Chewy.com is a great resource for pet supplies and sells the food we recommend. Words below in blue link to specific products we use.
- Puppy food: Blue Wilderness- Large breed puppy- This is a five star grain free dog food that they really seem to thrive on and enjoy, and this is what they are being fed here before they leave. If you are bringing home a new puppy from us, you will also need Chobani plain yogurt and Blue Buffalo or Taste of the Wild canned dog food.
- Collar: Regular belt buckle style collar, buy a few different sizes to start out with, they will quickly grow into them and it doesn't hurt to have the next size on hand for when the old one gets too small.
- Leash: 6 foot leash, either THIN leather or cotton. We do not recommend Nylon leashes, because although they are cute and colorful, they are often uncomfortable to hold. Thick leather leashes are also uncomfortable due to their lack of durability, so get a thin one if you go this route. We also do not recommend chain leashes or flexi leads.
- Treats: Natural Balance beef dog food roll is our favorite training treat. You can also try a variety of other things such as hot dogs, chicken, cheese, etc. Another treat we love are Kirkland Biscuits which can be purchased at Costco. These are not training treats, just a good snack. Our dogs get a biscuit every night before bedtime.
- For chewing: Chicken flavored Nylabone for powerful chewers XL. DO NOT give your dog rawhide. It is not digestible and can cause intestinal blockage! Raw soup bones are great (from the butcher) and smoked knuckle bones are fine with supervision.
- Toys: Interactive toys are a great way to keep your puppy engaged. One of our favorites for young puppies is this Treat Ball. Don't fill it with their regular food, as this is boring. Try either treats or a more sugary food in the ball like Kibbles and Bits. Try to get toys that are more sturdy. Soft, fluffy toys are fine as long as you make sure they don't chew them and swallow the fabric/stuffing, but more durable toys will usually last longer. Make sure to have a lot of them to keep your puppy busy. Giving your puppy a lot of their own things is a great way to avoid them chewing on things that are not appropriate like shoes, socks, children's toys, etc. Although your puppy will be small when you bring them home, make sure you buy large dog sized toys. Anything smaller can quickly become a choking hazard as they outgrow it. We do not recommend Frisbee, or any other games that involve jumping in the air. This is very hard on developing joints.
- Crate: Wire style crate, not plastic so they can see their surroundings. Get one large enough for the puppy to fit in as an adult, they grow fast! 48 or 54 inches. Midwest is a brand we like. DO NOT put the crate in an area where the dog will be secluded. Put it somewhere where they will be near the family. Just like you wouldn't put your baby's playpen in the basement, don't do this to your dog. Do not use the crate as a punishment, it should be a place where they feel comfortable and may go to lay down on their own.
- Grooming: Do not give your dog a bath more than once a month, as this causes their skin to dry out. Do not use human shampoo on the dog for this same reason. We recommend a dog shampoo that is for sensitive skin, anything with oatmeal is usually good and not harsh. Our brush recommendations are a grooming rake, a slicker brush and the furminator. These are what we've had the best luck with. Do not use a shedding blade! This can seriously damage your dog's outer coat and cause a lot of problems.
- Flea/Tick and heartworm preventative: We use Revolution on our dogs.
- Microchip: We cannot stress the importance of this enough! Please have your puppy microchipped. We offer this service for $30 here at the kennel if it is more convenient for you than going to your vet. If your dog is ever lost, this may be the only thing that brings them back home. We've seen it save many dogs! There are multiple companies that offer microchips, but we recommend the ones from the American Kennel Club. It is the AKC CAR (Companion Animal Retrieval) system. Unlike companies such as Home Again, CAR is a one time fee and does not require yearly renewal.
- Spay/Neuter: We do recommend spaying/neutering your dog, however, WAIT until they are at least 1.5-2 years old if you are going to do so. Your vet may try to get you to schedule while they are a puppy, but it is imperative that you wait with large breed dogs. Recent studies have proven that spaying/neutering before the dog is fully mature can lead to a plethora of health problems, including TRIPLING the risk of hip dysplasia specifically in German shepherds!
- Socialization: This is crucial- Possibly the most important part of owning a German shepherd puppy. They need to be socialized, and this means going out and about, not just meeting people in your home. Experts say your puppy should meet at least 500 people by the time they are 4-5 months old. This may seem like a ton, but in reality they see 10-20 people each time they go to a store and hundreds if they go to a festival. You will have no problem getting people to say hi to your puppy as long as you get them out and about. They are irresistible! From the time they are young, they need to be meeting new people and going to new places to build confidence and be a well-rounded dog. Putting in the time while they are young will make all the difference when they are older. Frankenmuth is a great place to take your puppy to meet people and many of the River Place shops welcome dogs. There are many stores elsewhere that are dog friendly such as Tractor Supply, Bass Pro Shops, and pet stores so you should be visiting these frequently while your puppy is in this critical stage. Some pet friendly festivals are: Balloon Fest in Howell, the Dog Bowl in Frankenmuth, Ice Fest in Frankenmuth, and the Michigan Renaissance Festival. There are events year round so make sure to take advantage of them! You only have a few weeks to lay this foundation, as their first socialization window closes around 4 months old. We also offer puppy socials twice a month to assist with this process.