There are lots of devices (mostly harnesses and head collars) that claim to help stop dogs from pulling on the lead. Some of these rub, squeeze or pinch the dog, and tend not to be tolerated well, so shop around and make sure that your puppy is comfortable wearing it. You should allow your puppy time to become accustomed to any aid you decide on. However, if you ensure correct training from the start, your puppy should not pull on the lead.
Your puppy needs a comfortable bed, so buy a bed big enough for it to grow into, and stretch out in. There are many types of good bedding for your puppy.
Most puppies love snuggling into a piece of ‘vetbed’ or similar. This is a synthetic simulated sheepskin, which is hygienic, machine washable, totally non-allergenic and relatively resistant to chewing. It can also help to prevent pressure sores on bigger dogs. Buy two pieces so you use one while washing and drying the other.
Bowls for food and water
You will need separate (non-slip) bowls for food and water. These should be raised up off the floor for tall dogs. Make sure fresh water is always available for your puppy.
Car harness, traveling crate or dog guard
A dog should travel either behind a dog guard, secured with a car seat harness or, ideally, in a crate or fixed car cage. A crate or cage gives a dog its own space and ensures both safety and comfort. If you have space for a crate then this provides a safe haven for your puppy in the car. There is nothing worse than seeing a dog squashed in a car with luggage piled up around it.
Accustom your puppy to car travel with very short trips at first ideally when the puppy is tired so it will go to sleep. If the puppy is car sick try fixing the crate on the back seat as the car sways far more at the back which can cause travel sickness.
Some short coated or recently clipped dogs really feel the cold, so may benefit from wearing a fitted jumper or coat when out on walks. Some long coated dogs may benefit from protective clothing to keep them clean and dry in winter weather. Make sure it fits properly and is well tolerated by your puppy. Never make your puppy wear clothes indoors.
Choose a comfortable collar that is suitable for the breed, size and age of puppy. Puppies grow rapidly and collars should be checked almost daily for condition and fit. These should not be so loose that they can slip over your puppy’s head or so tight that you cannot slip two fingers underneath.
Short coated dogs need to be groomed regularly, especially when they are moulting as their short hairs get can get stuck into everything! Use a rubber toothed brush or a short bristle brush, which massages the skin and works out the loose hair.
Breeds with medium to long coats or thick undercoats need gentle de-tangling every day to keep them knot free. The main problem areas that need the most attention tend to be behind the ears, between the toes, under the feet, in the armpits, the backs of the legs and around the tail. Some dogs will need to have their beards or hair around their eyes cleaned regularly.
If you are not showing your puppy you may wish to trim these areas back. However, use round ended scissors so that you do not accidentally stab your puppy, and get someone to help you if your puppy will not stand still, otherwise ask an experienced groomer to do this for you.
If you intend to exhibit your puppy in the show ring it may need to have its coat trimmed into a special shape, or need hand stripping or clipping. Your breeder, a groomer, ringcraft class or breed club can advise you on the best way to achieve this. They can also advise you on the best type of brushes and combs to use. Contact details for your breed club can be found in the Breed Information Centre.
Always brush your puppy slowly and gently. Gradually introduce the concept of grooming in very short sessions. If your puppy tries to bite the brush, put some taste deterrent on the brush so it learns not to bother.
Some dogs will need to have their nails trimmed if they get too long. If your dog has dew-claws (like little thumbs on the inside of its ‘wrists’) they should be checked frequently as these do not get worn down naturally and can grow in a circle and cut into the flesh. You can learn to trim the nails yourself or have a vet or groomer do it for you.
In particular, dogs with white or sparse coats can be susceptible to sunburn so use a high factor sun cream on their ears and other exposed areas in hot sunny weather.
You are required by law (The Control of Dogs Order 1992) to inscribe the name and address of the owner on the collar or on a plate or disc attached to it. You must comply with this, even if it is microchipped, and you can be fined up to £5,000 if you do not. You may also want to put your telephone numbers on the tag, but you do not need to put your dog’s name on it. Engraved discs (which you can order online here) are better than barrel types, which often undo and lose their contents. You do not need to buy a dog licence any more.
Choose a lead that is suitable for the size and breed of your puppy, not too long, too short or too heavy. A good rope lead is both strong and comfortable on your hands. Chain leads can hurt your hands, but may be useful if you have a puppy that likes to chew or carry its lead in its mouth. Nylon leads are strong, but can hurt your hands. Whatever type you choose, make sure you attach it to the ‘D ring’ of the collar and not onto the split ring that attaches the identity disc to the collar, as this is not strong enough to take the weight of your dog.
Many people still prefer the traditional leather lead which requires to be oiled or saddle soaped to be kept clean and supple. Particular attention should be paid to the catch/clip which must be strong and not liable to break or straighten.
Outdoor kennels and dog runs
Dogs are sociable animals and most of them prefer to live indoors, and can get pretty miserable if left outside. However, if your puppy spends most of its time outside, then you need to provide it with an enclosed run and a specially designed kennel, or it will wreck your garden. Providing toys is particularly important if your puppy is left alone for periods of time. They can be useful in providing a space for the puppy to call its own. It will also allow the puppy to become less reliant on constant companionship and avoid separation anxiety in the future.
You are required by law (Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005) to clear up after your dog in public areas and dispose of the bag in an appropriate bin, so you will need a supply of poo bags, sandwich bags or nappy sacks to take with you whenever you are out with your puppy.
Puppy crates, play pens and child-gates
Some dogs love having their own ‘four poster beds’ and many puppy owners find these useful for containing the puppy and keeping it safe and out of trouble when it is alone, rather like putting a baby in a cot or play pen.
When ordering a crate for your puppy, buy one big enough for it to lie in stretched out and standing up in when it is fully grown. Make sure that the mesh is not too big as puppies may get their mouths caught. Put some bedding inside and tie some toys in the far end of the crate so the puppy has to go in there to play with them. Gently place your puppy in there whenever it falls asleep. Leave occasional treats in the crate for the puppy to find, so the puppy learns to love going in there. Do not shut the door until your puppy is comfortable being in there, and start closing the door when you are feeding it and when it has fallen asleep. Make sure you stay around to let it out the moment it wakes up or finishes its meal.
You can gradually increase the time the puppy stays in the crate, and initially this should be whilst you are in the room with it.
Make sure it has recently emptied its bladder and bowels before it enters and do not leave your puppy in the crate or puppy pen for more than a couple of hours during the daytime. Although most puppies are content to sleep in their crate overnight, they get very distressed if they have to foul near their beds, so you must be prepared to get out of your bed to let them out if they need to toilet during the night. If they have fouled inside the crate, you must clean it out immediately or the puppy will hate being in the crate.
Never use the crate as a sin-bin or you will teach your puppy to resent it. Always remove the puppy’s collar when in the crate in case it gets caught up on it.
A full range of crates including Crufts branded crates can be ordered from Croft Online.
Dogs only need to be bathed every few months unless they have been swimming or have rolled in something smelly. Use a dog shampoo and put a non-slip mat down if using the bath. Towel drying your puppy is important and will get it used to being dried when it comes home wet from a walk.
(Dog) Toothpaste and Toothbrush
Gum disease is far too common in middle-aged dogs and can lead to all sorts of health problems, so it pays to brush your puppy’s teeth. Use special canine toothpaste, which comes in tasty flavours and does not foam (unlike human toothpaste) with a special rubber thimble for dogs’ teeth.
It is very important that your puppy has a range of appropriate and interesting toys to play with, otherwise it might chew on your things, instead of its own. Chew toys also provide mental stimulation, help to keep your dog’s teeth clean and allow it to exercise its jaws. Select toys for your puppy carefully – some may be too small and might choke your puppy whilst other items might splinter.
You should also have toys that you can play with interactively, like balls on ropes and frisbees, so that you can have fun with your puppy.
Do not let your puppy play with sticks, golf or squash balls. All these things can easily get stuck in the throat and cause damage or even death. For this reason, it is important to bear in mind the size of your puppy and the size of the chew or toy you decide to purchase. If a chew becomes too small after a prolonged period of chewing, do not take the risk and throw the chew away.