Ok, so you’ve evaluated your life and decided you can commit the necessary time to a new puppy. You’ve finally found a breeder and now you’re ready to bring the furry little fellow home. What do you do now?  First of all, you need to sit down and make a shopping list. These are some essential items you’ll want to stock up on. You can follow the links to items and websites that I personally recommend…

Chew toys: Puppies chew on everything. You need a nice assortment of chew toys to distract them from table legs and sneakers. It’s best to get four different toys; a plastic toy, a plush toy, a rope toy and a chew bone. This way you have a variety of different textures so your puppy can meet its teething needs. Also, don't hesitate to get toys made for small dogs. They are cheaper and work just fine for puppies. Make sure you supervise your puppy when they first get their toy, because they may destroy it and swallow the dangerous pieces. If you shop wisely, you can usually get off with spending about fifteen dollars. Also, look around the house for things that could substitute for a toy. I tied a knot in a hand towel and Strider loved it. I also made him a pillow instead of buying a stuffed animal for him to tear up. I do not recommend giving your dog something that you wouldn’t normally want him to chew on, like a shoe for instance. You don’t want to teach him that chewing shoes (or other household items) is ok. Also, just FYI, Petsmart had $1 tennis balls and Frisbees last time I checked.

Dog food: Talk to the breeder and see what the puppy’s current food is. If you want to feed your puppy a different brand, ask the breeder to give you around five days worth of the puppy’s current food. Then, each time you feed the puppy, add a little of the food you bought to the serving of breeder food, substituting a little more of your food each time. This way you avoid upsetting the puppy’s stomach by changing its food suddenly. I suggest buying a big bag if you have a large breed. Puppies eat a ton of food, and it’s a pain to have to run to Wal-Mart every five days for a new bag. I spend around $20 a bag for Purina One Puppy Chow. To save some money on food, search for coupons on the manufacturer’s site. No matter which brand you buy, make sure it’s  puppy food because adult food doesn’t provide the nutrients that puppies need.

Grooming: Depending on the type of dog you buy, you’ll have an assortment of brushes you need to purchase. I suggest buying at least a comb and a slicker brush (pictured on the left.) Also buy some no-tears puppy shampoo. If you’ve researched your breed, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what kind of specialty brushes you’ll need to buy. Also, if you like a challenge, buy a doggie toothbrush. Most vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily. Grooming supplies will cost you between $20 and $40 depending on your breed’s needs.

Dog crate: I strongly recommend buying a crate for your puppy. It can prove very useful, even if you don’t plan to use it often. Crates can get pretty costly, with some of the larger ones costing upwards of $200 dollars. I recommend asking around to see if someone has a used crate you can buy for cheaper. I bought a large one from a coworker for about 20 bucks, saving me about eighty dollars. Just make sure you sterilize it with bleach when you bring it home. If you want to buy new, try searching online for a crate, where you can get better deals.

Misc. Supplies: Buy a dog tag, collar, leash and dog bed. Don’t spend too much money on a puppy collar because they will quickly outgrow it. Also, invest in some healthy puppy treats for training. Dog bowls are also something to remember, but if you want to save some cash, just find a couple of ceramic bowls at home that you no longer use. Dogs don’t really care what they eat out of, as long as they get to eat! If you’re not sure a dog bed will survive your puppy, just get some old towels and heap them up in your dogs crate.This way you can see if your puppy will chew them up or pee on them and won't waste money on a pricey bed.

Of course, you’re going to find a lot of superfluous items that aren't on this list. For instance, I really want to buy a special blow drier that literally blasts the water off a dog’s fur, but I can’t exactly drop $300 bucks on something like that.

In next week’s installment, I’ll touch on a few things to expect when bringing your puppy home, and things to keep in mind during the first few weeks after your puppy’s arrival.