Getting a New Dog: Basic Supplies

Once you have decided to add a dog to the family, it is time to start thinking about getting the necessary supplies to take care of it in its daily life. I thought it would be helpful to have a list available for you to check. I’ve divided it into various subsections for easier readability.

Food
  1. You’ll have to buy food to give to your dog. I’d recommend asking what kind of food it has been given previously, and stick to it for the first few days, as dogs’ stomachs can be very sensitive to radical food changes. You can later progressively change it. Avoid giving the dog food scraps.
  2. You’ll also need two pet bowls: one should always contain fresh water, the other will be used for the food. The size of the bowls will depend on the size of the dog: the bigger the dog, the bigger the bowl. And I’d recommend getting stainless steel bowls instead of plastic ones: they will last longer and the dog will not be so prone to chewing it.
  3. In the case of getting a larger dog, prone to joint complaints and hip dysplasia, ask your vet whether you should complement the dog’s diet with a joint supplement to ensure its joints’ health.
Kit del Criador food and measuring cup
On her first days at home, we mixed this food with the Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppies following the breeder’s recommendation, to ensure she didn’t have an upset stomach
Daily Care
  1. Buy the necessary elements to ensure your dog is parasite-free. I’ve used both the Advantix spot-on solution and Frontline Tri-Act, which repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, and also kills ticks and fleas, among others. I personally prefer Advantix spot-on. If you live in an area where mosquitoes carry the Leishmaniosis disease, be sure to get also a collar to protect them from mosquito bites.
  2. Get a bed for your dog. Although it may not be 100% indispensable, we found that Nix sleeps much better (i.e. keeps a lot more to her bed) with a good bed. Consider spending more money to get a chew-resistant bed. Read more about our experience with Nix’s bed here.
  3. If you are getting a dog that is not housebroken yet, consider getting some training pads. They will absorb your dog’s urine and keep the smell under control. Even if your dog decides to chew them instead of using them to do its business, they will be very helpful to clean the urine faster. As Nix decided to chew them, we used them to clean after she did her business. I believe only once did she use them properly. They also come in different sizes.
  4. Get bleach. I found it incredibly useful to keep the house clean after Nix did her business inside and to remove the nasty smell.  I once tried using a disinfectant product which contains no bleach and whose smell I really love (Sanytol), but I found that it didn’t remove the urine smell as much as bleach did. To use the bleach, I diluted it in water and then washed the floor with it. For standard floor cleaning (i.e. when there is no poo or pee) I use Sanytol.
  5. Get poo bags. Necessary to clean up after your dog. Any plastic bag will do, but I prefer not to reuse shopping bags due to their bigger size and that there might be (inadvertently) holes. You can also get a small plastic container or nylon container for the poo bags which can be attached to the leash. They come in several colors and forms and they are inexpensive.
  6. Get a brush. Most dogs require some sort of routinely brushing of their hair. I’ve tried different types of brush over the years, and my favourite is, by far, the Furminator. It’s expensive, but worth it in my opinion. If you’re not sure, try to borrow one or find it cheaper on eBay (I actually got mine from eBay at a really good price but the seller no longer sells them).
Freetime
A selection of Nix's toys
A selection of Nix’s toys
  1. Get some toys, such as:
    1. A ball for dogs, but avoid tennis balls. If your dog is big, it may actually swallow it (I know of a case where this happened). Or, at least, do not leave the tennis ball to your dog without supervision. You could stard by looking at the Kong Squeakair balls.
    2.  A Kong (the classic version), good for chewing and keeping the dog entertained while it tries to get its food out. There are different types (for puppies, adults, senior dogs and chewers) and 6 available sizes.
    3.  A squeaky toy. As much as they can be annyoing for us to hear, dogs usually love them. You can also get  a squeaky ball instead of getting a ball and a different squeaky toy.
    4. Chew bones. Again, there are many different options and sizes, but I’d recommend getting one that they can eat.
    5. Oxtail sticks or similar. They are great when you need to keep your dog entertained for a while  or when you need to leave it home alone. Chew bones are also good, but they do not keep the dog’s interest for as long.
  2. You will also need a leash, to take it on walks. Do not get a flexi leash (i.e. a retractable cord) as the dog will become used to pulling due to the constant tension in the leash. Nylon leashes are colourful and cool but they do not last as long as leather ones. On the plus side, they can be washed easily.
  3. You will also need a collar. Like in the case of the leash, they can be made of nylon or leather.  Do not get a strangling collar (normally made of metal) if you are afraid of your dog pulling. In this case, get a collar such as the Halti or a special harness to avoid pulling (standard harnesses are not appropriate, see below).
  4. Do not get a standard harness to walk the dog. Harnesses are made for pulling (remember the huskies pulling sleds?), unless you opt for a special harness to avoid pulling.
  5. Get an ID tag for your dog. They are inexpensive and can be engraved with the dog’s name and your phone number (or several) in case it gets lost.
Nix wearing her tag
Your dog should always wear a tag with its name and your phone number(s).
Car Travel

If you’ll pick up the dog by car, and you intend to let him in the back seats, you should consider getting the following:

  1. A seatbelt for dogs. If you own a Volvo, however, most available seatbelts will not work.
  2. A harness, to fasten the dog to the seats using the seatbelt. It is important to ensure that the dog cannot stand up and disturb to the driver. A collar should not be used in this case because, if there is an accident, it may hurt the dog badly or even kill it.
  3. A seat cover. Useful to avoid dog hair, drool, etc. getting into the seats. There are some which completely cover the back seat area of the car and do not allow access to the floor of the car.

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