It’s unfathomable to me that it’s been exactly eight months since we brought a little golden fluffball into our lives; on one hand it seems like only yesterday I sat anxiously in the front seat of the car with him asleep on my lap, hoping he’d love us as much as I knew we’d love him, but also a million years ago – so much of a part of our little family he’s become. Archie has undoubtedly improved our lives beyond measure, giving us something to love and take care of while providing incomprehensible amounts of affection back; he’s the focus of our attention, the reason we leave the house and the joy we need when things aren’t quite going to plan elsewhere. But that’s not to say it hasn’t been hard.
I don’t think anyone can prepare you for those first few weeks of having your world turned upside down, no matter how many articles you read or kind words of advice you’re given: bringing home a puppy is what I can only assume is like bringing home a baby, just with marginally more sleep and the ability to feed it from a bowl. But like a baby, they grow incredibly fast and before you know it you’ve got a fully grown dog that actually knows where to pee.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that Archie plays a starring role on my stories, especially at the moment when we’re barely apart from one another, and I’ve been sharing our journey since the day we first met him. (They’re all saved in highlights if you want to watch them back, starting at 1-3 months.) I’m often asked for advice, suggestions or words of wisdom from those of you looking to bring a pup of your own into your home, but the most recurring question is what you should buy and what you should avoid when preparing for your new arrival.
Having learned a huge amount over the last eight months I thought I’d summarise some of the best and worst things we bought for our puppy, and everything we learned along the way. I’ve even handily linked* to them all on Amazon (where I’ve bought most of our gadgets and gizmos) so you don’t have to even leave the house…
THE BEST THINGS WE’VE BOUGHT
A Crate. I did a lot of research in the weeks between meeting Archie and bringing him home, and overwhelmingly the advice was to ‘crate train’ your puppy in order to help them learn being alone is okay (and to get a decent nights sleep.) We were very lucky that Archie settled quickly and only whined a couple of times throughout the night for the first few days; I know it can hard for a lot of people (one of my mates gave up with the crate because she hadn’t slept in about two weeks!) but his crate is undoubtedly his safe space. He takes himself off to bed when he’s tired, and is happy chilling there when we go out; it also makes it so much easier when we stay away, as his crate is a space that he can retreat to even when he’s unsure of his surroundings. A number one purchase, without a doubt. (TRY THIS.)
Cheap Blankets. Dogs do like to be snuggly, but they also like to chew everything in sight. Archie has three of his own blankets and he knows they’re the only ones he’s allowed to chew or play with; don’t bother buying anything other than a £5.00 one from Primark, because it will get destroyed. (TRY THIS.)
Multiple Beds. It may sound excessive, but Archie has five beds! His main crate one (which is more of a mattress that fits inside along with a pillow and blanket) that lives in the kitchen, a SilentNight* one that stays in the living room (for him to sleep in while we watch TV in the evenings,) a fluffy one that lives in my office (this was originally in the living room before it got upgraded,) a waterproof one that stays in the backseat of my car and another old one that lives in Josh’s car. Rather than having to constantly move things about we find it easier to just have different beds in different places, so there’s always somewhere comfy for him to feel safe. You don’t have to spend a fortune (they’re mainly from Pets At Home, B&M and HomeSense) as they will get wrecked and inevitably replaced, but do invest in your dogs comfort; Archie adores his SilentNight* one so much that we often have to drag him, still in it, into the kitchen at bed time. (TRY THIS.)
Things To Chew. Puppies in particular need to chew for hours a day, especially when they’re teething, but finding the right things to keep them occupied can be a challenge. Every dog is different, but Archie definitely prefers things he can really get his teeth into and eat; Pizzles (a bull’s penis cut up into smaller fragments – lovely) are his absolute fave, even though they stink, as well as Paddy Wacks and Pig’s Ears. He’s also a fan of filled bones. There are so many amazing dog toys and expensive treats out there, but my experience has been it’s the cheap and cheerful ones they love the most! (TRY THIS.)
Kongs. A Super tough dog toy, these can be used for play as well as a ‘boredom breaker’ to keep them occupied when you’re not able to give them your attention. We have five in total now which I stuff with dog pate and freeze (to make them last longer and be more of a challenge,) and Archie gets one when we go out or when we need fifteen minutes without him trying to be involved in whatever we’re doing. They’re not the cheapest, but they’ll last forever and you’ll be thankful. (TRY THIS.)
A Door Bell. Toilet training is HARD. We had puppy pads in every room and gradually Archie learned to make his way to the pad to do his business (even if he didn’t understand the logistical challenge of standing on the edge and therefore aiming over the carpet anyway.) Transitioning from inside to outside was tricky, as the signs he needed to go out weren’t always that obvious – until we bought a dog door bell. It was life changing. Literally. It hangs over the handle of our back door and now as soon as Archie jumps up to rattle it he knows we’ll come to let him out; he picked it up within hours and it’s made all the difference, so much so that I wish we’d bought one weeks earlier. (TRY THIS.)
Boredom Breaker Games. These were recommended during our puppy class as a way to keep your dog occupied and stop the behaviour that you don’t want; they also help to slow down feeding if your dog is a bit of a gobbler! We’ve got three of these, as well as a Licky Pad which we cover in peanut butter, which are filled with food for Archie to forage in whichever way he fancies – moving around the sliding compartments with his paws, lifting away the cups with his mouth or just generally chucking it about to release the treats! I always fill one or two of these up when I’m popping out in order to keep him occupied, but they were also really useful in the early days when I just needed to eat a meal in peace. He finds them super fun, even if it only takes a couple of minutes for him to solve it. (TRY THIS.)
Anti-Slip Mat. So simple, but dogs and ceramic bowls do not mix. Get an anti-slip mat to stop them starting their dinner at one end of the room and finishing at the other. (TRY THIS.)
Ear Wipes. Archie loves jumping in water and our daily walks take place in open countryside, so it’s unsurprising his ears can get a bit manky if we don’t keep an eye on them. He developed an ear infection early on which really wasn’t nice (it looked like he had coffee in his ears!) and required special drops, so now I use little ear wipes that slot onto my finger and can easily wipe away any dirt. He quite enjoys the experience and it saves more trips to the vets. (TRY THIS.)
Odour Remover Spray. If you’re getting a puppy (or an older rescue dog) then accidents are inevitable; stocking up on proper pet odour remover spray will not only ease your mind when it comes to cleaning them up, but stops the scent from lingering. If they can still smell their pee they’re just going to keep going back and adding some more! We went through bottles of the stuff in the first few months. (TRY THIS.)
A Stairgate. Self explanatory really, but as soon as they figure out how to climb those stairs they’ll be up. Because that’s where the socks are. (TRY THIS.)
A Dog Cam. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but this has been super handy for when we leave him for extended periods of time or when we were a little worried during those early months. Being able to keep an eye on him and talk to him if we needed to was invaluable, even if it involved watching him asleep 90% of the time. More for your peace of mind than anything else, but a worthy investment. (TRY THIS.)
Travel Water Bottle. Such a simple thing, but these dog-friendly bottles allow them to have a drink during a long walk thanks to the little bowl at the end; a wise investment, especially during the warmer months. (TRY THIS.)
Adjustable Harness. Puppies grow so quickly that Archie has a wardrobe of (cute) clothes he no longer fits into, but when he was tiny we bought a harness that could be fully adjusted; we didn’t want to make the mistake of buying something costly that would have to be replaced three months later. As a fully grown 9 month old he’s still wearing (and fitting into) the first harness we bought him at 9 weeks. (TRY THIS.)
A Seat Belt. Josh thought he was onto a Dragon’s Den idea when he was going to make a seatbelt for the dog, but unfortunately for him I found one in Halfords and his dreams were dashed. This simply clips into the seatbelt holder like the ones in your car, but the other end clips onto their harness so they have movement but they can’t jump up. So simple, but so effective. (TRY THIS.)
Puppy Classes. Honestly the best money we’ve spent in the last year, a six week puppy course was the best place to start as first time dog parents. It didn’t just teach us the basic commands (most of which we’d nailed at home anyway,) but helped us to understand our pup’s behaviour and reactions so we could ensure a truly trusting and positive relationship. We learned how to interact with other dogs, how to reward to get the result you want, why they chew and what to do about it, the best toys and treats to use, recall and an introduction to walking on the lead. The weekly class was something we looked forward to and got a lot from, especially in the early days – so we’ve since followed up with Sniffer Dog and Lovely Lead courses too. I’d thoroughly recommend booking in for a taster session with anyone local and recommended, as it will help in the long term as much as the short. (Our classes are hosted by Potter Paws.)
THINGS WE WASTED MONEY ON
Brushes. Even the pet shop told us not to bother with toothbrushes and toothpaste, but we still bought a brush to help groom him. He doesn’t stay still enough to be brushed, tries to eat it and doesn’t really look any different afterwards anyway; take that money and spend it on a regular grooming session with a professional.
Anti Bark Device. Archie likes to woof at every dog that passes our windows; this didn’t make a blind bit of difference.
Cuddly Toys. They’re ripped apart and the innards are across my carpet within about ten minutes.
Car Seat. This was great for the first few weeks, until Archie was big enough to jump out of it. He prefers the freedom of sitting on a bed pillow (as above) and playing with toys on the back seat.
Poo Bag Dispenser. I always forget to re-fill it and just take out a roll of poo bags in my pocket instead.
Anti-Chew Spray. In an effort to stop the chewing of everything from furniture to plants and door frames I bought a bottle of much-recommended spray; somehow I managed to get it over everything I touched and spent the next two hours with a disgusting taste in my mouth, while the dog just chewed through whatever he fancied anyway. We tried multiple times, then we gave up and threw it down the sink.
Pee Post. These are supposed to help boy dogs to pee in one spot, thanks to pheromones in the plastic. Archie thought it was a chew toy, so we spent half the time chasing him round the garden trying to get it.
Inflatable Paddling Pool. Although Archie loves to splash around, he mainly drinks the water or pees in it (nice.) He’s also created multiple holes so within an hour you have to refill it – thank goodness it was just a £2.99 job from Tesco and not one of those expensive dog ones I’ve seen in the pet shop.
Every dog is different and there’s no one approach that will work for all, but these are undoubtedly the best and worst things we bought for our puppy in those first few months. The most important thing is to build a bond of trust, listen to their behaviour and keep doing what works. Eight months in we’re still learning, still investing in puppy classes and still making mistakes that come back to bite us – but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The weekend snuggles in bed make everything worth it.
If you’re a dog parent, what’s the best and worst thing you’ve bought for your pooch?
*AD: affiliate links used. The SilentNight bed was also kindly gifted, but I’d 100% buy another one if he eats it!
Enjoyed ‘the best and worst things we bought for our puppy’?
Read my post ‘everything I’ve learned since getting a puppy’ HERE.