Life with a new puppy can be an adventure!

Just over 11 months ago we first brought our newest pup Otto home.

Although we’ve had several dogs over the years, we’ve always adopted junior pups - 9 months and older. Otto was the first pup to arrive with us as a tiny bundle of fur. When preparing for his arrival I wanted to create a space for him where he could be close to the family, but safe enough that he was still ok if our focus was taken away from him. I opted for a soft collapsible enclosure for indoors that thankfully had a closable roof, because it didn’t take him long to work out how to use his weight to fold down the wall and just walk right out of the roof if it wasn't zipped up. It certainly wasn’t what I expected!

Last week was Otto’s first birthday! – before my memories of puppyhood fade into new and exciting experiences with him, I wanted to share a list of the must-have products that I discovered any new puppy parent will need to help get their home puppy-ready.

Protective puppy training pads

Potty training is an adventure. They nickname these “pee pads” for good reason! Otto was a quick learner and I found that a strict routine really helped. House training your pup takes patience. Let them outside when they wake up, after meals and playtime – regularly and frequently. Keep a package of puppy training pads close at hand to line your pup’s crate and to lay down where it’s acceptable for your pup to pee in a pinch, like near the door. These pads are also great for taking with you if you take your pup to visit a friends house.

A comforting dog carrier and crate/safe place

Your new dog can appreciate a cozy den of their own at every stage of their life. Crate training is a great way to help establish a routine and provide peace of mind when leaving your puppy at home.Even if your grown dog’s crate can be tucked away because they choose a different safe-space, their early crate training will make visits to the groomer or overnight veterinary care so much less stressful. Look for a sturdy crate that – for larger breeds – has a divider so it can grow with your puppy. To make the den fun and comfy, I suggest adding a soft washable bed, some puppy safe toys and a couple of treats along with the essential water bowl.

Engrossing chew toys

Puppies love to chew! Otto’s favourite was his Orka bone. 

Besides the boatloads of positive mental stimulation, chew toys are helpful because they keep teeth and gums healthy and give your pup an acceptable way to exercise their chewing instincts without destroying everyones shoes. To keep your pup busy, try a puppy-safe rugged toy that can be filled with their favourite wet and/or dry dog food or other yummy treats like peanut butter (be sure to make sure it is free from Xylitol!) or cheese. 

A collar and identification to bring them home

No one expects to lose their dog, especially a small puppy, but inquisitive puppies do chase exciting things, sneak out an open door, or bolt in sudden fright. Searching for a lost pet is heart wrenching and you will be so grateful of that identification tag when you receive a phone call from the person that found them. I always call the phone number on the tag when I find a wandering dog and have re-united many dogs with their owners over the years.

If someone finds your wandering pup, you absolutely want them to know there's a loving pet parent looking for them! A collar and ID tag is super important. There are a lot of additional options to the standard metal engraved tag, like smart tags that reveal your pet’s personal profile when scanned by a smartphone, GPS tracking tags, and microchips. At the least, I suggest a standard tag and a microchip to help get your pup home. Collars and tags can get caught on fences or branches and come off, so having the micro-chip as well means that they can still be identified and find their way home.  

Poop bags and bag holders for the daily “doo-ty”

Picking up poop is NO ONE’S favourite puppy chore but it’s a requirement when you’re out and about, and the last thing you want is anyone standing in it and walking it through your house. It’s a habit you’ll want to establish right away, since you’ll need to do it regularly while out and about, and you don’t want your yard filled with dog doo landmines. Besides, picking up after your pup is part of being a responsible pet owner.

Pocketing a warm bag of icky dog poop, or carrying it in your hand on a long walk is a bit gross, which is why there are poop bag holders that make this a lot easier. I like the dooloop. It’s a cool dog leash accessory that will carry the poop for you!

A comfy dog bed

My dog has had several different beds over his life. As a puppy, he had an easy to wash plush crate mat and now he has the option of snuggling into a round plush bed, or stretching out on his giant orthopaedic memory foam Tuff Mat. 

Every puppy needs a spot where they can comfortably relax, and giving your pup that space is a great way to enrich their lives. 

Choose a dog bed that’s an appropriate size for your pup, and look for one with a removable, machine washable cover! My dog’s plush bed usually needs to be replaced every year but the Tuff Mat has a heavy duty cover that can be washed down, so I expect it to last much longer.

Pet or baby gates to manage safe spaces

Puppies aren’t bad; they’re curious! Use gates to help keep them from being underfoot in the kitchen or to prevent them from tumbling down steep steps. When he was a puppy I needed to restrict access for Otto while I was in the kitchen but now he’s older, he knows to stay out of the kitchen and sits just outside the entrance ……..occasionally completely blocking the fridge door.…nobody’s perfect…lol.

Food and water bowls for frustration-free meals

Don’t just grab a bowl you no longer use in the kitchen. Puppies are developing their motor skills and need sturdy food and water bowls that stay put and won’t be mistaken for chew toys. Otto would often put his foot on the edge of his lightweight food bowl and tip it over sending biscuits flying everywhere, he even managed to tip over a full bowl of water once. Use a heavier bowl or add a gripping mat under the bowls if your pup likes to shove their dinner around the room or enjoys sloshing water everywhere. Tall, or giant pups like greyhounds, mastiffs, newfoundlands etc. might need elevated bowls to eat and drink more comfortably. There are so many fancy dinner-time bowl options out there. Metal, ceramic, fabric travel bowls, cooling bowls, bowls with a timer to release food to name a few. I used a lightweight ceramic bowl when Otto was small, until he got too good at tipping it over, I then got him a more traditional metal bowl with a rubber grip on the bottom, much harder to tip over, but he loves making a noise with it by kicking to let me know he’s hungry. Every dog is different, so take a little time to watch your puppy’s eating habits to pick the right bowl for them as they grow.

One last product that I’m excited to share, that I will be launching very soon: 

Not-Stinky - air purifier to rid your rooms of unwanted smells.

There are some adorable smells that come with owning a new puppy. Puppy breath and that unique smell of the soft fur on the top of their head, but then there are the smells that you really don’t want in your house. Yes, I’m talking about the smells that linger after the little - or not so little accidents. 

I searched high and low for products to get my home smelling fresh again and the best, safest and most natural- not mention easy, product that I came across were the activated carbon pouches designed to keep your car smelling fresh. The trouble was, I needed several of the small pouches to freshen my living area and I didn’t want lots of ugly pouches laying around. 

That’s why I created the Not Stinky pouches. They look great on the shelf or hanging near your pets sleeping area, and they contain much more activated carbon to soak up those nasty smells.  

Enjoy preparing your life for a puppy

The first year with Otto was a roller coaster but I wouldn’t change him for anything. At 1 year old he’s already needed operations for cherry eye and a total hip replacement, but he’s also become a deeply loved member of our family, a best friend for the kids, a playmate for our older dog Inky and a loyal companion to the grown ups in the family.

Even if the essentials on my list here turn out not to be your puppy’s favourite, they’ll make your first days and weeks together so much easier and set you up for a lifetime of love and fun.

Did I miss any essentials you think a new puppy parent needs for the first year? Let me know!