Updated: Aug 16, 2022
You've waited, you've dreamed about the great times you and your new friend will have together, you've searched for picture updates of your adorable pup every week on the website and you've showed all your friends the cute ball of fur that will soon join your family but have you prepared?
If the answer is yes then kudos to you. Continue reading and check your list against ours to make sure you covered all your bases. If the answer is no that's perfectly fine. You still have lots of time ahead of you to get ready.
Atlas Shepherds will provide you with a great puppy package that includes many of the things your puppy will need in his first weeks home. The rest will be quite easy to acquire especially if you follow the links below.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to be fully prepared when bringing your pup home. From the very first day you want to create healthy habits that will make living with your dog a joy instead of a constant struggle. It is better to have a great start than to correct easily avoidable mistakes and you can accomplish this with just a bit of foresight.
Preparations for your pup fall into three categories:
Supplies and equipment
House rules and routines
In this post we will focus on supplies and in my next two posts I will address the providers and the routines. If you don't want to spend a lot of time struggling to fix bad behaviors in the future then take a little time today to read and start your relationship with your best friend on the right foot.
Supplies and Equipment
This is an essential tool that you and your pup will need. The crate is not just there to protect your home from your puppy, it is there to protect your puppy from the dangers in your home. The crate is also an indispensable item for the potty training phase. You should start with a medium size crate and then transition your dog to a bigger one as he grows or you should look for a crate that you can expand like the one we offer in our Puppy Package Plus.
This is a must have especially if you have to leave your puppy alone for longer periods of time. Your pup can stretch his legs and he can even go to the bathroom in a designated area of the pen which you can cover with pee pads.
No matter how well you keep up with your pup's house training, he will have some “accidents” on your floor and maybe your carpets. You can save your floors and make the cleaning process much easier by laying down large pieces of linoleum in the areas where your pup will spend most of his time. Go to any flooring store and ask for linoleum remnants. They always have left over pieces and they will give you a discounted price on them. Lay the linoleum down under the crate, the puppy pen and in all other areas where your pup spends most of his time and might have an “accident”. Home Depot also has linoleum for as little as 66¢/sq.ft. but the one we found to be the best value for the money is $1/sq.ft. Check it out at the link below.
These are indispensable tools for a young pup. You can go with the disposable pads but you will soon find that they cannot hold a lot of liquid or stay in place flat at all times especially if you have an overactive pup. Moreover, a bored puppy will drag, chew and tear the paper and plastic that these pads are made of and, if ingested, this can be dangerous. Go with the washable pads instead. They lay flat at all times, hold a lot of liquid, stay dry on top and your pup cannot tear it and swallow the pieces very easily. I've used these pads for many litters and washed them several times a day for weeks at a time. The colors become a bit faded but they still do a great job just like when they were brand new.
Collar & Leash (Both included in your puppy package)
Your puppy will chew/grow out of these very fast and soon you will need to replace them with larger and stronger restrains but for now you're all set.
Food & Water Bowls (Included in your puppy package)
Lightweight, strong and long, anywhere from 15 to 30 feet, this is a great tool to have in your house to teach your dog boundaries and good manners or when teaching him to come back to you if called. It also allows your pup more freedom to roam in areas where you don't feel comfortable to let him run free. Small tip: if you cut the handle off (which you'll probably never use) you will prevent the leash from getting stuck or tangled and you can allow your pup to drag it on the floor without having to worry or manage it too much.
You will want to start training your puppy right away. Treats will allow you to reward your pup, lure him into desired positions and keep his attention on you. The tastier the treat, the more focus you'll get from your pup. I personally prefer making my own treats at home. It is a lot easier than you might think. Your treats will be tastier, healthier for your pup and most definitely cheaper. Buy any kind of meat (chicken, pork, beef, venison, etc.), slice it and place it in a dehydrator for a few hours. You can also use your oven on the lowest temperature setting if you don't have a dehydrator at hand. I like to take the meat out before it dries out completely while it still has a gummy consistency, cut it into small pieces and store it in the fridge for immediate use or in the freezer for longer periods of time.
As soon as your pup's training starts, you will need to establish a marker (a sound that marks a desired behavior and that precedes a reward). I personally prefer a verbal marker such as “yup” or "yes" instead of the clicker. I find this easier than carrying a clicker with me at all times but that's just my preference. If you want to go with the clicker, you should already have one when you bring your pup home.
Toys and Chew Treats (Included in your puppy package)
When Hank was a pup, I used to joke around with the ladies at the pet store saying that I wasn't buying a chew treat, I was actually buying a dog sitter. Chew treats are great when you want to keep your pup occupied for a while. They also come in handy during crate training. Getting your pup in his crate and letting him chew his treat inside will make him love his time in the crate even more. Avoid rawhide treats because they can be harmful to your pup. Bully sticks, cow tracheas or pig ears are a much better alternative.
Kong toys are indispensable in our home. From the classic Kong to the Kong Frisbee, our dogs are crazy about them. These are some of the most satisfying and safe toys that your dogs will ever have. Avoid any toy that can come apart or that can be torn to pieces, especially stuffed animals. You do not want your pup ingesting any parts of the toys that you are giving him. Choose the right size for your Kong and use it to play, train your pup or keep him occupied by stuffing it with treats.
German Shepherds do not require a lot of grooming when it comes to their coat. However, you will need to brush them regularly, especially during shedding season. I think the Safari brand makes excellent and durable tools. Go with the Safari Shed Magic and the Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush. That's really all you'll need. These are great quality products that will get the job done in a fraction of the time other brushes will and the Safari Shed Magic, unlike the Furminator, will not ruin your dog's coat.
Nail clippers are also an important tool in your box and again, I would choose the Safari brand here as well.
I do not use any shampoo or conditioner on my dogs. Unless the dog had an encounter with a skunk or has rolled into something really, really stinky, there is no need for these products. German Shepherd dogs do not need regular baths like us because they do not sweat through their skin. Their fur is self-cleaning and it is best not to introduce products that will affect the natural state of their coat. No matter how much mud there is on my dogs' coats, once it's dry, it goes off with a few strokes of the brush. It only takes a few minutes to get them shiny and clean again.
Hank is over four years old and he never had a bath in his entire life (well, except for the river or the lake). He has a really shiny and healthy looking coat and I'd like to keep it that way. If you must give your dog a bath, use only warm water and avoid any kind of soap or shampoo if you can. It is, however, wise to have some at hand. So just get a bottle in case your dog rolls in roadkill and comes home one day stinking like a dead armadillo on the side of the road on a hot summer day.
Before your pup comes home you should make sure you have enough cleaning products because, believe me, you'll need them. Here's a quick list of what you might need:
Pet stain & odor remover
Mop + bucket
Atlas Shepherds Baseball Cap (included in your Puppy Package Plus)
Show everyone that you are part of the Atlas family by proudly wearing your cap when you take your dog for walks.
Thank you for reading through this post. You are a third of the way there and your new friend will thank you for being prepared and for giving your relationship a great start.