Well, you've picked your puppy and now the waiting until he comes home...begins!!
So, here is a list of suggestions of important puppy items to have on hand!!
Kongs! At least 2, whatever size you think, it's probably one size bigger!! Kongs are one of the greatest dog inventions of the dog world! They are rubber, washable (even in the dishwasher) and can be used not just for puppies but for adults and seniors too!! Your puppy will be teething and chewing, plus they get bored and this gives them something to do, unstuff a Kong!! Try freezing the kong!! Stuff the kong with anything you can imagine: pureed pumpkin, pureed sweet potato, peanut butter and soaked kibble, yogurt and mashed banana, a combination of those or anything else your dog loves!! Frozen kongs will take longer to de-stuff and feel great on a pup's sore gums! Remember if your puppy is chewing on their toys, they aren't chewing your “stuff”!!!
Work to eat toys. Of course stuffies for puppies are great and everybody will buy them because they are fun to watch puppies play with....but they don't last long and are not overly safe to leave pups with when you are not present. This is where work to eat toys come in. These are any toys that require a dog to work for their food or treats. There are treat balls, treat sticks, puzzles, and so much more!!! Every pet store has a different selection! Some of my personal favourites are:any other work to eat toy by the brand Kong, Premiere work to eat toys, especially the twist and treat for puppies, it's amazing!!! Nylabone also has some really great work to eat toys now and then there are great puzzles that dogs have to figure out to get food out!! You can feed your pups meals out of these too!! This makes their brains work, helps tire them out, gets them doing what their brains are meant to do AND, gives you a break!!! Feeding from a bowl is a human “thing”!! Just make sure, to begin, you keep it simple and are there to help when needed. If your pup gets frustrated, they may not want to try again. Help them be successful right away!!
Crate. I prefer a wire crate however, you can also get a plastic crate if you prefer.I like a wire crate for their versatility. You can keep them uncovered as they are, or cover them with a sheet, depending on what your pup prefers and they come with any easy to remove plastic pan to clean as well as a barrier as your pup grows if needed. Be careful to buy the correct size. If the crate is too big, your pup may do his business at one end and sleep in the other!!! The goal is to use the crate as a management tool to keep your pup safe when you can't watch him, help him nap and be safe from kids who may not understand he needs down time, help with house training, sleep in at night and so much more!!!
Exercise pen. This is a larger, plastic or metal, pen. They have so many to choose from now it's endless!! It depends on your puppy's size as to which one to choose. If you have a bigger pup, I would suggest the metal/wire ones but if you have a smaller pup, I suggest the plastic (some even come with a little lockable doggie door!) Think of this pen as a longer confinement area, a place you can leave your puppy when you need to go out longer than a couple hours, or when you need to do things around the house and would rather your pup has more space than the crate. You can also take this camping, outside, and other places, so they are multi-purpose. This also teaches your pup to be away from you, which is important to teach right away. You can have chews, kongs, and toys there and this can be a very fun place for your pup to be!!
Safe Chews. For small puppies, veal chews are among my favourites. Nylabone brand chews can be ok for non-heavy chewers but these are not natural so monitor very carefully, natural chews are much safer. For heavier chewers, look for tendons or beef chews rather than the veal chews. Beef chews are a bit thicker and last a bit longer.
Bones. Bones are excellent for the life of your dog to keep their teeth shiny and tartar free!! Talk to your vet about this, every vet will have their own advice.I personally give my dogs raw bones once to twice a week. I give only marrow bones, other thinner bones can break with heavy chewers and I don't give smoked or other bones unless they are raw. This is because raw bones are very strong, they are nature's toothbrush!!
What about deer antlers? Again, talk to your vet but I am NOT a fan. So many dogs have broken their teeth on deer antlers. They are extremely hard on dog's teeth, so for puppies, they are way too hard and the last thing you want is a puppy breaking a puppy tooth!!
Safe place to travel in your vehicle. I won't go into too much detail but it is very important that your pup learns to travel in your vehicle in some kind of safe restraint. A crate is wonderful, or a seat belt. But a loose dog is very dangerous both for you and your pup if there is an accident. Also, if your pup starts chewing on something while you are driving, it's very dangerous to try to be dealing with that and keep your eyes on the road!! There are many seat belts on the market, so look around, some have actually been crash tested but most have not!! Personally, I travel with my dogs in crates because they are happy, relaxed and I can leave them with chews and water etc while I go into sessions or errands.
Leash and Collar/Harness. This will be personal preference but I like flat buckle collars, no need for martingales (half choke chain, half nylon), as this just causes us to do“half”corrections when we don't need to do any at all!!
When looking for a harness it can be overwhelming!! Try to look for a front connection harness (meaning the leash will attach to a ring at the front of the dog's chest) but one that also has a place for the leash to attach at the back, this is the best of both worlds! This kind of harness helps to prevent pulling but still has the advantage of a back harness for other things if needed. My favourite brands in order from greatest to not as great: Freedom Harness, Walk Right (padded chest version), Balance Harness (have to order online) Easy Walk, Sensation (Sensible, same company).
When choosing a leash, to begin with, any 4-6 foot leash will do. Of course retracteables can be dangerous and truly encourage pulling on the leash!! But, my favourite all time leash is the Canine Equipment, Beyond Control Leash. This is, in my opinion, the BEST leash on the market!! It is made in Vancouver, excellent quality and is the only leash you will ever need!! It is considered a waist leash (which is amazing for so many reasons!!) can be used as a regular leash, can be used as a double leash if needed, is a very soft material for hands, and is excellent quality and very well priced!! If you only want to spend money on one leash, this is the one!!!!