Crate: A crate is an indispensable behavior management tool; it facilitates housetraining and prevents puppy misbehavior by keeping your dog safely confined when you’re not there to supervise. It allows you to sleep peacefully at night and enjoy dinner and a movie without worrying about what the pup is up to. The best bet is to buy a crate that will fit your dog when they are full size, but that has an included divider so that you can start with a small space (small enough to turn around in) and adjust as your pup grows.
Puppy pen/exercise pen: This is another extremely useful management tool, but it expands the “den” concept of a crate to a slightly larger area, giving a pup more room to stretch her legs, yet still keeping her in a safe, confined area. My favorite pen has plastic sides, to prevent the puppy from climbing out.
Collar, ID tag, leash, and harness: Your pup is going to grow fast, so you’ll need to be getting different collars as they grow. There are a lot of absolutely adorable collars out there, but wait until your pup is full grown before spending a lot of money on one.
A good 6 foot fixed-length leash is important (avoid flexi-leashes as they are just accidents waiting to happen) but be sure it is light weight (the clip too). Thicker leashes (1” wide or more) usually have heavier clips, so look for one that is ¾” or less (for now…as your pup grows, especially if you have a larger breed, you’ll need a heavier leash).
Having a long-leash can be handy too. Gives the pup a little more freedom to roam about but still keeps them tethered to you. Plus it is very handy when practicing coming-when-called exercises outside.
Harnesses are best for walking. Pups and dogs have delicate necks so you want to avoid putting a lot of pressure there to avoid injury. Front-clip harnesses are best for walking. Just like the collar, you’ll likely end up having to invest in more than one. I don’t recommended cheaping out on a harness. When your pup grows out of one, you can always save it for your next pup, or donate it to your local humane society or rescue. I have a number of favorite harnesses!
Treats: Dogs are motivated by many things, but food is one of the best ways to reward good behavior. There are lots and lots of options out there, and you may have to try different kinds to see what your pup likes. Whatever you use, be sure the treats are small (pea sized), chewy and smelly. Treats that come bigger than pea sized can be broken up or cut up to make smaller. My favorites are freeze dried organ meats. I have found very few dogs that don’t go ga-ga for a tidbit of freeze dried liver!
Grooming Tools: Start using these tools on your puppy early, pairing the experience with tasty treats so she forms a positive association with the task. If your pup is going to require regular grooming (such as for small toy breeds, poodles, doodles, etc) be sure to set up a puppy grooming appointment early on so they get used to the experience!
Toys: Pups need lots of toys! Things to play with, bite on and chew. Without enough things to do, puppies are likely going to look for entertainment elsewhere, and this will likely mean getting into some mischief!
Kong: If you had to buy only one toy for your pup, get a Kong! Made from chew-resistant (not chew-proof) rubber and beehive-shaped with a hollow center. A Kong can be used “plain” as a toy, but makes an irresistible interactive treat for any dog when stuffed with yummy stuff, like peanut butter, cream cheese, quality canned dog food or yogurt. Stuff it with whatever your pup likes best and freeze it to make it last longer.
Snuffle Mat: Throw out the food bowl and feed you pup his meals on a snuffle mat! Probably the best mental enrichment toy out there. Studies have shown that 15 minutes of snuffle mat time is equivalent to nearly an hour of physical exercise!
Cleaning sprays: Accidents will happen, but you want to make sure you are properly cleaning them up so your pup can’t smell where he “went” inside. You MUST have a cleaner that has an enzyme destroyer, otherwise you are just masking the scent!