What do you need when you bring a new puppy home? Check our list.
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- Collar. Find a flat, lightweight collar made of nylon or leather, with a buckle or snap closure. For a proper fit, measure your puppy's neck and add two inches. Check the fit by placing two fingers between the collar and your puppy's neck -- if there is extra room, the collar is too big, and if there is not enough room for two fingers, the collar is too small. Your puppy will need some time to adjust to her new collar so do not be dismayed by fidgeting and scratching at the collar. Adjust or replace the collar as your puppy grows.
- Tags. Attach an identification tag with your puppy's name, your address and phone number, and your vet's address and phone number. If your puppy should get lost, the kind people who find him may prefer to bring him to a vet's office.
- Leash. Look for a 6-foot leash that is 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide. Leather, nylon or retractable is your choice -- you may want to consult with your vet or trainer to see which leash is recommended for your type of dog. A leash is essential; many state and cities have leash laws that demand that your dog be leashed whenever he is off your property.
- Grooming gear. You will need a brush and comb, a flea comb, puppy shampoo, nail clippers, and dental care supplies. Shorthaired breeds require a natural bristle brush and a rubber currycomb or a hand mitt. Try a wide-toothed metal comb and a mat splitter for longhaired dogs. To brush your dog's teeth, look for toothbrushes and pastes in dog supply stores.
- Toys. For chewing cravings and exercise, to provide sensory and mental stimulation, and just for fun, puppies need toys. Carefully choose toys that are specifically designed for puppies. Your puppy's toys should not splinter or be able to be torn apart or swallowed. If your puppy can enclose the toy in her mouth, the toy is too small.
- Not all toys are safe for puppies. Avoid sponge toys and toys with squeakers or protruding pieces that could break or be bitten off and swallowed. Do not give your puppy old shoes or clothing -- your puppy could choke on small parts, and puppies do not distinguish between "their" shoes and yours. Children's toys, particularly those made of soft rubber, fur, wool, sponge, or plastic, are not safe and may be confusing to your dog -- how will he tell his toys from the kids' toys?
- Puppy food. Ask your vet to recommend a starter food. Look for a puppy food that is nutritionally complete and well balanced, and has undergone feeding trials.
- Crate and bed. Puppies need their own place to sleep. A crate provides a warm, comforting den for your puppy when you cannot watch her or you are away from home. There are two main kinds of crates: portable, plastic crates with handles (often suitable for air travel) and wire crates. Be sure your puppy will be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down inside the crate and that there is proper ventilation. If you purchase an adult-sized crate, partition off part of the crate or your puppy may be tempted to use the extra space for elimination. You may also want a separate puppy-sized bed for your puppy to sleep in when you are home. (The crate might be in the family room, for example, so you might put a bed in your bedroom.)
- Stain and scent remover. Accidents will happen. Buy a specially formulated stain and scent remover, available at pet supply stores, to remove the odor from furniture and floors and your puppy's nose. A conventional household deodorizer will not eliminate the odor for your puppy and he will continue to soil the same spot to mark his territory.
- Puppy-care guidebook. Keep the reference manual of your choice in a convenient spot so you can refer to it quickly and often.