Q. I just rescued a Cairn Terrier-Poodle mix whose coat is not as wiry as a Cairn’s, and not as soft as a Poodle’s, but somewhere in between. I need to know all the grooming supplies I should purchase, from brushes to shampoos to conditioner, toothbrushes and pastes to ear- and eye-care grooming supplies. What should I buy?
A. For starters, you’ll need a collar and leash. I recommend a nylon ribbon-type buckle collar or one with a snap closure as these can be adjusted as your pup grows. If your budget will allow only one leash, get a six-footer, preferably to match his nylon collar. A four-foot one is good too, but you will need the longer length for training.
Later on, you may want a retractable leash that extends to a greater length so your dog can explore more terrain on walks. I prefer to get a pup familiar with a regular leash and mastering some simple commands first.
He’ll need doggie dishes, too: one for food and one for water. The least expensive are plastic; however, you should make sure they are weighted so he can’t easily tip them over. Pet dishes also come in stainless steel or ceramic crockery, the kind I like best.
Your pup will need a crate. Because he’s a small dog, get one that will not only serve as his private quarters while he’s being housetrained or resting, but may also be used for travel. Dogs should not ride in your vehicle unless they are crated or you are using a safety harness — another item for your shopping list. A fleecy mat will make his crate comfy, although you may also want a dog bed. Some are like fluffy pillows, but most little dogs like to curl up in a cup-type oval bed with foam sides and a pillow mat beneath them.
While he’s being housetrained, a puppy gate will help tremendously. He should not have the run of the house until he knows that papers or the great outdoors are the only places to do his business. Accidents will happen so have some enzymatic spray cleaner on hand for stain and odor removal.
For dry food, he will need small-breed premium quality dog food. Holistic brands that are not loaded with grains or mysterious ingredients known as byproducts will keep him healthy and be best for skin and coat. I give my dog grain-free canned food as well.
For bathing, I recommend puppy tearless shampoo and a crème rinse conditioner that smells fresh. We dilute it on a 16-to-1 basis in the salon and it works just fine to make hair manageable and cut down on static. Always use shampoos and conditioners formulated for dogs. Human hair products may cause skin problems in pups.
For a combination coat like his, I recommend a curved-bristle wire slicker brush. One that’s small and ergonomically shaped would be ideal. Use it gently and frequently and do get all the way to the skin to prevent mats and tangles.
Puppy toothbrushes and toothpaste are available where pet products are sold, as are ear- and eye-cleaning products. Eye wipes come in handy for daily cleansing so debris will not build up in eye corners, potentially leading to unsightly staining, odor, and infections. I like ear cleansers that contain botanicals like yucca, aloe vera, tea tree oil, or chamomile to gently remove ear wax and leave ears smelling nice.
Because pups are full of energy and will be teething, they need toys that will stand up to vigorous chewing. My 5-pound Toy Poodle, a perennial puppy at heart, loves small-sized bones made by Greenies and curled beef tendons called Flossies made by Merrick, both of which remove plaque from his teeth as he chews.
A new favorite is the Busy Buddy Bouncy Bone by Premier that features a chewable plastic bone on each end, a ball in the middle, and replaceable freeze-dried liver discs in between that pups find irresistible. Stay away from rawhide that can soften or toys with small parts that could cause choking if swallowed. You’ll also need freeze-dried treats or puppy biscuits to offer as rewards while your dog is being trained and because you love him. Enjoy!