Collecting the musthaves

Following is your list of pet supply staples. These items are pretty much non-negotiable. Your Dachshund needs them. You can spend a little or a lot on, say, a leash or a food bowl. You can even buy most of the supplies at garage sales or borrow them from friends who no longer have dogs. But you need to find the following items, one way or the other:

1 Food: Buy as good a food as you can afford (see the later section "Kibble, Kibble, Everywhere . . ." for more about what to feed your Dachshund).

1 Leash (or lead): Dachshunds must be kept on a leash when near traffic or in an unenclosed area. Keep your pet safe. You don't need to spend a lot. Four-foot lengths are good for new puppies. When your dog gets older, a 6-foot length is perfect. Choose leather or nylon, whichever you prefer.

1 Collar or harness: A leash isn't much good without a color or harness. Harnesses are nice for Dachshunds because you won't risk pulling on your pet's neck. Don't leave a harness on all the time, though. It can rub away at your dog's coat. Collars give you a little more control, and some dogs seem to prefer them.

A collar for identification tags and a harness just for walks is the perfect combination!

Identification tags: You probably already know that your short-legged hound dog shouldn't go wandering around the neighborhood, but just in case your little rascal digs out of your backyard or dashes through an open door and gets away from you, an identification tag can drastically improve your Dachsie's chances for a safe return home. Most pet stores have forms you can fill out to order ID tags, or you can look in magazines and pet catalogs.

Collars and ID tags can fall off, break off, or get lost. Or perhaps your Dachshund could escape on that one day you took off her collar, "just for a minute." For these reasons, a microchip or tattoo may be a better ID tool. Some animal shelters and rescue groups require that your dog have one of these (see Chapter 5). Microchips encoded with your dog's contact information are implanted under her skin, usually in her neck. Vets and shelters with scanners can scan found dogs to see if they contain chips. Tattoos identify your dog with a code on her ear, abdomen, or thigh. Anyone who finds your dog can contact a national database to find out where she belongs. Talk to your vet about the best identification method for your Dachshund.

1 Food and water bowls: Any style bowl will do, as long as it's unbreakable and heavy enough so that your Dachshund doesn't keep knocking it over when she tries to eat. Weighted bowls, ceramic bowls, and metal bowls are good choices. Avoid plastic bowls, which can harbor bacteria and even lead to skin infections.

1 Shampoo: Even if you don't use it very often (you don't need to bathe a smooth hair unless she gets really dirty), you should have shampoo on hand for those times when you need it. Use a shampoo made for pets, not for people. People shampoo is harsh and can irritate your pet's skin and eyes. (See Chapter 16 for more on grooming.)

i Toothbrush and toothpaste: It may seem silly to you, but brushing your dog's teeth is essential for her good health. Brushing keeps tartar buildup at bay (excessive tartar buildup must be removed by a vet, often under general anaesthetic, which is always a risk). Tooth decay and bacteria in your dog's mouth can lead to heart disease and other serious health problems — especially as your Dachshund ages.

Look for a toothbrush and toothpaste made just for dogs. People toothpaste isn't good for your Dachshund. A people toothbrush may work, but dog toothbrushes are longer with more compact, sturdier bristles, and they're angled in a way that makes brushing easier.

You can also buy pet toothbrushes that slip over your finger. For that matter, a gauze pad wrapped around your finger makes an effective toothbrush, and most dogs don't mind you rubbing their teeth this way — especially if you get them used to the process while they're puppies.

1 Nail clippers: A dog with long nails risks a foot injury. Long nails on hard surfaces spread the footpads too far apart. They also make walking more difficult. Keep your dog's nails nicely trimmed with a pair of clippers. Ask your vet to show you how to clip (or have it done professionally once every four to eight weeks). Buy clippers made for dogs, not for humans. Human nail clippers can seriously injure your dog and probably aren't strong enough to cut your dog's nails anyway.

^ Brush and comb: Your dog's specific grooming needs depend on what coat she has (see the section "Choosing Tools for the Well-Groomed Dachshund" later in this chapter), but a good natural bristle brush and a steel comb will work for all coat types.

^ Pet gate: A pet gate is a must-have if you have rooms where your Dachshund isn't allowed or stairs you want to keep her from descending or climbing. Baby gates, pet gates — same thing.

Garage sales are good sources for buying gates, because people often sell their baby gates when their kids get older.

^ Toys: Dachshunds (like girls) just want to have fun! (I can say that because I'm a girl.) A few toys are a must-have, even if they're homemade (see the section "Toys for Playtime!" later in this chapter).

^ Pet stain and odor remover: Accidents happen, but if your dog smells a previous mistake on your carpet, accidents will happen again and again. Many pet products will truly remove the scent of a past indiscretion. Take advantage and make housetraining easier. Ask your local pet store employee to recommend a brand for your Dachshund.

Most Dachshund vets and breeders generally don't recommend vitamin supplements. Supplements can throw off the nutritional balance of your pet's diet. Unless your vet specifically prescribes something for your Dachshund, stick with the healthy, complete, nutritionally balanced food recommended by your vet, as well as occasional healthy treats. If your Dachshund has a health problem, a holistic vet may recommend supplements like glucosamine for joint health or probiotics for improved digestion.

Giving the "why-nots" a whirl

Beyond the must-haves are the "why-nots" — the pet supplies that are more luxury than necessity. If you want to spend the money, why not? Some of the items in the following list satisfy some pets more than others, and some are, admittedly, just for your own amusement and pleasure. But that's worth something, too!

1 Gourmet dog treats: Fancy gourmet dog treats from dedicated dog bakeries are now widely available. If you live in a big city, you may live near a dog bakery. Here in Iowa, we have three different dog treat bakers at the local farmer's market! Browse around and pick out a few special treats for your Dachshund.

Don't overfeed your Dachsie, even if the treats are healthy. Many gourmet treats are all-natural and made of human-grade ingredients, but that isn't an excuse to let your Dachshund binge. A calorie is a calorie, no matter the source. One treat every day or so should be fine, but you may want to consider decreasing the kibble allowance on those days just slightly.

1 Puppy training pads: Some people like to use pre-scented puppy pads that encourage a Dachshund to go on them rather than the carpet. Not every dog responds to these pads, but if the pads work for your puppy, they can help a lot with house-training.

1 Retractable leash: This is a very long leash that retracts into a plastic case with a handle. Retractable leashes are perfect for walks or hikes in parks, forests, or other natural areas where your Dachshund will love to go sniffing about. You can keep her safe while she explores.

A retractable leash isn't for everyday use, however, because it isn't good for teaching your dog to heel (see Chapter 14). And be sure to follow the directions when you retract so the leash doesn't whip around and hit you. Safety first!

Don't bring your Dachshund to the vet on a retractable leash. There are so many distractions at the vet's office, and many dogs wander too far from their owners and too close to others on this kind of leash.

1 Dog bed and other dog furniture: Yes, companies make dog furniture. Little chairs, little beds, little fainting couches — all very lovely and impressive, and all pretty expensive. But what better way to make your home a Dachshund haven? Of course, if you drop a bundle on a fancy bedroom set for your Dachshund, be prepared. She may ignore it and prefer to curl up on the people couch instead. After all, that's where you sit!

1 Fancy clothing: A Dachshund in clothes? Sure! Doggy fashion is big these days — from collars, bows, and sweaters to jackets, coats, and boots — and boutique-y pet stores are full of options. Dress your dog to match her unique personality. Behold Figure 8-2 for an example!

Expensive Clothes For Dachshunds
Figure 8-2: For some this is high fashion, and for others it's campy fun.

If you live in a very cold climate, a few articles of clothing are actually more of a necessity than a luxury. Dog sweaters, jackets, or coats can keep your Dachshund warm on cold winter walks. Dog boots keep ice crystals and rock salt from getting between your Dachshund's footpads (they also protect your pet from sharp rocks and hot surfaces on summer hikes). The question is, can you get your dog to wear them? If yours won't, always wipe your Dachshund's paws with a warm cloth or even a baby wipe after winter walks. Even when it isn't snowing, rock salt and ice crystal residue can get between your dog's paws.

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