Ask The Dog Trainer: What do we get for a puppy?

Hello Kendall,
My roommate and I are preparing to pick up a sweet eight-week-old Husky puppy and were wondering if you had any advice for first-time doggy parents as to what we need to buy before he arrives? We’ve done some research online and spoken with friends and family but the deluge of information – most of it contradicting – has us overwhelmed. What do you suggest we should do preparation for Harvey’s arrival?
Counting down the days!
-Marilyn and Samantha

Dear Marilyn and Samantha,
Congratulations on the newest addition to your household! Puppyhood is all too brief a time in our four-legged best friends’ lives, and we understand the excitement!
My husband and I raise and train puppies each year in our home, and the first item to cross off our To Do List is to make an appointment with our local veterinarian.
It is important to help your puppy feel comfortable and safe around medical professionals. They can give him a check up, begin his shot schedule and microchip him so that if he ever gets lost, he can be easily identified. Forming a strong relationship with your veterinarian, groomer and other canine professionals who will be interacting regularly with your puppy is of immeasurable value to teach him early on that being touched and handled is safe and fun.
Next, we go shopping! When it comes to gear, you can choose to go as minimalist or as hog-wild as you like. My first purchase is usually securing a safe place to sleep. Because Huskies have a tendency to become hot, you may find a gel cooling pad or a raised platform mesh bed is preferable to a fleece cushion. With young puppies, I suggest introducing the bed with supervision for the first couple of days so you can make sure he isn’t chewing it.
We strongly suggest that starting the first night you teach your puppy to sleep by himself in a crate. It can be very tempting to curl up in bed with your adorable puppy, but proper crate training helps immensely with potty training and keeps curious, wandering puppies safely contained.
Because your puppy will grow up to be a large dog, I recommend that you purchase a crate with a divider, so that as he grows you can adjust the size of the available space. I prefer metal collapsible crates with a divider for my young puppies in the house and in the car, as the trays are easily removed and they are relatively easy to manipulate. I use heavy plastic-sided crates in my house for my adult dogs and soft sided travel crates for when we are working abroad.
When preparing for a puppy, I’ll also set aside a water and food bowl. I prefer my dog bowls to be stainless steel as studies show that steel gathers less bacteria than plastic or ceramic. I also purchase kibble specially made for puppies, as it contains a higher percentage of protein and other nutrients essential for growing dogs. Age appropriate teething toys are also important to channel a growing puppy’s insatiable need to chew. Every puppy has their own preference for texture, size and shape of chew toy, so have fun choosing a wide selection. Rawhides and rope toys are strongly discouraged because they can cause intestinal blockages.
I always suggest clients use a non-flexible leash and a simple collar to begin their puppy journey. A long lead is helpful to keep in the backyard for leisurely exploration with supervision, and I usually keep a shorter leash in my car to secure our puppy for transportation. Remember to remove your puppy’s collar before you put him in the crate or let him play with other dogs.
Your puppy may come with official papers proclaiming his breed and registration, his initial wellness checkup and any vaccinations he has already received. I add relevant receipts and documentation to that folder as our puppy matures, such as training logs and temperament evaluations. If you choose to purchase pet insurance, then you can include that information in this folder. Alternatively to keeping a physical folder with your dog's information, you can scan and save the paperwork to a flash drive or purchase a collar with a QR code that links that information to the cloud.
Finally, I coordinate with my friends and family to begin socializing our new puppy. We hold wine and cheese parties and everyone is encouraged to interact with the newest member of our family. I love exposing young dogs safely and slowly to police officers and firemen in uniform, men with hats and sunglasses and mature children with gentle touch.
Kendall and Chandler Brown are owners of Custom K-9 Service Dogs, a dog training business serving Minden/Gardnerville, Carson and Reno. For information go to or email


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