Posted 7 months ago ago
This article contains affiliate links, we may receive a commission on any sales we generate from it.
Your new puppy is on the way. They need feeding, training, entertaining..so what now? Well it's time to go shopping, of course!
It's a lot of fun planning for the new canine in your life, and for many of us, an irresistible excuse to splurge on everything from collars to beds and toys.
Nowadays there's even doggy tech, including cameras that allow you to talk to your pet and pedometers to match your own fitness trackers - but with four legs, don't expect to beat them for steps!
Seasoned dog owners will know the basics off by heart but if you're new to it all, don't forget that you'll find yourself guided by your pet's own personality. When it comes to playtime, the late Fido might have loved his big box of balls, but Barney might be more of a cuddly toy fan.
We've had our Cairn terrier Enzo for a year now, so I can tell you with some certainty about the purchases we've made that have been well worth the cash (and the ones that were a total waste of my wages).
It goes without saying, but when it comes to toys, none of them are indestructible and we make sure he's supervised at all times.
These are the 11 best things we've bought for him so far:
1. Ball pit
Why should kids have all the fun?
Little ones love leaping around in pools filled with small colourful, hollow plastic balls - so, spurred on by some puppy play ideas from Instagram, we decided to see if Enzo would feel the same.
We found the ball pit online and filled it with cheap plastic balls from the high street, and it was a big hit.
Hours of noisy puppy play ensued and whisper it, but it's much more fun than sipping coffee at a children's play centre. We might even have crawled in this ball pit ourselves on one or two occasions...
It cost us less than a tenner in total - highly recommended if you don't mind yet more doggy clutter around the house.
Where to buy it: You can find a selection of ball pits at Argos HERE
2. Teething ring
Puppies love to chew. It's a normal part of teething, helping to relieve the pain caused by incoming adult teeth up to around seven months of age.
From day one Enzo has loved picking up sticks when out and about, so it was a priority for us to find something safe for him to chew on at home.
We settled on a colourful Nylabone puppy teething ring, designed to help teething pups satisfy their chewing instinct as their teeth and jaws develop.
No chewing toy or bone seemed to compare and given the choice, he would go straight for his keys every time.
If your puppy is as much of a Nylabone enthusiast as ours, try this puppy starter kit from WufWuf
3. Chest plate dog harness
We did a lot of reading about the best harness to buy for Enzo. We wanted to find something that would be comfortable for him, secure and easy to use and preferably one that would grow with him.
We were advised to go for a chest plate harness that could be adjusted as he grew, with two clips for added security on walks. The chest plate evenly distributes the load across his chest rather than this throat. It helps to make walks enjoyable for all involved..even when he's straining to go and see a dog on the other side of the park.
We found the straps easy to adjust and I like knowing that there are two clips on it, in the event of any hitches while we're out on a walk.
At first he was a little unsure of the harness and would scarper when we brought it out, usually to be found under the sofa. But that's soon forgotten when he's trotting down the road and sorry Enzo, we need to keep you safe so we win on this one.
Where to buy it: Argos has a range of harnesses for dogs - look for ones that specify a chest plate, or are called "no pull" harnesses. We bought ours from Pets at Home.
4. Giggle ball
My puppy loves fetching squeaky balls, and he's a big fan of knocking them under the sofa and in other hard-to-reach places, then crying for someone to help him.
We added to his ball joy by buying one that giggles as he pushes it along with his nose.Ours giggles and chuckles "You got me" and "Oh no!". It would keep him entertained all day.
It makes us laugh too, which is never a bad thing, and it's an excellent addition to the toy box.
Where to buy it: There's plenty of giggle balls on the market and you'll find them online and in most good pet shops. Try this one at Argos
5. Toothpaste and finger brush set
Toothbrushing can be an ordeal for dog owners if you don't get your pet used to it early on in their life.
One of my big regrets with our last dog was not keeping on top of brushing his teeth. It left him having to go under anaesthetic to have his teeth cleaned and eventually, some removed.
From the minute we got Enzo, I was determined to do all we could to try and keep his gnashers in tip-top condition.
One of our first buys for him was a toothpaste and finger brush set, intended to get him used to the sensation before swapping to a proper toothbrush.
It was a worthwhile investment. He doesn't love it but he'll tolerate it. We've tried all kinds of meaty toothpastes and gels but the one from that set (by Dentifresh) is still the only one he'll have.
Where to buy it: Look for a tooth brushing starter set for puppies, which usually come complete with a finger brush.
Getty Images - Tatsiana Volkava
6. High vis/reflective dog coat
The right coat was another priority when Enzo arrived. As well as protecting him from the rain, we wanted to make sure it had reflective strips so he could be seen on walks during the dark winter months.
Reflective coats are illuminated with light from passing vehicles, the torch on my phone and street lights, ensuring he - and by extension, both of us - is visible.
Light up collars are another popular option with many dog owners.
Where to buy it: At all good pet stores, shops like The Range and B&M, and online. Find a range of coats HERE
7. Car harness
Beaches, parks, an old quarry-turned nature reserve...I wanted to give Enzo plenty of fun walks. Many of them involve a car journey - and that meant investing in a harness.
We opted for one that clips into his harness at one end, and then into the seat belt buckle itself at the other, ensuring a safe journey for him when we're out and about.
Where to buy it: There's a huge range of options out there, and you can buy everything from a simple clip to a special harness to be worn while in the car. Find just a few HERE.
8. Ball launcher
Most dogs love a game of fetch, and for just a few pounds a plastic ball launcher will keep them thoroughly entertained.
They're ideal for energetic young pups who love to run around - the only problem might be keeping up with their running if they're still on a lead.
If you've got cash to splurge, you can even buy automatic ball launchers to save you the effort...although throwing the ball yourself should be part of the fun.
Where to buy it: Anywhere and everywhere, from pound shops to pet shops. Argos even sell one with glow in the dark balls.
9. Stuffable dog toy
Snack + fun toy? It was a winning combination for us. Usually made of hard rubber, they're excellent for boredom busting. They can keep a puppy busy for hours as they work out how to get to the peanut butter or broken up biscuits hidden in the middle.
You'll find them in all kinds of shapes and sizes and they're usually durable enough to withstand even the most ferocious of chewers.
We've tried a few different brands, with Kong proving a favourite with Enzo.
Where to buy it: All good pets shops and online - check out a selection of toys HERE
10. Dog camera
This one is, admittedly, an indulgence. You don't need one and it won't make you a better dog owner for owning it. But it's a fun accessory and if you can find one in your price range, I'd recommend it (especially if you go out to work or the shops and need to leave your pup at home for a couple of hours).
The camera feed is linked to an app on your phone, so one click can provide much-needed reassurance that they're safe and well. We used it a lot when Enzo was a tiny pup to check on him in his pen at night.
The camera we own also has alerts for barking, the ability to talk to Enzo and a fun video of the day mode. It splices together footage from the previous 24 hours to create a clip of Enzo's every move, set to jaunty music.
11. Puppy socialisation sessions
Puppy class is one of the best investments we made.
Our last Cairn terrier detested other dogs and would snarl at every single one. His skills (all our fault) extended only to giving us his paw, so we were determined that Enzo would grow up to be a well-rounded, highly-educated canine member of society.
Our puppy training booking gave us access to optional 30-minute socialisation sessions and to our surprise, it was these he benefited most from (possibly because we were hopeless with the homework, but I digress)
Letting our tiny furball off the lead to play with strange dogs was a scary prospect, akin to waving your child off at the school gates on their first day, but he soon became an enthusiastic participant.
It was a safe, friendly environment and a chance for him to just, well, be a dog. We like to think we're fun to hang out with, but we'll never match up to a pup who wants to wrestle and roll around on the ground.
Enzo's sessions were sadly cut short because of lockdown, but he loves other dogs and it's a pleasure to see him interacting with them on walks. While this could be partly down to his personality, I'm certain those sessions in his formative months provided the best possible foundation.
Where to buy it: Our (pre-lockdown) booking was with Positively Pawesome in Wirral. My advice would be to search for dog trainers in your area and check out the reviews before you book. And make sure they offer socialisation sessions too.