Products we've personally tested and suggest to manage, entertain & train your new buddy with ease.
Exercise Pens. I love them. A perfect control space for managing your puppy in any room. Easily adjustable for protecting walls, making a containment space or even using a couple together as a mini-yard outside. I recommend a 30 inch height as our dogs can jump anything lower. We've found the gates built into this style of pen handy for easy access.
If you choose to shop for your own exercise pen, please beware of certain "styles". Some, like the AmazonBasics brand, have metal loops sticking up across the top that could catch your puppy's collar if he jumps and potentially hang him. Stick with a smooth topped brand, such as these two. The few dollars saved isn't worth the risk when safer options can be found.
What's the difference between the two we've suggested? The one on the right is the brand I tend to buy because I love the easy entry gate. Just lift up and swing out and you're in the pen. No fumbling with latches and alignment. The brand on the left is a perfectly functional and a good alternative if the easy entry option is out of stock.
Kennels. A perfect spot to safely and comfortably contain your puppy in the house or car for limited periods. Allowing a puppy to have his own personal "cave" speeds up the potty training process when used correctly.
What's the difference between the two we've suggested?
Left: The kennel we use for our dogs in the 5-11 lb range (24 inch). This one is an affordable and really well built kennel. We love them!
Right: The kennel we use for our dogs in the 12-16 lb range (28 inch). You can find these $40 cheaper at Pisces and Petsmart than the Amazon prices.
Great resources for training your puppy!
We'd recommend starting with a 6-8 foot nylon leash until your puppy learns his "walking" basics. Puppy neck sizes vary, but it's likely that an extra small collar will work at first and in most cases our adult dogs wear a "small".
101 Dog Tricks is a wonderful, easy to follow, well illustrated guide for teaching your puppy all sorts of fun behaviours. Your puppy is old enough to start learning tricks as soon as you get him home.
Cesar Millan DVDs are a fantastic resource for learning the basics of being the "leader of your pack" which is imperative to really successful dog training. But now we'd simply suggest signing up for a month or two of "Disney Plus" for full access to all the Dog Whisperer episodes. And yes, this squirt bottle is here on purpose and a fantastic tool for discouraging barking and quickly reminding your puppy what he should not be chewing on. Obviously, you can find a good squirt bottle cheaper elsewhere, so shop freely!
It gives me peace of mind to be able to watch the dogs when I'm out of the house (or even in another room!) and see what they're up to. This one was a breeze to set up, has great night vision and I can check it from my phone, wherever I am. Now I know if they are sleeping, barking, getting into mischief or using the doggie door, all in one glance.
Toys and tools our puppies love to keep their busy brains fulfilled!
Potty training time! We recommend outdoor training, but through the night for the first few weeks or for the extremely cold days in winter, peepads can be helpful. Without a "pad holder", puppies tend to play with and rip up their peepads. Even with the holder, some puppies will still figure out how to do this and the ensuing mess should be an encouragement to stick to outdoor training, but still lovely in a pinch! Hang a bell similar to this one from your door and help your puppy ring it each time he goes out. In no time, he'll be using the bell to signal you on his own. When you do have an "accident", a spray such as this is wonderful to have on hand to completely eliminate the scent left behind as any remaining smell would encourage puppy to repeatedly use the same area. We use a "pooper-scooper" similar to this one for both our grass yards and cement run. It's a handy tool for clean disposal, without bending over, for use on short grass or cement.
Condo and apartment families: This faux grass potty pad is an excellent outdoor option for you. Place this on your deck and take your puppy out to use it as an alternative to indoor peepads. It's beneficial to get a puppy going outside as soon as possible and this will give your puppy a target rather than piddling randomly on your deck. Get the largest size possible. The larger the space, the more likely your puppy it to use it for both piddling and pooping, hit it accurately and the "cleaner "it will stay before needing to be washed down.
Grooming supplies. We use Johnson's Baby Shampoo but if a puppy seems unusually itchy, we'll switch to Selsons Blue for the soothing antibacterial and fungal properties. Any conditioner can be used. These are our preferred brush and nail clippers. The steel comb is to pick out mats and the septic powder is to stop bleeding in case you cut a nail a little too short. We are advocates of dental care, which means a finger brush and dog tooth paste. Good oral hygiene includes chew bones and hard dog food, but human parents brushing your dog's teeth a least a few times a week will really keep your pooch's teeth in tip top shape.
Warning: you do not need the following few products with your new puppy. But we have had families ask us what brand we suggest if they were to groom their dog themselves. Grooming your dog yourself can result in a significant financial savings, over time, and provide a fantastic bonding opportunity. However, we would always recommend taking your puppy to a professional for his first 3 or 4 grooms so that he learns to stand well and relax during the experience before you become involved. Oster is a great name brand, a 7F blade is perfect for a short summer cut and the 3F is a great winter length.
Travel Options. Planning on taking your puppy on a flight? We'd recommend an inexpensive collapsible kennel with good ventilation, a couple of pockets for convenience and some closed in sections so your puppy feels private and secure. Of course the sky is the limit (literally!) and you can pay more for one with any bells and whistles your prefer. The ones we are suggesting here is one of the simplest versions available that meets those requirements. The advantage to the option on the left are the zip down side that you MAY be able to open if the flight attendant isn't looking or is a pet lover... it will afford your buddy a little more room on the plane or while waiting to board. These kennels are not suitable for every day use as a puppy will eventually chew through the fabric or mesh if used daily.
Traveling while your dog still hasn't completed her immunizations? Consider a pop-up pen to keep her off the floor (public surfaces) while still having a chance to stretch her legs, play and gain some freedom. These are equally wonderful for airport layovers. The smaller size (left) would be great size for carry-on for a flight. If not flying, I'd suggest the larger (right) pen so your puppy has room to play and use a peepad with greater comfort. Keep in mind that this type of pen is a temporary option. If left in something soft hour after hour over multiple days, your puppy may pick away at the fabric seams and mesh material and eventually chew through. A metal exercise pen is a better option for both size and long term durability.
Food. We feed half and half Kirkland Natures Domain Salmon and Sweet Potatoe and Kirkland puppy food. Bichon Shih Tzus tend to do best on high fiber (naturally empties the anal glands), low protein food and the salmon protein source tends to be a great fit. You can't buy this food from Amazon, but can order it online through Costco ($10 more per bag than in the store) or buy it in the store.
NutriCal - this product is invaluable in our kennel. If you read the "care guide" you'll have noticed multiple references to hypoglycaemia. Typically we recommend smearing corn syrup in your puppy's mouth if you see hypoglycaemic symptoms. Nutrical is the vet recommended version of a hypoglycaemia treatment and nutritional replacements paste. If we ever see a puppy who looks under the weather, isn't eating enough or might be hyplogycemic, Nutrical is what we use in our kennel to treat this. If we don't have any on hand, corn syrup is our go-to alternative. So every tip we give regarding hypoglycemia in the care guide applies but instead of corn syrup, we use this paste. It's a sugar source, but the benefit over corn syrup is the added protein content and vitamins... so it's a more well rounded nutritional additive. I'd really recommend it if you are adopting and extra small puppy or have a really long road trip or transit to get your puppy home from the kennel.
Our recommended dog dishes are a great fit for size and stability. It's amazing what a puppy can knock over during some rambunctious play! When selecting your own dish, avoid plastic and look for something in stainless steel or ceramic. If you want to leave a larger amount of food or water down and refill less often (for an older dog or more than one puppy/dog) we've tried this "continual" waterer and feeder and they actually work really well and can be just thrown in the dish washer for cleaning.
Treats. Remember, until 2-3 weeks ago, your puppy's only food was mom's milk. They don't need rich or exciting treats to thrill them. In fact, if your treats are too rich and you feed too many, you will give your puppy diarrhea. We'd suggest goldfish crackers as a start, purely because they are so bland they shouldn't give your puppy a problem. Cheerios or little pieces of carrots are an equally wonderful treat. If you feel you need to up the ante for training, something like Jerky Treats ripped into small pieces. These small rawhide rolls will give a puppy an exciting chew, but no more than one a day. AVOID bully sticks and rich treats such as pure liver. As your puppy ages she may enjoy antlers, himalayan mountain chews, and larger raw hides. Wait awhile before offering these larger and harder chew options. We offer all to our older dogs in rotation.
What to wear? Should you buy your dog boots or a coat for the cold Canadain weather? We'd suggest skipping the boots as you lose one on a walk and what good are three to you on a four legged dog? It's really hard to find a doggie boot brand that is easy to put on and stays on. However, if you are interested in a doggie jacket, our favourite brand comes from Greenhawk. These are lovely to use in the cold weather after a short haircut. Click to see these jackets. They have several styles to pick from. They are easy to put on and race out the door, they wear well, wash well and are a good fit.
A 8-11 pound dog will wear an extra small.
A 12-17 pound dog will wear a small.
Specialty training devices. These are not needed for the average dog, however we do occasionally have adopters with particular requests. These products are for use with puppies older than 6 months. They should not be used with younger pups.
The majority of our adopters say their dog either doesn't bark at all or very minimally. However, we do have the odd family who live right on a walking path or right in a high traffic area, and also have a dog who barks more than they'd like. In those cases, I'd firmly state that the first step should be indoor training. Squirt your puppy with the water bottle if he is carrying on and use a command to tell him "stop". Be consistent inside and you should also see some consistency with your expectations outside. If you aren't really consistent, don't expect to see results. However, if your setting makes this extra difficult, Petsafe barking collars can be a huge help in allowing your dog to enjoy leisurely outside time and the collar will help remind them that barking isn't appropriate. We use Petsafe collars and I've found them a reliable and safe brand with a good warrantee.
Are you a gardener or have a special space in your yard that you don't want your dog going near? The pet safe collar (right) is designed to specifically warn your dog to respect a certain area. If you don't want your dog in amidst your award winning flowers, this would be a great option to allow your dog to enjoy the entire yard, except where he shouldn't be. If you can fence off your special place while your dogs is a puppy (use exercise pens or simple fencing) so he doesn't practice going in there, and then use this collar through adolescence, you should have an adult dog who has no interest in bothering your flowers, or whatever space is special to you. Again, we've found Petsafe collars reliable and well made.
Do we recommend "invisible fencing"? No! You've chosen a small breed of dog that would be easily attacked by a larger dog or predators. A real fence not only keeps your dog in, it keeps everything that wants to harm him OUT. Keep him safe! Make a solid, well fenced boundary between your special fur family member and everything that may want to hurt him. The only exception to this would be using invisible fencing to keep your dog away from a particular area IN your fully fenced yard. Have a large garden section that you don't want him romping in? Sure, invisible fencing may be a good option in that case.
We hope you have found this interactive list a convenient resource. From every group of adopters, we have so many families sending us pictures of an exact product or asking us to send them a link, so they can find the exact item we'd recommend. Hopefully this will be easier for everyone! If you find a link no longer works, please let us know!
I have endeavoured to make it clear if I think you can find a better deal elsewhere, but please shop wherever brings you pleasure and savings! If you'd like a printable list of the above products so you can shop around without using our links, you'll find that below. Walmart and Petsmart would be budget stores to find many of these items for comparable prices.
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