Shopping List for a New Puppy
They'll be one-time and ongoing expenditures. Of course you can buy more toys and an entire clothing wardrobe if you want, but this will get you started.
Throwing away a pooped on, peed on and chewed up box is a lot easier than keeping clean a fabric dog bed. If you don't want to be bothered cleaning a bed yet, let your puppy sleep in a box until he is somewhat reliably housetrained. Start collecting boxes as soon as you decide to get a puppy.
If you want something a bit nicer but easy to clean, you can get the bed I use for my puppy, the Midwest Quiet Time U-Design Bed Pod.
It's a hard plastic with rubber feet that keep it slightly off the floor and away from crawling insects. It stands up to puppy chewing and accidents and has a cut out side to enable little legs to easily climb in.
Buy a bed in a size large enough for your grown dog and you should never have to buy another bed. While your puppy is growing into it, pad it with blankets or cushions.
For either the box or bed, I use ultra soft microfiber throws or baby blankets such as NoJo Jungle Babies Luxury Plush Throw Blanket in lieu of a mattress. I put a couple down for my puppy. I launder the blankets once a week with no problem.
You can also use old clothes, towels, blankets or other soft material that you just throw away when they're too stained or smelly.
You'll need two: one for water and one for food. Get stainless steel because they don't retain odors and can (and should be) run through your dishwasher regularly. Get ones heavy enough not to tip and ones with rubber bottoms so they don't slide.
I like 16 OZ - Rubber Bottom Stainless Steel Bowl - SET OF 2 MATCHING BOWLS which are sized perfectly for Toy or other small breed dogs.
Do NOT get anything chippable, breakable or crackable - no matter how cute.
Also, beware of plastic bowls. They sometimes get microscopic cracks that can harbor bacteria.
Get a soft brush such as Safari Bristle Small-Medium Brush for Dogs with Wood Handle to get your puppy used to being groomed. This one won't hurt him and he should accept being brushed better than being combed. (Those knots hurt!)
Sally's Beauty Supply stores sell many natural bristle brushes, and there's no reason you can't use a brush designed for humans on your little dog. Pick one with a handle that's sized for your hand but with soft bristles.
As your puppy matures, so will his coat and you may want to invest in more specialized products for the dog breed you have.
Meanwhile, brush him every day. It's not only good for his looks, but it helps you two bond.
Odds are you're going to want to take your puppy to show him off or at a minimum, to the veterinarian. There are several ways you can do that.
One nice carrier is the SHERPA SPORT DUFFLE Dog Cat Animal Pet Carrier Bag & Tote. Airline/Subway/Rail Approved (shown).
Also see my article on car seats for small dogs at http://www.toybreeds.com/carseats.htmif you're traveling by car.
Please, please, please, do not try to drive with your puppy on your lap or unleashed in your car. Absolutely never put your little puppy in the bed of your pick up and drive off.
Use common sense and think about the impact on a puppy if you had to stop suddenly or had an accident.
Get a lightweight collar and make sure you can put your little finger between the collar and your dog's neck.
Unless you live in an area that requires you have tags on your dog, I recommend an embroidered dog collar rather than having tags.
Puppies can too easily get their tags caught in doorways, grates, stairs, fences, etc. sometime with tragic results.
I prefer a collar embroidered with your puppy's name and your cell phone. I like Nylon Cat & Dog Collar. Custom embroidered with your phone number for pet safety which is small enough for Toy and small breed puppies but allow for growth from a puppy to a small adult.
Housebreaking will be so much easier if you use a crate. Even if you don't want to make it a training tool, a crate is a secure, safe den for your puppy. I leave the door open and my puppy goes in there when she wants to be alone or needs a little nap. I have a cover over it for even more security and quiet.
I love the Midwest brand and use their double doored crate that comes with a panel you can position and eventually remove it as your puppy reaches maturity. The one I have is Midwest Life Stages Double-Door Folding Metal Dog Crate, 36 Inches by 24 Inches by 27 Inches
The front and side doors give you more flexibility in how you position the crate and how you can get your puppy in and out or remove any bedding.
This crate also folds down so it is easy to transport if you are going to visit the puppy's grandparents.
A crate should be just big enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around and then lie down. That size creates the most security for him.
And yes, it really is foldable. I opened the box, pulled it out and had it standing in less than 3-minutes. Highly recommended.
Hopefully, the place where you obtained your puppy provided you with information on what brand of dog food they were using and how often he was fed.
If you want to change brands, do it gradually (over seven days) by replacing a little of the breeders' brand with your brand so as to not to upset your puppy's stomach.
Some breeders also advise or require customers to use supplements. Make sure you understand what your breeder has put in the sales agreement.
If you want a brand you can find at grocery stores or Wal-Mart, try Iams or the organic Newman's Own line of dog food.
All my puppies have loved Bil Jac puppy food which is available at pet stores.
Whichever brand you choose, do use food made for puppies rather than all life stages. Puppies have unique nutritional needs and I really think you do better keeping him on puppy food for that first important year.
I prefer dry dog foods because 1) it's easier to store and travel with if you take your dog on a trip; 2) dry dog foods help create firmer bowel movements; and 3) dry foods don't spoil as rapidly as canned dog food after you've opened them.
1) check the expiration date on any dog food, canned or dry, before you buy;
2) check the label for the quantity to feed your dog. Many puppies don't eat a lot and if a label recommends you feed your 5-month old puppy two cups a day, that's telling you it is not a nutrient rich formula; and
3) only buy products manufactured in the USA. I'm not xenophobic. When China, India and Pakistan have safety requirements as high as ours, I'll stop saying this.
WARNING: As you peruse the Internet, you'll find all kinds of recommendations for canine diets: raw, bones, vegetarian, low protein, high protein, etc. There are several professional and authoritarian looking websites that rate dog foods.
Unfortunately, there are many old wives tales that are taken as fact, and many websites that don't bother to update as our scientific knowledge evolves.
I highly recommend you read the book: Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter -A Vet's Plan to Save Their Lives by veterinarian Ernie Ward. He'll provide verifiable information and dispel the myths you've found on other websites. You may be surprised.
Harness and Leash
I don't recommend attaching the leash to a regular collar for small dogs. I prefer a harness as it gives you better control, especially when a puppy is still learning how to walk on a leash.
A harness also won't damage their little throats or necks if you tug on it. It's an all-around safer choice for every life stage.
Beware - Toy breed puppies may be 3 pounds when you get them and few brands of harnesses are sized for such small dogs.
For puppies, I like the Puppia Soft Dog Harness X-Small brand that comes in a beautiful rainbow of mesh. These require fitting over a puppy's head which he may not like but these are very difficult for him to escape. Either the x-small or small should work for Toy breed puppies.
Once your puppy outgrows his first harness, I prefer to use a step-in harness as these are much easier to put on and off a dog. Make sure they have both a clip and Velcro closing.
For a leash, I prefer a lightweight nylon 4-foot or 6-foot leash. I don't like retractable leashes for small dogs, especially puppies. You're still training a puppy not to run off so why make it easy for him by using a 20-foot or so retractable leash?
Once your veterinarian has finished your puppy's vaccinations and deworming, it will be up to you to prevent heartworm, fleas and ticks in your puppy.
Every year dogs die needlessly because they didn't have owners who provided a monthly preventive of heartworm. Usually not fatal but always dreadful and expensive to remove are infestations of fleas or ticks.
It is so much better for your puppy, your state of mind and your pocketbook to prevent these problems.
Pick a day of the month (first Monday, 15th, last day of the month, etc) and treat your puppy. I use flea and tick preventives on the 6th of the month and heartworm prevention on the 12th for all my dogs and have since forever.
Your vet may recommend brands and most sell the popular brands. Have the vet or vet tech show you how to apply the topical preventive if you're unsure.
Heartworm preventives, however, do require a veterinarian prescription (see http://www.toybreeds.com/prescription.htm for more on this.)
The gold standard for heartworm prevention is Heartgard Plus. You can download a coupon for this from the link above.
There's now a generic brand with the same active ingredient as Heartgard Plus that is about $10 a box cheaper called Iverhart Plus.
Talk to your vet about which product to use and you'll need a prescription no matter where you buy this. Compare the Internet prices to Wal-Mart. Both products also protect your dog from other types of worms.
Flea & Tick
It may be cheaper, however, to buy Flea & Tick over the Internet and you do not need a prescription.
The flea and tick preventive I use on my dog is usually sold by veterinarians, but I've found the price comparable to Frontline Plus. It's called Vectra for Dogsand also protects your dog against mosquitoes. This product really does last a full 30 months. My second choice is Frontline Plus For Dogs 0-22 Lb, 6 Pk
Use either product every month, not just in the summer. If your home is ever infected with fleas and you have to wash and clean everything, you'll kick yourself for not using a preventive.
The other health issue especially applicable to small dogs is good dental hygiene. Our petite pals are prone to tooth and gum disease due to having so many teeth in such small mouths.
You should brush your dog's teeth daily and use a dental chew or toy to help prevent tartar buildup. You can use a toothbrush, finger toothbrush or dental wipes.
Be sure to use only an enzyme toothpaste made for dogs. Remember, they can't spit out a toothpaste so you must use one designed to be swallowed.
Please watch 3-minute video at how to brush your dog's teeth and get descriptions of the types of products you can use on our puppy's teeth.
Also look at 2-minute video at how to clean your dog's ears so you can help prevent ear wax buildup and ear infections.
As you begin housebreaking and walking your puppy, you will need to pick up his poop. After trying several brands, the ones I use are Pooch Pick-Up Biodegradable Pet Waste Clean-Up Bags (100 Bags).
They are unscented so there's no cloying odor but they also contain cornstarch so you aren't overwhelmed with puppy poop smell.
They really won out over other brands because they are easy to pull apart during the walk, and they are strong enough and large enough to protect my hand when I do my puppy owner duty.
Simply pull one out, turn it inside out and place over your had. Then pick up the poop. Pull it off your hand and tie securely with its long handles.
This product package states it is 'biodegradable' but in the context that nearly anything left in a landfill long enough will eventually biodegrade.
If, unlike me, you would rather sacrifice convenience and pay more for a truly biodegradable product, consider BioBag Dog Waste Compostable Bags, 50-Count Boxes (Pack of 4) which are biodegradable and compostable. I don't like them as well as as the Pooch Pick-Up above but they will satisfy your 'green' needs.
Use a tearless shampoo on your puppy. You don't want him to associate the bathing process with eye and skin irritation. I like Magic Coat Puppy Tearless Shampoo
It also contains aloe vera, lanolin and proteins that leave a puppy's coat soft and fluffy. Once a puppy is fully mature, I switch to an oatmeal shampoo.
How often you bathe him will depend on where he plays and how dirty or smelly he gets. Be sure to rinse thoroughly so you don't leave a residue of shampoo.
Stain and Odor
There will be housetraining accidents. You must use an enzyme cleaner to get rid of poop and pee odor. If you use a regular cleaner such as ammonia, a 'green' or homemade one such as vinegar, you may not smell any residue odor but your dog will. That odor says to him: 'pee here.'
The granddaddy of dog odor removers is Nature's Miracle Stain and Odor Remover,and the product I still use today. It gets rid of all my dog's stains and odors and has not discolored or harmed any carpet or furniture.
You'll need to experiment to find the type of toy your puppy likes best. Some like plush chew toys. Others prefer squeaky ones. Some like bouncy balls and some prefer rope toys. Test a few on your puppy.
Every puppy will chew especially as he's teething. A good trick is to put his favorite chew toy in the freezer as the cold will help soothe irritated gums.
There's no reason you can't 'trick' your dog and give him a toy that is as good for his teeth as it is fun to play with. Nylabone is the grandfather of this concept and one of the most popular dental chew toys for small dogs is the Nylabone Pro Action Advanced K-9 Dental Device - Small
If you're a dedicated Kong fan, that company also has introduced dental chew toys. One to consider is the Small Dental Kong with Rope The rope makes it easy for him to drag his toy around the house.
Just be sure to buy only small sizes and inspect his toys at least once or twice a year. If they're coming apart, throw then away. You don't want your puppy to choke on a piece of broken toy.