What to Buy Before Puppy Comes Home
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The number of supplies needed for a puppy can be overwhelming. Some people want to go all out in buying things for their new puppies. Others want only the bare essentials. Every puppy needs a food and water bowl, a collar and leash, a brush, nail clippers, shampoo, and a place to sleep. We also think a crate and a pen are essential. Most families will find many of the other supplies listed below helpful as well. Below is a discussion of the things that we recommend.
Though I do not advocate dogs wearing collars unless they are on leash, your puppy will need a snap or buckle collar. He/she will be in a 10-15 inch collar while here. Most of them will need a collar adjusted to 11 or 12 inches. Make sure to bring a collar that will adjust to that size when you pick up your puppy. Your puppy will grow into about a 18-22 inch collar as an adult, depending on sex and size. I strongly encourage people to not keep puppies or dogs in collars except when needed. I have a breeder friend who recently lost a dog as his collar got caught in the fence and he strangled. Many years ago, we had a 15 year old miniature schnauzer in a collar with tags. She was on my deck. Her tag fell in between the slats, got caught, and pinned her there. Fortunately we were right there with her to take the collar off, but if she had been alone, she could have strangled herself. One of our puppies who went to another family got her collar tangled up with another dog’s collar while playing and the other dog almost strangled when the two collars became intertwined. Fortunately, this person was with the dogs also. Another breeder friend had a similar thing happen with two dogs getting tangled with each other. She had to do CPR to save one of her dogs. I know a lot of people leave collars on 24/7 but I’ve seen the dangers. One of our favorite collars is the Blueberry Pet 3M Reflective Adjustable Collar. The Blueberry collars are very attractive and hold up well over time. Another favorite brand is Ruffwear Collar
For training or leash walking, I recommend a martingale collar after your puppy is 10-12 weeks old and used to walking on a leash with a buckle collar. I never recommend a slip collar or choke chain. I like a martingale so that you can put them on your dog fairly loosely and don’t need to worry about your dog pulling himself out of the collar if he should pull. It will tighten up before it pulls over his/her head. I recommend getting one without a chain as I’ve had several with chains to leave dark marks on a dog’s cream fur in a similar way to a cheap ring leaving a green mark on your finger. You can order several different brands on Amazon. I like the Country Brook Design. They hold up very well over time and I get a lot of complements on how they look. Another favorite brand is the Blueberry Collar. Get the small Blueberry collar for a 10 week old puppy and a medium for an adult female. Most males can still wear a medium when they are full grown, but our Micah wears a large. The large is wider so whether you get a medium or a large is a matter of preference. Most adult girls will have about an 18 inch neck if kept at a healthy weight and most boys will have about a 20 inch neck which falls into the size range for either the medium or large collar. Both the Blueberry collars and the Country Brook collars are really nice looking and well-made and have held up for us for many years.
If you don’t get the results you need with a martingale and your puppy is still pulling on walks when he/she is over 5 months, many all-positive trainers suggest a gentle leader. They do work but in spite of the name
gentle and in spite of the fact that they are heavily marketed by positive trainers, my dogs hated them. Also, I’ve heard that orthopedic specialists are starting to find neck problems in some dogs that have been using them. A couple of my dogs would cower and roll over when they’d see the gentle leader. ALL of my dogs prefer any other type of collar but the Gentle Leader, even a prong collar but if you'd like to give the Gentle Leader a try, here is the link: PetSafe Gentle Leader. They do come highly recommended by other positive trainers.
Though I recommend using almost all positive training, there are cases when I recommend a prong collar for OLDER puppies (over 5 months) as long as a handler knows how to use it correctly and as long as the small 1-inch links are used. Not one dog that I’ve used a prong on has ever shown anything except excitement over me putting it on them. They know that it means a walk is coming and they know that I never give a correction that is too strong or unfair. Prong collars may look like a torture devise and some people claim they are, but I disagree as long as the smaller sized prongs are used. A dog’s neck is much tougher than a person’s neck, plus a dog's neck is covered with hair. does not hurt them. Do not use the size collar recommended online for large breed dogs. Get the size for a small dog (one-inch links) and then buy extra links. You don’t need the large links. The larger links would give too big a correction and I think the use of these collars is cruel. A correctly sized prong collar is like power steering for dogs. Never give a hard jerk. It only takes a very light correction to get a dog to listen and giving your dog a light pop with a prong is more effective than a heavy one with a choke chain and is much safer. The prongs basically spread the correction out around the whole neck so that your dog doesn’t choke and gag when corrected. I do repeat that only very gentle pops should be used. I consider a yank with a prong collar to be cruel and I’m sure if I yanked my dogs with one, they’d hate them. For more information, see the page with the answer to our question on collars on our Training FAQ page. None of my dogs wear prong collars now, but several of them needed them for a few months at around 6 months of age. We have an entire page devoted to discussing corrections. Here is the collar that we recommend: Herm Sprenger Ultra-Plus Prong Training Collar You'll need to either buy 2 collars in order to have extra links or buy extra links.
If you prefer a plastic prong collar, here is a good one: StarMark Training Collar. This collar doesn't look as intimidating as a metal prong collar. The corrections from this collar are a little smaller than from a regular prong but are plenty strong enough for a Golden Retriever. This collar is a good choice for a dog that is pulling on the leash. The principle behind it is the same as a regular prong collar but it is called simply a training collar.
Leashes are a must for a puppy or dog of any age. We have a variety of leashes of various lengths and thicknesses for different purposes. I suggest getting at least two leashes, a short leash under 2 feet for when you want to keep your dog close to you and a 6 foot leash for when you want your dog to have more freedom to pee or just sniff around.
For taking a dog out to potty on leash, we use a 6 foot leash. Taking a dog to potty on a leash is a good idea if you prefer your dog to potty in a particular spot such as on mulch instead of on your grass. Here is our favorite 6 foot slip leash: Alvalley Sport Slip Leash. Alvalley makes very attractive high quality leashes that have held up for us over time and they come in a variety of colors. We prefer a slip leash to a snap leash as we don't keep our dogs in collars unless we are traveling. For those times that we do have a collar on our dogs, here is our favorite leash to snap onto a collar: Alvalley Nylon Snap Lead
For training a puppy, we prefer a 4 foot leash. Again, our first recommendation is the Alvalley leashes. For adult dogs, we recommend a leash that is 8 mm in diameter. For puppies, we use a 6 mm leash. An 8 mm leash works fine for a puppy as well, but I prefer the smaller one for ease of use and because it fits easily into the outside pocket of a treat bag.
For jogs or brisk walking where you want your dog to stay close to you, I recommend a traffic leash or a leash that is 12 to 24 inches long. The correct length depends on your height as well as your dog's. You want it long enough to reach from your relaxed hand to your dogs collar with just a little bit of wiggle room for your dog to have a little freedom, but still stay right next to you. These short leashes are my go to's for every day walking. For a puppy, a 24 inch leash is a good length for most people. For a young puppy and a tall man, you might need to use a 4 foot leash as a 2 foot leash might be a little too short. A 3 foot would be ideal but I've not found a 3 foot leash anywhere. For adult dogs, if you are 5 ft. 5 inches or shorter, a 12 inch leash is a good length. If you are taller, you'll want a longer leash, either 18 or 24 inches. For shorter folks like myself, I love and recommend this Round Genuine Rolled Leather Dog Short Traffic Leash 12 in for when you want your dog to stay close to you. If you are taller, then we recommend this Round Genuine Rolled Leather Dog Short 24in Traffic Leash. These leashes are made of rolled leather. They are extremely soft and comfortable to drape over the back of your hand. You only have to actually hold onto them if your dog should pull or lag. I've taken 4 dogs at a time jogging on a regular basis with these leashes.
I recommend bowls or buckets made of stainless or ceramic. Puppies and even dogs like to chew the plastic ones. I like to use buckets instead of bowls for water. Puppies love to dig in their water and make a mess out of it and if you clip a bucket to the outside of their crate, they cannot get into it. Hang the bucket on the outside of the crate with the hook that is on the bucket. Never put water inside a crate with a dog. They don’t need it. Then attach the clip for security by using only one side of the clip to attach the handle to the crate. Leave the other end of the clip just hanging. I recommend the 2 quart size for one or two big dogs. This size is also a good size for a puppy. 2 Quart Bucket and Double End Snaps. I use two of these snaps to stabilize the bucket.
For food, I use the DuraPet Slow Feed Bowl. Medium size is good while the puppy is growing but large is better for adults. Most Goldens will gobble their food too fast and these will somewhat slow them down. It is not until they are about 4 months and you have to start limiting their food to keep their weight down, that they begin to gobble and you may want to consider a slow food bowl. I also water my dog’s food down just barely covering it. I let it soak for 10 minutes or so most of the time but if I’m in a hurry, it’s okay for it to be watered and then fed immediately. Some say that dogs need to eat their food dry in order to keep their teeth clean. But if you’ve ever cleaned up after a dog that has regurgitated his food, you’d know that most dogs don’t take the time to chew. They swallow the food whole. The best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean is to give him plenty of good things to chew on (such as bones or antlers).
We highly recommend a crate. I would suggest getting either a 36X24X27 inch wire crate for an adult female and for a boy either a 42X28X30 or 36X24X27 inch. I personally use the Midwest crates and like the double door ones as they give the opportunity to use it turned sideways with the entrance on the side as well as the end. There are two types of Midwest wire crates. The Life Stages crates are heavier duty than the Icrates. The Icrates are lighter weight if you think you’ll be moving them around much. The Icrates are also a little smaller, being 25 inches tall instead of 27 and 22 inches wide instead of 24. For girls, the 36 inch is fine in either style. If you have the room, the larger size is better for boys, but dogs like to be cozy so even though a 36 inch crate might look small for a big boy, he will be happy in it if you don’t have space for such a large crate as a 42 inch one. Your puppy will obviously be growing into it. I think it is worth the extra money to buy a 24 inch crate for the first couple of months with a new puppy. The cost is less than $30.00 and the convenience of using the smaller size is worth the extra expense. It will last a Golden until they are about 4 months and for those first two months with a new puppy having the smaller size to move around when house-training is a big help. Wire crates give more ventilation and Golden Retrievers like it to be cool. You will need to section the crate off while he/she is young if you start off with a 36 inch crate to make it temporarily smaller. Here is a link to the lighter weight Midwest Icrate on Amazon Midwest Icrate and here is a link to the more heavy duty Midwest Life Stages.
If you travel much, we recommend the Noztonoz Sof-krate.. This crate is very light weight and sets up and folds down quickly and easily. We love these crates for motels and dog shows. We don't recommend them for travel safety in a vehicle.
We travel with our dogs in a regular wire crate, but we've heard very good things about the Variocage crates. They are slanted being larger at the bottom than the top so they fit better in the back of an SUV or van. They are crash tested and have excellent safety records. These crates are a bit difficult to set up and take down so we only recommend them for those that want a crate that stays in a vehicle most of the time. They are perfect for families that take their dogs with them a lot and want a somewhat permanent fixture in their vehicle.
If looks are important to you, I recommend a Denhaus Townhaus wood crate. This crate looks just like a nice end table. Though it was expensive, mine has held up well for several years. This crate doesn’t have a divider and really isn’t the best choice for a growing puppy, but once your dog is grown, it’s a very nice option.
You will also need a crate pad of some kind to go inside your crate. My hands down favorite crate pad are Primo Pads. They are made of a heavy duty vinyl and I have yet to have a dog chew one up. The vinyl is cool so that my dogs like them even in the summer. They come in a big variety of sizes so that they will fit your crate like a glove. If you prefer something cushy for your puppy, I have a few recomendations bellow. Your puppy might appreciate it in the winter, but my dogs have pushed aside countless brands of expensive pads just to lay on the cool (but hard) crate pan.
If you'd like to get a bed for you puppy in the summer, we recommend an aluminum Kuranda Bed. This is a raised cot-like bed that is cool and comfortable. We train our older puppies to go to this type bed with a place command. We have purchased both the aluminum as well as the less-expensive PVC Kuranda beds and though the company says that the PVC beds are for dogs up to 125 pounds, they don't hold up for heavy use with a Golden. Our aluminum beds still look brand new. Our PVC beds are starting to warp a little after a few years. We like the Ballistic Nylon fabric which has held up for us for several years. The large is the correct size for both boy and girl Goldens.
If you want a soft cushy bed, we recommend the Orvis Beds. We have two of them and they are as comfortable as many human beds. Ours are the extra large size but a large would be plenty big enough for a girl. Here is the link to their regular bed: Orvis Memory Foam Couch Dog Bed.
For house training, I highly recommend a pen. We have an entire section of reading that you can get to through our training FAQ page. My favorite pen for puppies over 8 weeks is a Richell Pen. Though it is a little pricey, the look very nice, the gates are easy to open and close, they hold up very well, and we've so far never had a puppy climb or jump out of one. Here is a link to a brown one: Brown Richell Pen. Here is a link to a black one: Black Richell Pen For a less expensive option, I like the Iris 8 Panel Pen, but the North States Play Yard is another pen that many use. Both of these less expensive pens are white plastic and look better in the house than the metal exercise pens and are easy to keep clean and put up and take down. The less expensive pens work well for most puppies but without proper training early on, some puppies will climb out of them. We've used the Richell pens as room dividers as well as pens and with puppies and dogs of all ages. We've yet to have a puppy to climb out of one. A pen gives a puppy a contained area larger than a crate where they can’t get into mischief. At first your puppy will have to be watched almost every minute when they are out of the crate or pen in order to establish good potty habits and also to teach them not to chew. Until you teach them otherwise, some puppies will try to chew everything, including the furniture and even the woodwork on the walls so I have found the pen to be a huge help.
If you get a pen, you need to begin training your puppy not to jump on the sides right away. Never pet your puppy or let him out while he is jumping. Reward him for sitting. Many puppies are able to climb out of exercise pens (even at 8 or 9 weeks) but if you train him from the start that there is no reward in having his front feet on the sides, he’ll never learn that he is able.
You may want to consider a baby gate if you need to section off a portion of your home where there may not be a door or the stairs. It is easier to house train if you start off not allowing your puppy in too large of an area. Our favorite gate is this one made by North States: North States Deluxe Decor Gate. The North States gate looks nice, holds up over time, and puppies can't climb it. It also has the added convenience of being able to be easily removed by simply pushing a button that locks it in place. This gate must be mounted to the wall.
If you are wanting a more temporary gate, we like the Regalo pressure mounted gates. For a pressure mounted gate, they do very well and are a good simple solution if you only want a gate for a few months until your puppy is house-trained and can be given full run of the house. Do keep in mind though that many puppies cannot be totally trusted in large areas until they are well over 6 months of age. It takes some until they are close to a year. Here is a link to the Regalo gate for spaces 29-39 inches: Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate, Fits Spaces between 29in and 39in Wide. Here is a link if you need to span a space up to 58 inches: Regalo Extra WideSpan Walkthrough Safety Gate
If you are able to put a doggy door in, this is by far the easiest way to house-train a puppy and provides for an ideal way to leave a dog when they have to be alone. I teach our puppies to use a doggy door before they go home and begin teaching them to be dependable in using it by having them spend some time during their last days here in a small inside area next to our kitchen with free access to outside through the door. If keeping a puppy past 8 weeks, I gradually increase the size area they are allowed in as they show dependability. I reserve the times when they are free in the house to the 30 minutes right after they have pottied. We recommend the Pet Safe Insulated 3 flap
For chewing, you’ll need bones and toys. I like to give knuckle bones, shin bones, or L-bones either raw or smoked for when they are in their crates. Raw bones are better, but you need to be careful not to let these bones be drug around your house as they can carry germs that a dog’s digestive tract can handle but humans cannot. While puppies are here, they chew smoked rib bones while in their crates, but these are too small for a puppy once his adult teeth come in. Any smoked bone will eventually get too small and need taking away. My dogs also love deer antlers and bully sticks. The antlers are long lasting. Bully sticks need to be monitored and will get too small to be safe fairly quickly. Most of my dogs like to have stuffed toys to just carry around in their mouths. Some dogs will chew them up, so notice what your dog does with them and if he’s a stuffed animal chewer, these aren’t good. I have a big variety of toys that I rotate around so that when they’ve been taken away awhile and then come back out, they think they’ve got a new toy. I also like toys that you can stuff. Kong has several different choices. The Bob-a-lot is a good toy that you can fill with a lot of food for them to work at getting out by pushing it around. I also like the Orka toys, Jolly Bones, and JW Pet toys. JW has some balls that you put treats in that my dogs like. I don’t recommend rawhide bones. Though dogs love them, they require too much supervision and I like to give my dogs something that will keep them busy when I don’t have the time to be looking constantly at them. Once rawhide gets down to a certain size, dogs tend to swallow it and many times swallow pieces too large. I’ve heard stories of pieces of Nylabones breaking off and causing obstructions but I have so far not had any trouble with them. Any toy can tear up and be dangerous so if your dog is a heavy chewer, keep a close watch on your toys.
Other things that you will need to have on hand for your new little one are nail clippers, mild dog shampoo, Bitter Apple Spray (or other brand to repel chewing), canned pumpkin (for loose stools that the stress of changing homes might cause), and white vinegar for cleaning up and taking away the smell if and when your puppy has an accident. I keep a mixture of half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle for cleaning purposes.
For brushing your dog, I use several different ones for different purposes. I like to use a rake for de-shedding. I don’t like anything like the Furminater as these tear the hair. A rake will just pull out the loose hair. I use the one made by JW called a GripSoft Rake. I also like to use a comb for the long hair on their tails. I use the Chris Christenson Stainless Steel Fine/Course Buttercomb. I also have the wooden snap on handle which makes it much more comfortable in your hand. I also use the butter-comb if a dog should get a mat. If you catch them early, they can easily be combed out with a butter-comb. I rarely use a brush on my dogs unless going to a show and then I like to use a slicker brush to make the hair lay down a little better. I like the Chris Christenson brushes and have their slicker brush as well as their pin brush but since I have my rake I rarely use the oval brush.
If you have a swimming pool or your puppy or dog will be swimming frequently or even for baths, I highly recommend the Chris Christensen Kool Dry Dryer. This dryer has the power of a public restroom hand dryer and you can see the water flying off your dog's coat as you dry him/her. This dryer will dry an adult Golden in less than 10 minutes (minus his face and close to his ears where I don't recommend using).
For bathing, I recommend a well-made but inexpensive plastic raised bath tub called a Booster Bath. It is light weight and easy to move around. It raises your dog up to your level so that you aren't straining your back. And it has a collar that is attached to the tub to keep your dog still while you bathe him. It also comes with a nozzle that attaches to your hose so that the water comes out heavy but not too hard. Regular garden hose attachments cause the water to come out too powerful which is uncomfortable on a dog. This tub is especially nice if you have access to warm water through an outside sink. We attach a hose to an outside laundry sink faucet. The tub comes with a hose to drain the dirty water away from the tub which is nice on a rainy day enabling you to use it inside a garage or basement and still have the water to drain outside. This tub also comes with a very light-weight attachable set of plastic steps. The steps weigh about 4 pounds and can also be used as a ramp for getting into a van or SUV. Make sure you get a large for an adult Golden Retriever.
The best dry food we have found that almost all puppies and dogs do well on is TLC.
TLC has probiotics and a little bit of grain for fiber so that even dogs with sensitive stomachs do well on it. For older puppies and dogs whose stomachs tolerate a high protein grain-free food, we recommend rotating your dog's food between TCL and a few of our other favorite foods listed on our Favorite Foods page. If you prefer sticking to the same food, TLC is a good food for long-term use.
TLC has just the right amount of the ingredients that we look at when evaluating a food. See our How to Choose a Dog Food page for the criteria that we used in deciding on our favorite foods. TLC can only be bought directly from the company. It is not sold to distributors nor stores so that it always comes fresh from the manufacturer without sitting in warehouses or store shelves for months. Click on the link below to go to their website and get $5.00 off your first order.
Natures' Farmacy has the best supplements we have found. We use and love their DOGZYMES Digestive Enhancing Pet Supplement, 1-Pound as well as their Dogzymes Phyto-Flex Bone, Joint and Soft Tissue Support for Pets. Our puppies are given the Nature's Farmacy Digestive Enhancer daily from the first day of their lives until they are at least six months. For older puppies and dogs, we use this blend of probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes any time a dog has loose stools, is under stress, is changing dog foods, or is on an antibiotic. We recommend starting the Phyto-Flex at about 3 months and giving until puppies are about 1 1/2 years. We also recommend Phyto-Flex for senior dogs (over about 8 years). The Phyto-Flex is a blend of Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and other nutrients and herbs that supports the development and maintenance of healthy bones and joints.
I also like to use some sort of omega-3 oils or coconut oil. It helps to keep their coats shiny and is good for their general health. Coconut oil has a long list of health benefits but I personally like to rotate my oils. I put either a tablespoon coconut oil or a tablespoon of fish oil. Any coconut oil is fine. If your dog will eat a pill out of his food, a people fish oil pill is fine. These are the 2 fish oils for dogs that I currently have and recommend: I like both the Grizzly Salmon Oil as well as the Alaskan Naturals Wild Salmon Oil Natural Supplement for Dogs. I’ve done a lot of fish oil research and found there is a big difference in the quality of fish oils and the amount of omega-3’s in them.
One final thing to make sure that you have access to is the correct type vaccine. If your vet doesn’t carry either a DPv or a Neo-par and Neo-Vac DA2, you can order the Neo-par and Neo-Vac DA2 from Lambert Vet Supply or Revival Animal in single doses as of May 2017. As of this same date, the DPv can only be ordered in packs of 25 vaccines. Most vets don’t want to order if this isn’t what they recommend but you can order the single doses yourself, keep them in the refrigerator, and then take them to your vet when needed.