Puppy Prep

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Preparing Your Home

Your puppy will almost definitely chew on things that you don't want it to. Find things in your house that could harm you puppy, such as sharp objects, choking hazards, things that are poisonous, etc, and find places to store them where your puppy won't be able to access them. Do the same with things that you don't want damaged, such as: shoes, cords, purses, wallets, clothes, etc., and practice putting them there when they are not in use.

The Basics

Puppies need a lot of things. Let's just start out with the basics:

  • Name Tag - Nobody likes to talk about it, but sometimes dogs get away from their owners. Your puppy needs a name tag so that your adorable fluff ball can be easily returned when found. Name tags are available at your local pet shops, but we like to order ours from Pet-Tags.com because we can purchase tags with personality for the price of the generic tags at our local pet shops. Just be aware that your tag might take 2-3 weeks to get to you, so order it early, or order one as a replacement for the one your puppy will chew up while it's teething.
  • Collar - We recommend a flat nylon collar, a flat leather collar, or a rolled leather collar. Padded nylon is nice for walking and easy to wash, rolled leather is great for preventing mats, but not great for dogs that pull on their leashes, and flat or rolled leather will last forever (pretty much, anyway).
  • Leash - Speaking of lasting forever, your puppy's leash probably will not. It may get worn out, or it may fall victim to your puppy's teething stage (just like those shoes you should have put away). Luckily, Lupine leashes are guaranteed - even if chewed! Does Lupine claim their leashes are chew proof? Nope! However, they will replace one if it has been chewed, even if you don't have the receipt anymore!
  • Walking Harness - Walking harnesses aren't exactly a puppy necessity, but they can be nice to have. A walking harness we love is the Ruffwear Front Range Harness. It has a place on the front of it to secure a leash to if you want to have control of where your dog is pointing and to discourage pulling. We actually made a video review of it, if you want to check it out below.
  • Food/Water Bowl - We have experienced so much bowl-flipping that we now strongly recommend no spill bowls, and these Stainless Steel No Spill Dog Bowls are a great deal. If your dog is a fast eater, using an Outward Hound Slow Bowl will really help it slow down. We also made a video review of those below.
  • Poop bags - Earth Rated Lavender-Scented Poop Bags are biodegradable, scented, and a good price.
  • Crate - Crates are great for potty training, traveling, and keeping your puppy safe while you can't be around to watch it. We recommend a wire crate with a removable divider.
  • Dog Bed - There are many different kinds of dog beds, and the one you purchase will come down to your and your puppy's preferences. We love the Coolaroo Elevated Pet Bed because it's easy to clean, it has a replaceable cover, and it's raised off of the ground to help our dogs cool off. Our dogs will drag a blanket onto theirs if they are cold. Problem solvers.

Potty Training

Don't fool yourself. Your puppy WILL have accidents. Purchase a pet stain and odor remover, and your visitors won't have to know. We recommend Natures Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor. It works for fresh and set-in stains.

If you can take your puppy out about every hour, you can potty train it using a crate when you are not able to keep an eye on it. We recommend a wire crate with a removable divider. Set the divider so that there is enough room for the puppy to lie down and turn around, but not enough room for it to be able to potty and avoid sleeping in it. Adjust the divider's position as your puppy grows.

If you're not going to be able to take your puppy out about every hour, you will also need to purchase a x-pen, such as the MidWest Foldable Metal Exercise Pen / Pet Playpen, and set up a potty area in it. Keep your puppy's play area as clean as possible so that only the potty area smells like potty.

Potty training takes time. Keep an eye on your puppy, and if it starts to circle or sniff excessively, take it out to its potty area. When your puppy is learning, always take it out the same door if possible. This will help teach your puppy to go to that door when it needs to go potty. If you notice your puppy spending time next to that door, take it out.


Pick out a good veterinarian. Ask your friends about their experiences with veterinarians in your area and don't be afraid to call veterinarian offices to ask questions while you are researching.


Some puppies are easier to groom than others. Take your time to positively introduce your puppy to each new tool you use on it, and don't overwhelm it with too much grooming too quickly. You will need the following items for grooming (if you decide to use a groomer, you will still need everything below, other than the shears):


If you want to have a happy home, you need to train your puppy. Not only can training provide you with an obedient, well-mannered dog, but it can also build your bond with each other. This is an incredibly intelligent breed, and your puppy will find something to do to keep its mind busy if you don't provide it with mental exercise. You probably won't approve of the activity your puppy comes up with to occupy its time when it is left to choose for itself. We recommend positive reinforcement clicker training for obedience and trick training. Keep training sessions short, and always end on a positive note. Don't let yourself become so serious about training that your dog doesn't have fun.

These tools will help you have fun and successful training sessions:

  • A positive reinforcement puppy class, followed by other training classes. We take classes from local pet centers and local dog clubs. You may have a dog club in your area with members who will support you as you teach your puppy new skills.
  • A treat pouch. We recommend the PetSafe Treat Pouch Sport. It has a metal frame, so it stays open when you want it open and stays closed when you want it closed. The material is durable, and it has a belt clip and waist strap.
  • Button clicker with coil wrist band (We include one in our puppy package)
  • Small training treats that aren't made in China or known for recalls. We like Fruitables and include some in our puppy package.
  • Small, but exciting, toy your dog only gets to play with while training, if your dog isn't treat motivated.
  • Trick training book. We recommend 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog.
  • Patience and a good attitude.


Your puppy will need toys to play with. There are so many different toys that we recommend, and our dogs love, that the list below is of brands we love, and our favorite toys are noted. (Toys should be periodically checked for cracks, tears, broken parts, etc., and common sense with supervision is a must.)

  • IQ Treat Ball - The OurPets IQ Treat Ball is great for occupying your puppy while it eats, or for slowing it down if it eats too quickly. Check out our video review below if you'd like to learn more.
  • West Paw - Our favorite West Paw toys are the West Paw Zogoflex Hurley for chewing and the West Paw Zogoflex Bumi for tugging. West Paw Zogoflex toys are durable and have a product replacement guarantee.
  • Kong - We include a small original Kong in our puppy package, but your puppy may need a Kong Extreme when it's older. Original Kongs are great for occupying your puppy, especially if you put peanut butter, or some other sticky treat, inside them and freeze them. The Kong Squeezz toys are also fun.
  • Planet Dog - Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff toys are eco-friendly and buoyant, and they have a mint flavor dogs seem to love. They have different durability ratings to help you choose which toys to buy for your puppy. Our dogs love their toys, but Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff balls are our favorite because of how durable they are. The only balls we have purchased from them that we don't like are their Orbee-Tuff Orbee balls (the ones that look like the Earth) because they are supposed to be the highest durability rating, but Truce almost immediately peeled the continents off when he was only four months old. Please note that Orbee-Tuff toys are most vulnerable to ripping at the seams between different colors (which is what happened with the Orbee ball), and the printed words and designs wear off.
  • Outward Hound/Kyjen - Outward Hound makes plenty of puzzle toys and squeaky toys your puppy would love to play with.
  • Think! Dog - These toys are sold at Costco at fantastic prices, and we have not been disappointed with any we have purchased.
  • Tuffy's - Tuffy's makes durable soft toys to stand up to dogs that like to rip open their toys and pull the stuffing out of them. Their seams are reinforced, but the toys are a bit firm. Adult dogs have an easier time squeaking the toys because of their stronger jaws. If your puppy starts gnawing on the seams with its molars, take the toy away and tell it to "play nice", or whatever you want the command to be. After doing this enough times, your puppy will stop ruining the seams of its toys when you tell it to. Give it a treat if it does.

Hot/Cold Weather

Your puppy will want to go on adventures year-round, and it will sometimes need products to help it do so safely. The following products can help out in extreme weather conditions. Remember to check the temperature of the surface your puppy has to walk on, especially in the summer. Press the back of your hand to the ground for several seconds to see if it's uncomfortable to you, it will probably be uncomfortable for your puppy.

  • Cooling Vest - The Ruffwear Jet Stream Cooling Vest is good for keeping your puppy cool on an adventure on a hot day by locking in the water you soak it with. The Ruffwear Swamp Cooler is more expensive, but it also provides more coverage with its cooling material and fits over the Ruffwear Front Range Harness and the Ruffwear Web Master Harness. Be sure to get the right size!
  • Boots - Ruffwear makes very high quality dog products, and their boots are the nicest we've seen. Ruffwear Summit Trex Boots are good for normal terrain and wet conditions, and Ruffwear Grip Trex Boots are more breathable and better for hiking. It will take some time for your puppy to break its boots in, and you will have to work to make it comfortable with wearing something on its feet.
  • Paw Wax - If you don't want to use boots, Musher's Secret Paw Protection Wax is great for protecting your puppy's paws from harsh temperatures and surfaces.
  • Coat - If your puppy gets cold on its snowy adventures, Ruffwear K-9 Overcoat keeps puppies nice and warm on freezing days. It's Ruffwear's most versatile and easy to put on coat, but they also have other coats that are more climate/temperature specific.

Outdoor and Fitness

Obesity is a real problem with dogs, but puppies shouldn't be worked too hard until their growth plates have closed. Exercising a puppy too much before then can cause joint problems, so make sure your puppy can stop exercising when it is tired.

  • FitPaws - FitPaws makes many great products to improve your puppy's balance, core strength, and body awareness.
  • Ruffwear Web Master Harness - The Ruffwear Web Master Harness is great for hiking because it is very secure and adjustable and has a handle on the top of it for you to help your puppy over tough obstacles.
  • Dog Backpack - The Ruffwear Approach Pack is great for hiking with your dog. It is adjustable and comfortable, and it has bags so your puppy can carry its own gear around, or just water bottles so it tires more easily. Be sure to not put too much weight in your puppy's backpack, especially while it is growing.


Please read Whole Dog Journal's article about what to look for in a dog food. We love it because it is not biased toward any specific brand. We have personally had good experiences with Canidae, Farmina N&D, Fromm, Hi-Tek, Orijen, Acana, Stella & Chewy's, Sojo's, and The Honest Kitchen.