Spring is officially here and in the pet world that means one thing: puppies. Right now folks across Colorado are getting ready to welcome their little fluffy bundles of joy to their new homes. There's only one catch... puppies are a handful. Whether this is your first puppy, it's been a while since you've had one, or you just want to get prepared, we put together a list of puppy essentials to help you out!
1. Training Treats
Little Fido is going to be learning a lot in the coming months, a lot, a lot. He's going to need some motivation to keep up on all that studying. We recommend three qualities in a training treat: small, meaty, and soft. Try brands like Real Meat, Cloud Star, or Orijen's freeze-dried raw treats.
2. Dog Bowls
These should be fairly self-explanatory. Stainless steel will hold less bacteria than plastic bowls, but there are also eco-friendly options to check out. Our line of Beco bowls are made entirely of bamboo and are BPA free! You might want to consider a travel bowl if you are going to be bringing your puppy out on the town (once it is old enough).
Toys are usually one of the first things we think of for puppies, but are among some of the hardest items to pick out. If you're not sure what kind of toy Fido will like best, here are a few different options.
Kongs are a must-have for puppies, because they can be refilled with tasty snacks like canned pumpkin or peanut butter. They make excellent teething chews!
Soft plush toys are excellent for puppies to snuggle, but beware they can be chewed up!
Fetch toys (think tennis balls, or rubber sticks) are great for fetch-motivated pups. Don't be disappointed if Fido doesn't bring it back right away, not all dogs are born fetchers!
Tug toys like ropes can provide hours of entertainment, but puppies should be closely monitored with rope toys.
Note* Not all puppies like to play with all types of toys, and there are some puppies that don't like to play with toys at are. Don't be bummed if you can't find the right toy right away!
REMEMBER puppies should never be left with toys unattended.
4. Leash and Collar
Little Fido (or Little Lucy if we want to give a shout out to the little lady puppies out there), is going to need some manner of leash and collar/harness to get used to. We generally recommend that if you have a breeder or trainer that you like and trust, follow their instructions for what type of collar or harness to use. This may mean starting out right away with a small collar and leash, or it may mean waiting until the Little Lucy is older. If you are not affiliated with an owner or breeder and are scratching your head right now... no worries! Come on into the store and we can help you find what you need. Puppies are easiest to fit when you bring them with you, but please make sure little Lucy has all of her vaccinations before coming in :)
Are you still with me? I told you they can be a handful! Now it's time to face the unpleasantness we've all been avoiding (was I the only one avoiding?). Puppies have accidents, and they have them a lot. Most puppies start out going to the bathroom every 30 minutes, and that means you're going to have some messes to clean. Try a cleaner like our Absolutely Clean enzymatic cleaner. It's a local, fabulous product that breaks down stains at their most basic level. Plus, you can ask our employees all the potty training questions you must have...because every 30 min? How do you plan around that? We can help answer any questions you might have as well as help formulate a plan going forward for potty training.
This one is lingering a little further down on the list because of the controversial nature of crates. We do believe in crate training for puppies, and setting up a safe place for Fido and Lucy in doing so. Puppies have very specific needs when it come to crates, but most will also outgrow their first crate in months. Here's what we look for in a crate:
-If possible, buy a crate large enough for Fido to fit into when he is an adult. These crates should come with wire dividers that can be placed in different areas as he grows. This way, he always has a crate that fits!
- For potty training, the crate your puppy is in should be small enough that Fido cannot have separate areas to go to the bathroom and relax. The Idea is to compel Fido not to poop where... well... where he eats (we've all heard the saying).
I saved the best for last! Puppy food comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and if you ask ten random people, they will probably give you ten different opinions on the best puppy food. I'm not totally sure where the confusion and contention over puppy food came from but we at Whole Pets are happy to help customers weed thru the facts and lies surrounding it!
-The most important thing to know is that you will likely want to transition away from the puppy food that came from the breeder or shelter. Most breeders or shelters will send some sort of purina, or science diet, or other grocery store brand food for your puppies. Typically these foods are provided by a sponsorship (a wonderful benefit to the organization), but are not really high quality from a nutritional standpoint.
Instead, try brands like Earthborn, Orijen, First Mate, Taste of the Wild, or Nulo. We can help you figure out what formula is right for your puppy, from breed size, to price point.
8. Veterinary Checkup
Ok so I lied... there's one more really important part of new puppy ownership: the vet. Whether you find a more holistic vet, or more traditional vet, Fido should be given a checkup when he comes home. Your vet can give you information on pest prevention (fleas & ticks = YUCK), vaccinations, training, socialization and more. It's also important to establish a good relationship with the vet from an early age so that your puppy is comfortable with check-ups as they get older.
So there it is! The most important things for a new puppy. Once you've got these down, the rest is a piece of cake. Happy puppy season everyone!