longest. A ceramic bowl will break for example if you happen to drop it on the floor.

Dry food or kibble seems to be the most difficult, since there are so many different brands and types of food available. We have preferred Eukanuba simply because it is very well established, it is readily available and it is priced reasonably. Eukanuba has many different types of kibble available even for puppies, but the easiest is to choose a kibble based on one of the three dog sizes: small dogs weigh less than 10kg as adults, medium dogs between 10kg and 25kg and large dogs more than 25kg.

In addition to Eukanuba, other quality brands include for example Royal Canin Size and Hill’s Science Plan. Even Royal Canin has so many different types of food available, but as stated above, it is easiest to choose the kibble based on the size of your puppy’s race as an adult (mini, midi, maxi).

How to exercise my puppy?

In addition to feeding your puppy, exercising her is the next natural progression of events. Exercise serves two main functions: it gives an opportunity for your puppy to develop her physical fitness and expend her energy, as well as an opportunity to relieve herself. In respect to the latter, a good rule of thumb for how long your puppy can hold it in is her age in months. A two month old puppy’s bladder control is approximately two hours, a three month old can hold it for three hours during the day and so on.

This is why it is important to take your puppy out regularly especially after she has eaten. Of course this is not always possible, which is why you will have to offer her an acceptable and sanitary way for her to relieve herself indoors with the help of puppy trainer pads. Toilet training will take time, since it is not physiologically not possible to expedite things. If, however, your puppy learns that the trainer pads are the acceptable place for number one or number two, simply removing the pads entirely later on at the age of five or six months will care of toilet training in a natural way. One important thing to note is that you must never reprimand your puppy is she has an accident.

To be able to walk your dog, you must have a lead and a collar. I have always preferred leather leads and collars, simply because they are very durable. I leave the collar on all the time even indoors, which offers a safe way to restrain your dog should the need arise. I have trained my dogs with the help of treats so that simply the act of taking hold of her collar will have a calming effect.

  • Leather dog collar with a D-ring to help attach the lead with ease and comfort.
  • Extensible leather dog lead is a good choice for a lead.

Why a collar? Simply, because harnessess give you no control over your dog but have their uses later on if you decide to start jogging with her for example.

It is important that you become a responsible dog owner and will clean after your dog has pooped outside. It is best way to carry a roll of dog poop bags with you at all times. The only exception I can think of is if you live in the countryside and your dog relieves herself in a field or a forest.

Since treats are an essential part of dog training and obedience, you should get yourself a belt pouch to make it more practical to carry them with you. Please note that treats are not a form of bribery, rather than a reward for acceptable behavior such as
passing other dogs calmly while walking on a lead.

  • Dog treat bags that attach to your belt are a handy way to ensure that you have your rewards with you.

When you’re walking your dog, it is a good idea to carry a water bottle with you, especially during the summer, since dogs can overheat quite easily.

I plan to write about exercising your dog later on, but at minimum, you should walk your puppy a minimum of three times a day, after each meal. Please note that after a meal the main function is to offer her a chance to relieve herself. You must never exercise your dog heavily after a meal. The worst case scenario especially for larger dogs can be a condition called gastric dilatation volvulus, GDV.

How to mentally stimulate my puppy?

In an earlier article, I wrote about how to stimulate your dog’s mind. In a nutshell, the basic idea is to give your dog mentally stimulating things to do beside physical exercise. The stimulating activity can be intellectual, or it can be related to satisfying her natural instincts to gnaw, rip apart or lick things to calm her down. KONG activation toys are the perfect tool for this, so it is a good idea to buy a couple of them. Filled with minced meat and placed in a freezer, the toy will captivate your dog anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour.

Dental care and satisfying your puppy’s natural need to chew on things, you should buy Barkoo rolled chews, which you can use right from the start.

Plush toys also come in handy especially when your puppy is teething. The best plush toys are actually made for children, but the ones manufactured by KONG are not bad either.

How to groom and care for my puppy?

Practival items for grooming and caring for your puppy.

Practival items for grooming and caring for your puppy.

How much you need to groom your dog depends largely on her race. My favorite dog race, the Hovawart, are an easy race in this respect. I groom her maybe once a week just to keep up the habit and make her presentable. It is quite important to practice grooming your dog from an early age and regularly so that it will not become a problem later on. Associating grooming to a nice activity with the help of treats will not hurt your relationship with your dog.

  • A dog brush and combs are handy to use on a weekly basis.

Your puppy should have a safe place, which she uses to calm down and sleep and I recommend a proper dog bed even if the idea of inviting your dog to sleep in your bed. If you decide to allow your dog to sleep in your bed, you should make sure that you teach her to ask for your permission to enter the bed. Your bed is your domain and the dog cannot make this decision for you.

  • Dog beds come in many shapes and sizes.

One nasty part of dog ownership are ticks and other parasites. For this purpose it is a good idea to carry with you a set of special tick tweezers for safe removal of attached ticks. It is a good idea to check your dog for ticks every day especially if you’re living in the countryside. (Usually this is not an issue for city dogs.)

  • Tick tweezers to safely remove ticks, which have attached to your dog.

The final essential that is part of every dog owner’s paraphernalia are claw scissors. Like brushing your dog, it is a good idea to regularly clip a little bit of your dog’s claws so that it becomes a regular no fuzz activity.

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Lari Huttunen

I am the person behind the write-ups in this blog. Read More

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