Shop your Dog!

No matter what type of dog you decide to get, or where you decide to get him, please put things in order before he arrives. Prepping your home in advance decreases the inevitable upheaval of exposing an untrained animal to a new environment. Though you may prefer to wait on size-specific items like a collar, try to stock the house with as much as you can ahead of time.

To that end, I’ve asked celebrity dog trainer Steve Brooks, a certified personal dog trainer and founder of the reward-based training program K9U, to suggest must-buy items for your shopping list. He usually saves his advice for clients like Sheryl crow and Robert Downey, Jr., but now you can benefit from it, too.

  • Crate: a crate gives your dog a safe place to sleep at night and take unsupervised naps during the day. It also helps your dog relax, learn self-control, and master potty training. At some point in your dog’s life, he’ll need to be crated or confined (like at the groomer or vet), so teaching him tolerance now is important for good behavior in the future. At the start, don’t bother with blankets or pillows for the bottom of the crate, since they absorb pee and odors. You can add these nuances once your dog is potty-trained. 
  • Food bowls: porcelain and stainless-steel options are sturdy and sanitary. Don’t use plastic bowls, which dogs can chew or destroy. • Collar and harness: invest in a buckle, head, or martingale collar in soft cotton, nylon, or leather. Buckle collars fit a dog’s neck, while head collars loop around a dog’s snout and behind the back of his ears to leave the neck free. A martingale collar won’t slip off a dog’s neck if he tries to back out of it, since two rings pull snug behind his ears without choking him. Prong, chain, choke, and electric shock collars are not my or Steve’s first choice (punitive collars should be reserved for special cases and as a last resort after more humane options have been exhausted). Also, no collar should be left on a crated dog, since it can become caught in the bars. Ask your trainer whether he suggests that you buy a front-attaching harness for your dog, especially if he’s prone to trachea or neck issues, so that he doesn’t feel shocked should you accidentally pull on his collar. Harnesses also help you comfortably lead your dog on walks.
  • Leash: a six-foot leash made of leather, cotton, or nylon should do the trick. Stay away from retractable leashes, which can pull and snap (they also have weight limits, which some owners don’t realize).
  • D.A.P plug-in diffuser: for puppies and full-grown dogs, dog appeasing pheromones (D.A.P) can help a dog feel less anxious, calmer, and safer-especially if he has vocalization, house soiling, nervous, anxious, or destructive tendencies. Small enough to plug in to a light socket, D.A.P mimics the properties of the natural reassuring pheromones of a lactating female dog
  • Lavender spray or oil: find a safe place to keep it, and burn or spray this natural relaxer to calm anxious puppies or rambunctious dog before you put them in a kennel.
  • Bitter apple or tea tree spray: spray these pungent “flavors” on furniture legs to deter biting.
  • Shampoo and grooming essentials: during your first vet visit, ask which brushes and nail tools are best for your dog. Ask about ear solution, plus a canine toothbrush and toothpaste, and how to carefully use each. Studies say that brushing your dog’s teeth can extend his life up to five years. If you have a puppy, you can also ask about oral products to eliminate puppy breath. Note that mints and gum are out of the question, as s human toothpaste. All vet recommendations will depend on the dog’s size, breed, and temperament.
  • Baby gates: these are helpful for blocking off different rooms during or after training, with puppies and adult dogs. Baby gates should be made of plastic, wire, or wood.
  •  Pooper scooper: it’s illegal in many states not to scoop on the street. If your dog deposit in your yard, scooping will help you determine where your dog poops and avoid running your shoes. Plus, some parasites can live in dog feces for an indeterminate amount of time, so you can avoid repeat illness by scoping.
  • Doggie bags: after you scoop, be sure to dump the doodie in environmentally safe bags. Experts estimate that it will take five hundred to one thousand years for plastic bags to biodegrade, which means that using these bags for poop will also keep the
  • Alone-time toys: this includes a Kong toy, which lets you stuff food inside it (peanut butter in a Kong can keep dogs busy for hours). Kong is great for teething and solo playtime, depending on the toughness rating (Kong ranks its toys’ destructibility, since some strong-jawed breeds like labs and boxers have been known to ingest them). If your dog has a lot of energy, buster cubes and Kong time dispensers keep him out of trouble: buster cubes hold food that tumbles out during play, while Kong time dispensers automatically shoot out food-filled Kong toys while you’re away. When the dog’s home alone, they entertain your pet and give him something to look forward to beyond.
  • Natural toys and chews: natural toys are great for your dog if you give him the right ones. Speak to your vet before giving your dog any natural chew, since they can cause diarrhea or vomiting in some canines. Most experts really like bully sticks; bully straps; and pig’s ears.

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