Puppies have a very strong need to have things to chew on. If you’re not providing the right chews for them they will find things to chew on. Most of the time the items that end up in their mouths are not things that they should have and some are downright dangerous. Let’s face it, no one wants to buy another pair of shoes, another set of headphones, TV remote, or have to find a way to hide damage done to the couch. Emergency vet trips are also a very real danger for puppies that ingest things they shouldn’t and can easily be life threatening, not to mention costly.
A mistake that I see owners making regularly is not providing their pups with chews that the puppy likes, or not figuring out what it is that their puppy prefers. This small investment can really save you time and potentially heart ache down the road, and something that every owner should take into consideration. Take a look at our curated list of trainer approved chews for teething pups!
Bringing home a puppy is a super exciting event and always one filled with joy, exploring, and maybe just a little too much nibbling of hands and fingers. Keeping you puppy entertained and corralled in the right places can be a challenge if you don’t have the correct set up in your home, and can be almost impossible if you’re not prepared. This article will cover physical items you’ll want to have on hand, and you can learn more about puppy schedules here and how I raise my puppies here. Preparing for puppy isn’t difficult, prepare like a pro with these must haves!
Crates, gates, and pens!
Youngsters are little knowledge sponges and are learning every moment that they’re awake. If there are no restrictions in place in your home and your puppy is allowed too much freedom to roam, this is when they’re most likely to develop bad habits that we don’t want, like chewing up your belongings, chasing the cat, or making an absolute mess of your potted plants. Too much freedom for a puppy is NOT a good thing. They don’t know how to act in your home yet and will make mistakes!
Having a crate/pen combo, or having baby gates in your home is the best way to prevent your puppy from learning things you don’t want them to develop as habits. They also allow you to have a little more freedom since when your dog is in a pen or crate you don’t have to micromanage and watch them like a hawk.
Harness vs Collar
Collars for puppies are great for putting their tags on, but are not good for actually taking your little one on walks with. Puppies will pull, and if they’re wearing a collar and leash they’re actually learning to ignore the discomfort and they can be utterly desensitized to any sort of communication you may want to use the leash for in training. Their necks as well are not designed to have so much pressure from pulling on a collar going on and it’s just not healthy. So for young puppies we always recommend harnesses when walking on leash. Then when it’s time to teach leash skills, you’ve got a blank slate to work with instead of pulling to fix!
The potty pad misconception
There is only one reason to buy potty pads for your puppy, and this is if you plan for that to be your dog’s lifetime potty area.
I’m not sure where things went wrong, but it seems like the majority of puppy owners have a belief that if they buy potty pads there will be less accidents and somehow the puppy will know to use them. Potty pads promote accidents in the house and in my experience they are really not good to use with dogs who you expect to potty outside. Plus there’s the issue of puppies playing with their potty pads and ingesting them while chewing them up. They do not make potty training any easier for you. They do not teach your dog where to potty.
Potty pads have hoodwinked so many owners and are sadly a waste of both time and money. Even if you have a puppy who learns to potty on the pads, or you have a puppy who knows to use them, for the vast majority of owners this is not what you want to be using for the dog’s life. So using them makes extra steps for you when it comes to potty training and teaching your dog to go potty in areas that are not indoors and on surfaces that are not potty pads. Don’t be bamboozled! Don’t waste your money on a product you’re literally just going to throw away, used or not.
Solo Play toys
Toys can be separated into two categories, toys that are meant to be used solo, and toys that are meant to be played with a partner (think tug toys or fetching toys). Making sure that your pup has the right toy to keep them busy at least a little bit of the time is very helpful when it comes to juggling life and puppy raising.
Great solo toys are treat dispensing toys. These are toys that you can give to your puppy and they have to work to get food out of them. The best ones require your dog to actively push the toy or otherwise physically activate it. These provide both a mental challenge but also one that builds coordination and is great fun for a dog of any age.
Toys to reduce nipping in play
Puppies explore the world and interact with it with their mouths. This is a fact that can’t be changed. But we can redirect it and part of this battle is knowing which toys will save your hands and fingers. Many toys that are marketed for puppies are so so small and they don’t lend themselves to playing games WITH your puppy. Just for sore and bitten up hands.
Puppy toys should be long, floppy, and easy for your puppy to grab/bite. This makes them pretty user friendly as well, and the length really helps keep the teeth away from your hands and down at the most interesting side of the toy. Making sure you’re using the right object makes all the difference when you’re teaching your dog how to tug, retrieve, or play some other game appropriately. Remember, the longer the toy, the farther the teeth should be from your fingers!
All of these things are what we trainers take into consideration and actively practice when we’re bringing a new puppy into our hearts, homes, and lives. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to raising your puppy with the least fuss and hassle, as well as ensuring that their set up for training successes and confidence as an adult dog.