Is it just me or is everyone getting a new puppy these days? With everyone working from home, travel slowing down, and plans being cancelled, now is the perfect time to welcome a new furry pup into your home! My family is no exception.
My husband and I got our pup right before everything shut down.. Little did we know what good timing that would be! Zeke (who isn’t so little anymore) will be 8 months in a couple weeks and has been such a fun addition to our family! He is a F1 Goldendoodle (Mom was a Golden Retriever and Dad was a Standard Poodle) and is going to be between 60-70 lbs. He is at about 50 lbs now.
However, when we first brought him home, I had NO idea what I was doing. The first couple months were hard as we figured out crate training (or lack thereof), potty training, sleep schedules, food types, best toys for teething, etc. There was a lot of trial and error along the way. I would’ve loved for someone to tell me, “Ok here is what you will need and need to know” – which is what I’m hoping to share here! So maybe you’re thinking about your own “quaran-puppy” or are just curious about what is required to have a puppy of your own – you’re in the right place.
There have been several products that have been life-changing for us. Here are some of my favorites…
- Kong Dog Toy: This has been the BEST toy we’ve gotten Zeke. He is a chewer and tends to destroy most toys we buy him; however, the Kong has really endured the test of time. They are great for keeping your dogs busy when you leave them home alone or have company over and need a distraction. They have many sizes: from puppies to extra large dogs, so you can ensure you’re getting the perfect size for your pup. Kongs have a hole in the middle for putting treats and other goodies for your pup to dig out. Zeke’s winning combo is a little kibble, peanut butter, and a couple small treats! You can also freeze them so that it takes your pup a bit longer to “clean it out”. Other ideas include yogurt, chicken broth, bananas, etc. to keep things interesting.
- Benebone Durable Dental Dog Chew Toy: It was pretty obvious to us when Zeke really started teething. He was biting anything in sight: pillows, our hands, blankets, etc. We bought him several chew toys that he literally shredded and we realized that we really needed something durable and good for his teeth. The trainer of a puppy class we attended recommended the Benebone and it has been a lifesaver! He has chewed on it for months and it still looks like we just bought it. However, I don’t think I would give this to a brand new little puppy. We bought these rings when we first brought Zeke home and he still loves them! They are a better option for really little guys until they grow into the Benebone. I’ve also heard good things about Nylabones (adding this to my Amazon cart now), if you are looking for other options.
- Slow Feeder Dog Bowl: We noticed pretty quickly that Zeke eats his food at lightning speed. He would eat so quickly and then almost choke because he wasn’t chewing every piece. Our vet recommended a slow feeder bowl and it’s been a great purchase for us. It has slowed Zeke’s eating down and has created some mental stimulation. We have the “blue notch” one and it is really sturdy and cute!
- PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness: This is probably not a surprise to anyone, but Zeke goes a little crazy on walks. I quickly realized that we needed something we could “control” him with that wouldn’t choke him, like his collar. I’ve really liked this harness! In fact, I’ve bought 3 already – since you will need to buy new sizes as your pup grows. My one note of caution, since Zeke is a chewer, if he is just sitting still in his harness, he will sneakily chew it. He tore through one of them and half way through a second one. Even so, I would definitely recommend this harness – just keep an eye on your pup if you leave it on a bit after your walk.
- ROAD iD Pet ID: I know some people do not like the “jingle” of dog collars when their pet is moving throughout their house. We found this Pet ID as a really cool alternative to a standard dog collar, and even has room for more lines of text. Also… their engraving is guaranteed for life! This tag looks really sleek on Zeke’s collar and I have more confidence that people will be able to find us if we lose him because of the additional info. This is definitely one to check out!
- Collars and Leashes: We got this leash from Amazon and it has been great. You cannot beat the price either. The rope has been really durable – even through Zeke chewing on it and I really like the doggy bag holder on it too (we buy refills at TJ Maxx). Also, Zeke has this collar from Petco – they have a bunch of other super heroes too! I get compliments on it all the time. Of course, I had to buy a Disney collar! I bought the matching leash, but Zeke chewed through it pretty quickly, so I would skip that one.
- First… cut yourself some slack! The first couple months we had Zeke, we completely failed at crate training him. He was just NOT into his crate, and honestly, I felt like a complete “Dog Mom” failure. The reality is… All you can do is what you think is best for you and your puppy! Do that and don’t worry about meeting everyone’s expectations.
- Socialize your pups early! Since we got Zeke right as everything was shutting down, we had a really tough time finding other dogs for him to meet/ play with. By the time our dog park opened back up and Zeke had all of his shots, he was terrified of other dogs. Finally, after slowly introducing him to other dogs over the course of a couple months, he is now comfortable playing with them. So 2 thoughts here: Try to find other vaccinated pets for your pup to meet early on and don’t worry if at first they don’t succeed. Puppies can learn!
- Walks cover a multitude of sins. Zeke has a ton of energy, all of the time. We found that if we take him on 2 short walks or 1 long walk per day, he is MUCH better behaved. Tired puppies = well-behaved puppies. If your puppy is a bit destructive or misbehaved, try additional walks or additional time on walks.
- Expose early and reinforce brave behavior. Early on, Zeke was scared of thunderstorms and loud noises (basically everything). I found that when he didn’t bark or cry, if I reinforced with “good boy” and treats, he would stop all together. I’ve found that if he feels like I’ve got his back, he is much braver. Home Depot was a great outing early on too for exposure to people and loud noises!
All in all… Having Zeke has been the best part about quarantine. Don’t get me wrong, he is a lot of work and there have been a lot of failures, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world. So if you have a new puppy… Hang in there! It gets better! And if you are thinking about getting one… it’s a lot of work but it is worth it!
I would love to hear any of your tips and favorite products too. Share in the comments below…