Friday, 5 August 2016

New puppy? Here's what you need to buy

After we'd been and chosen Barney at six weeks, things went really quiet. Deafeningly quiet. We kept waiting to get a collection date but heard nothing. By the time the puppies were almost eight weeks old we decided we couldn't wait any longer before buying things for him. We didn't want to tempt fate, but equally we didn't want to get a puppy home and be completely unprepared.

We tried to think of everything, and were well prepared when we had the call and collected Barney with two days' notice. He's now been with us for eight weeks and this is everything we bought in the first month. Hopefully it'll be useful to someone in a similar situation.

There are various options for training your puppy. We opted for crate training, if you're going down the same route you'll need a crate that will be big enough for your dog when he's fully grown. To encourage him not to foul his crate (not that it's been entirely successful), we blocked half of it off with cardboard so that there was room for his bed but not much more. You can place puppy pads in the other half so he has somewhere to go if he can't keep his legs crossed. We opted for getting up in the night with him instead, so he doesn't get into bad habits. As a result we have a pristine pack of puppy pads. Perhaps they'll come in useful one day and I'm sure if we hadn't had them, we might have needed them on the journey home. I like an insurance policy!
Barney chucking out zzzs
Whilst on the subject of toilet training, we bought plenty of kitchen roll to mop up spills, Dettol wipes to make sure that no scent was left behind which might encourage him to use the same area again and a big box of poo bags (we bought biodegradable ones, no point putting a naturally biodegradable substance in something that will last for two hundred years). I'm amazed how quickly we're getting through the poo bags. Puppies just seem to eat, sleep and poo for the first couple of weeks. 

We also bought some baby wipes for cleaning his eyes and ears, and any other parts which are mucky but don't warrant a full bath. For full baths, we bought some puppy shampoo and a microfibre towel, he's had a lot of baths (don't ask!) and now is really well behaved, there was a lot of squirming and squarking initially though. As he'll need grooming when his adult coat comes through we bought a brush which we use on him every so often, really just to get him used to the process.

We started out with a basket shaped bed, but now have this either in the front room or Andrew's office so he can be in the same room as us, but has his own area. He now has a piece of vet bed in his crate to sleep on.
Bed time
To help them sleep on their first night with you, it's recommended that you place a cuddly toy with their mother and then bring it home. The cuddly toy that we were given was so smelly that it only lasted two days and he slept through the first night we removed it. Probably coincidence, but it's worth doing so you have the option. We also had a radio tuned to the same station that they had on at the breeders. Again, it's anything to make their transition a bit easier.

We'd initially bought a metal food and water bowl (well, two actually, one for inside and one for outside so he always had access to fresh water), but soon replaced the food bowl for a bowl which slowed him down when eating. He ate like it was a race (part of being from a large litter, I guess) but it can't do his system any good. He's still a quick eater, but at least he takes a little longer. We bought some treats to help with training but gave up on them as they upset his stomach. We tend to use praise for training, with bits of kibble if he needs something more. We stuck with the food that he had been on since weaning as our vet favours it. We came home from the breeder with enough to last us a week, and then bought more. It's suggested that if you're changing to something else to do it gradually unless you're moving to a raw diet, which you can do as a straight change. We also bought a clicker to help with his training, we've not used it much but it was good for encouraging him that being quiet is good!
Mmm, lunch
Our first trip out with Barney was a trip to the garden centre up the road to get him a collar and lead. He wasn't even allowed out for walks at that stage but it's good to be prepared. 
Doesn't he look smart?!
As we wanted him to get used to car journeys as soon as possible, I bought him a car seat and a safety harness, so he'd be safe if anything untoward were to happen. He squirmed and squealed for the first few journeys, but now seems happy enough and settles down for a snooze whenever we go out. 
Are we nearly there yet?!
We tried not to go over the top with toys, but it's fair to say we have collected a fair number. Ironically it's things that are free, such as an off-cut of wood or an empty squash bottle which he seems to like the best. 
These were all the toys that came to hand, but Barney couldn't leave them alone for long enough for me to photograph them
When we got Barney he came with a month's free pet insurance. We've since bought an annual policy to make sure that he's covered if he's ever unwell. We could just set the money aside and pay ourselves if he needed treatment, but given the cost of some procedures and medications, we decided it was better safe than sorry. 

We've since bought more things, a water bottle for walks, more beds for around the house and a steam cleaner to clear up muddy foot prints. This dog owning lark isn't cheap, good job he's worth it!

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