Understanding Your Dog For Dummies
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Dogs don’t require thousands of accessories, and you certainly don’t need to spend a fortune to equip your dog. However, to be able to manage and train your dog successfully, you need some basic items from your friendly local pet store:

  • Identification tag: An ID tag is the most important dog accessory you can buy. Engraved with your dog’s name and your address and phone number, an ID tag can be your dog’s ticket home if he ever gets lost — even if he has a microchip, he needs tags as well so that he can be returned to you without a trip to a vet or shelter.

  • Buckle collar and six-foot leash: Choose nylon or leather with a metal or plastic buckle. For some small breeds or dogs that pull a lot, consider a harness in addition to a collar, but make sure you still can include identification tags.

  • Crate or kennel: The crate or kennel is absolutely essential for housetraining and general management because it becomes your dog’s beloved den — and bedroom. A crate is a plastic carrier with a wire front. Crates are sometimes called kennels, but kennel also refers to a wire cage. Your dog needs to be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably inside. If you have a puppy that will grow quite a bit, buy a crate or kennel to fit the dog’s adult size.

  • Dog seat belt: No, this device isn’t a luxury, it’s an important safety item if your dog’s kennel is too large to fit in the backseat or to buckle into the vehicle so that you don’t risk having your dog distract you while driving or get injured in an accident.

  • Food and water bowls: Metal and ceramic are easier to clean and less likely to harbor bacteria, and they’re not tempting to chew.

  • A high-quality dog food: Like humans, dogs are what they eat, so choose a nutritious chow.

  • Assorted brushes depending on your dog’s coat: A natural bristle brush can be used for short and medium-coated dogs, and wire-pin and slicker brushes work for long or fluffy-coated dogs.

  • Shampoo made just for dogs: You’ll also want conditioner for long-coated dogs.

  • A nail clipper for dogs: This tool comes in sizes appropriate to your dog’s size (the label says whether the clipper is for small, medium, or large dogs).

  • Pest control products to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms: The best ones come from your veterinarian.

  • Chew toys: Puppies need to chew and need to have acceptable things to chew so they don’t chew your things. Chew toys can include hard rubber teethers and edible chew toys like rawhide, pig’s ears, hooves, and jerky treats.

    Some vets advise against certain edible chew toys like rawhide for some dogs because they can pose a choking hazard and/or stomach upset. If you aren’t sure about which edible chew toys are safe for your dog, talk to your vet.

  • Interactive toys for bonding time: Whether you throw a tennis ball or a flying disc like a Frisbee or play tug-of-war with a rope toy, be sure to get a few toys that you and your dog can play with together. These toys give you great ways to play with your dog in the doggie way that he enjoys and help build a quality relationship between the two of you.

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