What does a professional trainer buy for a new puppy? I already have a full complement of Kong toys and other standards, but you can always use a few new items. And sometimes there’s a special gap that needs to be filled — like during travel.
(By the way, I’m not really trying to be coy when I only say “puppy” in this post; at this time of this writing, I actually don’t even know the puppy’s gender yet. I will happily introduce you all when things are settled.)
Bringing home this puppy is a bit more complicated than usual — we’re flying back from Europe. So not only do I have to travel with a puppy, hotels and all, but I have to keep it happy — or at least quiet — for 10 hours in a pressurized tube.
So, how does one plan for that? Here’s what I pulled out of storage, dusted off, or purchased new for the trip.
Most links here are affiliate links, because I spent hours researching and choosing some of these items and it’s just seconds to click through. Thank you!
I’m taking my Sturdibag which first brought baby Mindy-Penny home from California. I have to say, I’m really pleased with the features and flexible shape of this bag. It offers both mesh (for ventilation and visibility) and solid (for privacy) panels, comfortable carrying straps, and a few extra pockets. And since a puppy counts as one’s carry-on, pockets are good.
I pulled this to pack from my enormous box of dog gear. This one is made from a recycled Schutzhund sleeve cover, stitched into a puppy-sized tug. Great for playing on the road, and maybe for entertaining a puppy who slept the first several hours of a long flight and then woke up. Puppies are supposed to stay in their carriers for the duration of a flight, so it’s important to keep them napping.
/sneak wakeful puppy into airplane lavatory/
/play vigorously with puppy, producing lots of growls and thumping against the door and walls, praising with “Oooh, that’s so good, you’re so strong!”/
/tuck tired puppy under shirt to sneak puppy out of lavatory/
/exit lavatory apparently alone, making zero eye contact with the faintly scandalized and faintly confused nearby passengers/
Kong Shakers Dragon
This is not the most durable of Kong toys, but a dragon Shakers came home from Clicker Expo along with Mindy (now Penny), and it was her most favoritest toy for weeks. She chewed it, she bit it, she tugged it, she slept with it.
I don’t expect it to last so long with the Dober-destruct-o-matic, but it’s still worthwhile for a little puppy.
When is it a bad idea to have an extra absorbent towel handy with an infant? That’s right, never. And microfiber dries fast, which is good for travel.
I am an enormous proponent of letting puppies and small dogs be dogs, including walking on the ground. You know how purse pooches tend to be more snippy than larger varieties? It’s not a function of size, but of socialization and interaction.
That said, I know how long eight-week-old puppies last (not very) before crashing to sleep. And as I’ll have a couple of days of travel with such a puppy, and as I don’t want the puppy to live in the carrier, I planned to make a puppy sling for use with a sleeping puppy. But then I found one ready-made for about two dollars more than what I was about to spend on materials, and I figure my time is certainly worth two bucks.
Everything I’ve ever said about socialization is still true (get the book!), and this isn’t an excuse to over-face a puppy in an overwhelming environment. Puppy will spend the majority of time being a proper puppy. But it will save my arms when the puppy is in sleep mode.
Let’s be honest, puppy collars don’t have a lot of requirements — I’m not going to put much leash pressure on them (I’ll be using a harness on a young puppy, anyway), and they don’t have to be durable beyond a few weeks ’til the next growth spurt. They largely have to hold a tag and look good.
I concentrated on the “look good” and ordered a just-for-fun snakeskin-print collar, but because it was so temporary I also concentrated on cheap, and what arrived was a collar built inside out, with the print facing the dog’s neck. Exchanging it seemed too much work, so I popped the rivets and re-sewed it right side out.
Still, it holds a tag. Job done.
Accidents can happen, and if one does, the puppy is identified with emergency contact information. Especially during travel, I want a way someone can contact a responsible party if I’m in a car accident, etc. For long-term wear, I love Boomerang Tags and their CollarTags (lifetime guarantee!), but a typical hanging tag is fine for a tiny puppy collar.
I prefer a harness for a very young puppy to avoid pressure on a tiny spine. I opted for a 5-way adjustable nylon model and found some on clearance at PetExpertise. Cool!
I mentioned that I don’t like putting pressure on puppy skeletons, and that includes abrupt stops. A bungee leash not only cushions any leash impact, but self-shortens to avoid any looping trip hazards for puppy or human while navigating lines and crowds.
Okay, nothing is indestructible, but with free replacements for life, GoughNut toys are a practical alternative. I got a small model for in-flight chewing.
Not familiar with GoughNuts? When your dog reaches the red center, send it back for a replacement. Repeat forever, if necessary. Black toys are tougher than green.
Most of my go-to puppy chewing items — Himalayan cheese chews, bully sticks, etc. — can’t make it through customs in one direction or another. After scouring US and Danish regulations, I decided to try to carry an elk antler chew, split for easier pleasing of puppies and sterilized for easier pleasing of border guards. Fingers crossed that it makes it!
Collapsible Water Dish
They fold wholly flat, yet hold water nicely with plenty of lapping room. There are a variety of styles available, but this one is pretty typical.
While I’m not normally a fan of single-use disposable stuff, there are exceptions for non-habitual use, and traveling with an eight-week-old puppy is one of them. It’s hard to get an infant to the designated pet relief area in time, especially if it’s outside of airport security — or if you’re 30,000 feet above grass — and it’s always good to have a backup plan. Pee pads can make an emergency puppy toilet (or a safe toilet, as when we’ll be traveling through the dog flu hotbed), and the Wet Ones are for me after arranging for an emergency puppy toilet!
Some items aren’t for the trip, but are for use once we’re home.
Even the best trainers can’t prevent all accidents, as puppies have to develop muscle control in their own time! A good cleaner not only prevents staining, but prevents further accidents by removing the smell to even keen canine noses.
I’m really curious to try this Fizzion Cleaner — they swear it works, and I like the company’s commitment to save consumer money and environmental resources by selling tablets instead of bottles (“You have water at home, don’t you? Why should we sell you water?”). Extends the shelf life of the product, too.
Not too tough for weak puppy jaws, and (unlike many “digestible” chews) real food intended by nature to be digested, these fish skin chews are tasty entertainment and super healthy.
They do have a mild fishy smell — not too bad, but not something I’m taking on a plane for 10 hours. I don’t want to alienate everyone. Best to save them for home.
Oops, this isn’t for the puppy — this is for Penny! Though I’m sure she will share. I thought she’d enjoy this hemp and wool disc. It floats, it flies, it tugs, it’s environmentally and socially responsible. We wouldn’t want Penny to feel left out; older dogs get stuff, too!
Most of these links go to either Amazon or PetExpertise. Amazon is well-known, and I can’t recommend PetExpertise enough — I usually receive shipping notifications within 24 hours of placing my order. Sometimes the same day. With standard shipping.
It’s nigh impossible to do a comprehensive list of useful puppy products. If one of your favorites didn’t make this list, it might mean only that I didn’t buy it this time, or maybe even that I don’t know about it — feel free to share your faves in the comments!