Puppies = $$. That’s just the honest truth. With that said, man, are they worth it! Never have I ever thought this would be a most requested post! Y’all know I have no problem talking about my pups, so I was so excited to compile my personal list of “must-haves” and tips for bringing your puppy home! With 2 dogs, we’ve learned our do’s and don’ts with both, so hopefully this will help at least one of you in your experience. You can always bookmark this post and so it’s easy to find later when you find yourself with puppy fever, too. 😉
Here it is! My list of must-haves (for both puppy and down the road!) Everything is linked at the bottom for easy shopping!
A crate with a divider. This is if you plan on crate-training your pup (which I highly recommend)! Since all pups grow up at point, a crate with a divider is going to be the best bang for your buck. This way, you aren’t stuck buying multiple crates as your pup gets older, throwing money out the window with every purchase. I’ve linked the one we got at the bottom of the post- just follow the size chart! We still own ours from when Tucker was a little one, and are using it again for Wilson- hands down the best money we ever spent! (sharing more on how we crate trained both Tuck and Willie below!)
Puppy collar and leash. You will need to purchase a small puppy color and smaller puppy leash to fit the size of your new family member at first. This is the one thing that you will eventually need to purchase a larger size as they grow. Any puppy collar will do, but as Tucker grew, we knew we wanted to invest in a nice leather set. Filson has the BEST products and are a killer price for the quality! I linked the exact collar and leash we bought for Tucker and plan to purchase for Wilson when he is fully grown! I also recommend purchasing a harness for when your pups get a little bit bigger and can start pulling on the leash more. It’s not only more comfortable for both you and them during walks, but also give you better control to train them on walks, etc! I’ve linked the one we have below!
Dog bed. I personally don’t recommend it. With tucker, we didn’t buy him a bed until he was completely potty trained and much older. But if you feel like you have to get one, make sure it’s cheap. Odds are, they’ll pee on several times and you’ll have to toss it eventually! I have loved getting ours from TJ Maxx– they tend to be under $50 and serve their purpose. If you are looking to splurge, the LL Bean Memory Foam dog beds are incredible and were a must for us when we learned Tucker had hip dysplasia. We don’t even have it out right now while I don’t trust Wilson..not worth it! Besides, he never really sleeps in the cheaper bed we have, so doesn’t seem to bother him! You’ll most likely just throw towels in the crate with your pup or not need anything at all!
Poop bags and bag holder. This is a must if you plan on taking your pup anywhere! The bag holder makes it super easy to add to your leash and you can just purchase the refills as you need them. Even if you live in an area that provides you with them (like an apt complex), it’s always nice to have your own if you ever need them out on a walk or you happen to be in an area that doesn’t have them sitting around!
Training treats. You’ll hopefully be doing a lot of training with you little pup, so I consider these a must! Pro tip- if you want a cheaper option, just buy a boy of cheerios! It’s wayyyy less money and gets the job done all the same!
Nail clipper. Getting your puppy used to you clipping his/her nails the earlier, the better! Even if you’re barely cutting anything, getting them familiar and ok with you cutting their nails will save you some headache down the road and decrease the risk of them becoming aggressive towards it!
Puppy Shampoo. Sounds silly, but you’ll want to buy it. It has fewer chemicals and isn’t as harsh on their sweet fur and skin! Love the Burts Bees one I’ve linked below. We used it for Tucker and Wilson and is a 2 in 1 so you don’t have to buy a separate conditioner as well.
Puppy Brush. we found that we didn’t use a brush a whole lot when our boys are puppies, but if you do want to purchase one, it will need to be small and gentle! I can’t use the one that I use on Tucker- it’s just too large, but will link my FAVE dog brush and Furminator deshedding tool below for when your pup gets bigger!
Car Seat Cover. This has SAVED us so many times. Worth every single penny if you plan on taking your pup in the car at all. Not only keeps fur and other stains from ruining your car, but gives them a nice little hammock to lay in while you drive. The one I’ve linked it the one we’ve owned since Tucker was a puppy!
What’s the deal with pet insurance?
The deal is, you 100% should purchase this as soon as you get your puppy. It will probably be anywhere from $40-$60 per month, but worth every bit of that when something goes wrong. We had issues with Tucker as a puppy that were all covered, and with Wilson, well, now I’m an advocate more than ever after he’s broken his leg! You just never know when freak accident is going to happen and the last thing you want is to be caught in thousands worth of medical bills on top of what you’ve already paid just to have your pup! Puppies are resilient, but the truth is, they get into things they’re not supposed to, their immune systems are weak so they catch things easily, and are just downright clumsy sometimes! If I could pick 1 thing to be passionate about in this entire post, it would be pet insurance. We have used PetPlan and Healthy Paws and have loved both! They are also 2 of the top recommended.
What do I need when I go to pick up my puppy?
Their collar + tag, leash, a toy and a couple of towels. That’s it! Leave everything else at home. When you pick up your pup, you’ll want to put on a collar right away, have towels in the car just in case they get anxious and motion sick, a leash in case you need to stop to let them potty, and a toy to keep them occupied if they are ready to play! (Tucker slept the entire 2.5 hour ride home and Wilson chewed hard on his toy for the entire drive home, so you just never know! If you are driving a little farther than a few hours then suggest bringing a bowl and water bottle to keep that sweet baby hydrated!
What do I need to know about crate training?
The moment we got home from picking up our pup, we put him in his crate. We would play with him while he is in his crate and constantly reward him (praise and treats) for going in and staying in. The key is making their crate a positive environment from the very beginning. The last thing you want is for your pup to associate their crate with being in trouble- don’t ever use it as a punishment! This can only lead to defiance when it comes to getting your pup in the crate when you really need to, or them even being willing to go in it!
We used the crate for Tucker until he was 2 years old, so I’m assuming we’ll do the same for Wilson. They go through stages that you just can’t predict, so you’re better off protecting your home and “stuff” from a crazed pup until they can get it out of their system. Tucker was an angel and never chewed our belongings until he turned 1.5 and starting chewing our baseboards and carpet. We thought were were in the clear and he just randomly acquired this horrible habit. But just like anything else, they grow out of it eventually, so utilizing the crate was a lifesaver! Besides, they sleep 80% off the day anyway, so if you train them right, they won’t even mind it!
What about all this biting?!
It’s inevitable. Puppy’s are going to bite. but how do you nip the habit (no pun intended) before it becomes a problem later down the line? 🙂 Pressing their lips into their own teeth, or putting their paw/leg into their mouth gives them a good idea of just how much bite they have and usually causes them to back off. Also using “NO” in a very commanding tone will get the point across more often than not. Stay consistent with this. Your puppy may not stop biting right away, but you’ll see the return on your persistence down the road!
Give me the 411 on potty training!
First of all, if you live in an apartment and have a balcony, I HIGHLY recommend getting a turf area for your puppy while he is just a baby and has to pee every 5 seconds. It will save you time running down and up flights of stairs or waiting for the elevator and make the process just that much painless! We just got 2 crate trays and laid trash bags and then puppy training pads on top, then placed the turf on top of all of it. The turf is fairly cheap and doesn’t have to be replaced as often as real sod (we tried that and it was a nightmare!). Overall it has been a game changer and still use it for Wilson at 5 months since he still has to go more often than Tucker!
Now for the actual potty training. Catching them in the act is best. Even if they’ve started to have an accident, using a loud, stern, tone and immediately picking them up and taking them outside (even mid pee) shows them exactly where they SHOULD be when they have to potty. It definitely takes several weeks just to predict your puppy and understand their behavior and pattern. I watched both of mine like a hawk because I didn’t trust them and while we still had some accidents, overall putting the hard work on the front end was worth it! There’s never such thing as over potty training, so taking your pup out more often than you think will probably end up being the prorate amount, plus it gets them adjusted to the whole “potty outdoors” thing that much quicker!
What else should I be doing?
We also constantly tried to expose to both of our dogs to sounds, smells, and touches. We never wanted them to have aggression towards anyone or anything touching them, so constantly touching/rubbing their paws, touching their mouth and even teeth gets them used to that contact and establishes a level of dominance as well.
We consider our dogs family, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tell them what to do and that they shouldn’t listen. As adorable as your puppy probably is, letting them get away with anything can make a huge impact on their training and willingness to listen down the road. I love when Wilson climbs on me and licks my face, I think it’s sweet and cute, but I don’t want him doing that to guests, and the honest truth is, how are they supposed to know the difference?? Staying consistent with your training will cut out any confusion your puppy may have. Coming from the biggest softy when it comes to reinforcing rules, it is 100% worth it. I promise! Besides, all dogs want are to please their human, so making them “work” really creates a stronger bond and both of you happy in the long run!
Whether you have a puppy, are getting a puppy, or hope to have one in the future, I hope that this post serves as a great resource to make your puppy experience more enjoyable! Cheers to you and your pup!