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Americans like to dedicate weeks and months to certain causes. The month of May is no exception. Mothers everywhere are honored in the second weekend of May. But we have other companions honored this month as well: pets. Starting on the first Sunday each May is National Pet Week. This year, that’s May 4 – May 10. You can find a list of dates honoring pets on the AVMA website.
Chip is my first dog, ever. And being a first time fur-mom I went a little overboard in my shopping list wants. Then I got an angry face from my husband and scaled it back. I still don’t understand why he didn’t think Chip needed a doggy water fountain. I mean, how can you let that sweet face have stale, room-temperature water? I digress.
When Daisy joined our pack, I had a better understanding of what we needed with a new puppy. Hint: it wasn’t pink dresses and pearl necklaces (because the little devil ripped those off immediately). I already knew I was going to be responsible and spay/neuter my pets, I read up on never EVER leaving your pets in the car, and we already knew who was going to take care of the dogs– me. Going to the local PetSmart or Petco makes it difficult to keep yourself from buying all the things, but here’s a few tips to help you get started.
Rule #1: buy your puppy some chew toys if you want to keep your shoes, power cords, and furniture safe. They need to chew. In addition to their teeth growing, puppies are mouthy (literally) and they learn about the world through their mouth. It’s up to you to show them what’s acceptable to chew on. I found that my pups like Nylabone chew bones. As a special treat, you could also get them smoked beef bones(not pictured). Never give your puppy chicken or turkey bones, as the hollow centers make them brittle and they can break after they’re eaten. It can land your puppy in the ER! My friend Nadine suggested elk antler chews. It keeps her Archie boy entertained for hours! I would recommend this only if you bring home an older dog, just to be safe.
Do you want your puppy to learn cute tricks? (Roll over is a crowd favorite!) Come when called? Sit? Then I highly suggest a clicker. Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell recommends clicker training with positive reinforcements (aka treats). I liked this clicker, as the button makes it easy to juggle a jumping puppy and treats. For the treats, I needed little bits of good stuff that wouldn’t ruin the puppy’s dinner. I found that Zuke’s Mini Naturals dog treats had the best of both worlds. These treats and the clicker were essential for leash-training Daisy. She was terrified of the leash. For small dogs, I recommend using a Puppia harness instead of a collar. Their little necks are fragile!
I researched dog food for almost 8 MONTHS before we got Chip. The Petsmart employees flat out told me which dog food aisle I wanted to avoid (hint: they begin with P’s and they’re owned by HUGE companies and they spend billions marketing their crappy food as healthy on TV!). I started Chip out on Blue Buffalo, but when he started limping at 4 months I had to buy him glucosamine supplements. I finally found Orijen, one of the best I had found during my research but was too cheap to buy, and their inclusion of natural glucosamine stopped Chip’s limping. I love this food so much that I raved about Orijen in another post.
Grooming is something you can’t forget about. The best nail clipper I’ve found is made by JW Pet and it is still going strong after 4 years with two dogs! I also have the Peticure nail trimmer (not pictured), as Chip has dark nails and I’m afraid of cutting too much off. I did it once and I cried along with him! As far as shampoo, I love Earthbath all-natural puppy shampoo as it doesn’t have bad chemicals in it and leaves them nice and soft afterwards. Because Chip and Daisy both have hair and not fur, as all Maltese do, I also follow up with Earthbath all-natural creme rinse and conditioner.
If you work, you might want to invest in an adjustable crate. Because all of these items aren’t cheap, we saved money by using old towels in the crate instead of a pricey crate pad. Make sure to leave the puppy a worn piece of your clothing, like a tee shirt, so that they feel comforted in your absence.
If all of this sounds expensive to you, it should. Bringing a dog home is not something to do on a whim. Not only do you have to factor in the costs of food and supplies, but you also have to consider their medical care. Shop around for veterinarians in your area. Some places also have low-cost clinics that provide vaccinations and other medical care at a huge savings.
What would you say you need when bringing home a puppy?