I’ll admit it. I am not a great foster. I get attached, I can’t let them go, and I cry for days. That being said, I am an excellent resource of knowledge when doing home visits for adopters! I have bought just about everything out there. I have gone to many vets, done research on illnesses, and because of my current foster, I am up to date on how to potty train a dog! I am by no means an expert, but I know a thing or two about different toys, crates, bowls, food, leashes, harnesses etc etc. All these things added up cost you a lot of money, and you never know what you really need and if you’re getting a good deal. So I’ve decided to create a quick guide on what I would have if I am getting a puppy or a dog! I have texted this information to so many different adopters that I am basically a broken record and could recite the items that I value in my sleep. I mostly buy everything on Amazon and watch the prices!
I haven’t even gotten to the list yet and I must detour to car safety. I am a huge proponent for car safety with dogs. I cringe when I see little yorkies on people’s lap in the driver seat with it’s head out the window. What happens if you get into an accident. Best case little yorkie stays in the car and not out the window, but then you have to deal with the fact that you smashed the poor thing between you and the steering wheel. Even better, the little dog may have fallen under your feet and you have to avoid stepping on the poor dog. Okay, so you don’t have a tiny yorkie. Next area of concern is the gear shifter. Have you ever accidently switch into neutral? That’s never fun. Dogs that crawl over you when you drive are a hazard and you are not only putting yourself at risk, but also the dog with free range. It’s literally not worth it. A dog that gets free range can cause an accident especially if you are focusing on getting the dog off of you, and not paying attention to the road. “My dog doesn’t like the back seat.” “ My dog doesn’t like to be restricted.” You know what your dog DOES likes though? Living. I know, I seem to be over reacting, but how many stories have you read where an accident happens and the dog takes off because it wasn’t “buckled in”? The dogs are afraid and then just take off in an unknown area and typically on busy roads. So car safety. It’s my favorite thing to talk about. Now I know nothing is 100% but I would rather try to protect my dog than not.
This rant, leads me to item number 1. Kurgo- crash test harness (note the metal buckles, not the plastic ones (not crash test rated) ). Now there are many brands, many reviews, my only concern here is that we at least try to limit the mobility of the dog in the car. This is the brand I use and love. It fits my dogs well, the customer service is great, and it’s very easy to use. Some people find that it rubs odd on their dog, and that is fine, research another crash test rated harness car seat! The best thing about a harness car seat is that you can just clip a leash on and go once you get out of the car. My small dogs still manage to stick their head out of the window and seem comfortable with it. As a side note I did have one dog chew through it once. He was used to sitting on the drivers lap which again is a huge pet peeve of mine. We then worked with his general car anxiety and only put him in it up front for a bit so we could watch him, and then moved him to the back with the passenger watching him and stopping him from chewing. We would take him on short rides to get used to being clipped in. Now, he can go on long car rides and destroys nothing. It’s wonderful. He also doesn’t seem to anxiety whine anymore.
Leashes! So many leash options. Personally, I have two types of leashes. One for harnesses, and quick use, and one that I use on 5/6 of my dogs for daily walks. So my on hand traditional leash is always a 4-5 foot leather leash(6 ft for running). Why? Because they feel nice in my hand, and they last forever. They also never get dirty and they don’t burn you if your dog wraps you up. Side note, if I ever see anyone using a retractable leash, I let them know how dangerous they really are and that my friend’s dog was killed due to the use of a retractable leash. Not only are they dangerous but your dog does not need that much space from you. If you’re hell bent on letting them explore slow down with them or speed up. Get a six foot leash, do something better than putting everyone around you, your dog and yourself in danger.
So, other than a leather leash, I use a harness lead. This is literally the best thing to happen to me. It is essentially a long rope that goes over the neck around the body and up through a loop to create a harness. Why is it so great? It eliminates neck pressure on your dog if walking In a martingale. Also, it fits to your dog as they grow, or if they are just weird looking that day or wearing a coat etc etc. It’s adjustable and it makes life super easy. It hasn’t eliminated pulling in my worst walker, but it’s better than him pulling on his neck.
Another side note—do NOT walk a dog in a flat collar. Flat collars tend to be lose and if your dog gets frightened it can back right out of the collar. If you insist on walking your dog with a collar get a martingale collar. However, these cannot be left on when unsupervised like a normal house collar. If they get caught on something it would be very difficult for them to get uncaught. All my dogs have a flat collar and they wear them but I don’t attach a leash to them. They also don’t wear them in the house unsupervised typically because I don’t want them getting caught on anything. You may think that is a bit of a stretch but when you wake up to your dog stock on the door stop by the loop in his collar you think twice about leaving them on inside!
Crates! I used to think, why have two doors? How annoying. Then I wanted to turn my crates a different direction but the door was not accessible. I realized why two doors! I have this one, and I really like the quality of it but most all brands are fine in my opinion. If you are looking for a single door crate, I like precision pet because the door actually requires you to lift up to lock and unlock it creating a bit of a barrier if your dog escapes from crates.
Another side note—People think crating is mean and it really isn’t. My dogs love their crates. They choose to lay in them all the time even with people home. Crates are like dens for them. It’s their space. No one else comes in that space and it’s safe. And believe me, with my nanny cams, they literally do nothing all day but sleep. So, sleeping is sleeping and a crate is fine. Additionally, it keeps them safe from things you may have forgot to put away or something they just recently discovered. In case of a fire or emergency, your dog is safely in one place and can be caught and moved easily as well. Crates should be used while you are gone but also when you’re home. It’s important for them to not associate the crate with you leaving them behind. It’s pretty simple and they may cry for a week when you do this but it helps long term. When you are watching TV or in the living room, put them in their crate. 20-30 minutes. Do not let them out until they calm down and act like it’s no big deal. It helps to ignore their cries, and not to make direct eye contact. Obviously if the dog is hurting itself you’ll need to work slower with them. (IE starting with the cage door open them in it and you sitting by it. Petting and giving treats. Slowly moving to closing the door and offering treats etc etc). However, I haven’t had too much trouble with getting a dog to hang out in the cage while we eat in the same room. You can work up to putting them in there for 20 or so minutes while you’re home but in a different room. It just really is useful when your dog has a good relationship with the crate. It’s not punishment, it’s “ I want you here for now and that’s just okay.”. And when they do need a time out, it’s not “bad dog” and thrown in the cage, it’s “alright you need a break and need to calm down in your space”. The only time I have ever used the cage “negatively” is when it’s a dog safety issue and I am literally trying to keep dogs separate for safety.
Food! I would research the food you feed your dog. I have tried many different brands and varieties and I literally have four different dog foods in my house for different dogs. Find what works and stick with it! I would caution people to really read the bag and nutritional facts. Some foods may be cheaper or appear good but if you spent a little more money on a food you could potentially feed half as much and thus it ends up being cheaper to feed a higher quality food. The more protein, the less you feed. However, your dog needs to agree with the food so it may take a few shots. Most pet stores are good about allowing you a return if your dog does not agree with a food—or you can donate it to a rescue!
Bowls in my house are interesting. We don’t have any dog in our house eating out of a normal dog bowl. When dogs eat fast, they can choke, and then they puke and then they try to eat said puke. You waste food and it’s not fun! Eating fast, and excising after eating can also cause bloat (mostly in big dogs with deep chests) so it’s important to ensure that your dog is not eating too fast and running around after dinner. If you are able to use a regular bowl, I suggest stainless steel over plastic. Plastic can grow bacteria very easily. We wash all of our bowls weekly because most of ours are plastic slow feeders. One of our dogs eats out of a cupcake container and that works for him! I love slow feeders, because my dogs don’t inhale their food and they don’t puke! Slow feeders are essentially a maze or a puzzle for the dogs that has their food in it. The other benefit is that eating becomes a mental exercise as well and mental stimulation also helps to eliminate energy in a dog. So even if you aren’t feeding dinner, you can use the feeder as a way to make them work mentally and get some energy out! You can get a few different kinds but my favorite is the grass. Some are harder levels than others. There are also ball slow feeders, but I would prefer this for a snack rather than dinner because your dog will typically miss a few pieces and you don’t want dog food all over the place.
With six dogs, toys are everywhere in my house. We do not typically use edible toys unless every dog has one and we take it away when that toy time is over. I like Nylabones, Kongs(stuffed with peanut butter and used as a special treat typically in crate), Deer/elk antlers, horns, ropes (although we do not play tug in our house), and Red Barn white bones. I don’t like stuffed animals because my dogs destroy them and it’s hard to teach them to differentiate between the stuffed animal they can eat and one that they can’t. Himalayan Chews are increasingly popular but are edible and thus only used during crate times. We also play fetch with a few of the dogs and my favorite ball is the glow ball.
Harness, collar, leashes, crates, food, bowls, and toys—all very necessary when adopting a puppy or a dog. My last item that I deem basically necessary is a Glowdoggie. I LOVE this company and this product. They may be a higher priced item, but the batteries are typically AAA and thus very inexpensive to replace unlike some other cheaper collars. I can see my dogs in the yard when it’s dark, and on walks they wear the embarrassing glow item not me! They last forever and are literally the best thing ever when it’s cold and you don’t want to go out with them in the yard. I prefer blue and green. I also own red which is just a little dimmer than the blue and green.
Of course there are so many other things but I think this list encompasses the first day needs(okay maybe not a Glowdoggie, but seriously the best thing).