Once you have decided to get a dog, it’s time to prepare your home for the new addition. You will need some supplies, and while you may not want to purchase every item on this list initially, it is a good idea to have some of the basics ready when your dog arrives.
If you live in a warm environment, consider buying a “cool coat.” This special cooling coat or vestis made of special fabric that retains moisture and cools through evaporation for up to four hours before it needs to be re-moistened.
You may want to limit your dog to certain rooms or keep him from going up or down stairs. Baby gates work well for most dogs, but a small puppy can scoot underneath them. A better choice is a gate made especially for dogs, and there are many styles from which to choose. These gates can be free-standing, screwed into the wall, or pressure mounted, which means thatthe tension from a spring holds the gate in place. Make sure that the bars on the gate are close enough together that the dog cannot get his head stuck. If you have a young pup or adog who likes to chew, a wooden gate may not be the best choice.
Dog beds come in a wide variety of styles, from thin pads to orthopedic foam to soft, loosely padded pillows. Prices also range widely. Of course, your dog’s favorite place to sleep won’t be based on price or a fancy label but on how it suits his own idea of comfort. When you do zero in on the right kind of bed, be sure that it is large enough to let your dog stretch out and relax. It should also be washable or have a removable washable cover.
If you have a puppy or young dog who likes to chew and rip things up, wait until he outgrows this phasebefore you buy him a bed. He’ll sleep fine on the floor or the bottom of his crate.
Your dog needs at least one collar. The safest basic collar for everyday wear is a “flat collar” made of nylon, fabric, or leather and fastened with a buckle or a quick-release fastener. This is the collar that your dog should wear with identification and license tags attached.
Check the collar’s fit frequently, especially while your dog is growing, and readjust or replace it when it no longer fits. You should be able to insert two fingers between the collar and yourdog’s neck. Tighter than that is too tight for comfort and safety, and a collar that hangs looser than that can get caught on things and trap or strangle your dog.
Harnesses, like the Four Paws reflective harness, area popular alternative to the traditional collar; they solve the problem of a collar cutting into your dog’s neck. If you like harnesses for everyday or occasional use, retailers carry many fashionable choices in a variety of comfortable styles.
Many novice dog owners balk at the idea of a crate, but from the dog’s point of view, the confined space is like a cozy den. Dogs and puppies like to have a placewhere they can curl up in security and privacy.
Crates come in a few basic types, including wood, wire, and plastic. Wood enclosures are expensive, heavy, and can be difficult to clean. Wire crates are easy to clean and provide good ventilation for the dog; people often drape a blanket or towel over the wire crate to make it more cave-like. Plastic crates—like the ones Nylabone makes—are lightweight, easy to clean, and work well in most temperatures.
How big should your dog’s crate be? A crate must be big enough so that he can easily stand up in it and turn around. If you have a puppy, invest in a crate divider to make the enclosure smaller; this will help when you begin the house training process. If the crate is too large, your pup may claim one section as his sleeping area and use the excess space as his potty area. You want this first crate to be big enough to be a bedroom, not a master suite with private bathroom.
If you don’t have a room that works well to confine your dog, consider an exercise pen, or ex-pen. Ex-pens are like a child’s playpen but for a dog. They are useful for those times when you need him to be kept someplace safe but not necessarily confined to his crate.
FOOD AND WATER BOWLS
Your dog requires two sturdy bowls: one for food and one for water. Although ceramic ones may be decorative, they are breakable, so look for sturdy plastic or stainless steel bowls. However, keep in mind that plastic is chewable, can harbor bacteria, and is a little harder to clean than stainless steel.
When selecting a toy for your dog, try to think like he does. Ribbons, bells, plasticeyes, noses, and whatever other doodads are attached to that cute little toy are simply something to be ripped off, chewed up, and sometimes swallowed. The innards (stuffing) can be ripped out and sometimes eaten as well.
Dogs often fare well with durable rubber toys, like those made by Nylabone. The most popular models are those with hollow insides where you can tuck treats. Many dogs are puzzle solvers, and trying toget those snacks out is entertaining for them—and their human spectators.
Supervise your dog while he’s playing with his toys, and examine them periodically for signs of wear, discarding them as necessary.
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