9 Essentials for New Dog Parents
Welcoming Home A New Dog Or Puppy
THE 9 ESSENTIALS FOR A GOOD START TOGETHER
We all want our dogs to be safe, healthy and happy. The more we learn about our canine companions, the better we understand how crucial it is to provide them with enrichment opportunities, training and a sense of safety.
It can be a daunting feeling to bring home the new family member! You want to make sure you set yourself and them up for success and that can feel like a 24/7 task, but the good news is: the better you are prepared the easier it will be, so let's look at the gear you want to acquire to be prepared:
Any new canine in your house will need time to learn not to eat your furniture, where to toilet, when and where to sleep and as such a Crate is our first must-have! A crate provides your dog with their own safe space for naps and quiet time and a calm space to enjoy a treat while removing the need for you to be with your dog literally every second of the day while you are settling them in.
It should be a size that allows your dog to stand up, turn around in and lay down flat on their side with a bit of space between them and the walls of the crate, but you don't want it bigger than that, so the dog feels cosy and also so they don't toilet in the spare space. If your pup is still growing, you can get the size that they will eventually need and use a “crate divider” to let the crate grow with your puppy.
Be sure to introduce the crate right:
A nice addition to your crate can be a Play Pen which can be attached to the crate to allow your new family member a bigger dog proofed space where they can have quiet time and be when you can’t watch them. It is big enough to allow room for a toileting space (can be necessary for puppies that need to be left alone longer than they can hold on for), room to play with their toys or enrichment objects and move around while still being safe.
Especially stronger adult dogs can knock pens over though, so do be sure to introduce them right: Stay close initially to make sure they aren’t practicing jumping on or over the gate, rewarding them for calmness, and increase your distance from the gate and time away at their pace. Give your dog a mental stimulation toy (will be discussed further below) in the area separated from you to distract them while they adjust.
Keep your dog safe by getting them a well fitted Y-shaped harness (like this trainer's favourite: the Perfect Fit harness). It is the safest way to have a leash attached to them as it protects all the important structures in their neck, back and shoulders, is more comfortable, prevents your dog from slipping out, makes it less likely to get the leash caught under their legs and most importantly helps avoid injury (such as throat damage) if they ever suddenly hit the end of the leash.
A harness also allows you to use a long line (our next must-have) and you can attach your Seatbelt Attachment to the back clip while in the car, to keep your pup secure.
3 LONG LINE
Dogs experience the world with their exceptional ‘sniffers’, the nose and vomeronasal organ, and we need to let them use their most important sense as much as possible. The best tool for this is a Long Line! A long line is a length of rope (usually between 5-10 metres long) that can be used to allow your pup more freedom in large spaces to sniff and explore while you work on your reliable recall or if they tend to be reactive to certain triggers. It will also prevent your dog from practising running up to other people and dogs and pulling on the short lead while you are working on leash training. A great tool to allow freedom while also following leash laws and good dog owner etiquette!
4 TRAINING LEAD
Obviously every dog needs a lead. For your basic short leash, we recommend a 2 metre double clip Training Lead with D-ring attachments at different places along the leash so you can adjust the length of the leash to what works best for you and your dog in each situation. The leash can also be clipped around your waist if there is a need for your hands to be free. Additionally you can clip it around the chair or table leg at a café or use the double-ended setup with your back- and front-clip harness which is explained here.
5 POO BAGS
Oh shi... We all need to deal with the poop topic, so best to be prepared.
Essential for any doggy parent are Poo Bags. We recommend degradable bags, so that we are looking after the environment while cleaning up after our pups. It is the law to clean up after your dog in any public place, but also it's the right thing to do, no-one likes stepping into doggy landmines. However, nothing more annoying than carrying a poo bag for the rest of your walk, so here is the solution: The Poo Bag Holder can be attached to your treat pouch belt (another must-have, keep reading :)) and is the easiest solution for carrying poops.
6 ENRICHMENT TOYS
Did you know that licking and chewing releases endorphins in dogs and that sniffing activates the part of their brain responsible for releasing dopamine? No wonder dogs like to work for their food and get outside for sniffs - it will give feel-good brain chemicals galore! Let's look at practical helpers to give our dogs an outlet to perform those natural and appropriate behaviours in safe ways.
Enrichment toys keep your pup’s brain engaged and tire them out in a constructive and sustainable way allowing them to play, sniff, lick, chew, and use their body and brain to figure out puzzles. Let's discover our 3 faves:
- LickiMat Slomo – provides your pup with a perfect quiet time toy to enjoy some spreads or their usual wet food, like raw meat. The food can be smeared on the mat and even frozen for longer consumption time. Great for helping settle in the crate, licking and sniffing lowers their heart rate which is helpful for getting them into a sleepy state!
- Small Qwizl – a durable rubber chewy toy that all sorts of yummy stuff can be stuffed in and smeared on. Highly resistant to chewing and nice on puppy teeth. Our favourite use is how you can squeeze meaty chews inside to make them last much longer and prevent swallowing them whole for those overeager pups around. :)
- Kong Wobbler – for the pups that love using their paws and nose to push things around, you can fill this with dry treats or food. When the dogs move it around, it wobbles on it’s weighted base and the food is slowly dispensed.
7 TREAT POUCH
Obviously all modern doggy parents know that having treats with you on your walks is the easiest way to train your dog and reinforce all the good stuff they do! Luckily you have them on a harness and long line, so they are all set up for success, thus there's heaps to reward them for. But who wants treats sticking to their pockets or even worse forget the treats were there just to either come back to chewed pockets or find the yucky slime in them after washing your pants!?
We sure don't, so we went on a mission to find the best treat pouch around which turned out harder than imagined: they were either too small, too solid, didn't close, not enough pockets, poor quality, etc. But we don't give up: Check out this Treat Pouch – designed, tested and loved by trainers and made locally in Christchurch! A water resistant, durable place for all your yummy meaty, stinky treats to be kept handy.
Comes with a belt for waist attachment, has three separate areas: one big pouch for your main treats with a closing mechanism to keep nosy snouts out, one high zip pocket to keep your phone and keys safe and one small extra pocket on the front for those extra special treats you want to keep separate.
All this talk of Treats sure got us (or maybe more your new best friend) hungry! So, what are good yummies to pop in your new pouch?
Big winners are Tripe & Lamb for the main pouch and freeze dried Venison Heart for your special treat in the front pocket. Given you want to feed your treats pea sized it's good to know that these are super easy to break up and yet don't crumble. For an extra special pouch we add crunchy Muesli to the main and soft Lamb Feast to the front pocket for added textures and variety.
Other treat options from the supermarket are little pieces of cooked chicken - pretty healthy - and less healthy but also yummy for big training challenges are small amounts of cheese, sausages or ham, but use those in moderation and make sure to account for the extra calories.
9 MEATY CHEWS
Chewing naturally calms our dogs and helps with their dental health too! Meaty Chews are a fabulous healthy way to keep your pup entertained and happy. They also allow them to have something 'legal' to chew when the urge arises.
When looking for a meaty chew, look for something that has no added fillers or extras and no artificial colouring or flavours. Natural is best and healthiest!
If we really had to pick favourites from the amazing range of meaty chews we would probably go with:
- Bull Pizzles for the longest lasting chew ever that also fits into the large Qwizl.
- Venison Tendons for being so lean and fitting perfectly in the small Qwizl.
- Venison Ears as a great, low-fat alternative to pig ears.
Welcome Home Kit
Get a collection of the items above with one order here..
Now that you are well-equipped with all the Essentials for your pooch, let's have a look at the extra bits that would make your dog's transition into their new life even easier, our Nice-To-Haves:
1 NON-MEATY CHEW
It is also important to have other non-food toys and things dedicated to 'legal' chewing whenever they feel like it. Meaty chews won’t last forever, so having a wee toy box or corner with alternative, Non-Meaty Chews allows our dogs to grab them whenever they feel like chewing something.
- The Wood Chew Stick imitates the feeling of real wood but doesn't have the same risk of splintering as real wood does. Lots of dogs are attracted to the feel of chewing wood, so we can offer them a safe alternative with this toy.
- The Dura Chews are flavoured for extreme chewers. Also available as Flexi Chew for moderate chewers and Puppy Chew for the wee ones.
Mother dogs communicate with their puppies through natural chemical signals, or pheromones. Adaptil replicates these pheromones, providing comfort and security to dogs of all ages. This helps dogs and puppies to feel reassured and relaxed in challenging situations, reducing signs of stress and anxiety.
Weaning from their mum and leaving their litter mates is a particularly stressful time for puppies, but also adult dogs can find it very challenging to get used to a new environment. Adaptil aids in comforting them, de-stressing and making them feel safe.
Adaptil has been shown to reduce noise sensitivity and vocalisations in the home and in the car while supporting calm behaviour instead. Comes in the form of a collar that your dog can wear 24/7, a plug-in home diffuser and a spray (which is helpful to use in places like cars and crates).
3 SNUGGLE SAFE
Especially nice for young puppies who just left their litter but also great for our adult dogs that tend to get cold easier: the Snuggle Safe!
A non-toxic bite and scratch resistant heating disk (about the size of a small plate) that comes with a cosy soft cover and can be heated in the microwave to provide warmth and comfort for up to 10 hours.
This can help settle the pup, calm them down and help them feel safe and cosy.
4 TUG TOYS
Thanks to Samantha, Auckland based trainer, for pointing out that of course we want a toy to play with as well (soft, that you can play tug with or the dog can retrieve). The longer the toy the better - keeping puppy teeth away from hands when playing. We've got just the one: Puppy Tug Set made in Christchurch. We produce and sell them in sets to help you practise your 'drop' behaviour.
For adult dogs the PULLER might be the better choice as the ring nicely keeps your hand away from the teeth and their stronger teeth can sink in while playing. Just remember that tug toys are not to be left for chewing, but rather need to be removed after supervised play.
Providing your dog with the essentials above really is a win-win for both dogs and owners: your pet feels good and you feel even better knowing you are ensuring daily that your dog can ‘thrive’ rather than simply ‘survive’. Please email us if you have any questions about these products!