Bringing Your New Dog Home! Here are the basics of what you will need before you bring your new dog home (applies to puppies, mature dogs, and every age in between).
- Collar with an Identification Tag. Having a collar with your dog’s name on it and your contact information, becomes very important if your dog gets out of your house or yard or is otherwise lost. Get your dog used to wearing a collar at all times…well, except at bath time! Collars come in many shapes and sizes so make sure it is simple to put on your dog but stays put (like a simple buckle collar), and that it fits your dog’s neck without choking her.
- Leash. With a leash you can control your dog when walking outside your home and it can be used for training purposes too. A 6-foot leash gives you the most control when walking or training your dog. Your dog will need lots of exercise so you will get lots of use out of your leash. Also attach a dog poop bag holder on the handle of your leash so you can be a responsible pet owner and pick up their waste and properly dispose of it.
- “Baby” Gate. Gates (like the ones used for children) will keep your dog in a designated area of your home and out of areas you don’t want her going into when you can’t be right there to supervise what she is doing. Whichever gate you choose will need to be tall enough so your dog can’t jump over it. If there aren’t a lot of selections for gate height, you could always put one gate in a doorway on the bottom, and another one just above it for maximum height coverage. The holes in the gate have to be small enough that your dog can’t squeeze through or get her head stuck in the hole which could be a choking hazard.
- Crate. Your dog’s crate can be used as her “den” where she sleeps when you are out of the house during the day and at night. Katie Blue never slept on our bed and when we invited her up, she would sit there and look at us like “What am I supposed to do up here?” Within 5 minutes, she would be standing at the end of the bed wanting to get down and into her own “house” (crate). She learned at an early age that her “house” was where she could be comfortable, safe, and at peace as things were happening around her, and it was where she snuggled up for a good night’s sleep.
Depending on how old your puppy or dog is, the crate should be at least large enough for your dog to stand in, turn around comfortably, and lay down. If you get a crate that is too big and your puppy isn’t house trained yet, she may relieve herself in one end of the crate and lay down in the other. There are crates with adjustable panels that determine the size of the crate. As your puppy or dog gets bigger, you can increase the size of the crate without having to buy a new one.
Your crate can also be used to transport your dog to the vet and other places, or you can invest in a proper car restraint (a harness) for dogs to keep them in one place in the car while you are driving. Restraining your dog may save her life in the event of an accident.
For information on how to crate train your dog, check out these resources: Crate Training Benefits for You and Your Dog, and Crate Training.
Please remember that dogs (any animal for that matter) should not be crated for long periods of time. They need daily exercise and areas to roam, sniff, and socialize.
- Comfy Bed. There are so many dog beds to choose from that you will not have a problem finding a suitable one for the size of your dog when she is stretched out laying down. You want the bed to be plush so it is soft and comfortable for your dog to lay on. Also, whatever bed you get for your dog, keep in mind that it has to be washed frequently so needs to fit in your washing machine and dryer, and has to be of good quality so it doesn’t fall apart after a few washings.
- Two Bowls and Food for Your Dog. Your dog will need one bowl for food and one for fresh water. A bowl with a heavier non-skid bottom (for hard surface floors) is helpful so the bowl doesn’t move or tip over when your dog is eating or drinking water from it, or you could put the bowls on a non-skid mat on the floor. Katie Blue preferred a stainless steel non-skid bowl so there was no negative interaction between the metal and her food or water. If you buy plastic bowls, make sure the plastic is BPA-Free (keep bowls out of the sun). You will need to keep them clean every day so your pet isn’t exposed to potentially harmful bacteria in their food or water from dirty bowls.
Please check out Katie Blue’s page called Feeding, Watering, and Walking Your Pet where there is a discussion about choosing food for your pet.
- Toys, Toys, and More Toys! Katie Blue LOVED toys and at one point she had over 154 of them! She played with them constantly and, although she was not destructive with them, if a seam came apart, we immediately discarded the toy. The best thing about giving lots of toys to Katie Blue was that she NEVER chewed on our furniture, or on our shoes or slippers, and we knew that she was having fun with them! We bought her challenging toys too so she never got bored. An example of such a toy was the soft stuffed “tree stump” that had 3 squirrels inside it and she would have to get the squirrels out of the holes in the stump. We also did not give her old shoes, slippers, or pieces of clothing to play with as it sends the wrong message to her. Human clothing and footwear were off limits.
We played with Katie every day, multiple times a day. She would sit in front of us with a toy and when we leaned forward to get the toy and engage her in play, she would grab it and run down the hall. We called her back and she would either drop it at our feet or we would play gentle tug-of-war with her, and then we would toss it down the hall for her to retrieve again, and again, and again. When she was tired, she would go sit on her pink sofa and we knew play was over (she had US trained well, didn’t she?)!
Make sure that the dog toys are BPA-free, that they don’t have a strong chemical smell to them (DON’T BUY TOYS THAT SMELL LIKE CHEMICALS), and that they don’t have small parts that could break off and be swallowed or become lodged in your dog’s throat.