When your family gets a dog you will be gaining a new playmate, companion, and friend but there will be some new responsibilities, too. Your dog will need to be walked daily, fed, groomed, and trained, and don’t forget, someone has to scoop up the poop! Start getting prepared before your dog arrives, and go shopping for all the things you will need.
A new member of the family
You and your family will need to work out how your dog will fit in with your daily and weekly routines. Sit down together and talk about her day-to-day care. Who will be responsible for walking her? How many times each day will she be fed and who will do this? Who will train her? If you’re going to share the training, make sure you’re all using the same techniques. It is worth drawing up a rota of jobs that can be ticked off once they’ve been completed.
Doggy shopping list
It’s important that you have all the equipment that you have all the time your dog arrives in her new home.
1. Collar and leash (lead)
Most pet stores will be able to tell you whether to buy a small, medium, or large collar and leash, depending on the breed of dog you are getting. You can buy an ordinary leash or a retractable leash. Retractable leashes, which lengthen as your dog walks away from you, are not recommended for puppies and dogs that have not been trained to walk to heel, so it is better to buy an ordinary one.
Many collars come with an identity tag that contains a piece of paper to fill in, or you can buy a tag to engrave and attach, in UK, and in most states in the USA, it is the law that your dog must wear a dog identification tag on his collar. Write your name and address, include your telephone number, as it makes it easier to contact you if your dog gets lost. Don’t include the dog’s name because, if someone tries to steal your dog, thief may gain the dog’s trust by calling him by name. It is also recommended that you have your dog microchipped.
2. Food and drinking bowls
It is best to buy two of each. Choose a feeding bowl based on the breed of your dog and the amount she likely to eat. You can buy special drinking bowls for breeds such as spaniels that have long ears. They are designed to keep their ears out of the water.
3. Dog food
There is a wide range of dog food available so find out what your dog needs, before she arrives, according to her age and breed. The more natural the food, the better, so avoid those that contain dyes and artificial preservatives. Look for food that provides a balanced and complete diet. Don’t buy too much of one type of food to begin with, in case it doesn’t suit your dog. Don’t feed small bones, to your dog as these could splinter in her throat and might get stuck.
4. Training Pads
These are absorbent pads you can buy from any pet store if your dog needs house-training.
5. Poop Bags
Buy plenty of poop bags and make sure you always take a few with you on walks. Be aware that the cheapest types are often the most flimsy. You get what you pay for.
6. Grooming supplies
When it comes to bathing and grooming your dog, you will need dog shampoo and a brush or comb. The type you need to buy will depend on your dog’s coat, so do some research beforehand. Buy your dog her own towel or set aside one or two old ones for her.
7. Bed (and a crate if you’re planning to do crate-training)
You want to ensure your dog is comfortable, but you don’t have to buy an expensive bed. Remember, dogs originally lived in the wild and in many countries they still live outside. Also bear in mind that a puppy or a nervous, unsettled dog is likely to tear a new bed to pieces. If you don’t want your dog to lie on the couch (allow it once and she’ll do it all the time), buy a bed or a blanket for the living room, too. Check the washing instructions on a dog bed before you buy it and buy one that is easy to wash.
Try to save treats for training in the first few months. There are many packages of training treats on the market but you can also make your own buy cutting up food such as cheese, cooked sausages, and cooked chicken into bite-sized treats. Make sure you don’t give your dog too many treats as she may gain too much weight. If you have a puppy, add chew toys to your shopping list. Better she gnaws away at those than the furniture.
You don’t need to buy toys for your dog but playing is a great way to bond with her and toys are also useful for training. Clear out your own toy box, there may be old soft toys or balls in there that you no longer play with, or why not get creative and make some toys yourself. However, you can’t really find a good one, you can buy it from your local pet stores.