A rescue dog starter kit list I hear you cry. How hard can it be?!
Well, if my memory serves me well, when the boys were born, my ma and pa were completely overwhelmed with the number of ‘recommended’ items that you’re expected to get. Getting Dobby was no different – from what training tools we wanted to what type of lead we needed, there was a list as long as my arm.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want her to live a deprived life, but I knew we wouldn’t need half the stuff that the web said we did. So, here’s the basic kit list that we got, and whether it served us well for the first month or not.
As humans, it’s normal to feel like a small confined space is cruel. However, there’s a hell of a lot of research out there that explains that when used properly, crates allow dogs to feel as though they have a ‘safe’ space, as well as tapping into their ancestral habits of finding a den.
I wasn’t sure how much I believed this, until Dobby actually gravitated towards her crate the minute we got her in the house, and it provided her with a lot of comfort for those first few scary weeks (and still does). I was so glad we had one just in case because it became her safe retreat as she got to know us and her new home. One month on, she sleeps in there and stays in there when we are out of the house, or she will often go in there when we have visitors.
We had initially got a big mattress with her crate but one day when playing, she actually got it caught on the door and it ripped and it was ruined. Since then she tends to prefer sleeping on a blanket or towel anyway so we haven’t rebought this.
We weren’t allowed to pick up Dobby without a slip lead, but in all honesty, I used this one about once or twice to get her in from the garden when she was scared but since then we’ve kind of left it. I think it probably reminds her of the shelter and I find she responds much better on the lead when I use a different one.
An extendable lead does give less control, however, I’ve paired it with a strong good quality harness which is the way we walk her every day. This set up works well for us, as she’s got a really poor recall at the moment and I just can’t trust her off lead. The extendable lead gives her a bit more freedom when we are out and about and it’s definitely working well for both of us.
We also had to purchase this flat lead for doggy training classes as they’re meant to give better control. My aim is to fully transfer over to this when Dobby has good recall, as my hope is she will only be on the lead when we need a short flat one.
Bowl & food
It’s recommended to keep your pup on the same food that they had in the shelter, and then transition them over to your chosen food. We didn’t have that luxury unfortunately as they didn’t sell the Romanian brand in the UK. We just introduced Dobby to AVA kibble with bits of fresh chicken or salmon to get her interested, which the rescue team recommended. Within a few weeks, she was on the dry kibble without us having to add other ingredients.
I’ve bought a rubber bottomed, ceramic lined bowl for Dobby. Unless we are travelling she also has a small ceramic bowl for her food because it’s easier for us to clean.
I bought Dobby a secondary, softer bed for the living room which was actually really beneficial when trying her to introduce her to interact with me (and still is when Col is around). She uses it every day, plus because it is made of fabric, I drenched it in the Adaptil travel spray when we first got her and it really seemed to help.
Knowing that Dobby was going to be skittish for the first few months, we got straight onto getting the Adaptil spray, collar and plugin. To be honest, I didn’t really feel like the collar did much but the spray and plug-in had a noticeable impact on her mood and stress levels. We still use the Adaptil spray when we travel as she can get quite car sick, so I’d definitely recommend.
Collar & Seatbelt
I didn’t take Dobby out of the house for about a week, or leave her in the garden without keeping an eye on her. So, in reality, I only put her collar on her when we first started doing walks as I didn’t want to add to her stress levels by forcing unnecessary interaction. She legally has to have contact details on her, so we’ve got those on there too.
In order to comply with the law, you have to be able to adequately restrain your dog in your car. We opted for this dog seatbelt as it’s the least bulky, is the easiest to fit and also means I can get in the back with her. It was pretty cheap and does the job and because it’s universal will fit even if we change our car.
I would definitely recommend investing in a good harness like this one we use. Once Dobby got so stressed on a walk that she nearly dragged me down the street, despite being a quarter of my weight. It’s really easy for them to pull out of a collar when they’re in ‘flight’ mode, so a harness just gives extra support and control when you’re out and about and risks them pulling out of their collars when scared. I also think the daily routine of putting it on has gradually got her more comfortable with hands over her face and body.
Grooming Brush & shampoo
If you ask me, grooming Dobby was one of the key ways I got her to bond with me. Each evening we’d get her settled in her soft bed and I’d brush her for around an hour. Not only was it necessary as her fur was so scruffy and matted, but it really got her used to being touched and helped her associate me with positive things so definitely would recommend.
I was brave enough to broach the bath situation a week or two into having Dobby and although she was scared during the process she looked and smelt a lot healthier afterwards! Whilst I didn’t want to dive straight into being bathed, I didn’t think the travel, shelters and kennels were particularly luxury grade so she definitely needed some TLC!
Toys & Treats
I’d initially just got Dobby some soft toys but following a period of indifference, she eventually destroyed both in a matter of minutes. I’ve had more luck since investing in KONG toys like this one, which I stuff with treats. They keep her out of trouble whilst I’m out of the house and help her associate my absence with treats so would definitely recommend!
Treats wise, Dobby can be quite picky and we tend to rely on strong-smelling treats to tempt her, as she still has visible nerves about taking treats out of hand. I found these great small liver disks here, which are great for stuffing in her toys or as little training treats. I also got some great fishy bitesize treats and dried duck strips from TK Maxx which is a great shout for any premium pet stuff without the price tag.
So there it is – a minimal list for rescue pups. The way I see it, you can easily buy more stuff as you go along, but you can easily spend a fortune on stuff you won’t use if you don’t try to scale it back at the start.
What’s your must-have item for new pups?