Living with more than one dog can be challenging–especially if they don’t get along. This article will discuss how to keep your home safe, and how to keep your fur-family friendly.
My Boxer was a target for the nicest of dogs, so I wasn’t encouraging when my new boyfriend wanted to adopt a 115lb dog-aggressive Presa Canario. “You’re a dog trainer–you’ll fix him” he said. Our story has a happy ending; that man is now my husband and that dog is now a wonderfully well-behaved member of our family. It was A LOT of work, and though eventually it got easier–it was a cordial relationship–never a playful one.
Adult dogs are not nearly as social as they are in our fantasies. They will not necessarily readily accept having a new “friend” in their house, sharing their life. Dogs are prone to jealous behaviour, such as standing stiff between their owners and other dogs. This is one of those problematic behaviours that we accidentally or purposefully reward and strengthen. It is hard not to–it is adorable when our dogs claim us and show their affinity. Some people mistake this fear-based anxious resource guarding behaviour as protective and therefore desirable.
What is desirable is having dogs that are comfortable and safe in their own homes. We want our dogs to be able to happily and patiently watch other dogs interact with us. To follow are basic guidelines, your dogs may also require muzzle training and/or strong consideration as to whether or not you are capable of safety managing them. Please consult with a professional reward-based dog trainer to help you assess and handle your dogs.
How to bond dogs together
Walking in tandem and doing tricks together will bond your dogs. Have a partner walk one dog while you walk the other, beginning as far away as opposite sides of the street. Put your bodies between the dogs’ bodies and keep plenty of distance between you as you walk together. Let them sniff the ground near each other, but avoid on-leash interactions, keeping incidental on-leash interactions to 3 seconds max. Doing things side by side and keeping each dog under control lets them relax and get used to the other dog’s presence. Doing things side-by-side is much preferable to being face-to-face, getting all stiff and squirrelly, while we stand around waiting for something bad to happen.
When we are ready to allow dogs to get close, do so with a chain link fence between the dogs at first. Test those waters by walking the dogs along the fence line and then walking away. Keep interactions short, encouraging the dogs to move along and come back to you for reinforcement. Happily praise them the entire time that they sniff one another. If either dog appears stiff, is looking away, showing the whites of their eyes, has their ears back, or their tail tucked, immediately break off the interaction by encouraging both dogs to walk away with their handler. Follow each interaction (even stiff ones) with food rewards. To connect your food reward to the other dog, practice saying “yes” when they look at the other dog. Soon, we will delay our marker and wait until our dogs look back to us, expecting the treat. Click here for more info on using food to help dogs overcome reactivity to other dogs.
Increase your dogs’ confidence in general by learning new, fun tricks that are challenging but achievable. 10 minutes a day of teaching new tricks goes a long way toward making dogs more obedient in general but also more confident and happy. Agility and parkour are particularly effective confidence boosting activities. At first, your dogs many be afraid to go through a dark tunnel or take a leap of faith over a big jump. With your encouragement, your dogs will learn to trust you more and will feel that they know what to do and what to expect from you and from the other dog too. Let them focus on their relationship with you and recognize that the other dog is being handled by the other person–so they can just relax! Read more about how obedience training helps dogs control their fear here.
How to manage dogs in the house
Eventually, your obedience training will be so good that you can just drop them into a ‘down’ and they will be parked. For now, use your leashes to manage them in the house. It was a long time (many months) before I allowed the dogs to roam freely and interact without me structuring every move. Keep your dog on a leash and lead them directly to their spot when you come home from walks. Tie the leash to your waist or sturdy posts and keep them with you when you move around the house.
Feed dogs separately, in separate rooms or kennels is preferable, especially when the dogs are enjoying long chews/bones. Ensure that toys, treats, and chewables are kept out of their reach unless the dogs are securely separated.
Over time, you’ll be training the dogs to do more and more side-by-side, but always remember that you are better safe than sorry. Animals are unpredictable, but fights over toys and treats are easily predictable and preventable arguments. Fighting over attention requires a bit more finesse.
Training dogs to wait their turn for your attention
At first, we will train each dog separately, accomplish this by training with a partner or by taking one dog to a quiet room to train alone while the other enjoys a long chew. Once we have the basics, especially holding their ‘down‘ position, we can progress to alternating training 2 dogs in the same room, taking increasingly longer turns between dogs. Finally, we want to handle and interact with all of our dogs at once.
Each dog should have a ’spot/place’ (this could be a dog bed, a kennel, or a pedestal). Teach them to stay there. Encourage your dogs to lie down as much as possible. Accomplish this by delivering food to them, dropping it on the ground between their forearms often enough that they don’t want to move. As I mentioned, at first you may need to tether leashes to something solid–like another person.
Have your partner stand right next to dog #1’s spot and deliver food as often as needed while you get dog #2 onto their spot. Just as we might proof any distraction, we will get the dogs used to seeing us walk over to our other dog, working up to seeing us give them treats, to asking them to get up, to performing a single trick, to performing multiple tricks before returning to them to reinforce them for being such a gracious and patient audience. We will only progress as fast as the dogs are comfortable holding their positions. Once it seems like your partner is not really helping at all and you are able to return back and forth between dogs without the dogs popping up, your partner can start backing away and only step forward to help dog #1 back to position if needed. More and more, the dogs are being handled by just one person who goes back and forth between the dogs. Finally, you’ll invite both dogs to perform tricks side-by-side for one handler.
Please enjoy a couple of double-dog tricks, featuring Doug and Roscoe. Notice that in all our videos, there is always a dog lying down, patiently waiting for their turn. The dog that is waiting is still working and is still earning praise and treats for waiting, and that allows them to enjoy it and to feel secure watching the other dog earn rewards too, especially affection from me.
New Puppy in the house?
A common situation is an older dog being forced to accept a rambunctious new puppy. Don’t leave it up to your older dog to teach your puppy how to play gently and respectfully–that leads to vet bills and lousy relationships. Keep your new puppy on a leash and let your older dog come to them–if they want to. Let your older dog realize that interactions with puppy are always followed by tasty treats from you.
Feeding your older dog after puppy gets in their face accomplishes two things. 1: Your older dog will like your puppy more. 2: Your older dog will come looking to you for treats when puppy is annoying. Your older dog tattling on puppy to you is certainly preferable to them attacking the puppy. Interactions between dogs should be surrounded by praise and rewards coming from us, not us tensely saying “No!” as they interact while still letting things escalate to fights. Don’t be afraid to use your leash in the house, it may seem like too simple of a solution, but it works. Your older dog should not be expected to tolerate a puppy charging all over them all day.
Let your older dog realize that if puppy gets rough, you will be there to remove them. Teach your puppy to respect your older dog’s lip curls, growls, and other requests for space like walking away by encouraging puppy to move along. Never chastise the communication of your older dog. We want our older dog to express just how much puppy they can tolerate, and then we step in to make sure puppy doesn’t push it any farther than that. The sooner your new puppy learns basic obedience, the sooner you can ditch the leash and simply tell puppy how to act around your dog, finally enjoying a sense of normalcy.
There has been a lot of confusion over service dog laws in BC.
Some people think that a service dog isn’t legal unless they have a BC certification. This is wrong! A visitor from Ontario, for example, wouldn’t have BC certification, would they? But they still have a right to bring their service dog with them.
We hope this video we made will help clear up some of the confusion.
Have you ever wished your dog could pass your husband that wrench? Or that you could send your dog to the garden with a note for mother? One of the best tricks you can teach your barking butler is to deliver objects to targets. In this article, we will go through the 3 simple steps it takes to teach your dog to deliver an object to another person.
Step 1: Stand 8 ft apart from your partner. The sender has the dog retrieve an easy item like a glove by handing it to them or tossing it on the ground. The sender cues ‘get it,’ but as the dog comes to deliver it, the sender points and says ‘take it to (name).’
Step 2: Now the sender must be quiet and let the receiver do the talking. Sender stands still and stares at the receiver while they ask the dog to ‘bring it here.’ The sender cannot offer any further encouragement, nor should they cue the dog again. This is key. If the sender keeps talking, the dog won’t stop looking at them and go off to the receiver.
Step 3: Fade the hint by waiting 2 full seconds after the sender says “take it to-” before helping. Your dog will already be on their way over most of the time, and will require less and less encouragement from the receiver.
Simple as 1-2-3! Now you can try new objects and locations. Increase distance until the dog can deliver to someone in another room without the receiver helping at all.
Near the end of the video I left some demonstrations of how to handle setbacks, such as the dog dropping the item either halfway there or just as they deliver it. At one point Roscoe simply trots off without ever getting the item.
The person who is to receive the delivery is the person who needs to encourage the retrieve. The sender must always remain silent after giving the ‘take it to’ cue.
If the dog drops the item, ask them to retrieve it again rather than picking it up yourself.
If the ‘get it’ is a complete fail to begin with (as in the case that they march off with nothing), then the sender will have to call the dog back to start over, but once the dog has the item, the sender must stay silent.
Enjoy your dog’s new skill!
Move over, Lassie, here comes my dog, and he’s got a message for you and my mom! (that he’s the bestest boy there is).
Here are some biggest factors that people consider when picking their next dog… and why they shouldn’t.
Picking your next family member is an important decision. We find that most families put serious thought into the type of dog they get.
But even in cases where the family thought carefully before picking their dog, we trainers find ourselves often wishing that our clients had picked a different breed.
Well, here are some biggest factors that people consider when picking their next dog… and why they shouldn’t.
“I don’t have time to exercise a big dog” or “I want a dog that can go on hikes with me” are common responses when we ask why a client chose the breed they did.
Unfortunately, people assume that big dogs need more exercise, when size has very little to do with exercise requirements. A Newfoundland needs far less exercise than a Jack Russell Terrier, for example.
Size also doesn’t affect how much space the dog needs. A giant hearthrug is sometimes more suitable to a small apartment than a small ball of unbridled energy. A greyhound needs a couch. A terrier needs a farm.
What size does affect is the cost to care for the dog – big dogs eat a lot, and when they get sick they need much bigger doses of medication.
So by all means consider size, but only for very concrete reasons such as strata bylaws, upkeep cost, and physical work required (a yorkshire terrier should not be considered as a wheelchair pulling dog, for example).
Many dogs are picked because they shed less. Totally valid. Shedding fur is a pain in the butt. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that short haired dogs shed less than long haired dogs.
Anyone who has owned a lab or a pug will tell you that they shed TONS of fur, far more than a golden retriever does.
Sometimes people think dogs who don’t shed are hypoallergenic. This is not, in fact, the case.
My own husband, for example, is very allergic to Poodles. They make him sneeze like crazy. We bought a Bernese Mountain Dog partially because those big, hairy, shedding Alpine draft dogs do not aggravate his allergies.
One client of ours bought a pug because they are the only breed that doesn’t make her break out in hives, even though they shed nasty amounts of hair.
Studies have showed that nonshedding dogs drop just as much dander (skin cells) as shedding dogs, and it is in fact often the dog’s saliva which people are allergic to.
That being said, different types of dogs seem to have different types of dander, so many people are allergic to labs but not to wheaten terriers, for example. But rather than assuming that nonshedding = hypoallergenic, test your allergies on the breed of dog you are considering first.
Finally, remember that if you are buying a mixed breed, such as a golden doodle, that a wide variety of hair coats come out of mixing two breeds together. Some have poodle hair. Some have silky hair and shed less but still some. Some have terrier-type hair and shed all over the place.
Mix breed dogs are often healthy due to hybrid vigour (non-inbreeding) but their temperments and hair coat are less predictable so take that into consideration.
“I heard they were really smart” is a popular reason for getting a particular breed. But do you really want a smart dog?
Smart dogs take a lot of work.
It is harder to train a highly intelligent dog. They question your every decision. They look for loopholes in every rule. They test boundaries just for the fun of it.
If you want a dog who will figure out how to unlatch their crate and get into the garbage while you are out of the house, then get a smart dog.
If you want a dog who will happily snooze the day away and obey you happily and willingly for the love of all things holy do NOT get a highly intelligent breed.
But is that really what you want?
While dog trainers appreciate the lightning speed and the obsessive workaholism of a Border Collie or Belgian Malinois, your average family does not want or need that kind of intelligence.
Dog trainers constantly joke about it, making memes like this:
Most people don’t actually want smart dogs. They pick a dog breed for intelligence and then hire us to fix that intelligence.
They really want willing dogs.
Intelligence usually only refers to how quickly someone learns, or how easily they can solve a problem.
Slow and steady often wins that race.
My Bernese Mountain Dog doesn’t pick up on stuff with the laser-beam focus that my sheltie Odin did. But she’s willing and she gets there and she is a much, MUCH easier dog to live with than Odin was when he was her age.
He was also the sweetest, happiest, friendliest, most loving dog you could ever hope to meet.
Doug was a great dog.
Doug was a Trick Dog Champion who would fetch you a Kleenex when you sneezed, and then go put it in the garbage for you. He could dunk a basketball into a basketball net, roll himself up in a blanket, and throw away his own poop bags.
You don’t need a smart dog to get a good dog.
“I heard they are really loyal and loving” is what people often say about their breed of choice.
Guess what? All dog breeds are loyal and loving. They are dogs. We have selectively bred them to be our helpers and companions for millions of generations.
The selfish, unloving, vicious jerks didn’t make the cut.
Every single breed in the Kennel Club database will be described as affectionate/friendly/loving/gentle/loyal.
Every single one.
Any dog with a solid stable temperament will love you and work to please you. Dogs are just like that.
Temperament is the least predictable aspect of a dog breed. Within any breed you can get fearful dogs, outgoing dogs, anxious dogs, and bomb-proof dogs.
Temperament testing is largely useless, too.
Service dog schools have poured a lot of money into trying to predict a puppy’s adult temperaments, but it has been found again and again to be pretty futile. We change so much as we grow and learn that you simply can’t predict the future from a brief snapshot of a puppy’s behaviour.
Someone who lives with the puppy can tell you if they are brave or shy, clingy or independent, but that’s about it.
The physical characteristics of a breed are much more predictable than the personality of the dog in question. They’re all unique individuals, after all.
So What’s The Best Way To Pick A Dog?
While all of the above considerations are things to think about, there is one very important step that many families skip.
Know What Your Dog Was Bred To Do
Dog breeds were bred for a purpose.
While nowadays breed choices hinge largely on things like size or coat type, it used to be that dogs worked for a living, and the dogs who did the best at their jobs were bred and used to parent future generations.
The standard “look” of the breed you love was usually fostered after the fact by fans of the breed who began selecting for appearance. But originally the dogs were bred because they loved to do the job and they were good at it.
That means that your Labrador Retriever comes from generations upon generations of dogs that loved to carry things in their mouths.
Your Border Collie comes from generations of dogs who love to run after sheep and make them go where they are supposed to go.
Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comes from ancestors who made particularly excellent companions.
Know what your dog was bred to do, because there is an excellent chance that your dog is going to want to do that thing.
Do not get a terrier if you want a dog that will lie still and sleep all day. Terriers are bred to hunt for mice and rats, and will spend much of the day patrolling. They won’t want to eat out of a bowl – they’ll want to earn their meals.
Do not get a Newfoundland if you want a hiking companion. They were bred to sit on a boat all day and occasionally help haul a fishnet onto deck. Short bursts of energy are the best you can expect.
Do not get a Beagle if you want a dog who hangs on your every word. Hounds are bred to go out and sniff out prey all on their own. They think for themselves and don’t appreciate being given orders. That nose will be on the ground and they will track that rabbit no matter how many times you call.
Do not get a Cavalier King Charles if you want a hearing-ear dog to alert you to fire alarms and ringing phones. That dog is not going to get out of a warm and comfy bed to let you know that your boss is calling you.
Are there retrievers out there who don’t pick up everything in their mouths? Yes.
Are there terriers who sleep all day, rather than barking at passers-by from the picture window? Yes.
Are there hyper-intelligent pugs who need to be kept mentally stimulated to prevent them from thoroughly outwitting their owners?
It’s… hypothetically possible, okay?
My point is that yes, weirdos exist in every breed, and temperaments within breeds can vary widely. However, it is a very safe bet to assume that your dog will really enjoy doing what it has been bred to do.
You can start by looking at its AKC Group.
The American Kennel Club groups dog breeds by purpose.
These are dogs bred for finding or fetching game. Spaniels, Retrievers, Pointers and Setters all fall into this category.
Because these breeds were meant to follow the hunter’s instructions and then return, they tend to be obedient and eager to please. Because they had to be brave enough to put up with loud gun shots, they tend to socialize easily. And because they did not need to guard anything, they tend to be friendly and easy-going.
There is a reason that service dog schools use retrievers – they are emotionally tough, can handle a kennel environment, and they can handle accompanying to the new summer blockbuster action flick. They also love to work.
They also all love to chase birds and need a moderate to high amount of exercise.
As long as you can meet those exercise requirements and give your sporting dog some jobs, they make great family friends.
Hounds are bred to sniff out, track down, and sometimes kill game.
This group, which includes Beagles, Fox Hounds, and Basenjis, tend to be independent thinkers and problem solvers who don’t spend much time taking orders from their handler.
The best hounds were the ones who never gave up and didn’t come running back to the boss for help the moment the trail went cold.
Anyone who has ever read Where the Red Fern Grows knows how stubborness – doggedness, you could call it – was valued in hound-type dogs.
If you want an independent family dog who isn’t too clingy, consider a dog from the hound group. Many of them have high energy requirements, but beagles are medium energy while Bassets are practically ottomans.
The working group is the group with the most dog breeds that should have big red flags on them saying “Not For Beginners”.
Ranging widely from herding dogs to guard dogs, any breed in the Working Group was bred for a very specific task and you should keep that task in mind before you buy.
Most dogs from the working group want to do their job and if you don’t give them a job then may Dog have mercy on your soul.
That being said, there are some truly wonderful companions in this group and most dog trainers choose Working Group dogs. I have never owned a dog that didn’t fall into this category.
Because of the variety of tasks a working dog could perform, this is the group where it is most important that you read the fine print on the history of the breed.
The Doberman is a wonderful example.
Dobermann was a tax man who wanted a dog to accompany him on his rounds and protect him (tax collectors are strangely unpopular). He combined the guarding tendencies of a Rottweiler with the rabid workaholism of herding breed dogs and ended up with a dog very similar to what we now call the Doberman Pinscher.
The result is a dog with the fierce intelligence of a herding breed dog with the possessiveness of a guard dog. Which, depending on what you want in a dog, is either awesome or a big fat YIKES.
That being said, don’t rule out a breed just because it belongs to this group. Many of the drafting breeds make calm, loving, and hard working family members. Just know what the dog is bred to do, and think about how that might affect your dog’s personality.
Terriers are mostly vermin-hunters – bred to keep rats out of barns, kill foxes, or dig badgers out of their sets. Some did it competitively, with people betting how many rats a dog could kill.
Because of this, terrier tend to be feisty, independent, and quick-witted. They learn fast, think for themselves, and love a good challenge.
Some terriers were bred for dog fighting – mixed with bulldogs and thrown into the arena for bloodsport. If your dog comes from one of these lines, be aware that extensive dog socialization is a must.
Terriers have a ton of personality and are a lot of fun. They love to do pretty much every task there is… except stay home and sleep.
Toy breeds often are miniaturized versions of breeds from other categories. It delighted wealthy ladies to have a pet which looked like a doll-like version of popular working dogs. Thus the Cavalier is a miniature spaniel, the Pug a miniature mastiff, and the pomeranian a miniature spitz.
Toys were used as the playthings of the rich and indolent and as living hot water bottles for the sick and the poor.
Because they were bred specifically for size or unusual appearance (such as hairlessness) they are more prone to health problems than sporting and working breeds. However, with proper care most Toy breeds have very long life expectancies, often 16-17 years of age.
Most Toy breeds maintain the personality of the breeds that they originally came from, but tend to have more clingy natures and don’t do well alone. Many of them tend to be one-man dogs and can be standoffish with strangers.
Most don’t stand up to rough handling and many are not good with children – Pugs and Cavaliers being notable exceptions. Pugs can be positively rough-and-tumble and make excellent family dogs.
Toys are not for everyone, and they are certainly not the animated stuffed animals they are sometimes mistaken for. Please research carefully about the breed’s health and temperament before you get one.
This is the biggest catch-all of the breed groups. The breeds in this group are usually here because they were (at least in recent history) bred for looks more than for one particular job.
This is where you find many of the most distinctive breeds such as Dalmations, Poodles, and Bulldogs.
If you’re considering a dog in the Non-Sporting category, read the history carefully. Some, like the poodle, are so wonderfully versatile that they make excellent dogs for all types of owners. Others, like the Chow Chow, are only suitable for very specific types of homes.
Many Non-Sporting breeds come with severe health problems – a side effect of being bred primarily for appearance. Bulldogs have chronic skin problems and sometimes need surgery to be able to breathe comfortably. Dalmations are prone to bladder stones. Poodles – especially the smaller poodles – are notorious for their terrible teeth.
No matter how cute you think a particular breed or breed mix is, or no matter how much you have heard about the dog’s personality, it is important to know what a dog was bred to do.
If your dog is a mix, consider that your dog could want to do either or all jobs bred into their ancestors.
Because while every dog is their own unique person, if a dog comes from a long line of dogs who liked to do a particular job, you need to ask yourself if you want a dog who loves to do that particular thing.
That doesn’t mean your dog can’t do other jobs.
All dogs, for example, have a tendency to guard the family home, particularly when left up to their own devices. This was the first job dogs ever did for humans and so it is in the genetic makeup of every dog, though some breeds are more territorial than others.
Toys, in particular, often take up guarding because they are frequently treated more like cats than like dogs and lack enrichment and other “jobs” so they default to the original dog job – barking at everything.
Ultimately, all dogs are reasonably intelligent, as domestic animals go, and are capable of learning new things.
So Bernese Mountain Dogs, who are lumbering farm and draft dogs, can learn to do agility. Dachshunds, bred to dig our burrowing animals, can learn to play flyball. Pugs can become Trick Dog Champions.
In fact, experienced trainers often delight in training a dog to go beyond its breed and wow other trainers.
But when you are considering a family member, it’s important to understand that every dog has a purpose, it is up to you to help them fulfill it…
You’ll be surprised at what a professional dog trainer buys before puppy comes home.
What does a professional dog trainer buy when preparing for a new puppy? The answer might surprise you.
Shopping for a puppy is always exciting, but what do you really need? Many new dog owners are overwhelmed by the choices and myriad opinions of everyone they meet.
“Your dog needs a crate.”
“Don’t get a crate, it’s cruel. You want a pen.”
“Get a pen and put the crate INSIDE.”
“Get raised dog bowls. It’s better for their spine alignment.”
“Don’t get raised dog bowls! It causes Bloat.”
“You need stuffy toys.”
“Don’t get stuffy toys, it’ll teach the dog to chew children’s toys!”
Everyone has an opinion, don’t they? And everything is so expensive!
Well, I just picked up my new puppy this week. I’m a professional dog trainer with a decade of experience, certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, and I am a veterinary technician who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Guelph and who worked as Director of Medical Services at a veterinary clinic.
Want to know what I bought?
The Essential Puppy Supply Checklist.
Wide water bowl that isn’t too high and isn’t easy to tip over.
I went with a cheap melamine bowl from Bosley’s.
Plastic mat to put under that water bowl.
Most puppies are sloppy drinkers and some actively paw the water out of their bowls. A mat with a rim will help catch some of that mess. When your puppy is older, a microfiber absorbent mat is your best bet, but a puppy would just eat that up and they aren’t cheap.
A rusted, broken, zap-strapped-together old crate
I got it for free on Facebook Marketplace. This crate is missing all of its bolts. The door is rusted with age. The plastic is chewed and scratched and cracked. It’s perfect.
Crates are completely essential both for your puppy’s safety and your sanity. Dogs don’t like to urinate or defecate where they sleep – even though they love urinating and defecating everywhere else. Plus the crate provides a safe place to put the puppy when you can’t keep an eye on them.
It isn’t cruel to put a puppy in a crate any more than it is cruel to put a baby in a playpen or crib. And it is vital for easy and painless potty training. Since housebreaking issues are one of the major reasons dogs are relinquished to shelters, please just get a crate.
But if you’re getting a large breed dog, like me, you have a problem – if I get a crate big enough to hold a full grown Bernese Mountain Dog, that will give the puppy so much room that she could sleep in one corner and pee in another.
This crate was free, clean, and is nice and snug for my 20 lb Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. When she gets too big for it (probably by next month!) I can size up.
Always check Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for hand-me-down crates. Many people don’t bother with them once their dog is a couple of years old, potty trained, and past the point of chewing up their shoes. Then they list them online and depending on the condition of the crate will price them at $50-80 or even free.
Dollarama leashes, including long-lines.
An off-leash puppy is trouble. The best thing you can do for your stress levels, next to getting a crate, is to keep the puppy on a leash at all times. Leashed puppies can’t pee behind the couch or chew your shoe when you’re busy with the kids. You don’t want your dog to get into the habit of wandering around looking for trouble.
Why the dollar store? Well, puppies chew things. They are adorable bundles of predatory destruction. Don’t get anything expensive until your pup is at least six months old, preferably one or two years old. Expect to go through multiple leashes as they get shredded, urinated on, and dragged through goodness knows what.
Bark Box has NOT paid us or offered us any kind of incentive to advertise their monthly subscription boxes. They’re just genuinely THAT good.
Bark Boxes come once a month and each one has its own adorable theme. Matching that theme will be a couple of high-quality toys that crinkle, squeak, and sometimes even have bonus toys hidden inside. I once got a stuffed Viking ship and when my boarders finally destroyed it I found a squeaky Viking ball inside!
Along with the toys are two bags of grain-free treats. Common ingredients include pork, chicken, beef, and fish. Last month they were alligator!
Finally, there are two chewy stick type treats. Sometimes they are dog pepperoni, sometimes a sort of bully stick.
As a dog trainer, I find this constant supply of treats and toys for $22 USD a month to be invaluable. For anyone with an active, destructive puppy, I think a Bark Box subscription – even just for three months during puppyhood – could be a life and wallet saver.
By the way, it also makes a GREAT gift for someone expecting a new puppy. You can even pick and choose the theme of the gift box!
Totally Optional Purchases
A food bowl.
That’s right. Food bowls are optional. Most dogs prefer to earn their food from your hand than to eat it for free from a bowl, especially breeds like Yorkies and Poodles.
I’m a big believer of puppies earning kibble from my hand by sitting, pottying outside, and dropping the socks they pick up. But I still feed them three small meals to keep bowel movements regular and blood sugar levels even.
But why put it in a bowl?
A scoopful of kibble dumped on the floor is just as good from a dog’s point of view.
If your puppy doesn’t eat the meal all at once, then feed less next time.
Feeding raw or homecooked? Then a tupperware container or a flat, washable placemat is probably just as easy as a bowl. Dogs find bowls difficult to eat out of, especially when their food is soft. The food gets squished into the corners and their nose bumps the bowl across the room when they try to lick it out.
By all means, get a food bowl if you want one. Just know that your dog doesn’t care about bowls at all and you can save your money.
A Snuggle Puppy
These nifty little inventions have electronic hearts that go thump-thump-thump. A nice comfort item for a puppy sleeping away from Mom and siblings for the first time. Bonus points if you can leave it with the mother for a few days before the puppy comes home so it smells like Mom too.
Can’t be bothered to order a stuffed dog on Amazon? The old standby of a water bottle and a ticking clock is never a bad idea, and many puppies do just fine with a person sleeping nearby.
I didn’t need to buy one of these because I have them scattered all over my house. Clickers are a dog trainer’s best friend. A clicker is a clear, precise, and distinct way to communicate to a dog that they have earned a treat. Clicking improves communication between me and the dog which means the puppy learns faster and I don’t get as frustrated.
But a simple “yes!” or “BAM!” works just as well as a click.
If you do get a clicker, get a cheap rectangle one. They click louder and last longer than the fancy new-fangled kinds they sell in stores these days.
Front Clip Harness/Seatbelt
If you have a small breed dog, seriously consider a harness with a front clip and webbing in the chest area.
Small breeds are very prone to collapsing trachea and pulling on a collar can wreck their airway. A front-clip harness ensures there is no pressure on your dog’s neck.
Kurgo makes a great harness which also doubles as a seatbelt – very important if you have the size of dog which can climb onto your lap when you are driving or fly through the window as a projectile during a crash.
Large breed dogs also benefit from front clip harnesses especially as they grow, because the front clip gives you some extra leverage against a strong dog.
large dogs should also either be buckled onto a seat or should learn to ride on the floor footwell of the car rather than on a seat.
It can also be expensive to replace harnesses as the dog grows so I’m not bothering until the puppy gets bigger! In the meantime, a crate or the floor of the car are good places for her to ride.
These things teach dogs to pull. Their handles, if dropped, have been known to terrify dogs into bolting away. Dog trainers hate them. Don’t get one.
Puppy Pee Pads
These things are totally useless. Training your puppy to urinate indoors – even if it’s on a special surface – is not a good idea for the long term if your ultimate goal is a housebroken dog. Plus, puppies love ripping up pee pads and eating the not-at-all-safe-to-eat absorbent chemicals inside.
From day 1, take puppy outside and plunk them down on the dirt to pee. Live in a condo? No problem. Get a big litter box and fill it with dirt or sand or even turf from the local plant nursery and put it on your balcony.
Can’t take puppy out regularly? Consider hiring a dog walker to come by while you’re at work, especially if you plan to live a life where you don’t always come home to messes that need to be cleaned up.
If you’re still Determined to let your puppy pee inside, get old towels from Value Village like God intended and wash them regularly.
Puppies destroy everything. They chew it, pee on it, vomit it up, eat it again, then poop it out.
Do not buy anything you are not willing to clean diarrhea off of or throw away until your dog has hit emotional maturity.
Ready, Set, Go!
So, have you got your old/second hand/dollar store dog equipment? Good! Then you are ready for your new puppy!