As a first time pet parent – it can be quite daunting to enter a pet store and feel overwhelmed by the variety of products on offer. There’s puppy food, puppy treats, chews, toys, shampoos, wipes etc etc. You simply can’t decide where to start. I’ve been there too and boy did I buy lots of unwanted stuff and completely miss the essentials.
Here is a comprehensive list you can refer to that will apply to both a puppy and an adult dog:
1. Food : Choosing a good quality, grain-free, age and breed specific food is imperative. There are several brands and price ranges available. Packaged kibble or dog food is produced keeping your dog’s daily nutrition in mind. Dogs cannot digest all human food and they need a diet rich in protein. Of course the debate rages on about packaged food vs home-cooked food vs organic food. I speak only my personal experience – with quality dog food – the cost is shinier, eyes sparkle, stools are firm, there are fewer allergies to deal with, less shedding – the list goes on. I have tried all brands and the one that suits our two French Bulldog and Shihtzu is Royal Canin Mini Adult. One other advantage – is that you don’t need to fret about cooking a nutritious meal for your babies everyday. Just pick up a few scoops and pour them into the feeding bowl – you are done. Same goes for when you are traveling or away. You get the caretaker to feed them the food in the right quantity – you are done. Dogs love routine and they are more than happy to eat the same food day in and day out. My dogs jump and run towards their feeding area everyday. That’s how excited they are to eat kibble. However, you are free to give them fresh, washed and cut vegetables and fruits, treats that are either store-bought or home-made and meat from time to time. Bear in mind though that the quantity of these snacks shouldn’t be more than 10% of their daily diet – or they stop eating kibble and just wait the whole day for their snacks. In summers, I mix their dry food with some packaged wet food. I do this also every Sunday as a treat and they simply love it. This topic deserves a separate post so I’ll stop here for now.
2. Feeding bowls : You’ll need one for water and one for food. Mark an area where you will always place the water and food. Let the bowl be big/small enough depending on the size of your dog. Puppies have separate smaller utensils. Do change the size as they grow. Also, if it’s a brachycephalic breed like a shihtzu/bulldog/boxer/pug do get a shallow bowl as they may not be able to reach the bottom. Same goes for long-eared dogs like dachshund, cocker spaniels etc. You don’t want their ears to be in the feeding bowl either so get a shallow one. I prefer stainless steel with a rubber base – they are easiest to clean.
3. Collar and Leash : Make sure to get a good quality collar/harness and leash – I prefer a woven material to metal chains. Also consider getting a harness to avoid neck injury to the dog. This buy will also help you with toilet – training/house-breaking when you take them out for walks. You also need to start early teaching your pup to walk by your side – not ahead, not behind. Also, get an engraved ID tag with the dogs name and your contact details. Microchipping is one option too.
4. Bed : You don’t have to sleep with your dog in your bed. This is a first step in making your dog independent and free of separation anxiety. Slowly move the bed further and further away from you and wean the pup to be away from you for the entire night. This will help in the long run. But do it slowly- it will take several weeks or even months. But don’t give up.
5. Crate : Dogs have a den instinct which means they like any sheltered place. The crate has two uses – one as a resting place/safe place for your dog. You can place the bedding inside the crate. And two, as a means to transport your pet while you travel to a vet or go out of town. Crate training needs to begin early and if done wrong as a confinement area/ punishment tool, then the dog will refuse to use it. Keep the door open in the beginning, place a few toys and treats inside – so it seems welcoming and give all of the treats inside the crate. And, never pull the dog physically out of the crate. It’s his safe place, remember? Get an IATA approved one so you can use it for air travel too. This too deserves a separate post, so I’ll save it for later.
6. Chewy Chews : Dogs love to chew at any age but more so as a pup while they are teething. So, make sure to get some chew toys. You can choose from raw hide bones, marrow bones, etc. Do supervise though as you don’t want them to swallow and choke on a huge piece. Chewing calms them down and many dogs spend entire afternoons chewing.
7. Grooming : Get a good brush specific to the length of hair and make sure to brush every alternate day. This will remove any dead hair, dander and improve blood circulation. If you are going to groom the dog yourself, get a mild shampoo, dog nail clips and a towel too. Dogs need conditioning too to keep their coat hydrated and soft. I have loved using products from Furminator and Karlie.
8. Toys : It’s important to keep the dog stimulated and active. It’s often a bored dog that will chew your shoe/sofa. There are different kinds of toys. The Kong brand – though expensive here in India is my go-to toy because it keeps my dogs engaged for hours. And, if your dog is a heavy chewer like my Frenchie, then Kongs are the only toys that last. The rest get shredded in minutes. Get a combination of toys – a ball big enough to be held in the mouth, a squeaky toy, a Kong ball/ stuffed treat ball, a chew toy of course, a soft toy to cuddle with and a rope toy. Make sure the size of each toy matches the size of your dog. Too big and they won’t touch it.
9. Clothes – Now, this ones optional. Most dogs will wear one but it’s really not their favorite thing. They do look cute though so it’s really a matter of your choice. Unless it’s very cold, they prefer going au naturel.
10. Tonics : If you got a puppy, make sure to give him a multi vitamin and calcium supplement in the form of a syrup. Check with your vet on what he recommends. It’s worked best for me feeding them their medi with a small syringe but you can mix it with some of their wet food too. But be aware that sometimes they smell it out and may refuse to eat.
So that’s the list of 10 to get you started. Let me know if I missed anything. We’d love to hear from you about your first day with your pet and how it went. Write to us.