Bringing a new puppy into your life is exciting! With new puppy owners, the question we hear the most is: how do you integrate a puppy into the home and quickly teach them the rules?
In some ways, preparing for a new puppy is similar to preparing for a new baby; there is a lot of pre-planning to do and having the right environment set-up before you get started is the key to success! That’s why we’ve put together this new puppy shopping guide to help you.
There are many useful tools, toys, and gadgets that can be incredibly helpful to the training process. Here are the most important ones to make sure your puppy grows up to be a Zen Dog!
Collar and ID Tag
- Your dog should wear a collar at all times for identification in emergencies, and to create teachable moments in the home (OK to remove at night).
- For safety reasons your dog should always wear an identification tag that includes their name and your phone number.
- Martingale collars are more secure, and helpful for newly adopted dogs, shy dogs or other dogs at risk of backing out of a traditional collar.
Indoor leash a.k.a Drag Line (4-6 feet)
- A leash worn inside the house, meant to drag on the floor, makes it easier to control your puppy and intervene when they act out. We recommend this 4 foot indoor dragline.
- Attach to the harness during training games, when your puppy is getting out of control or before opening the door for guests and visitors.
- Leash can be used as a tether by attaching it to ca couch or chair leg. Tethers make it easier to manage family meal times, prevent mischief when children are playing or while watching a movie. Important: Be safe! Never leave a tether dog alone or unsupervised!
- A Longer leash is essential for teaching walking skills, rewarding good behavior, and creating the illusion of freedom on walks outside.
- Typically held at the 4-foot length on walks, a longer leash allows people to get a good two-handed grip on the leash without sacrificing length.
- 6-foot leash is essential for performing the “Leash Step”, “My Walk”, and other Zen Dog Training games. We recommend this 6 foot leash.
Food and (Larger) Water Bowl
- We recommend you use a metal or ceramic food/water bowls that are durable and easy to clean. Metal bowls with a plastic bottom can help prevent your puppy from getting scared by the bowl rattling around.
- Especially with larger dogs, get a bigger water bowl so there is less of a chance of the bowl going empty. Water is the essence of life and not providing with enough water can cause medical issues, and also, lead to weird water hording or water guzzling habits.
- Always keep a steady supply of clean, fresh water in the bowl. Make sure that in addition to re-filling the bowl you clean it with soap and water weekly (at least!)
High value treats
- Food is a primary motivator for most puppies and treats should be brought with you everywhere! We recommend these beef jerky treats. Dogs seem to love them, they are healthy (all USA beef), a good value, easy to break up, and don’t make your hands stink!
- Remember: your puppy may love their kibble for training at home, but you’ll need high-value treats for difficult behaviors, socialization exercises and on walks when your dog will be more distracted.
- High-value treats are the kinds of foods that your dog goes crazy with desire over! This can be cheese bits, hot dogs, or store-bought treats.
- Treats are essential to positive reinforcement training. When your puppy does something you like (sits, comes, does their business outside, etc.), say “Yes!” THEN give them a treat.
- Treats are also a must for socialization. If you have a shy puppy, giving them yummy treats in situations where they are unsure can help lessen their fears and creates positive experience to help overcome phobias.
Treat Bag or Pouch
- Good trainers carry a treat bag and vary the value of the treats by carrying 2-3 different kinds in them. We recommend you make a treat bag before going on walks or starting to train.
- Using a treat pouch is a great way to start your pups training on the right paw. During training it is important that your puppy doesn’t see the treats, so you reward good behaviors rather than bribe your puppy with food.
- Jackpot! When working on tough behaviors, like off-leash recall, or going to the bathroom outside, give your puppy a “jackpot” 2-3 treats (in a row) as you praise them.
- Easy Walk, Sensation, and Freedom style front-clip harnesses attach to the chest-area allowing you to have better control while on leash.
- With a front-clip harness, pulling on the leash are naturally corrected as your dog will get turned around. This make walks easier, especially with high-energy or bigger dogs.
Here are our recommendations for front-clip harnesses:
- Best Value (designed as a back clip harness but has a metal ring you can clip to in the front)
- Easy Walk Harness – Our go to product, We find the Medium/Large, and Small/Medium sizes are the ones that fit more dogs.
- The Easy Walk Deluxe is nice if you want a bit of extra padding.
- A small play pen or baby gate can be crucial in creating an environment for learning. By limiting your puppy to one puppy-proofed area or room, you can prevent many destructive behaviors.
- Encourage children to playing with the puppy in the confinement area, when the puppy gets nippy, people can leave the area and teach a powerful lesson at the same time. Nipping and biting results in being left out of the pack!
- Essential to helping prevent separation anxiety. Encourages your puppy to be independent by preventing them from shadowing you from room to room.
- A plastic covered wire tether can be used outdoors or indoors to tether them to one area. Great for hanging outside in the sun or for yards that do not have fences. Important to note: do not rely on a tie out as a substitute for healthy exercise.
- You can use a shorter wire tie-out (8-15 foot) as a tether while indoors for puppies that like to chew their leashes.
Outdoor Long Leash
- A lightweight, fabric, 20 foot leash used as a tool for off-leash training.
- Ideal for more advanced training like working towards off-leash skills. Longer leash used outside can create the illusion of freedom, while maintaining safely.
- Use one to work on coming when called. Letting them feel free before working on rewarding obedience. Gives them more freedom while preventing them from actually going anywhere. Important to note: practice off-leash recall in a safe, quiet area to ensure it is a suitable learning environment.
- “Flexi” leashes are not recommended because they are counterproductive, and potentially dangerous to both your pup and you.
- A crate is a safe, cozy spot for your pup to take breaks, sleep, and is crucial for preventing separation anxiety. Allows people to safely leave young puppies alone during the day and overnight.
- Puppies should be given special treats, or even meals while inside their crate to make the association that going in the crate is a good experience.
- Crate trained pups do much better with potty training, are less likely to develop separation anxiety and will be more comfortable with traveling by crate, kennel stays, and other situations (vet, groomer…).
Food-Dispensing Puzzle Toys
- Mental stimulation is very important for a dog at any age, but especially so with a puppy! The mental stimulation that puppies get from playing with these kinds of toys are great for enrichment!
- A Kong is a rubber toy you can stuff with yummy things in and they are made so your dog has to work a little harder to get. A small amount of peanut butter can be used in the Kong and it lasts even longer if you freeze it. Important to note: you can use a frozen peanut butter Kong to work on crate training!
- Any kind of treat dispensing puzzle toy can be incredible beneficial for you puppy, Premier.com offers fun harder to solve puzzles, like the Squirrel Dude, Twist n’ Treat, and the Barnacle.
- Tricky Treat Ball – This is another favorite. It’s easy to fill with treats and with a little help, your dog will quickly learn how to roll, shake, and drop it to get treats to come out. We like how it’s quiet when it rolls on the floor unlike some of the hard plastic toys.
- Extra credit if you feed one of your puppies entire meal (breakfast, dinner) in the toy to help increase their mental stimulation and tire them out!
Long lasting chew toys (Antlers / Nylabones / Bully sticks)
- Your pup will be teething at some point and you will want to direct them to bones and toys instead of furniture, people, and other things they shouldn’t be chewing.
- Antlers and Nylabones are very long lasting and can be helpful for a dog of any age.
- Food based chew toys like Best Bully Sticks, Pig Ears, and even Raw hides can be good in moderation, before giving them to your puppy, please speak with your vet about what they recommend.
- The West Paw Frisbee flies like a real frisbee, floats, and is tough!
- Squeaky Tennis Balls are pretty inexpensive and come in smaller sizes for smaller dogs.
- No stuffing squeaky toys like these goDog Dragons and these less expensive Zippy Paws plush toys are great for tug and fetch, and to teach your dog to self-soothe.
There are many other great tools and equipment we didn’t mention: warm jackets, sweaters, and fleeces for cold climates, and floating toys to encourage your puppy to play in the water.
Remember when it comes to dog training, the secret is having the right tools and equipment so you can control your puppy’s environment!
Hopefully this puppy shopping guide helps you understand the secrets for success!
Have fun training!