If you’re about to adopt your very first dog, you’re probably a little overwhelmed at the variety of dog stuff out there on the market. Every toy, collar, and chewie out there screams, “If you buy nothing else, buy me!”
I’m not talking about obvious stuff like food and water bowls, grooming equipment or health care supplements your vet should tell you about. This list is for the things you may not have thought of, but will make your life with a new dog easier in countless ways:
- Non-retractable leash. Retractable leashes give your dog plenty of room to wander, but in busy urban areas, a non-retractable leash is safest and easiest to manage. It’s also the easiest type of leash to work with when teaching Rover leash manners.
- Front-clip Anti-Pull Harness. Accept no imitations or wanna-bes. True anti-pull harnesses attach to the leash by a ring located at the center of Rover’s chest. It’s this mechanism that reduces pulling on leash and Iditarod behavior. I like the SENSE-ation and SENSE-ible Harnesses made by Softouch Concepts. Premier makes the anti-pull Easy Walk Harness.
- Bitter Apple. This non-toxic harmless spray is a great aid in training Rover what’s OK to chew and what isn’t. I’ve sprayed it on wood furniture, fabric and carpets, and never had a problem with staining. Dogs don’t like the smell so they naturally avoid surfaces sprayed with Bitter Apple.
- Anti-Icky Poo. This cleaner contains enzymes that eat the bacterial residue indoor potty accidents leave behind. It’s essential for potty training your new dog. The enzymes remove any trace of the pee, poop or vomit, making it less likely that your pet will be attracted to the same spot for additional potty events.
- Crate. Yes, you can train Rover to like hanging out and sleeping in his crate. If you’re wondering why you’d bother, there are a host of reasons. The crate is an invaluable tool for potty-training. It doubles as a secure spot for Rover to sleep. You’ll know he’s safe and your house and belongings are safe from him, so you’ll sleep better. A crate also makes a safe and handy carrier for car rides. It should be big enough for Rover to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down in. A thick fluffy blanket makes the crate comfy and warm.
- Microchip. Dogs get lost. Dogs have a higher chance of making it back home when they can be easily identified and linked to their humans. Microchips injected under Rover’s skin provide a permanent form of ID. When your lost pet is picked up by local animal shelters, the first thing they’ll do is scan him for microchip information. Talk to your vet about microchipping and remember to keep your registration and contact info current.
- Safe travel gear. The vast majority of our nation’s pets travel unrestrained in vehicles. Not only are they at risk of death/serious injury in a crash, they can become life-threatening projectiles in collisions, and can slow rescuers’ efforts to help other passengers. As if that weren’t enough, unrestrained Rovers can cause accidents by blocking a driver’s view or disiracting drivers. There are all sorts of vehcile pet barriers, crate restraints, and seat belts on the market. BarkBuckleUp reviews and recommends safe pet travel gear.
- Waste bags. Scoop Rover’s poop. It’s smelly, unsightly, and unhygienic to have around. It attracts vermin and hosts parasites. Not scooping the poop gives all dogs and their people a bad name.
- Portable baby gates/dividers. These are indispensable when teaching Rover house manners. Portable gates/dividers make it easy to section off a doggy-proofed area of the home that will be Rover’s den until he learns proper house manners.
- Say it isn’t so. I’m already at 10! This is a tough one and I’m torn between food puzzle toys, long term chewable treats, and enrollment in a positive reinforcement training class. This is a trainer’s blog though so I must go with the positive training class enrollment. Don’t wait for bad habits to set in. Those are hard to change. It’s so much easier to teach Rover polite manners from the get go. Too often, dogs are abandoned or relinquished at shelters for “behavioral problems” that could have been avoided or modified through positive training. The vast majority of those animals are euthanized. Do yourself and Rover a favor. Train him positively, and train him early.
Have fun shopping for your furry friend! And congratulations on your new addition!