Contact Information

General | Collars | Leashes | Crate | Bedding | Bowls | Food | Grooming Tools | Training | Treats | Toys | Clean-up| Books DVDs | Insurance | Veterinarian | Trainers | Optional Items

Puppy Necessities–Our View

Don't go crazy at the pet store. A puppy does require certain essentials but see how your life with the puppy evolves before making too many purchases. Obviously as your puppy grows and develops he/she will require additional equipment. Below is what we consider essential to have when your puppy arrives.

A flat adjustable nylon collar with either a quick release plastic snap or buckle fastener. Remember puppies grow very quickly make sure to lengthen the initial collar, but you will probably need to buy at least two additional larger flat collars as the puppy grows. Do not buy a metal "choke" chain until you begin formal obedience classes at five to six months of age. In the initial obedience class the instructor will advise you on the type of training collar they prefer. Once our puppies are adults we switch to a rolled leather buckle collar.

A six-foot nylon leash should also be purchased with the initial puppy collar for walks and training. Many owners prefer to have matching color leashes and collars. We prefer leather leashes for our adult dogs but puppies invariably chew leashes on, so we advise not buying a leather leash until the puppy is nearly a year of age and through the "puppy chewies".

We recommend a standard adult sized wire crate with a puppy divider. Please see our article on dog crates on the website for more information.

Puppies do like soft bedding that can range from a folded old beach towel to an expensive corduroy dog bed. We prefer a synthetic sheepskin mat that fits the puppy's wire crate. They are easily washed and can be used in or out of the crate and are very durable. Whatever type of bedding you purchase be aware that your puppy will probably try to chew on it. This is the major reason that we recommend inexpensive bedding for puppies. You can buy a nice dog bed when he/she is an adult.

We recommend stainless steel, non-tip wide based bowls. They are easy to clean and are hard to tip over. Ceramic bowls are all right but we find they tend to chip over time with washing. Do not use plastic bowls as they tend to get scratches and chewed on. These crevices are difficult to clean and may ultimately become a reservoir for bacteria.

Dog Food:
High quality puppy food is important for the long-term health of your puppy. Please do not try to save a few dollars by buying an inexpensive dry food. The overall difference in cost per day is minimal, as you have to feed considerably more of a low quality food to achieve the same nutrient and calorie intake. We strongly recommend strict avoidance of any dry or wet dog food that contains corn or wheat or their by-products. Our adult dogs are all fed a grain free diet Innova Evo. Puppies require more nutrients and calories/pound than adults and because of this it is hard to formulate a grain free puppy food. We feed Innova Puppy that contains brown rice and barley but no corn or wheat. We recommend switching to adult food at a year of age. There is an extensive discussion of dog foods on our web site.

Grooming Tools:
(Minimum) Rubber handled soft or medium slicker brush Nail-clippers (Plier style) Kwik-stop Styptic Powder for nail bleeding Puppy Shampoo–Tender Care Tearless Please see our grooming article for a complete list.

Training Aids:
Equipment: A canvas-retrieving dummy used only for training not for routine play. A soft toy that throws well can be substituted as some young puppies prefer these, but use that specific toy only for training. If you plan on doing water work have a floating retrieving toy. If you plan on clicker training your puppy, you should purchase several clickers. Keep one in your car or on your keychain and several scattered throughout the home so you can train anywhere. BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPLES OF CLICKER TRAINING BEFORE YOU BEGIN AS CORRECT TIMING OF YOUR CLICK IS PARAMOUNT. A ONE HOUR PRIVATE OR SMALL CLASS TRAINING SESSION CAN TEACH YOU THE BASICS OF CLICKER TIMING.

High-value, yummy treats that the puppy does not usually receive work best. You may need to experiment with this, as each puppy's appetite and taste are unique. Keep the treat size small (less than the size of your little fingernail) so that the puppy can quickly chew and swallow it. This allows you to get on with your training without having to wait for the puppy to chew a large treat. It is better for the treat to be too small than too large. Some puppies love tug toys (Bungee tugs) and a game of tug can also be a great reward. REMEMBER YOUNG PUPPIES HAVE SHORT ATTENTION SPANS, SO IT IS BETTER TO TRAIN FOR 3-4 MINUTES AT A TIME SEVERAL TIMES A DAY RATHER THAN HAVE ONE LONG TRAINING SESSION.

Remember PWD puppies are mouthy and toys designed for chewing are indispensable. Our recommendations include the following: Kong toys Nylabone Sterilized Bone Hard rubber ball Soft Toy (Preferably without squeaker) for sleeping

Cleanup Solution:
All puppies will have accidents in the house until they are completely housetrained. You must completely remove all odors of prior accidents for the housebreaking of your puppy to be successful. Remember that the canine nose is 1000 times more sensitive a human's. You must remove all the scent from a prior accident or the puppy will return to the site again and again. Many stain and odor removers are on the market but the two best are Nature's Miracle an enzymatic cleaner and Bramtom's Simple Solutions a bacterial/enzymatic cleaner. We prefer Simple Solutions of the two. It seems to remove the residual odor better. Simple Solutions is available at Petco and Petsmart.

Books, Articles, DVDs:
LINK to resources We try to stay current on all dog-related books, articles, training DVDs and web sources. We subscribe to several dog periodicals including the "Whole Dog Journal" and "Clean Run" for agility and obedience training. Our website section entitled resources is updated twice a year or more frequently when we find an exceptional resource.

Pet Insurance:
Veterinary care has kept pace with advances in human medical care. In the twenty first century our canine companions can undergo complicated and expensive diagnostic procedures and therapies, including CT scans, MRIs, chemotherapy for cancer, complex reparative surgical procedures, lithotripsy and even hemodialysis. These can cost thousands of dollars and every owner should consider some form of pet health insurance. The type and amount of coverage is an individual choice. Our approach has been that accidents and ingestions are the most common problem in puppies while illness coverage becomes necessary as the pet ages. The AKC offers a "free 60 day trial health coverage" if you register your puppy. However you have to go on their web site and sign up for the program. The AKC partners with Markel Insurance for this trial and they would like you to sign up for their long-term program. Expect to be flooded with marketing material from the AKC when you sign up but it gives you a basis to compare to other insurance coverage. The 60-day coverage period also allows you time to research other insurance coverage during the free coverage period. Just as with human insurance policies a high deductible decreases premium costs. The minimum approach would be a high deductible accident + illness policy with good comprehensive coverage including $10,000-15,000/incidence with only a 10-20% co-pay.

Choosing a veterinarian for your dog is every bit as important as choosing your own physician or dentist. You would not select your own health care provider from a listing in the yellow pages. Proximity to your home is important but a good veterinarian is worth a short drive. Ours is fifteen miles away and we pass a number of practices on the way. Your friends, co-workers and neighbors can give you a starting point with their recommendations, but we strongly recommend interviewing at a minimum the veterinary front office staff on their policies and their familiarity with the Portuguese Water Dog breed. The ability to get informed answers from the staff on the phone is important, but a visit to the premises is mandatory. Don't be afraid to interview several practices. Economics should not be your sole criteria. However you should know what a routine office visit and a series of puppy immunizations costs. You should also investigate what the office's policy on adult vaccinations is. The current AVMA recommendations are for triennial (every third year) DHPP and rabies vaccinations after the dog has received his one-year adult booster. Practices that insist on annual vaccinations after the first year adult booster should be avoided. We have no problem with an annual exam but using the guise of "required annual immunizations" is not proper and may compromise your dog's immune system. You should ask whether the office does routine lab and x-rays in the office or is everything sent out. Does the veterinarian perform routine surgery such as spaying or neutering and if so what is the approximate cost. What types of anesthesia is used for surgery. The practice should have both inhalation gas anesthesia and intravenous anesthetic agents available. What other services such as boarding and grooming do they offer? Frequently if they offer boarding services they will offer schedules tours of the boarding facilities. We encourage you to take a tour as you can observe how the practice treats animals in general. You should know the practice's hours of operation and routine weekend hours are a real plus. What is the practice's emergency coverage? Can you reach someone who knows your dog or do they just sign out to the emergency clinic? CONTINUITY OF CARE IS IMPORTANT BUT IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT YOUR DOG'S CARE DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SWITCH VETS AND TRANSFER YOUR DOG'S RECORDS.

Our recommendation for trainers follows our approach to veterinarians. Interview several and if possible audit a training session without your puppy. Trainers who use positive reinforcement are essential. A CPDT credential from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) is recommended but other equivalent training is acceptable. The most important criterion is that the trainer attends courses and seminars devoted to the newest training techniques and applies them to their training classes.

Optional (But Recommended):
Exercise pen (30 inches high)–you may be able to substitute a baby gate for this if you have a room that you plan to keep the puppy in when you are gone.
Dog first aid kit
Folding grooming table with grooming arm and loop if you plan on grooming
Grooming Shears (Scissors)–great for touch-ups between grooming appointments
Phone number and directions to the nearest Emergency Veterinary Clinic–We hope you will never need it, but a trial drive to the facility is recommended so you can find it in the middle of the night if your puppy has an emergency.

Created April 1, 2009

Back to Top