Bringing a new puppy into your home is always a big decision. One that should not be made on a whim. Having a few basic things on hand when the new baby comes home always makes those first few days with puppy go much easier. I think it is the most common question I get from people getting a new puppy is "What do I need to buy for the puppy?". So often people are tempted into buying cute fancy stuff and forget the basic things the puppy really needs to be healthy, safe and happy. You can go out and buy a whole cart load of things if it pleases you but in the beginning there is really only a few things you need. Let common sense be your guide. Here is a short list of the things I would get for my new puppy.

1. A CRATE… I highly recommend buying a crate for a new puppy. It gives you, the human, the upper hand against this sweet little darling. It gives you control of where the puppy is at all times. The crate should be used as a bed or home, not as a prison for bad behavior. Most dogs really like their crates and will sleep in them even if the door is open. Its so much easier if you start from day one using the crate then it becomes part of their daily routine.

The puppy shouldn't be living it the crate 24 hrs a day. It should only be used when there is no one to supervise the puppy or when he takes naps. Its good to make a routine of putting puppy in the crate for short periods of time even when you are home all day. There are basically two different types of crates: the wire type and the plastic type. I like the wire type because they are alittle more open and the puppy doesn't feel quite so confined and more part of the household.

The plastic ones will work too and are a little cheaper alternative. They are also easier to haul in the car if you plan on traveling with your dog. Be sure to get a crate large enough that an adult dog has room to stand, sit and lay down comfortably and a little extra space for food, water and toys of course.

2. A COLLAR and LEASH… Remember when buying a collar to get a collar apropriate for the size of dog wearing it.. A Shih Tzu does not need a German shepard size collar. For a Shih Tzu or other toy dog I would start out with a small, narrow, lightweight nylon collar. I don't particularly like using choke collars but if you feel the need for one, the nylon ones are more gentle to the neck.

If you do use a choke collar, please, please never leave it on the puppy when he is not on lead. The choke collars can get accidentally caught on something and the dog could strangle. Leashes come in a few different varieties for different purposes. I like the retractable leads for walks and play time outdoors. They come in 10 foot and 16 foot lengths. This gives the puppy more freedom to play without constantly tugging on the lead. They have brakes on them so you can control how far the puppy gets from you. A regular 6' leash works well for lead training and other obedience work. They come in nylon and leather varieties. Again remember to buy a lead that suits your puppy. Don't buy a big heavy lead with a clasp that will hold a St Bernard if your getting a Shih Tzu and don't get a small lightweight lead for a St Bernard.

3. FOOD… Its always a good idea to continue feeding the food the puppy is used to eating. If you don't like the quality of the food you can slowly change in a few weeks. Ask your puppy's breeder what they feed and how they feed.

Most reputable breeders feed a premium dog food and you shouldn't need to change. Premium quality food is well worth the extra price. It is much healthier for the puppy. There will be less stools to clean up and the stools will be firmer. You will feed much less food because the cheaper foods are mostly a cereal filler and the puppy has to eat much more to get the same nutritional value that it gets from a lesser amount of premium food.

4. BOWLS… Now you need something to put the food in. I recommend getting a good quality bowl because they are easier to clean and will last a long time. I use stainless steel bowls for food and the crockery bowls for water. The crockery bowls are heavier and harder for the puppy to tip over.

While the puppy is in the crate you might want to consider using a water bottle. The ones they use for rabbits works well. It is a quart size. The water bottles are nice in the crates because they hang outside of the crate and it doesn't take up space. They are neater because they cant be spilled. They do drip sometimes if the puppy jostles it around.

5. BEDDING… I recommend just using bath towels. I also go to the fabric department sometimes and buy remnants of fleece material. It makes great bedding and is very durable. It wont unravel so you just cut it and you have instant bedding. I know how tempting all those cute little doggy beds are but sometimes little puppies don't take very good care of beds. They have accidents and chew. Most of those types of beds don't wash well and aren't very durable. Wait until your baby gets a little older and them spoil it with a fancy bed.

6. GROOMING SUPPLIES… This is a vast subject to cover. I wont go into detail at this time. Hopefully I will soon have a page on Shih Tzu grooming on this webpage. Don't worry too much about having grooming supplies when you bring home your puppy. You probably wont be needing to do too much grooming for awhile if you are getting a young puppy. Its good to start training your puppy to be groomed as soon as possible but that can wait a week or so until it gets settled into its new home.

Ask the puppy's breeder what type of grooming tools and supplies they recommend. What tools you buy will depend on many factors. Do you plan on doing all the grooming yourself or hire a groomer to do all or part of the grooming? Your may want to do the bathing at home. If so you need to look for a good quality shampoo and conditioner.

A pet supply store or a mail order catalog is the best source for good quality shampoos and conditioners. The ones found at the big discount department stores usually aren't of very good quality. Groomer are also an excellent source for a good shampoo and conditioner. Again these things can be bought over time. I would wait and see what you need as you start grooming the puppy.

7. TOYS.. Last but not least is toys.. I seldom have to tell people to buy toys but often they don't buy the right kinds of toys. They might be cute toys but they also need to be durable and stimulating to the dog. My dogs love stuffed toys. I usually buy used children's toys from yard sales or resale shops. They are inexpensive and I choose the more durable ones.

It's a good idea to remove any hard plastic eyes or noses as the puppies want to chew them off and could swallow them. There are a number of regular stuffed dog toys that are good too.. Some have squeekies in them and the dogs love that. Some dogs will want to chew the squeekies out.

I don't usually invest in the latex toys because the dogs chew them up very fast. They can be a fun little toy to have for playtime but put away from puppy's reach when play time is over. Always make sure any toy you give the puppy is big enough that they can't swallow them. Some dogs love playing with tennis balls and other types of balls. But again be careful they are too big to be swallowed.

Chew toys are a very important part of your puppies development. All puppies chew to some extent for one reason or another. Sometimes it caused from cutting teeth or boredom. Its important to give them things to chew on so they aren't cutting teeth on the dinning room table leg. Also don't give them that old tennis shoe to chew on because they cant tell the difference from that one and the new pair in your closet.

My dogs love the dried smoked pigs ears. There are also some nylon bones like Nylabone that also work well. I don't like the rawhide bones. They are messy and I think no so safe for them. I had a adult almost choke on a softened chunk of rawhide.

Some dogs love the bones made out of rope and others don't. Buying toys for dogs is kind of like buying toys for kids. Some toys they can't resist and others will lay untouched. Each dog is different too. Hard cookies and treats are also good for their teeth and good training rewards.

This is only some suggestions and idea on product to consider for your new puppy. I recommend starting out simple and then adding things as you find you need them. Have fun with that new baby and happy shopping...J


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