5 Things to Buy Before You Bring Home a Puppy
When you first bring home a puppy, your main goals are going to be house training and getting them into a schedule of eat, play, and sleep. These five items support those goals.
You can use a crate for:
- Keeping the dog confined when you leave the house
- Creating and instilling good sleeping habits during the day
- Sleeping at night
- When you need a minute!
Remember the crate is a good thing! The behavior expected in the crate is "rest". You aren't asking them to do pushups, you are helping them sleep. Sleep allows them to grow, recharge and be ready to learn.
During the day, the crate can be a good way to minimize distractions and teach them that at a specific time, it is time to sleep. It is also a good way to NOT reinforce bad behavior. No one is going to give you a prize for letting a puppy nip at your heels all day; putting them in the crate is a good way to not reinforce an unwanted behavior that is hard for a puppy to control. Put them in the crate, let them sleep like the overtired toddler that they are and take a minute so you can be patient and attentive when they wake up.
Beyond sleep, the crate is a good way to work on house training. Take them out before they go i
n the crate and after they come out of the crate. Start with 30 minutes and increase the time they are in the crate gradually. 2 hours for a puppy is a good amount of time in the crate
Please note that I am not telling you to put the dog in the crate to sleep, he can sleep wherever you would like as long as it's consistent.
2. Baby Gates
When you first bring home a puppy, you should block off a small area of the house for them to call home. This is typically a kitchen or kitchen and family room. You are limiting their access to their house because:
- Puppies need to be supervised 100% of the time to ensure they don't go to the bathroom inside the house without you noticing
- They will eat everything in sight, including chairs and socks, so gates allow you to supervise them until they are trained
- Once you give them a room, it is hard to take it back
3. Long Leash
This one is my favorite because after house training and a schedule, socialization is so important for a young puppy. A long leash allows you to give them exposure to lots of smells, sounds and textures without reinforcing bad leash walking behaviors. Get that long leash out and let your puppy sniff! It is stimulating and safe (no off leash). You'll also use this long leash in the future when you practice commands from varying distances.
4. Teething Chews and Toys
Addressing a dog's mouthing at a young age is a combination of:
addressing the teething (toys and chews that make their mouths feel better)
training (teaching the puppy how to interact with humans with no teeth)
management (not reinforcing bad behaviors by putting them in their crate or giving them something else to do)
The chews and toys address the teething. We are trying to make them feel better because, indeed, all their teeth are going to fall out and new ones are going to come, all within a couple weeks. Ow!
I like these teething rings and then you can get toys to replace your feet when they start gnawing. I also encourage you to get creative! Cheerios in ice cubes. Frozen peanut butter in a Kong. You are trying to help them feel better.
5. A Dog Bed
In this big wide world, a dog bed is their place in it. They can go there to sleep, recharge, think about what they've done when they have eaten a toilet paper roll, and be by themselves. Start teaching them at a young age that their bed is for resting and no one will bother them in their bed. In training, we use the bed a lot to communicate that the bed is where they belong. Remember dogs LOVE to sleep and a lot of the time, the humans stop them from sleeping. When they are doing unwanted behaviors like jumping, eating, barking, etc. redirect them to their bed to kindly say "we don't need you doing anything besides sleeping".
Not included in this list:
- Food and bowls: Your breeder or shelter probably gave you a recommendation for food; and your vet is a great person to ask for recommendations too.
- Collar: Don't worry too much about a harness because your puppy will grow out of it, an adjustable collar is fine to start.
- Treats: I do love my dog treats but you won't even need those for awhile. I like starting out with kibble as long as your puppy is motivated enough, then you can move onto Cheerios or my favorite puppy treats, Wellness Puppy Bites.
- A Training Class!: In an ideal world, you start training your dog the day you come home. This encourages consistent communication right from the start and clear boundaries for how the dog should navigate through your home.
Put some shoes and a jacket right next to your door. Call a trainer like TheTreat to start training your new puppy. And, enjoy the positive energy of a puppy!