With only a month to go, it feels time for some proper puppy prep.
While the boys are up a tree on Hampstead Heath, I see a few dogs walking with an older Mini Schnauzer and ask his friendly-looking owner about her dog’s temperament: “Wonderful,” comes the reply. It gets better: it just so happens that she looks after other people’s dogs and is something of an expert. She recommends Dr Ian Dunbar’s book, Before You Get Your Puppy, as required reading.
I start on it that evening and it’s the most sensible dog book that I’ve read so far. It gives a clear idea of things to buy, and there’s a great section on crate-training. I blend the information with other bits I’ve read and come up with a shopping list that reads something like this:
Dog crate: The Vari-Kennel is not beautiful (none of them are) but it’s tried and tested. You buy it to fit the size your dog will become. A few strategically taped-down Amazon delivery boxes make it the right size for a puppy.
Crate liner: To make it cosy, first use old (washable) towels in case of accidents. Buy a Vet Bed fleece (washable and anti-dust mite) for when he can go through the night.
Puppy playpen/gates to help section off rooms while house training.
Water Bowl, Food Bowl
Chewtoys x 6 (Kongs, Biscuit Balls, Squirrel Dudes, Big Kahunas etc.)
Freeze dried liver to use as training rewards.
Collar and lead
Plastic dust-sheets and newspapers
We visit a huge, soulless pet mart that smells pet-food-awful and take home 80% of our list.
We take a trip to the local builder’s yard to buy artificial turf for our decked back yard (apparently it’s good for a pup to get used to using all different surfaces for their lav).
We make a vet appointment.
We make a trainer appointment.
We order a dog tag.
And then we head to Highgate for the nice bit – a trip to Hair of the Dog, a stylish pet shop that you might find yourself in even if you didn’t have a dog arriving in less than a month. We find some minimalist matt black food and water bowls that will look suitably low-key in the kitchen. We buy rather a prettily honed reindeer antler because I had once spoken to a woman cradling a new puppy who raved about them as the ultimate chew-toy. And I note for future reference that this smart shop sells Harry Barker, the American brand that is the bright, preppy dog accessory equivalent of New York fashion label Kate Spade. All set…