You have found the perfect dog for you and now it is time to shop until you drop. At least that’s what the pet stores want you to do. All the extra spending is not necessary, you can get the basics on a budget! Get started for about $250 with our top 5 must-have essentials:
1. Crate $100
All new dogs regardless of age need to house training. Choose the size that allows your dog to stand up, turn around and lay down. Plastic or metal? The plastic crates work great for car trips and keep fur and dirt in the crate. Wire models allow more air but are not great for transporting pets. Escape artists will do best in a heavy-gauge metal crate with every corner, side and top reinforced with metal clips from the hardware store. If you have a puppy that is growing you can buy 2 plastic crates (one now and one when the growing stops) or you can buy one large metal crate that comes with a divider and move it as he grows.
Bedding should be an old towel or rug for dogs who will not chew it as this can be very dangerous. If the dog or puppy is soiling, then no bedding either because they will soil in their crate then push the dirty towel to the back and enjoy a ‘clean’ house. Blankets come as the training progresses.
2. Food $50
Sorry, this is not the department to save money. Create health from the inside out and you will help avoid allergies, hot spots, fleas, ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea and picky eating. What you don’t spend on food you will spend on the vet. You want your dog or puppy to feel great, free of tummy issues and itchy skin. Physical health also has a direct impact on learning ability!
The food isles are absolutely intimidating. Beautiful packaging designed for YOU, not your dog. Natural, holistic, flavor, freeze-dried, how would you ever choose? I suggest reaching out to a canine nutritionist at a private pet food store that can recommend a biologically appropriate diet for your dog and minimal chemicals. We use Open Farm.
3. Treats $0
Okay, maybe a few dollars but almost free! Don’t skip the training; this is how you will form a relationship with you newest family member and the way to kindly show them the ropes of life with you. Puppies 6 months and under love sliced cheese and cheese will make you their favorite person! Older dogs can have cut up hot dogs. Keep the pieces of cheese and hot dogs small and plentiful during your training sessions. Cooked green beans, baked sweet potatoes slices, and raw carrots and apples also make great training treats for many dogs. Stuff the red Kong toy with any of these foods or peanut butter for a fun treat in the crate.
4. Toys $60
The basics for all dogs are a squeaky tennis ball, rope tug, red Kong, and for chewing a Nylabone and real antler. These few items will provide games you can play with your dog, enrichment on his own, and the absolute need for chewing. You could spend $500 in this isle, but remember, you are on a budget.
5. Leash & Collar $30
All you need is a flat buckle collar and a plain 6-foot leash. The collars with a belt-style metal buckle are the strongest and most secure. So many options, but stick to the basics. You should be able to put two fingers under the collar but not looser than that or it may slip. Puppies and growing or weight-gaining dogs need their collar checked daily for proper fit.
These Budget Essentials will help you to keep it safe and keep it fun while making it affordable to get started with your new puppy or rescue dog! Happy training!
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.