The must-have accessories to help introduce your pupster to its new home
So you gave in to the kids' demands, then you fell in love with its big, bright eyes and floppy ears. And now you're the proud owner of a tiny little dog. Hoorah! (We'll assume you looked at all the shelter dog options and ruled them out for a very good reason...!)
Now the work begins.
Puppies, like kids, are empty vessels and need filling with good stuff to become good, healthy, happy dogs. They need a comfy safe space to call their own; they need to develop those puppy teeth by chewing on something; they need to learn where to go to the toilet; and they need to socialise with other dogs safely and exercise freely.
So, the five puppy essentials to give your new pooch the best start are:
Somewhere to sleep
It was only a matter of weeks since your new house member was snuggled up against the warm belly of its mother, so choosing a bed that cocoons your pup, offering warmth and security, is the best option. Plush donut beds are just the ticket, and this one from Eterish is reasonably priced, super soft, has nice raised sides and is completely machine washable.
If money's no object when it comes your pup's comfort, check out our post on Luxury Dog Beds for other options, including cave-style designs, which are perfect for more nervous dogs.
Something to chew
By the time you've welcomed your pupster into your home, at 8 to 16 weeks old, they should have around 28 razor-sharp baby teeth. From 12 to 16 weeks these will start to shed and you might find tiny little rice-size teeth around the house as their adult teeth start to emerge. This is why they chew everything in sight, and why a teething chew is essential, if only for the sake of your poor slippers/TV remote/chair legs...
Nylabone are a well established brand of teething chews, and this twin pack should last you through the height of the teething stage (at six months they should have all their adult teeth - around 42 of them).
Alternatively, the tried-and-tested Kong Puppy Toy is also great for chewing on, and can be filled with treats and Kong's own Easy Treat paste to keep your dog busy for a while. Our own Kong toys have lasted for years and are still going strong so they're great value for money.
(If your slippers, shoes and furniture are at risk, maybe take a look at TriNova No Chew Spray - an ultra bitter chew deterrent!)
For more toys and chews to keep your dog entertained, check out our post on the Top Ten Interactive Toys.
Somewhere to pee
My Rumble is no puppy, at fours-years old, but I always have a pack of puppy pads in the house, as they're so useful in so many situations (this week, I gaffer-taped four pads together to cover his bed, so he could enjoy a fresh marrow bone from the butchers without soiling his nice bed with blood and bone gunk!).
But until your puppy has got the memo about doing their business outside, puppy pads will protect carpets and their bed against the inevitable as they soak up the puddle and deodorize any whiffs. These carbon pads can hold up to five cups of liquid and are impregnated with attracting pheromones to encourage your dog to pee on the pad and not the carpet.
Find other uses for puppy pads in our post on the Best Wet, Muddy Dog Cleaning Kit.
Some rules to follow
Training is the number-one priority with a young dog. Get it right and put the work in at the start, and you'll have a well-behaved, happy dog going forward. Get it wrong, and you could develop bad behavior, aggression, nervousness and other problems.
Puppies' go through what is called the 'critical period' between around 7 to 12 weeks. This is the most important time, where they are receptive to their new human family and can begin learning basic commands.
In reality there are a number of critical periods in their early development (transition period; awareness period, canine socialization period...) but 7-12 weeks is when they learn to socialize with humans and is also the 'fear impact period', where they should be introduced to new experiences, places, noises and other dogs, to develop a calm, well-balanced mindset. Do something that scares them during this period and it could program them to be fearful of that situation or noise for the rest of their days. It's not called a critical period for nothing.
So, every puppy owner needs to understand the basics and learn what their dog needs during these critical early weeks. The book I've selected here is aimed at kids and is from National Geographic, but will inform all members of the family in a simple and fun way, with its boxes of quick tips and fun facts and brilliant photography. It's highly recommended with a 4.7 out of 5 star reviews.
Any book on understanding your new dog is a bonus, and all will offer the basic advice needed. Check out our Top Five Books About Dogs post to see what's on my bookshelf.
Some dope new threads
And finally, you've given a dog a home and will put in great effort to make it a happy member of your family. So you're perfectly entitled to dress it up and make it look cute/stupid/super-cool. That's the law.
But in all seriousness, puppies can get cold in winter weather just like us, and there's nothing wrong with putting them in a nice jacket or hoodie. But type 'puppy hoodie' or 'puppy jacket' into Amazon and each returns over 40,000 results. So I can't choose one for you, but I love these personalized hoodies, in soft cotton material. No good for the rain, but let's face it, this is all about the catwalk, er, I mean dogwalk.
If you're looking to embarrass your poor pupster and dress them up in something a bit more ridiculous, you should check out our post on Top Dog Costumes.
Yes, I know this is number 6 in my 'top 5', but I can't ignore this all-in-one puppy pack of pretty much everything you need for a new dog-baby, as it's such a bargain. It includes a clicker, treat pouch and toilet training door bells, for your training needs. There are food and water bowls, plus two collapsible travel bowls, and a lick pad. You get a chew toy, a treat-dispensing ball and a rope toy. And a grooming glove, blanket, lead and collar complete this comprehensive kit, which would make a great gift for anyone you know who's getting a puppy. Most reviewers state how amazed they were at the quality of these products for the price. You can't go wrong with this.