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Buying a new dog is more than simply finding the cutest puppy in the store and buying a bag of dog food. Acquiring a new canine is nearly as important as adopting a child. They need constant attention and love and buying the proper supplies can be as confusing as deciding what kind of dog to get in the first place. So I'm here to help you.
When you first walk into a pet store you will be bombarded by everything from designer clothes to dog food, and the salesmen are rarely any help. They're goal is to sell you everything you lay your eyes on. But in reality there are really only a few basic things you need to make your new family member comfortable and you a happy dog owner.
First and foremost, buy a book about your breed. All breeds are very different and have different needs and personality quirks. But at the same time, don't think of the book as the end all and be all of how your dog is supposed to behave. Like people, dogs each have their own personalities. The book is there simply to give you guidance.
Second, get a good collar. Make sure you can stick at least two fingers between the dog's skin and the collar. Also make sure you get a collar that allows plenty of room for growth. Some breeds grow very fast and you don't want to be replacing the collar every two weeks during your puppy's first year. Also, get a good training collar. These come in many, many sizes and types. The two most popular types are called the choke chain and the German pinch collar. But don't let the names scare you. These two training collars are the best for teaching your dog to heal and to walk on the end of a leash without jerking your arm out of the socket.
Both collars have their pros and cons. The choke chain is easy to use and doesn't "look" cruel. But you have to replace it as the dog gets bigger and depending on the breed, this can get very expensive. The German choke chain "looks" evil but as the dog grows bigger you can simply add additional links. But the biggest thing to remember with both collars is to "never" use the collar as your dog's everyday collar. Dog owner's can grow very lazy when using these collars and forget to check them. It's not uncommon for an owner to forget to check the collar and end up having to cut the collar off because the dog grew so big the collar would no longer fit over its head. Choke chains and German pinch collars are to be used for training purposes only.
The other supplies needed for happy dogs are simple:
* A weighted food and water bowl. Dogs, especially puppies, seem to have a fondness for playing in their dinner as much as eating it.
* A well made crate or dog house, depending on whether or not the dog will be an inside or outside dog; at least three leashes of varying lengths, used for training and walking purposes. The book you get will explain how the different sized leashes are used in training.
* Chew toys, chew toys, chew toys. Dogs, especially puppies, need to exercise their gums regularly and unless you plan on replacing your furniture, your expensive crown molding and your slippers on a regular basis, get your new friend a wide selection of chew toys.
* And finally, DOG FOOD! Despite what some animal rights groups would have you believe, dogs are carnivores. They eat meat. So check the ingredients. If corn and other types of vegetables is the first ingredient listed, your new four-legged friend is not getting what he needs. Look for chicken or beef to be listed as the first ingredient.
A few more supplies you will need as the dog gets older, but aren't necessarily mandatory when you first get your puppy include; a good brush, ID tag and dog treats. Treats are better utilized as just that - treats. Instead of using treats as a training aid, substitute your dog's favorite toy. Trust me, after about a month you will discover what his favorite toy is.
And now for the supplies that might be fun to have. Squeaky toys are very cute in the store and your dog will love them. But they will get very old very quickly. Imagine this scenario. You've just walked in the front door from a long day at work. You sit down to watch TV and decompress and from the other side of the room you hear, "Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak." That will get old very quickly.
And even though they're cute, please save your dog's dignity and avoid buying any clothes, designer or otherwise, for Fido. Have you ever really looked at a dog's face when he's wearing clothes? He's embarrassed. A good rule of thumb to use is this - if you wouldn't be seen in public wearing it, don't make your dog wear it. Have fun with your new family member.
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Allen Shaw is a successful author who provides pet tips and information for dog supplies and pet supplies. "I am the news director at USA News Network and have been working as freelance writer for 2 years. I've been published in a few magazines, newspapers and websites and my specialty up to this point has been movie and music reviews."
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