Puppy Essentials – What To Buy!


Somewhere to sleep!
A crate suitable to your puppy’s size! Too small and it won’t be a comfortable space and too large and they’ll use it as their private bathroom too! Puppies should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in their crate.

  • For small breeds a 24-inch crate is the correct size
  • For medium breeds a 30-inch crate is the correct size
  • For large breeds a 32-inch/40-inch crate is best.

Bear in mind that you will be choosing the crate size for how big your puppy is now and not how big they will be when they are older. Therefore, you will need to buy a larger crate as the puppy grows.  Crates are used as a valuable tool to aid toilet training and to keep puppies safe when they are unsupervised. If you cover it with a blanket and pack it with a comfy bed and some toys, your puppy will learn to love their den!

Safe, washable bowls for food and water. Always have fresh water available at all times (this is a requirement by law to allow your puppy access to water at all times) and consider a non-slip travel bowl if you plan to do any long car journeys and a portable water bowl for when you are out with your puppy.

A good variety of toys both soft and hard are really good to help a puppy settle into their new home and explore their new surrounding. Playing with toys is also a lovely way to bond with your puppy!

  • KONGS – use to stuff wet food into
  • Rope Toy – great for tug of war games ensuring puppy has one end and human hands are safely at the other end!
  • Nylabones – GREAT for teething puppies!

Puppies have around 4-hours worth of chewing to do EACH DAY! So we want to offer them items which are safe to chew and which they enjoy chewing rather than letting them explore and start to nibble at our furniture instead!

Natural chews are always better in terms of nutrition than the typical ‘chain shop bought’ chews which pet shops would like us to buy. Here’s a few of my favourites:

  • Cows Hooves – SUPER smelly but FANTASTIC for teething puppies
  • Antler Chews – no smell and a good natural chew
  • Pizzle Sticks – a great, natural and edible chew – very smelly

This is a huge minefield for new puppy owners! I personally feed a Raw Diet but many owners still feed a commercial dry dog food diet out of convenience or simply because that’s what the breeder was feeding. Remember that you can change your puppy’s food and if you feed a highly nutritious diet, your puppy will live a healthier and longer life… and wouldn’t we all want our dogs to live longer! Please refer to the blog on Raw Feeding for more information on this subject.  

Poo Bags
You can use scented nappy sacks or biodegradable poo bags as you’ll be going through A LOT over the next few months:

I would recommend a good enzymatic cleaning product to not only clean up any accidents but to remove the smell so that your puppy doesn’t keep going back to the same spot to toilet again

Collar and Comfortable Harness
I would advise getting your puppy used to wearing a collar as soon as possible. Something thin and light in weight. Most puppies will scratch at their necks for a few days upon wearing a collar for the first time and then soon get used to the feeling of wearing one. Pets shops sell an array of collars but one of my favourite brands for puppy collars is Red Dingo which you can purchase online.

Please remove any collars and harnesses when your puppy is inside its crate – accidents can happen and collars can get caught on things!

Dog Tag
By law, all dogs need to wear an ID tag with the name, address and postcode of their owner engraved or written on it. Remember not to get a really large tag as your little puppy will need to carry this around on their neck – so something lightweight and small.

I would always advise walking puppies on a comfortable harness to protect their necks whilst on walks. When they are older you can transition to walking them on a collar – and as you have already got them used to wearing a collar, it will make the transition seamless! My favourite brand of harness is PUPPIA.

Teaching your dog to walk on a loose lead! Is my dog actually walking me?

Probably one of the hardest things to teach our dogs is walking on a loose lead. Does your dog constantly pull your arm with increasing strength as you get nearer to the park? Are you constantly being pulled along to every lamppost, person and dog to say hello? Do you feel as though your dog is actually walking you? Read my top tips below!

I always suggest starting training sessions in a distraction-free area such as your garden as this will help to keep your dog focused on you and not on the exciting surroundings.

With loose lead walking, you want to teach your dog that:

  • Good things happen when they walk next to you
  • Nothing ‘bad’ happens when they don’t but that there is no benefit when they try to pull on the lead.

Top tips:

  • Always start your lead walk in the right way! This means that you do not move forward unless your dog is calm and isn’t pulling and waiting to pounce out of the door the very second you open it. Most dogs will get super excited as soon as you pick up their lead to take them for a walk so once you’ve clipped their lead on, wait by the closed door for a few moments until your dog is calm and then reward them with a treat for this behaviour before you open the door and exit your home.
  • If you dog is unable to calm themselves before you leave the front door, then remove their lead and play a game with them in your home to help burn off some excess energy before repeating the first step
  • Take lots of treats on each walk (dogs and puppies learning to walk on a loose lead will need lots of treats during the training process)
  • You want to show your dog exactly what you would like them to do (walk by your side) rather than waiting for them to ‘fail’ as positive reinforcement training methods have been proven to have the best results. So when you start your walk, use a treat in your hand to lure your dog into position (by your side) and reward them once they are in place and then begin walking
  • Each time your dog pulls, stop walking and again use a treat to lure them back into position by your side, reward them and begin walking again
  • Keep repeating the above until your dog realises that being by your side means they will receive treats. The first few training walks can mean you’re out ‘walking’ for a long time… but not actually going very far! Be patient as this is one of the hardest things to teach any dog but you should notice a difference after only a few training sessions!
  • When your dog is walking calmly by your side reward them frequently for doing so as it’s really important to reward good behaviour as it increases the likelihood of your dog repeating it
  • Once your dog starts walking beside you and looks up to make eye contact, reward them! They are getting the hang of walking on a loose lead!
  • Mix up your walking route so that there isn’t a routine. Dogs who are walked on the same route will naturally want to pull when they know something interesting is coming up i.e. the park. They also won’t be focussed on you as they’ll already know which way they are walking. So change directions throughout your walk with a ‘this way’ cue to encourage your dog to pay attention to you as they won’t be able to predict which way you are walking
  • If you see another dog or a person or anything which you think may be a distraction for your dog, call their name and reward them to ensure their focus is back onto you and not on the distraction. If you need to, keep rewarding them with treats as you pass the distraction to keep their focus on you. If they pull, stop, lure them back into position, reward and then move forward again.

Remember that each member of the household needs to commit to the training to ensure your dog is successful. If sometimes you allow your dog to pull or if one member of the household allows this, then your dog will pull!

Also remember that this is one of the hardest things to teach a dog and often you will find in the beginning that on your lead walks you aren’t able to walk very far at all so remain patient and consistent and always, always reward your dog when they are by your side. You’re building up a closer bond with your dog on training walks, getting their focus back onto you and also mentally stimulating them so training walks benefit everyone!

Good luck!

Puppies: Toilet Training!

Toilet training – how to master this:

Above all else, patience is key! Puppies don’t have full control of their bladder until they are at least 6 months of age.  Please don’t expect a young puppy to hold its bladder for too long and always remember to make frequent visits outside with your puppy to keep your puppy’s bladder as empty as possible.

You may have days or weeks on end without any accidents and then feel deflated when your puppy has one, but this is perfectly normal so worry and obviously don’t scold your puppy.  So long as your puppy is toiling outdoors more often than they are indoors then you’re on the right track.

Toilet training is a development area which you and your puppy need to work at as a partnership; if your puppy has an accident indoors then this could have been prevented by you taking them outside 5 minutes before, so remember this next time and make that extra trip outside with them, praise them when they urinate and then bring them back indoors.  Some owners like to write down the times when their puppy goes to the toilet so they can start to realise a pattern and are more in tune with when their puppy will next need to go to the toilet.

With toilet training, we want to:

  • Show your puppy where we would like them to go to the toilet – this means regularly taking them outside and staying outside with them until they have gone to the toilet
  • Reward them for going to the toilet in the right place – this motivates them to want to go in the right place the next time they need to go to the toilet

You’ll soon be in sync with your puppies toileting and will know when they last urinated, how much they’ve drunk since and when they should be ready to go outside again… don’t presume that they will always tell you when they need to go out as it takes persistent training and time for a puppy to learn to always ‘ask’ to go outside… so just give them a little helping hand to succeed!

Key times during the day when your puppy is most likely to need to go to the toilet:

There are several key times during the day when puppies are most likely to need to go to the toilet. Taking note of these will increase your chances of helping them to be successful by ensuring that you take them outside at these times:

  • As soon as they wake up (this includes daytime naps as well as overnight)
  • As soon you’ve finished playing a game with them
  • As soon as they’ve finished eating their meals

If you wish to fast-track your puppy’s toilet training, then remember the take them outside regularly throughout the day. Remember when it was that your puppy last went to the toilet as this will help you to predict when they might need to go again.  Praise them when they go to the toilet in the right place – I always advise rewarding with a treat as this makes the moment more memorable for your puppy… and increases the likelihood of them wanting to go to the toilet outside then next time!

Excitement urination

Does your puppy wee each time you come home, each time greet him or her in the morning, each time you make their breakfast/lunch/dinner or each time visitors come to visit? Well, welcome to the club!

Puppies generally under the age of six months don’t yet have complete control over their bladders and although you may be making good progress with house-training your pup, they may not be able to control their bladders when they are excited or nervous.   Don’t worry, this is something they will grow out of… with a little help from us!

Recommendations if you have an excitement urination issue:

  • Don’t greet your puppy in an excitable way! By doing so, you may inadvertently reinforce the problem. Instead, stay calm – this means no squealing ‘OMG I missed you too!’, no picking up cuddling or petting your puppy if they are excitable and definitely no high-pitched baby talk! Step away from the cute puppy!
  • Ignore your puppy until he or she is calm
  • Take your puppy outside immediately to limit the chances they will excitement wee indoors
  • Once they toilet outside praise them and then make a fuss over them… they did a good thing!
  • If visitors come to your home, ensure your puppy has emptied its bladder very soon before the visitor’s arrival (take them for a short walk to encourage them to do so). Ask your visitors to ignore your puppy when they first arrive and then take the puppy outside where visitors can greet him or her (to avoid any accidents indoors)

Submissive urination

A little less common is when puppies perform submission urination if they are nervous.

You’ll notice the difference between this and excitement urination; submission urination can occur when a visitor enters their home whom they do not know, when they meet an unfamiliar dog or in any situation which they feel nervous about.  So in many ways, this is the opposite of excitement urination and so it is usually very easy to spot the difference.

Recommendations if you have a submissive urination problem:

  • Ignore your puppy if they have an accident indoors. Telling them in a soothing voice that it is ok will only reinforce their feelings of nervousness
  • Never scold a puppy who suffers from submission urination as you’ll end up making the puppy more nervous. Just ignore the mess and clean it up when your puppy isn’t watching
  • Make a note of what situations make your puppy submissively urinate and then try to avoid putting your puppy in these situations. For example, if visitors coming to your home results in your puppy submissively urinate then arrange to greet visitors outside your door with your puppy before entering your home all together.
  • Reward your puppy for urinating outside and constantly give them praise to build their confidence.

Living with a nervous dog

Each time I go for a walk I spend a lot of my time observing dog behaviour – in my own group but also in other dogs… I just find it fascinating.  I believe you can learn a lot about dogs by just watching their own behaviour and interaction with their owners but also their behaviour and interactions with other dogs, particularly dogs which are unfamiliar to them.  And they always amaze me…

Most dogs meet other dogs quite naturally whilst on their walk… they’re happy to go over and say hello and meet a new friend; their body is fluid and relaxed and they can easily sense when another dog doesn’t want to meet them and will then walk away.  If you think about it, your dog will generally meet quite a few unfamiliar dogs every day on every walk and for the most part, dogs which are used to this routine will cope incredibly well.  However, if you happen to have a nervous or timid dog then just taking them for a walk can be quite stressful.  We’ve all seen those dogs in the park which bark incessantly at our dogs, the dogs which are on a lead on their walk and pull and lunge at other dogs while the owner gets embarrassed and pulls them away, whilst apologising to the other dog owner.  To the untrained eye, most people will wrongly assume this dog is aggressive.  This is a common misconception and I hope everyone can take away some understanding on this topic from this blog post.

Did you know that the loudest dogs are often the most fearful? Did you know that dogs who are on a lead may actually be on a lead for a reason? Did you know that the reason may be because they can’t cope with meeting unfamiliar dogs and so the lead acts as a support and barrier for the responsible dogs owner?  This is why when you see a dog on a lead you should always place your dog on a lead too… or at least ensure that your dogs recall is reliable enough to keep your dog from approaching the on-lead dog.  It saddens me when I see dogs on lead who are clearly fearful and other owners allowing their dogs to charge over to them to say hello and who always say ‘don’t worry, my dog is friendly!’  That may well be the case, but what about the fearful dog who is on a lead and has nowhere to escape to?   Do you think it wants to meet your dog?  This can be an incredibly daunting experience for them… and for their owner who is responsible enough to place their fearful dog on a lead in the first place, they are just hoping for a quiet and enjoyable walk with their dog.

Some dogs are genetically born with the predisposition to be nervous and some dogs become this way because of a bad experience with another dog or group of dogs.  From my own personal experience, I took home the ‘runt’ of the litter – tiny, nervous and who needed a lot of nurturing.  My puppy was terrified of absolutely everything and simple things like going out for her first post-vaccination walk, which should have been a milestone and something to celebrate, left her petrified to the point of shaking and drooling.  Now this is not ‘normal’ but it was certainly an eye-opener and having come full-circle with her I am now especially sensitive when I see other dogs behaving in a nervous way and want to help them too.   They are just crying out for help and guidance.

Everyone who has owned multiple dogs in their life will know that each and every dog is different, no matter what breed they are and if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to have a nervous dog, they will teach you so much if you really pay attention to their body language and behaviours.  I say ‘lucky’ because these dogs will teach you more than any ‘normal’ dog ever will.  For those of you who own a well-balanced and sociable dog, don’t take this for granted… in my experience it is a rare thing!

I spent a considerable amount of time and effort (and still do) managing my dogs nervousness and building her confidence to the point that I engrossed myself in canine behaviour and actually quit my job and made a career change focussed on dogs.  Everything I did was for my dog to ensure she was happy and within her comfort zone… the last thing I wanted was to have a fearful dog who then became aggressive as there is a very fine line between the two.  Each walk was focussed on watching her body language and helping her to move away from things which she was nervous of (plastic bags in hedges, dogs charging towards her, people running in florescent clothing… the list was endless!) And by doing this, I built up an incredible bond with my dog.

I attended several seminars and undertook courses in canine behaviour so I could understand and recognise potential ‘threats’ and the right way to manage this and now I use this in my every day life working with dogs.  The good old ‘flight, fight, freeze, avoid’ theory is just a start but it’s so true… how many times have you observed two dogs meeting and one of them freezing while the other sniffs around it?  The ‘frozen’ dog then shakes and runs back to its owner?  This is not a nice meeting for the dog who froze and they didn’t take anything away from this meeting… they were just put in a really uncomfortable situation and the more this happens, the more the dog will learn that freezing doesn’t help the ‘scary dog’ move away and so they try a new tactic of either flight; running away or fight; where they may bark or scowl to tell the dog to move away.  The problem here is that if they realise that barking and scowling actually works then they will use this again and again… and here we have ‘the aggressive dog’ who is then placed on a lead in the park.  Most people won’t recognise that these dogs aren’t actually aggressive but that they have just learnt to use aggression as a way to avoid situations which they find uncomfortable or daunting and it’s the owners job to help to recognise this and to remove their dog from the situation.

The amount of dog owners I know whose dog has been attacked and then become fearful afterwards is overwhelming.  These are the owners who now get up very early in the morning to walk their dog so that they can enjoy their walk and not worry about encountering other dogs which may set their fearful dog off.  For those of us living in London, this is no mean feat… dog are everywhere and many owners don’t recognise that just because their dog is friendly, all other dogs don’t want to meet it.

When I’m out walking I always watch the body language of other dogs to ascertain if they are indeed friendly and if they want to meet my dogs.  If they look stiff and uncomfortable as we approach, then I change direction and move my group away… why would I knowingly put my group into a situation which may result in them being snapped at? I just wouldn’t.  So whether you have a nervous dog or a super sociable one, when you’re out on your next walk, be a little sensitive to the dogs you may meet and please place your dog on a lead, or call them back to you if they start running up to a dog on a lead… your dog may be friendly but the poor dog is on a lead for a reason and the owner is clearly trying to work on its confidence levels.  And if you have a nervous dog, don’t force them into situations and really take the time to understand their coping thresholds and what their triggers are… and then avoid putting them in fearful situations and work (at a distance) to build their confidence and their recall.  Because every dog deserves to enjoy their walk and being able to read canine body language and understand it is truly an incredible thing.