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.

Nutrition & Raw Feeding

Are you still feeding your dog a commercial ‘dog food’ diet? 

I always try to educate owners on the benefits of feeding a RAW DIET which also includes raw bones. 

Commercial ‘dog food’ consists of needless carbohydrates, harmful additives and preservatives and off cuts of meat (I’m talking about carcasses here) which are left over from the human industry as they aren’t fit for human consumption. Instead of ‘wasting’ these off cuts of meat which have been rendered inedible for the human industry, these are used for the pet food industry instead. 

These ingredients are then mixed together and heated to extreme temperatures before being formed into the small round balls we all know as ‘kibble’. These are then wrapped up in fancy, marketable packaging (with severely ambiguous branding and adjectives to entice you, the consumer) ready and waiting for you to select from the shelf. 

A raw diet is biologically specific for our dogs as well as being HUMAN GRADE. It contains no carbohydrates or inexpensive ‘fillers’ which the pet food industry likes to add to create a HIGHER QUANTITY to sell to dog owners (…and resulting in a much LOWER QUALITY of food). Of course it’s cheaper to add potatoes and rice to a meal than to add more fresh meat… and dogs do not need carbohydrates in their diet. 

Here’s a fact… a RAW diet has a SHELF LIFE of 3 DAYS. A DRY KIBBLE diet has a SHELF LIFE of several YEARS. So how many preservatives do you think are packed into your dogs’ dry kibble to keep it ‘fresh’ for several years?!

Companies who sell raw dog food – delivered to your door:

Below are links to some good companies who supply complete, frozen raw food:

Your puppy would be fed an amount according to their age and weight and most (if not all) of the companies above have a ‘raw feeding calculator’ online where you can work out the correct amount. The food arrives in tubs which you can simply defrost and then scoop out and weigh into their bowl. Poppy’s Picnic sell a ‘meatball’ range which I personally find easier as you don’t need to weigh the food out each day from a tub but rather feed a set number of meatballs. The food is exactly the same, it is just packaged in two different ways.

All of these companies offer human grade meat and the correct balance of protein, bones, fruit and vegetables… no additives, preservatives or grains or carbohydrates!

Dry Dog Food Alternatives

Not all owners are able to feed their puppies a raw diet – either as it isn’t convenient or due to a lack of freezer space. The best dry dog food alternative is Eden 80/20. This dry, packaged dog food consists of 80% protein and 20% fruit and vegetables and is one of the very best currently on the market. You can purchase this at pet shops or via amazon prime.


Additional Resources:

Watch the documentary called Pet Fooled – it’s a really good, easy to digest documentary explaining the commercial pet food industry.

Your veterinarian may advise that you feed your puppy Hills Science Plan or Royal Canin. Both are low value commercial dog food brands (roughly 25-28% protein content!) which vets work with on a commission basis with…!

Fireworks And Dogs – Dealing with Anxiety This Bonfire Season

With Bonfire Night becoming a bigger celebration year on year with fireworks displays now stretching out over several weeks, it can be a terribly stressful time for some dogs.

This is the nosiest time of the year in the UK with Halloween costumes, loud bangs and flashes taking over the streets and skies… all of which can make it a highly stressful time for dogs.

All dogs will respond differently and over the years we have tried and tested various remedies to help one of our dogs (Peanut) to minimise her anxieties and wanted to share these with you.

MAKNG YOUR DOG FEEL SAFE (low level anxiety)

  • Create a den for your dog to relax and feel safe in. This could be a crate covered in blankets where they can retreat to if they feel scared
  • Distract your dog by having your TV or radio on loud to help block out the noises from fireworks
  • Close all windows and blinds/curtains to minimise noise and flashes from fireworks
  • Walk your dog before dusk so that they can relieve themselves before fireworks start as you will want to avoid letting them in your garden during neighbouring fireworks displays to prevent them from being suddenly shocked by the noises
  • Avoid over-fussing your dog so as not to reinforce their anxiety. Speak in a normal tone and remain calm and cheerful
  • Distract your dog with long lasting treats such as kongs and bully sticks


  • ThunderSHIRT Dog Anxiety Vest – these can be a valuable tool for dogs who suffer anxiety – they are designed to exert gentle, constant pressure likened to infant swaddling
  • Adaptil Spray and Plug-in; this dog appeasing pheromone has proven to have a comforting effect on both puppies and adult dogs during stressful situations. Please note that these need to be used for several weeks in the build up to Bonfire Night in order to be effective
  • Many companies offer Sound CD’s to help to desensitise dogs to various noises, including fireworks. These should be used in advance of Bonfire Night to introduce dogs to these noises in a controlled way – play the CD on a low volume and feed treats to your dog as a way to distract them before increasing the volume slightly and repeating the process

HERBAL REMEDIES (high-level anxiety)

  • Dortwest Herbs Scullcap and Valarian Tablets – a herbal remedy to calm and relax dogs who suffer from phobias or apprehension. These do not cause drowsiness or impair normal behaviour or performance
  • Chill Drops – a natural alternative to help calm stressed or anxious dogs containing Valerain Root, Hoodwort, Camomile, Wild Sage and Organic Cider Vinegar
  • CDB Oil – a herbal aid to calm both humans and dogs
  • Rescue Remedy – a herbal aid to calm both humans and dogs


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.