From bedding and grooming to bowls and toys we take a look at all the basic equipment you’ll need to keep your dog happy, healthy and content.
If you’re a new (or soon-to-be) dog owner, congratulations! You can look forward to many years of enjoying a fun and loving relationship with your new canine companion. But to truly get the best out of your relationship, you’ll need to ensure you have all the essential equipment to keep your dog happy, healthy and content.
Can you imagine your life without a comfy bed to crawl into each night? That would be ruff! The same is true for your dog. Just like humans, dogs enjoy the support and warmth of a bed. Having their own bed also provides them with a sense of security at home.
But what kind of bed should you buy for your dog? After all, people beds come in a bewildering array of sizes and shapes, and the same is true of beds for our canine companions.
When looking for a bed for your furry best friend we recommend you ensure that the bed you choose meets the following criteria:
- Made of Natural Materials. Synthetic products, including stain-proofing and flame retardant chemicals, may harm your dog. This is particularly important if you dog has sensitive skin or allergies.
- Non-Skid Bottom. When you canine companion dives into bed the last thing you want is the bed to slide out from under. A moving dog bed not only poses a risk of injury to your dog but can also become a trip hazard around the home.
- Removable Cover. A removable cover will make it easy to regularly clean your dog’s bed. Like you, your dog will spend a large amount of time in their bed. Keeping their bed clean is therefore critical to ensuring they remain healthy and pest free.
But what style of bed is best for your four-legged friend? Well, we recommend you let your dog tell you. By keeping an eye on your dog when they go to sleep they will cue you in to their preference for sleeping arrangements:
- Donut-Shaped or Nest-Style Beds. Ideal for dogs who love to curl up tight when they fall asleep.
- Cushion, Futon or Raised Beds. Ideal for dogs who prefer to sprawl or stretch out when they fall asleep.
Choosing the right bed can go a long way to ensuring your pet feels safe and secure at home.
COLLARS, LEADS AND HARNESSES
Going out for a nice brisk walk with your dog can be a pleasure for both pooch and person. But it can also turn into a bit of a nightmare for both if you aren’t using the right equipment.
What’s the right equipment? That largely depends upon your dog:
- Collar and ID Tag. A collar and ID tag are absolutely essential for both walking your dog and ensuring they are easily identifiable. There are a wide range of collars available for your dog from traditional nylon and leather to those used for specific training purposes. As a general rule, try to choose a wider collar so that if your dog lunges against the leash, the force applied by the collar against the dog’s trachea is spread over a larger area. Also think about your dog’s daily activities, for example, if your dog likes to swim regularly then a leather collar is not ideal.
- Leads. A dog’s lead can play a vital role in ensuring both their comfort and safety when you go out for a walk. Whilst longer leashes can provide your pooch with greater freedom it’s important that leash allows you to be in control of your pet at all times.
- Harnesses. If your dog is more boisterous and energetic and frequently lunges against the leash, a harness will be safer and more comfortable for the dog than a collar. A front-clip harness (the leash ring is over the dog’s chest rather than on its back) will make controlling the dog easier because it tends to turn the force of the dog’s lunge back toward you. Harnesses are also recommended for very small dogs, because their tracheas can easily be bruised when they lunge against a collar.
Collars, leads are harnesses are subject to everyday wear and tear just like human clothing. There are both health and safety benefits to ensuring you update your dog’s walking gear on a regular basis.
FOOD AND WATER BOWLS
You’ll want to put a bit of thought into the food and water bowls you choose for your dog. Here are some pros and cons of the 3 most commonly used materials:
- Plastic Bowls. They’re durable and long-lasting. But if you notice your dog gnawing or chewing on the bowls, plastic isn’t your best choice. The dog could potentially ingest bits of plastic that might do harm internally.
- Ceramic Bowls. They’re heavy and very stable – a good thing if your dog tends to push its bowl around the floor while eating. But ceramic bowls are also porous. That’s a bad thing for you, because it means the bowl will need to be cleaned on a daily basis.
- Stainless Steel Bowls. The #1 choice of vets because they are so easy to clean and sanitize. And stainless steel bowls are obviously the most durable. Look for bowls with a rubber coating on the bottom to help prevent sliding.
Grooming equipment is a must-have no matter the breed of your dog. RSPCA Australia recommends establishing a habit of regular grooming early in your dog’s life. Grooming then becomes a pleasurable bonding activity, and is established as a regular part of your dog’s routine.
The following brushes are commonly used for grooming dogs:
- Bristle Brushes. These can be used for all dog species. Choose brushes with longer, more widely spaced bristles for dogs with longer coats.
- Wire-pin brushes. Not recommended for short-haired dogs, but probably the best choice for longer-haired dogs. A wire-pin brush might also be best if your dog’s hair is curly, or particularly thick.
- Slicker brushes. A type of bristle brush with very fine bristles. Great for getting tangles out of your dog’s coat.
- De-shedder. A must have for any medium or long-haired dog, particularly those that malt on a regular or seasonal basis.
Your dog’s skin and fur is very different to your own skin and hair. In addition to the right brushes it’s also important you choose a shampoo and conditioner which has been specially formulated for their needs.
FLEA, TICK AND WORM CONTROL
Part of your job as a dog owner will be keeping control of the parasites that can plague dogs and make their lives (and yours!) miserable. Fortunately, that’s much easier done these days than it once was.
Not so long ago, medicated collars and shampoos were the front-line defense against flea and tick infestation. Now there are a number of far more effective, easier-to-use controls – not only for flea and tick control, but for internal parasites, too. But it’s a complicated issue, and what’s best for one dog isn’t necessarily best for another. Your best and safest move is to get your vet’s input about keeping your dog parasite-free.
TOYS, TOYS, TOYS
Into every life some fun should fall, and dogs are no exception. And in truth, buying toys for your dog will offer benefits beyond plain and simple fun. Toys help to keep your dog active mentally as well as physically, and channel excess energy away from destructive behavior patterns. Some toys can even promote dental health.
These are some of the most popular types of dog toys:
- Food-Dispensing Toys. A toy that’s fun to play with AND contains a tasty treat – what could be better! Kong’s are probably the most popular example of this toy category.
- Tug Toys. There’s probably not a dog alive that doesn’t love a good game of tug-of-war. Careful, though, in how you play tug with your dog. Playing the game without rules and boundaries can lead to increased aggression with some dogs. But approached properly, tug games can be great fun for both people and pets.
- Fetch toys. No need to have your dog chasing after a plain old stick when there are so many wonderfully fun alternatives like Frisbees and fetch balls. Be sure to buy fetch toys made of soft plastic; hard plastic may do dental damage. And while dogs love to fetch tennis balls, buy a brand that’s made specifically for dogs and not for the tennis court. The covering of ‘actual’ tennis balls can abrade the enamel of your dog’s teeth.
- Chew toys. Great for solo fun; a good chew toy can keep your dog contentedly occupied for hours. Keep an eye out, though, even if you’re busy with other things while your dog is chewing away. You want to be sure that your dog doesn’t ingest any large pieces. As a rule of thumb, avoid chew toys that are made of indigestible materials. And very hard chews can cause dental damage. (Test a chew toy by banging it against your knee. If it hurts, it’s too hard for your dog’s mouth.)
ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME
Your home is made a warm, cozy, comforting environment by having all the things you need and love at hand. The same will be true for your dog.
Take some care in shopping for the things your dog will need and love, and you’ll help to make your home a warm, cozy, and comforting environment for your dog. It’ll be home sweet home, both for you and your new best friend.