• Kerry Nichols

Preparing for Puppy: Let's Go Shopping!

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Time to Shop!

I know, I know - twist your arm, right?  I'm pretty sure that NOTHING is more fun than shopping for puppy! Here are the products we recommend with links to Amazon (if you don't have Prime, get it, as it sure is convenient to put your food on Subscribe and Save with free shipping!)

The crate:

Link: https://amzn.to/2CDtxJR

While you may ultimately choose to have your dog loose in your home, it is really quite critical to start your puppy out with crate training. The crate is essential in potty training (by providing your pup with a "den" that it doesn't want to soil), provides a private place for puppy to learn how to have "down" time,  and allows your puppy to be safe when you cannot have both eyes on him. While your pup may resist the crate for the first few days, it will then grow to love it and seek it out when it needs a nap or just some alone time.  And, your pups will be very used to the crate by the time they go home with you, so hopefully you won't experience any serious rebellion. :)

As always, Amazon has a great selection. I like the two door wire crate with the divider. The 42" crate is a great size and though it will look utterly enormous to you now, your dog will eventually grow into it! Be certain to purchase a crate with a wire divider, as your pup will need a smaller space initially (otherwise your pup will naturally divide the crate into "sleep" area and "potty" area, which we definitely don't want!).  It is fine to use any other crate - the hard sided crates are nice because they contain hair and dirt, so it is really a matter of preference.

You might also want to consider purchasing the 24" crate for your car. This will not last terribly long, but it isn't too expensive and having a crate in the car can do wonders for potty training and for safe transportation.

In addition to a crate, you'll want to have a way to contain your pup in a designated area. Ideally, this is the kitchen.  As the center of the home, your puppy will feel like it's a part of the action and will be able to do things like lie on your feet while you chop veggies (I'm being serious!).  Most kitchens can be blocked off with baby gates so that the pup is loose in the kitchen yet contained. Amazon has a huge selection of tension mount and free standing dog gates.

Gate/Puppy Confinement

ExPen Link: https://amzn.to/2JM42w7


If you need to create a confined area elsewhere, we use Ex Pens. I actually like to snap a few of them together and create a larger (yet safe) puppy area.  They are puppy-proof and the pups aren't particularly interested in chewing on them (amazing!:). Just be sure to get them tall enough that your puppy can't scale them!


As for toys, your puppy will naturally need to chew. A lot. They really need a variety of chews to battle boredom too. Please be sure to purchase toys that are proven safe for puppies, as many of the toys you'll see in the slideshows will be DANGEROUS by the time the pups reach 8 weeks of age (and are able to chew in earnest). We purchase toys based more on texture and sound so that the puppies have a vast array of stimuli - they don't begin destroying them until they are about 7 1/2 weeks old, at which time we remove them from the puppy area e.g. plastic bottles. So please don't purchase based on what you see in the upcoming slideshows! However, these toys are "puppy proof":

You will hear us talk about "high value" toys and treats.  One high value toy is a water bottle inside a safe sleeve.  They LOVE LOVE LOVE water bottles!  I'd highly recommend this toy for when you leave puppy alone for self-entertainment. The other big winner for alone time are pig ears/bully sticks. They smell pretty bad, but your puppy will be content (and used to it, as we use pig ears several times a day for alone time in the crate).

Link for Kong Wubba (a fav): https://amzn.to/2JWQs94

Link for Water Bottle Toy (a fav):  https://amzn.to/2UfEg7p

Link for Bully Sticks (big fav!):  https://amzn.to/2Uj8GFS

Link for Nylabone (variety!):     https://amzn.to/2Ifyz1Q

Link for Benebone:        https://amzn.to/32NwCTy

Link for pig ears (gross, but SATISFYING!): https://amzn.to/38mD70P

Jolly Ball: https://amzn.to/2IhYYw3

Chuck It Indoor Ball: https://amzn.to/2TkfFx4

Chuck It Roller Dog Toy: https://amzn.to/2TEqlp8

A great brand for your "zealous" chewer are GoDog. They have "chew guard technology" and have survived a lot of our puppies!

Here are some of our favs:

GoDog Llama

GoDog Furballz

GoDog Rooster


Link for Calm Pet CD: https://amzn.to/2JMiTH2

Calm Pet:  We will do a lot of "enrichment" protocols with your puppy, one of which includes desensitizing them to sounds.  Once the pups are three weeks old, we begin playing classical music. At 4 weeks of age, we begin playing Calm Pet on a low volume daily, increasing the volume as the weeks pass until they are listening to it VERY loud several times a day.  It is highly beneficial for you to continue playing this CD once a week (best when you leave the house, as it's annoying!).

Food: 3 Meals a Day until Six Months Old

Link for Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy: https://amzn.to/2WFhhBD

We feed Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy. This is an extremely high quality food that does a super job of growing your puppy slowly. Since Goldens are large breed dogs, they are susceptible to the ailments of a large breed, such as hip and elbow dysplasia. There is much research that shows just how much of a role early feeding plays in the ultimate joint health of our dogs. It is CRITICAL that your pup grows slowly and maintains a lean weight throughout its life. I heard a researcher at University of Pennsylvania state that we can actually prevent degenerative joint disease in our Goldens by keeping them lean throughout their lives. I know that all of you are committed to the health of your dogs, so I would encourage you to maintain your pup on Wellness and to keep your pup lean throughout its life (but especially its growing years).

As for feeding raw, I could write pages on that particular topic.  While I am by no means an expert, I have researched extensively and talked with quite a few breeders/vets and at the end of the day, I land on the side of feeding a commercially packaged food (not just any food - there are only a handful that I would feed).  The science behind Royal Canin is so extensive and a dog's nutritional needs are so complex that I feel it does a super job of meeting our dogs' needs.

Last, with the emergence of BEG foods ("Boutique, Exotic, Grain-Free"), there has been the development of a heart condition in Goldens that never previously existed. (Google Dilated Cardio Myopathy in Golden Retrievers!). These foods are BAD for your Golden. Dr. Josh Stern, who has spearheaded the research and is a legend at UC Davis, owns Goldens and this Royal Canin line is what he feeds his dogs. That is a powerful stamp of approval!

We recommend feeding your pup the puppy formula until it is 18 months old, and then switching over to the Adult formula.

Wellness Puppy Treats: 

Link for Treats: https://amzn.to/2WAdvbz

 These soft treats are what we will begin feeding your pup at 6 weeks of age, and they LOVE THEM! You can break each treat into several pieces, and you'll be surprised how eager your puppy is to learn new things when given the tiniest treat. Hallelujah for food-driven puppies! :)

Puppy Stroller 

Link for Stroller: https://amzn.to/2MLzp98

 Don't laugh! Many of our families use a puppy stroller to get through those first 8 weeks until puppy is safe to walk around in the world. It is a back saver, and a great way to socialize your pup! We like the shape of this one, and the cost is reasonable for an item that will only be used for 2 months.

Puppy Sling

Link for Sling: https://amzn.to/39x4ozq

 A good alternative for a stroller, this allows you to take puppy into all sorts of stores and accomplish a great deal of socialization without having your back break! This particular sling accommodates a puppy up to 20 pounds (a lot of them are meant for smaller dogs).

Slow Eat Bowl

Link for Slow Eat Bowl:  https://amzn.to/2WAfqNj

One other item you might consider is a slow eat bowl.  Once your puppies begin eating gruel (puppy food that has been soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and then pureed), they will all eat together.  At first they won't have a clue what they are doing - they will fall asleep in the gruel, step in it, bark at it, etc.  It's rather entertaining!  Eventually, they figure out that this is something they like!  And once they figure that out, it is a contest to see who can eat the most and the fastest.  It is a natural part of the process, as part of what teaches them to eat the gruel is the level of competition that arises at the food bowl.  And while I will tell you now that you'll be SHOCKED by how fast your puppy consumes its food, invariably someone will email me and wonder whether their pup is starving or whether something is wrong because of the rate at which the pup consumes the food.  I'll say it now and will continue to repeat it:  this is NORMAL!  :)

Eventually, most (not all) pups outgrow the voracious eating and get to a normal pace.  Having said that, every dog excitedly looks forward to meal time and it's one of the greatest ways to know when your puppy is sick (thus one of the many reasons why we don't recommend free feeding - meal time is often when someone realizes their puppy is sick, as the puppy doesn't eat).  Because the fast eating can cause loose stool, gas or rarely bloat, the slow eat bowl is a great tool in helping your puppy slow down (it is also pictured on the right hand side of the blog, with a link).

Last, stainless is always your best bet. The link above is to a stainless slow eat bowl.

Nail Clippers

Link for Nail Clippers: https://amzn.to/2yKqnoR

We really like these guillotine style clippers because they enable us to take just the "hook" off the nail, thereby reducing the likelihood of getting the "quick" (which causes bleeding and can be very painful). We trim nails a couple of times a week with these, so your pups are quite used to having their nails trimmed.

Food Puzzle/Wuffle Mat

Link: https://amzn.to/2VHPKkn

Feeding times are your best friend. Your puppy can learn SO much - it's a great time to practice manding (you'll hear that word a lot) or to help with boredom, and especially to keep their brain active and help them "problem solve." Thus, the Wuffle. You tuck the kibble into this mat and it not only keeps your puppy occupied, it helps build those neural pathways that grow with problem-solving. A must!

West Paw Zogoflex

Link: https://amzn.to/2VQtKUq

Oh, how essential this little toy is! You might buy a few, as you can create a little "mash" that goes in this toy and then you freeze them. FABULOUS for crate time. (We use no sodium chicken broth and a little bit of kibble blended and frozen, just so we don't trigger diarrhea by too much change).


Treat Train

Link: https://amzn.to/2VK7hs8

Another excellent toy for problem-solving and boredom!


Link for 15' Training Leash: https://amzn.to/2HN6MHD

Link for Flat Collar:  https://amzn.to/2FFP4Tg

We recommend that you purchase a 6 foot lead for walking and pottying, and then a 15 foot lead to practice commands such as come and retrieve (more on the retrieve later).  When I am raising a pup up, we leave a shorter leash on the pup at all times (when the pup is not in the crate).  This aids us in many ways (for example, correcting the pup if it jumps up - you can just pup the leash down and say "off").

I have also witnessed a few scary incidents with collars (somehow getting stuck on the crate, getting stuck in another dog's mouth, stuck on a fence...). Buy a flat collar with a quick release buckle (like the one in the link), not a buckle that functions like a belt.

Flirt Pole

Link for Flirt Pole:  https://amzn.to/2HJH9HN

I have heard rave reviews about this toy. Just be careful to keep play careful enough so that you don't compromise hips (from jumping/sliding). This is very useful with small children, as it keeps those sharp teeth away from the child and helps drain that puppy energy.

Smart Pet Love

Link for Smart Pet Love:  https://amzn.to/2JNHGdx

 Yet another item I have heard rave reviews about, this is a toy that you put with puppy during those first several nights home. Everyone who has bought it has told me it works!

Puppy Culture

Link for Puppy Culture: https://amzn.to/2N1sw3R

 Don't forget to purchase "The First 12 Weeks" - essential for understanding what we have been doing with your puppy (and continuing it once puppy comes home), as well as getting everyone in your family on the same page.

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