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A Shopping List for the New Dog

By: Gary Wynn Kelly

One day you went to the website, ADRTC.ORG, and found that you were fascinated with a picture of a certain dog. You had perhaps, visited this site many times before, and enjoyed the pictures, but you were always able to leave with just a smile.

But on this day, there was a picture of a special dog that you just could not put from your mind. You finally gave in, and visited the dog at the foster home. It was just a visit, because you were curious, and maybe looking for a dog…if it was just the right one. Now that you know it is, and you are about to bring it home, you will want to know what you have done, and what you are going to have to have at home to make this new dog a proper member of your family!

Here is a beginning list that we hope will help. Please send us your comments and suggestions for changes and additions, so others can benefit from your experiences.

1. Feeding and food

We recommend stainless steel pans. Pans of 2 and 3 quarts work best with most of the breeds we place. Stainless is best as it is durable, goes through a dishwasher readily, which we recommend, and the dogs will not chew it up.

Aluminum is *not* recommended as it can be ingested in small quantities by the dog, and may impact health negatively. Aluminum has been implicated in brain disorders, so we avoid using it when it is not necessary.

We recommend 2 bowls; one for food, and one for water. Additional water bowls may be required depending on your arrangements for the dog.

2. Food

We recommend feeding your dog a natural dog food. There are many more of these on the market now than in former times. Avoid grocery store foods. They are rarely good nutrition for the northern breeds. Good foods can be bought at feed stores, pet stores, and even through the internet or by calling and ordering them to be sent to you.

There are many natural dog foods that work well. Some examples are those products made by Naturapet, such as Health Wise, Nutro’s, Natural Choice, and others from Solid Gold, Pinnacle, or Lundquist, to name a few.

It is best to feed dogs dry food only, as it helps to keep their teeth clean. Some northern dogs can be finicky eaters, so this may be a challenge at times.

We recommend avoiding snacks, and using treats only as a means of getting the new dog to work harder at meeting your requirements. Remember, when you feed a dog, it can stimulate the need to empty its intestines, and make it more difficult to teach your new family member proper house habits.

3. Each dog from CCNDR comes with at least one collar. You should not need additional collars, but a leash is necessary. A rule to always remember is that the longer a leash, the less control the holder of that leash has over the dog. Use a short leash for maximum control over your dog, and continue using it until you are certain of your dog’s behavior in every circumstance. Short tabs are also helpful in managing your dog. Use long leashes only for training purposes, or later for recreation when you and your dog are able to work together effectively.

4. A good crate is an ideal way to start out happily with your new dog. Almost every dog from CCNDR is crate trained when placed. Many are also trained on tie down lines. A crate can be like giving your new dog a private room in which to go and sleep, eat, or play quietly with toys. If you have more than one dog, a crate is almost a necessity, but even with only one dog, a crate will help your dog feel secure. A dog that is properly crate trained thinks of a crate as security, rather than confinement. It is a safe place where a dog may relax without having to be concerned about what is happening in the world in the rest of the house or beyond. For an average size dog, such as a 50 pound Siberian, a size 400 crate is quite adequate. If a mesh crate is preferred, the “small” size works well. The mesh crates have the advantage that they often are collapsible for storage if necessary. The plastic crates with nearly solid walls, are good for shipping a dog, or transporting it easily.

5. An identification tag with the new address, phone number, and your name is an excellent item to get early. Dogs from CCNDR have an Alaskan collar, and a CCNDR identification tag with a unique number that helps us to reference the dog if it is found. We recommend that you add a personal tag, leaving off the dog’s name, but putting on your name as the owner. Adding the dog’s name may encourage a person to steal your dog, as they then know the proper name of your pet. It may become more difficult to prove that the dog is truly yours, if you have not yet microchipped the new dog.

We strongly recommend microchipping dogs. Some of our dogs are chipped, but many are not. We would do this for all the dogs, except that the costs are still beyond our current resources. We hope this will change in the near future.

6. Grooming tools.

For general use, a Slicker brush works on most northern breeds of dogs. Longer haired dogs, such as Siberians, Samoyeds, Keeshonds, and some malamutes, may require a rake. A longer rake with teeth close together is better than one with short prongs, and spaced too far apart. Other tools that may help on many dogs are a ’sheddin blade’, a “zoom groom” or equivalent, and a comb.

7. Medications - flea, tic, and heart worm.

If fleas are a concern in your environment, then Advantage or Front Line are good products to use on your new dog to prevent fleas. If tics are a concern, then Front Line should be used, as it kills tics also. We recommend that one set up a schedule for applying these once a month–perhaps the first weekend of each month, so that it is done regularly. For Front Line, application can be once every 2 to 3 months.

We recommend that each owner consult with their local vet to see if the use of a heart worm medication is warranted in their area. Some areas are nearly free of heart worm, but many have a high incidence. The choice of activities you do with your dog makes a difference, as well. While you may live in a dry area with no heart worm incidents, you may hike with your dog in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where it is more common. Heart worm prevention is available in several forms. All require a prescription from a vet. Flea preparations are sold over the counter. Mail order is an option for either or both, often at a discount.

8. Miscellaneous Supplies - Nature’s Miracle and Bitter Apple.

While many of the dogs from CCNDR are mature and trained, many are pups or adolescent dogs who still chew, and require training. For the pup inclined to chew on things which it should not, there is Bitter Apple. It can be sprayed on items such as chair legs, to keep a pup from trying to chew them.

Nature’s Miracle is great to have around for any dog. Even well trained dogs can throw up on a carpet, or become ill in the house. After cleaning up the spot with carpet cleaning supplies, it is good to use Nature’s Miracle on the spot. Nature’s Miracle is a solution of natural enzymes that break down the organic components, and over a couple of weeks, not only rid the carpet or rug of an odor, but can often remove any traces of a stain, as well. We buy it by the gallon through mail order, but we often have 40 to 50 dogs living in our home in one year! It works great for use in the automobile. We more often use it there when a new dog gets ill, or a dog transported to or from spay/neuter surgery has an accident in the car. We have had reason to test this product well.

9. Bedding for your dog is best kept simple. We recommend that the crate be used for sleeping, but with a very well house broken dog, this is not necessary. Two of our dogs are crated, and one is not. It is not necessary to have all crated, nor all loose. Dogs have no human sense of fairness or equality. We use bath towels as bedding for the dogs in their crates. This is an excellent idea, as the towels are easily washed and used again. Rugs, carpets, and dog beds may be more difficult to keep as clean. Dog beds work with dogs beyond the chewing stage, but are best avoided as beds for younger dogs who are inclined to believe you are providing a “bed for breakfast”.

Old towels that are no longer your best guest towels are fine for your new dog. Often other family and friends will donate additional old towels to be used when your dog requires them.

10. Toys are always an item that new owners want to provide for their dog. We recommend avoiding rawhide, as northern dogs will often eat so much of it that it irritates their intestines, causing an intestinal upset that can take days to get over, and make both the owner and dog miserable. Many pet and feed stores will welcome you and your dog for a shopping trip to pick out toys. This can be a good idea as a way of socializing your dog, and in getting some help in picking out some alternative toys that will interest your dog. Squeaker toys often fascinate northern dogs, but the dogs may eat the squeaker from the toy, so it is a toy best given when you are around to be a supervisor. Nylon or vegetable chew toys work for a few dogs, and string toys are popular with young dogs. We find that cured cow hooves work well for a broad spectrum of northern dogs. Buy from a quality establishment to avoid potential problems. We have heard of issues with hooves, but not witnessed any ill effects in years of rescue work with dozens of dogs. At issue is the idea that one cannot entirely prevent a northern dog that wants to chew something from finding something to chew. It is best to make a choice that has your dog’s agreement, than have it eat the fence, the frame off the house window or door, or trees in the yard. At least one Siberian we know took up eating rocks, which proved both expensive, anxiety producing, and painful to the dog.

11. Inspect that portion of the yard to be used by the dog–especially if it is to be used when the family is not present. Check for plants that are toxic to dogs. See the list in the CCNDR library on our website for ones that should be removed. Also, check the fences, gates, and other items likely to fascinate a dog, such as garden tools, sprinkler heads that are exposed, or ground lighting. Unless one knows that the dog is mature and not inclined to take an interest in such items, they are best removed.

A northern dog can squeeze through an amazingly small space beside a gate post, under a gate, or under a fence. A gap as small as 4 inches is enough to permit a 50 pound dog to escape. Only a cock roach can maneuver through a small place better than a northern dog!

Northern dog breeds all have a reputation for digging. If you are the new proud owner of a northern breed of dog, it is essential to examine the fence line carefully to be sure that it is designed to prevent a new dog from digging out. There are many solutions to the digging problem, but preventing it from becoming a problem first is the most important consideration for the safety of a new dog in the home.

Summary Shopping List

1. 2 stainless steel pans.
2. Food - an all natural dog food.
3. 1 Leash and perhaps 2 tabs, if available.
4. 1 Crate. For a 50 pound a #400 crate is reasonable, or an equivalent size in open mesh crates is a small.
5. An ID tag for your dog, with your own name, address, and phone number.
6. Grooming tools. 1 Slicker brush, 1 rake, and possibly 1 zoom groom.
7. Medications - flea, tic, and heart worm.
8. Miscellaneous - Nature’s Miracle and Bitter Apple.
9. An old towel, or inexpensive towels if one is not available.
10.Toys–your dog’s choice, except for avoiding rawhide.

Copyright© 2001, by Gary Wynn Kelly. Please respect the copyright, and only reproduce with all credits to the author and the Central Coast Northern Dog Rescue and Arctic Dog Rescue and Training Center. Individuals may copy and distribute this article on a non-commercial basis as long as no modifications are made and this notice is included with all copies.