December has arrived! That means it’s just under three weeks until This Little Doggy will be coming home. “Excited” doesn’t even begin to cover it. As my sister said a lot in the build-up to my wedding – SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
Of course, I’ve been shopping like mad, making sure I have everything in place for her arrival. Here are my top tips on how to prepare for a new puppy.
- A cosy den.
Crates are such a useful tool for puppies and adult dogs alike. I’ll write a post at some point about how I use them. But, whether it’s for keeping your puppy safe while you’re out of the house, or out of mischief while you have a shower, or maybe your dog is recovering from surgery and needs their movement restricted, crates are just wonderful. As long as you approach the crate training sympathetically, and as long as she’s not left in there for unreasonable amounts of time, I would encourage anyone to give them a try. For now, here is a fabulous collection of articles on The Labrador Site on how to go about training your puppy to be happy in a crate.
The Ellie-Bo 42″ crate is a great size for an adult Labrador. You can either buy a smaller crate while your puppy is small, and upgrade to a larger one as she grows, or else buy a larger size and use a divider. This crate is especially good as it has a door on two sides, which allows you more options for positioning it in your room.
- Somewhere to play safely.
The play pen gives the puppy a larger safe area to play in when you can’t spend time with her. Additionally, since I have two other dogs this time round, it gives me somewhere I can pop her to give them a break from a bothersome puppy. It’s big enough that I can climb in with her and do some training and play. Her crate is inside, so she can nap when she needs, and the space is large enough that she can toilet at the far end, away from her bed, if she needs.
This play pen, which is also by Ellie-Bo, is a perfect size for a Lab puppy. It’s also tall enough that my two adults shouldn’t be tempted into jumping in to steal This Little Doggy’s toys!
- A comfy bed.
It’s really tempting to buy your puppy a cute bed, but I discovered the last time round that they just don’t last. Walking in to find handfuls of stuffing tumbleweeding across the room, where once there was a beautiful designer piece of canine furniture is rather disheartening. The most practical solution, at least until the destructive stage is over, is vet bed.
It comes in a huge range of colours and sizes. I’ve chosen the lilac one, to go with This Little Doggy’s colour scheme. Every girl deserves a signature look that makes her eyes really pop!
- A trendy food bowl.
The Two Bigger Doggies have Hunter melamine bowls and I absolutely love them. At first, we had regular metal dog bowls, but the noise they made on the tiled floor set my teeth on edge. I replaced them with rubber-based metal bowls, but Shadow delighted in removing this and trying to cover every inch of floor with the tiniest pieces. So, when I found these bowls, I was delighted. The melamine part is heavy enough that it doesn’t move across the floor as the dog eats – even with the single-minded determination of a Labra-bin eating his food – and the metal inner lifts out to make filling it easier.
As a bonus, they’re dishwasher safe and come in a fabulous range of colours. Sadly, no lilac, but I found this cute design which will be perfect for the pup. The 700ml option is the ideal size for an adult Lab, and I see no point in starting out with a smaller one that will just need upgrading later.
- Kongs, kongs and more kongs!
These things are just brilliant. Worth their weight in californium. Meh, you can keep your gold, that’s only number 15 on the list of most precious things in the world. Californium smashes that at position number 2, only bested by antimatter. But I wouldn’t want to be ridiculous. No, kongs are worth their weight in californium.
Get your puppy hooked on them by filling them with super tasty treats and they’ll be useful forever. Every time you need a few minutes to yourself, pop a kong in with the pup. As they get hooked, you can start to freeze them, so they last even longer.
The medium size is perfect for a Labrador puppy, and even as a snack for an adult dog. The puppy colours (pink and blue) are slightly softer than the regular red colour, so better suited for a puppy. The Two Bigger Doggies aren’t power chewers and still have their puppy kongs, two years down the line. If your pup turns out to be a really strong chewer, you can try the black “Extreme” kongs, which are, as the name suggests, extremely tough.
- Cleaning solution.
Yes, there will be cleaning.
Lots of cleaning. Puppies pee. A lot. And, try as you might, you won’t be able to catch pup every time before the dreaded squat-and-squirt. The problem is, most household cleaners don’t do a good enough job of getting rid of the traces of smell that will tell your puppy, “Hey, you went here before, this must be the place to go!”. Just as the Chelsea set flock to Montezuma (no, I’d never heard of it either – this is the power of Google), your puppy will be drawn to the same spot over and over again, unless you can rid it of all those dastardly molecules that your disappointingly inferior nose will never detect. The best solution is the simplest solution. Or, to be precise, Simple Solution.
Simple Solution Stain and Odour Remover for Dogs, 4 Litre
Yup, 4 litres. And even that probably won’t be enough. Even if it is, it makes a pleasant-smelling household cleaner, so it won’t go to waste.
- Rubber flooring.
Well, this one depends on the type of floor you already have down. Where we’re going to be for the first couple of months, the floor is shiny and slippy. To protect those delicate puppy joints, I’ve bought a roll of non-slip rubber flooring.Attractive, it is not, although it does come in a range of colours. But aesthetics have to play second fiddle to This Little Doggy’s delicate joints at this age. Protecting them now can pay dividends – not to mention save a fortune in vet bills – in the future.
- Some light reading.
I bought this book – The Happy Puppy Handbook – before The Duchess came home. I’m pretty sure it changed my life. Strong words, but it pointed me down the path of dog training that has ended up being so integral to everything I do. The thirst to understand and to learn all I can about dog training started the minute I opened the cover. Not that it’s all about training; it’s about all aspects of bringing a little bundle of joy and mischief (and tears and frustration) into your home and your life. I think it should be required reading for all new puppy owners and I’ll be revisiting it in the couple of weeks that are left before This Little Doggy’s arrival.
You’ll notice I’ve not included some of the obvious things on this list – collar, lead, harness… but I’ll wait until she’s home before buying these. That’s because even 8-week-old Labrador puppies come in a huge range of sizes, so there’s no point buying something now that may not even fit. With the wonders of next-day delivery – something that is completely alien to me where I live in Andorra and Spain – I really don’t need to panic about. I’ll be buying – and reviewing – them in good time.
Food? Yup, I’ll need that. Labradors are not renowned for their bird-sized appetites. I just have to wait for the breeder to let me know which food she’s being weaned onto. Once I know that, I’ll be able to get some in. She’ll be sent home with some in any event, so I’ll have a little while to purchase more. There’s that wonderful next day delivery thing again. Amazing. Just … amazing.
Toys? Well, yes, of course I have toys on the list. But I’ll be covering those in a future post, since it’s that time of year. Can we say the C word, now it’s December?
To hell with the C word, let’s have a big shout out for the P word. Because it’s so very nearly that time…