Just as people have certain basic items they need for life, so do dogs. Dogs need many things but making their top ten list includes dog food, a collar, a pet identification tag, bowls for eating, a dog kennel or crate, a dog house, a dog rug or bed, toys, chews and bones and number ten is treats. Let’s take a closer look at the top ten list.
Healthy food is necessary for life and as a rule of thumb, whatever food your puppy started his life eating, allow him to continue to eat the same kind. If you decide to change it for some reason do it as gradually as possible. One hint would be to combine some of the old and new brands together to help his developing digestive system adjust accordingly. Keep in mind that the higher quality dog food you buy for your dog the healthier he should be.
Our puppy #1 came eating Wellness, a top quality dog food. We feed him that for over a year. Since the cost was very high we started asking around and the man who ran the site doggiefood.com suggested Earthborn. I researched the food and we switched. It also rates very highly and has, in fact, not been recalled ever. We feed both our dogs Earthborn Primitive. We also started reading all labels on the wet food, always looking for meat first.
A collar is a must in terms of walking your puppy, keeping him well supervised and also for identification purposes. The best type to get for puppies is an adjustable puppy collar because the collar increases on a gradual basis as your puppy grows in size. As far as grown dogs are concerned, a buckle collar is the best in terms of proper identification. It should be “tight enough not to slip over the dog’s head, but loose enough to put a few fingers through.” You don’t want to choke your dog so aim for comfort but you don’t want to lose him either.
We have always used a harness. We have attached the id and dog license to each harness. Our dogs are chipped and I believe that all dogs should be chipped. If your dog slips loose, goes under your fence or gets taken, that is the best way to get them back.
A pet ID tag is one of the simplest ways to keep your dog safe and to ensure he or she is returned to you in the event that he gets lost. Make sure the ID tag includes the puppy or dog’s name and your name, address and phone number. Most veterinarian hospitals and pet stores provide order forms for pet identification tags so they are not difficult to come by.
Another option that is pricier is to have your dog implanted with either a traceable ID microchip or have him or her tattooed. Your veterinarian can do this simple procedure. Then your dog will be entered into a national registry and in the event that he goes missing, he should be easy to track down. We haven’t tattooed a dog in many years.
All dogs should have two bowls, one that is used for water and the other for food. Fresh, clean water is a necessity for dogs at all times and non-slip bowls that have flat bottoms are the best for this purpose otherwise the puppy or dog might tip it over. Stainless steel bowls are the best choices as they are easier to clean and some adventurous puppies enjoy sinking their teeth into bowls made out of plastic material. Ceramic bowls also work. We have stands, a lower one for Scooter and a higher one for Boo. The funny thing is Boo drinks out of the little bowl and Scooter drinks out of the tall one. They each eat out of the appropriate bowl.
While not an absolute necessity, some dog owners like to keep their puppies in a kennel or indoor crate while they are away from home in order to help train them better and so they don’t have to worry that the puppy will harm itself when left to its own devices. It is important that your puppy doesn’t feel too cramped or confined in the crate or kennel and still is able to stand up, turn around and comfortably lie down. It is much easier to potty train when crating your dog and it stops destruction of your house. We no longer use our crates.
It is not advisable to stick your dog out in the back yard all of the time by himself but occasionally is fine and many dogs enjoy being able to be outside in the fresh air. Backyard time calls for a decent sized doghouse. If you have a puppy keep in mind how big he will grow to be when designing or buying a doghouse. However don’t make the doghouse too large or the dog may have a problem keeping warm during the winter months. We have a fenced yard and often (weather permitting) leave our slider open. We have bought screens for that purpose. We usually get one year out of them. Boo likes to scratch if the slider is closed.
A dog’s coat has oils on it that can stain your carpets and furniture. Buy your dog a comfy bed, rug or pad and lay it in a spot where he will use it. Encourage him to use it to nap on instead of your couch or favorite chair. We have two dog beds in our bedroom and the dogs use them to sleep at night. They are allowed on the bed during the day and we have a ritual at night where they each get a treat, the lights go out and we go to sleep. They get my husband up if they need to go out.
Toys are great fun for dogs and can make excellent playmates when you are not around. Dogs enjoy squeaky toys, tug toys, and hard rubber toys such as rubber balls that they can fetch. Be careful when buying toys for your dog that there is nothing that they can rip or bit off that can come off in their mouth and end up being swallowed. In the worst case scenario the dog could require surgery or his stomach needing to be pumped. There are instances where swallowing a piece off of a dog toy has proved fatal for dogs. We buy toys that are bound around. Our Scooter loves to rip toys apart. Once he gets one open he will pull the stuffing out, not swallowing any, and strews it around the house. It often looks like the killing fields. I rather that than his working on furniture.
Now, is you get a dog, like our Doobie, most toys are a waste of time. Even giant Kongs, considered dog proof, didn’t last a week. My husband brought home a solid stick of human grade plastic that he couldn’t make a dent in. He became bored with it in a week or two.
Chews are a must for your puppy as he is cutting new teeth and wants to bite down on something. If you don’t provide chew toys your puppy is likely to start chewing on your furniture! The safest for puppies are hard rubber toys. Adult dogs are likely to enjoy chewing on a bone and some make a game out of it by burying them in the backyard to dig up at a later date. Do no use any rawhide as it can choke your puppy or dog.
Treats and goodies are ways to reward your puppy or dog for good behavior. Most dogs come to associate a treat with this purpose. Buy the most nourishing kind of treats you can but don’t make “treating” too much of a habit or your puppy or dog could end up with unwanted extra pounds on his or her body. We use sweet potato fries and my husband makes jerky in a dehydrator. Our dogs don’t like biscuits of any brand. The vet can’t even get them to take one. We also get dental treats.
If your dog gets bored there are educational toys. Once Boo figured out how to get the treats out that’s all he wants.