I have had many families tell me that they have prepared more extensively for the arrival of their puppy than the arrival of their first child! It can be a bit overwhelming, but it is also essential that you are prepared for your puppy with all of the necessaries. These are the "basics" which I recommend for all of our puppy families. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime, I'd strongly encourage it, as the savings and convenience of the monthly standing order ("Subscribe and Save") makes it worthwhile. We have a standing order for food, treats, shampoo, and bully sticks. Makes my life quite a bit easier! (Thank you Amazon!)
Golden Retrievers are a large breed dog and thus, in order to insure that they grow at a slow rate and in a healthy manner, it is essential that they be fed a well-balanced, established, slow-growth food. (Do not be tricked by the "BEG" fads: boutique, exotic, grain-free foods that are harmful to your puppy!). We love Royal Canin Golden Retriever. We feed ours the Puppy formula until 18 months of age, and then switch to Adult.
LINK FOR PUPPY: https://amzn.to/2WFhhBD
LINK FOR ADULT: https://amzn.to/2NDw1O3
Training treats will be your best friend with your new puppy. Goldens are incredibly food-driven and after having tried lots of different treats, these are our favorites. I break each treat into at least 4 pieces (even smaller for 8 week old pups). Super effective.
K9 POWER SHOWSTOPPER: This is a coat supplement that we begin giving to our puppies at about 6 months of age (1/3 to 1/2 scooper at 6 months of age, then 1 scoop at 9 months of age and forever - ignore their guidelines, as they recommend too much). It does WONDERS for the coat and skin, making them impossibly soft and supporting their skin against hot spots. AND, bonus! We've experienced reduced shedding.
CHEWS FOR CRATE
Golden Retrievers are voracious chewers, which is actually a huge benefit for crate training. We reserve certain chews for crate time only, as a positive "Pavlovian" connection then gets made between a favorite chew and the crate.
LINK: Cow Ears
Another huge favorite are bully sticks. Like cow ears, when we give either bully sticks or cow ears, it is a cue to the puppy that it is a time to settle down and self-entertain in the crate. Because they are so irresistible to Goldens, they make crate time a happy time!
LINK: Bully Sticks
KONG: This is a puppy favorite. One trick that works really well is to put a little dab of peanut butter on one end, then fill with no sodium broth and freeze. You will not believe how entertaining this is for your puppy!
BENEBONE: Unlike Nylabones, which we've had bad experiences with (we had one of our aggressive chewers splinter pieces of it off and end up in the ER overnight due to the wreckage it caused in her GI tract), the Benebone does not seem to splinter. It has flavor saturated throughout that is very satisfying to our Goldens!
BRUSH: We have one of these self-cleaning slicker brushes tucked into every car door and cupboard around our house. They do a wonderful job and are easy to clean!
LINK: Slicker Brush
SHAMPOO: Our Goldens have paler coats, so we like using a product that helps bring out all of their highlights, as well as making them incredibly soft. And, it smells fabulous!
NAIL CLIPPER: "Just the hook" - this is what we tell our Nicholberry families when trimming nails, and we find that these guillotine clippers do the best job in trimming just a little bit off.
LINK: Nail Clippers
CRATES & GATES
Your lil' puppy isn't going to be little for long, so we always recommend that our Nicholberry families purchase the 42" wire crate. It comes with a divider, which aids in potty training, and as the puppy grows the divider can be removed so that puppy can still have plenty of room.
LINK: 42" Wire Crate
It is essential to have a safe area in which you can contain puppy in your home. Boundaries! We like to use a couple of these exercise pens and connect them together to make a nice play area for puppy.
Link: Exercise Pens
I LOVE my freestanding gates! I use them in new ways all of the time - if I just want to take puppy with me into the bathroom while I shower, it's a great way to create a confined space; if I want to block off a room (to either keep puppy in OR out), it does a super job. Sturdy and adjustable - an essential in our house!
LINK: Freestanding Gate
SMART PET LOVE: SO many of our families have told us of the wonders this little toy has worked on their new puppy. It has a heartbeat and apparently offers tremendous comfort to a puppy in its new home.
FLIRT POLE: This is such a fabulous toy for kids and puppies. It enables kids to stay out of range of a puppy's sharp teeth, yet really helps drain that puppy energy. My only caution is that you monitor your kids when playing with this, explaining to them how important it is that puppy doesn't slip on slick floors, and that puppy isn't jumping in the air (both of which can cause serious hip and/or joint injuries).
LINK: Flirt Pole
KONG WUBBA: Oh, the beloved Kong Wubba! Our Goldens absolutely love this toy - it is incredibly durable, but light enough that they can toss it in the air to play a game of fetch with themselves (true story!), and the squeaker is virtually indestructible. We use these in the pool and lake and the entire pack absolutely LOVES them! A Golden essential...
LINK: Kong Wubba
HARNESS: A lot of our Nicholberry families have used the Easy Walk No Pull Harness and been very happy with it.
GENTLE LEADER: This is another very popular training aid which teaches your dog to walk nicely on the leash. One of our Nicholberry Goldens works as a therapy dog at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and his owner has shared with me that the moment she puts the Gentle Leader on him, he understands that it is time to "go to work." If you are disinclined towards a harness, this is a great alternative.
LINK: Gentle Leader
SWIM FLOAT JACKET: One of our favorite things to do with our Goldens is to take them to the lake. As a matter of safety, we always put their lifejackets on them. We have found the Ruffwear products to be incredibly durable, effective, and comfortable.
MODERN DOG PARENTING: Sarah Hodgson is one of those authors who you just can't go wrong with. She's been on the Today Show and Animal Planet radio, and just communicates in a really clear way. We recommend this book as a "must" for all of our Nicholberry families.
BEFORE & AFTER GETTING YOUR PUPPY: Another legend in the world of positive reinforcement training is Dr. Ian Dunbar. I've had people tell me that this book has helped tremendously with crate training and scheduling, in addition to helpful overall strategies in raising a puppy.
ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN: This is not a training book, but it is a terrifically funny and moving work of fiction written from a dog's perspective. Brilliant.
SLOW EAT BOWL: Golden Retrievers are notorious for the speed with which they scarf their food down. It can be a hazard, as bloat can result, and that is nothing to trifle with. We recommend that our families begin using a slow eat bowl when their pups are about 3 months old. I like the stainless bowls because they are resistant to bacteria build-up that can also be harmful to your pup!
DOG FOOD CONTAINER: I am a sucker for functionally cute. Why settle for functional, if it can also be cute? I love this metal container. It holds an entire 30# bag of food, but seals tight to keep out bugs (we live in the country and ants are not our friend).
DRYMATE MAT: If you have hardwood or tile floors, buy this. It is impossible to overstate how ESSENTIAL it is to your puppy's health that he does not slip around on slick floors. A lifelong joint/hip/elbow injury can occur from just one rambunctious play session. We strongly encourage our Nicholberry families with slick floors to purchase these mats for traction. The 48"x100" is easy to cut (we cut ours in half), and is very easy to wash (in the washing machine).
VETERICYN: Buy it. Can I say it more strongly? This is one of those "go to" items that we ALWAYS have on hand, as it is truly a miracle worker (I jokingly refer to it as my "Windex" a la My Big Fat Greek Wedding). We have treated everything from bee stings to gashes with this and always marvel at the way it promotes healing. Just something you should have in your "medical bag"!
Link: Vetericyn Wound Care
KURANDA: Oh, how these beds have stood the test of time in our home! Our dogs LOVE them (as do our puppies - all of our litters are raised with them). It keeps our dogs off the tile/cement (which they often prefer when it's warmer weather) and thus relieves their joints and elbows from the pressure those hard surfaces put on their bodies. I bought the cheap version from Costco and the dogs destroyed it within a couple of weeks. We have never had to replace a Kuranda - they are worth the extra money!