There will be a few things to get prior to going home. The following is a list of things I recommend:
CRATE. Your puppy will be almost fully crate trained when it goes home. Most puppies will be sleeping through the night in the crate with a few caveats that I will discuss with you. I recommend you getting two 24*22*20 crates with two or three doors. This size will last for the life of your puppy. One is for your bedroom for nighttime and a second for your in the main living area. Your puppy will eat in the crate, stay there when you are gone and at night (at least to start of). Additionally it is a safe place for your puppy to nap and relax. Children are never to be allowed in the crate.
DISHES: I prefer ceramic as they do not tip over as easily and are not so loud. Stainless steel is OK as well but do not get plastic bowls.
FOOD: Your puppy will go home eating dry Royal Canine Puppy and I will give you some to start with. As time goes on, if you want to switch foods that is up to you but you will need to start with this diet to keep things consistent for your puppy in the beginning. Nutrition is obviously an important part of your dogs long term health. We are learning more about how to properly feed our dogs for long term health – do not get caught up in the expensively marketed foods and philosophies. Stick with a larger established company that can afford to have nutritionist on staff and purchase quality ingredients that are consistent vs cheapest. AVOID companies who are strong at marketing to your emotions and weak elsewhere…there are many around and they are frequently the most expensive as well. Veterinary nutrition is a relatively young field of study…it is going to look different every few years at this time. If you are feeding a quality diet, most supplements are not needed.
TREATS: Keep them small. You training treats should be 1-2 calories. Most can be broken into tiny pieces. I frequently use Cheerios. As time goes on, small pieces of fruits and vegetables can also be used if you are a family who really wants to give treats to your dog out side of training situations. Two of the most common health issues I see in our Cavalier and dogs in general that significantly affect their health and quality of life, is obesity and poor dental care.
GROOMING TOOLS: I will send you home with a small brush to start with (it is a pin brush with balls on the end so it is not too rough on the puppy). You can also get a small/med sized wire comb for ears and little matts.
SHAMPOO and CONDITIONER: For the first few months, I use a puppy product. Long terms I use many products depending on what I am trying to accomplish with a coat but typically have product from Chris Christianson, Isle of Dogs, #1 All Systems to name a few. Conditioner is mandatory to keep the skin and coat healthy.
TOYS: Each puppy/dog has it’s preference for favorite toys. I would get a variety to start with and go from there. Don’t forget to wash them occasionally and rotate between at least three groups so they do not become bored with them.
CHEWIES: I only use CET Enzymatic large and extra-large size rawhide made by Virbac. I find them cheapest via Amazon. You will hear many people discourage rawhides but that is because they do not use them properly. They are the best product available to help with dental health and without adding too many unwanted calories. The error most people make is to use small pieces that they can swallow and use too infrequently creating and over exuberant chewer and hoarder. I do remove small pieces if I have a dog who is prone to wanting to swallow them.
TRAINER AND SOCIALIZING CLASS: Your puppy will go home well started with socializing and understanding how to operate/interact appropriately but you MUST continue this from the day you go home. The most critical time frame is from before you take the puppy home to about 16-18 weeks. Planning to hang out at home and waiting until vaccinations are finished is a misguided and outdated concept. I could write a book on this but have a trainer and class pick out before you come pick up your puppy.
LEASH AND COLLAR: I prefer a traditional collar but DO NOT EVER ALLOW MY DOGS TO PULL ON THE LEAD. I do not like harnesses as they tend to be a “get out of jail free” card to letting the dog pull and pull and pull. That does not constitute leash training and leads to a myriad of problems (aggression, pain, barking, dog fighting, miscommunication…to name a few). You should plan on getting hooked up with a trainer who can teach you how to properly train your puppy so you can have a loose leash at all times. The mainstay of this concept is “a dog can only be pulling on a lead if someone is pulling on the other end”. It is up to you to get trained so you and your dog are not pulling on each other as a substitute for either party not being effectively trained.