This represents both a list of necessary items and a to-do list that will optimize your puppy’s formative period and get you off to a great start for a social and well-adjusted Chihuahua.
First, I will list the necessary items. You will need to have these before your puppy goes home.1. Crate – unless your puppy is being shipped to you, in which case you can use the crate that the puppy arrives in, at least until he/she outgrows it (some do not). I strongly recommend that you complete your puppy’s crate training, even if you don’t plan on using the crate long term. Many valuable lessons are learned through crate training, and you may find that you do need to crate your dog for unexpected reasons later. If you need more information on this, please read through the other material I have provided or ask me about it.
For a crate, I strongly recommend the Modern Puppies Puppy Apartment. It works with your puppy's natural instincts and makes house training much easier. Plus, when you order a puppy apartment, you will receive an instructional video on house training, and the Modern Puppies website is a wonderful house training resource as well. Ask Shayna for more information about Puppy Apartments.
2. Plenty of extra bedding – I recommend that you do not use dog beds for your puppy at first. Expect that you will need to wash your puppy’s bedding frequently until house training is complete. So, I would go with blankets or towels for bedding at first. Once house training is complete, then you can move your puppy into a dog bed if you prefer.
3. Puppy pads – I do strongly recommend starting with puppy pads for house training. Most puppies take to them very well, and it minimizes accidents while you are working on training to outside. Once puppy has the hang of the pads, you can actually use the puppy pads to train to go outside. I have provided information for that among the other materials I have sent you as well.
4. Food – We feed Purina Pro Plan All Ages 30/20 Chicken and Rice Formula. Your puppy needs to stay on this food for at least the first month, as he/she settles in, so you will need at least a small bag of this food. After that, if you wish to switch foods, you should mix the new food in gradually and allow the puppy time to adjust to the new food. I do not recommend using wet/canned food with your puppy unless there is some specific reason for it. The most common reason is that the pup goes off of his dry food a bit while he is settling in to his new home. Adding a bit of canned food can entice him to eat better and give you piece of mind that he is getting the nutrition that he needs IF you select a good food. My recommendation is to have a small can of Royal Canin Starter Mousse on hand when you first bring your puppy home. This is an excellent, easily digestible food that puppies can’t seem to resist. If you don’t think you puppy is eating enough at first, mix just a little of the Starter Mousse in with his dry food for a few days and then gradually take it out as he settle in and eats more. You will not want to leave him on canned food any longer than necessary though, as it is really bad for his teeth.
5. Nutri-Cal – This is for calorie support, and can be used to prevent or reverse hypoglycemia. We don’t see much hypoglycemia in our puppies, but it is still a good idea to have a tube of Nutri-Cal on hand. However, you can substitute with honey or light kayro syrup for the same effect.
6. TOYS – Chihuahua puppies love toys and having a variety of toys is crucial to their development and learning processes. You will want some tiny toys that they can carry around, but you will also want bigger toys for them to climb on, toys with long limbs that they can drag around, balls of different sizes, jingle balls (actually cat toys), and chew toys that they can safely sink their little teeth into. For recommendations, ask Shayna.
7. Puppy Shampoo – You won’t want to bathe your puppy too often, but he will need a bath at least once a month, and maybe a little more often. Please do not use human shampoo on puppies, not even baby shampoo. You will want a good gentle puppy shampoo at first. Later, you can switch to a flea and tick oatmeal shampoo or something similar to help prevent fleas and ticks.
8. Puppy bathing wipes or waterless shampoo– these come in handy when your puppy has been playing outside and gets something on his fur, but he isn’t ready for a bath yet. The good news is, they aren’t just for puppies, so you will be able to use them on your pup all throughout his life to help space out baths.
9. Nail trimmers – puppies need their nails trimmed about every two to three weeks. Adult Chihuahuas may go a bit longer. At first, you can trim your pup’s nails with human fingernail or toenail trimmers. I find that to be much easier on those tiny nails. As your pup grows, you will want a good pair of trimmers. I prefer the guillotine type, as they are easier to use for me, to prevent cutting the nails too close, but any trimmers that you are comfortable with using are fine. You can even use one of the many grinding/filing tools on the market if you prefer, but be aware that you will want to start using those early so that the puppy learns to tolerate the sensation without fear. Alternately, you can take your puppy to the vet for nail trimmings. Many folks are not comfortable trimming nails themselves, and the vets usually will do it for you for a very reasonable rate.
10. Training treats – you will want to start training your puppy right away, so training treats are definitely a necessity, as most puppies are very food motivated. You will want tiny, meaty treats that have a lot of scent to them to get your puppy to respond to them. Please select a quality brand with these treats, as you will likely use many of them over the course of the first year, and you want to make sure that your puppy is getting a good quality treat and not one with fillers or harmful chemicals.
11. Edible chew treats – these treats help redirect chewing during the teething periods. Any kind of edible chew bone or treat is generally irresistible for puppies, and you will be glad you have them during the teething phases. These treats are Greenies, Nylabone Healthy Edibles and other similar products that are completely edible and digestible. Please DO NOT give your puppy rawhide. They simply cannot digest it. You will also not want to use pig hide, hooves, horns or antlers at first, because puppies are really too young for those types of treats, but you may use them later, in adulthood. When selecting edible chew treats, please select a quality brand, and grain-free treats are even better. You must also consider size of the treat. You will need to get size appropriate treats. At first, these are similar to the Teenie size of Greenies, but as your puppy grows, you will likely need to go up a size or maybe even two.
12. Harness and Leash – You will need to continue the socialization process immediately upon your puppy’s arrival. By the time our pups go home, they have had enough vaccines that they are safe outside in most environments, though I do recommend staying away from parks, especially dog parks, at first. So, you will need a harness and a leash. Please DO NOT hook a leash to a collar on a Chihuahua. Their tracheas don’t like the pressure of a collar, so it is always necessary to hook a leash to a harness. I prefer the mesh harness rather than the nylon harnesses because they are easier to use, but any harness that fits properly will be fine. You must get the correct size to prevent your puppy from pulling out of the harness while on leash. You will need an XS or maybe even an XXS at first, but your puppy will probably grow into a small eventually. For the leash, you will need a very light weight leash that won’t put weight on your puppy’s harness. A really good option is a retractable cord leash (rather than a nylon band for the leash). They are very light weight and all of the weight is in your hand, rather than hanging from the harness.
13. NuVet – this is the vitamin and mineral supplement that we use and require our pups to stay on. I have provided ordering instructions in the material I sent, but you can go to www.nuvet.com/95499 to order. We use the powder and sprinkle it over their food, but you can order the wafers if you prefer and just break them up into smaller pieces. The puppies do like the taste of these vitamins, so they will eat them!
Now for the to-do list:
1. Read all of the information I have sent you! Yes, it is a lot to get through, but you really do need to read it all because it will give you a great start with your new puppy. So, take your time and work through it at your own pace, but please do be sure to read it all.
2. Find a veterinarian that you like, and preferably one that treats lots of small breed dogs, and introduce yourself to them. Once you have a date for your puppy to go home, you will want to schedule an appointment so that you will be able to get your puppy in to see your vet within the required three business days. Please do not wait to schedule this appointment. Some vets are booked up for weeks in advance, so please schedule your appointment as soon as you know what day you will have your puppy home with you.
3. Find a puppy kindergarten or puppy socialization class in your area and register for it as soon as you know what date you will have your puppy home with you. These classes are a great way to begin your puppy’s obedience training and also represent socialization opportunities, but they can book up fast, so you will want to register for one early.
4. Find a pet insurance that you like and that is affordable and learn how and when to enroll your puppy. With vet costs rising as quickly as health care costs for people, I strongly recommend that you consider pet insurance for your puppy. Even routine care can be very expensive in some parts of the country, so pet insurance is a great way to save some money on these necessary costs of having a dog.
5. Order your puppy’s NuVet – see above for ordering instructions.
6. Shop for your puppy so you are prepared for his arrival. See above for a list of necessities.
7. Read and watch videos about training and socialization – this is an ESSENTIAL step for Chihuahua puppies and you really should learn all you can about this process before your puppy goes home, so that you are prepared to hit the ground running when he gets there! Remember, socialization starts with me, but it is FAR from over when your puppy goes home. In fact, your puppy is just beginning his or her most critical socialization phase when they go home, so it is crucial that you follow through with the socialization process. Additionally, obedience training and other types of training (agility, some type of work, etc.) will help keep your puppy focused, use up extra energy and allow him to understand his place in your family pack. You should not overlook the value of training either.
8. Set up your puppy’s environment and puppy proof your home – It is very important that you puppy proof your home before you bring your new puppy home. These little guys can get into every nook and cranny, so you will want to make sure that all of the rooms in your home to which your puppy will have access are fully puppy proofed. This includes hiding or covering all exposed electrical cords, covering unused electrical outlets, removing anything that could be a choking hazard from puppy’s reach, securing trash cans so they can’t be knocked over, making sure that appliances and outside items (such as barbecue grills and patio furniture) are stable and not easily knocked over and that doors aren’t easy to open (especially dryer doors), getting anything that you don’t want chewed on up and out of the way, safely storing all household cleaners and other chemicals, medication and other potentially poisonous items, and removing toxic house plants (Google house plants that are toxic to dogs for a list of these plants). When setting up your puppy’s space, ideally, your puppy will have some space to himself where he will be safe and secure when you can’t keep an eye on him. Here, we have a wire crate inside a larger pen. The bedding is inside the crate, puppy pads (or newspaper) are outside the crate along with food and water. That way, your puppy learns to eliminate in an area separate from his living environment and the process of crate training is furthered, which brings me to my next to-do.9. Read about and prepare for crate training – it is very important that you crate train your puppy, even if you don’t plan to use a crate long term. Puppies cannot be trusted to have full run of the house for some time, possibly as long as the first year. He needs a space where he feels safe and secure, and you never know. There might be an unpredictable occasion when you will need to crate him. You will be very glad that you crate trained him from the start when that occasion arises. Be careful though! Please learn about the process and how to crate train your puppy without causing anxiety. Otherwise, the process may be much more difficult and may not be entirely successful.
10. Develop your question list – after reading through the materials I have sent you, feel free to develop a list of questions for me. You may email these, ask them during your pick up or call me for a chat.