Preparing for Your Poodle’s Homecoming

Preparing for Your Poodle’s Homecoming

In This Chapter

  • Shopping for your Poodle’s everyday necessities
  • Ensuring that your home is safe for (and from) your Poodle
  • Setting up your Poodle’s special spots
  • Making an appointment with a vet

Bringing home a Poodle is like bringing home a new baby, minus the diapers. You need to make your home safe and to shop for dog beds, toys, dishes, and more. The information in this chapter makes it easy to prepare your home before your Poodle arrives.


The easiest way to shop for supplies is one-stop shopping at a large pet-supply store, but if you’re not buying everything at once, you have other options. Most supermarkets and discount stores have food and water bowls; some have beds and crates as well. The same goes for dog toys, collars, and leads. You can check out online sites for supplies, too, and dog catalogs sell anything and everything.

Outfitting Your Home with Crates, Gates, and Ex-pens

Before your Poodle arrives in his new home, think about where he’ll be spending most of his time. You should have a crate at the ready, and you also may want some baby gates to keep certain rooms off limits. And if you want to give your Poodle some extra space and exercise, an ex-pen provides a little extra stretching room. I cover all three items in the following sections.


You may not want to buy a crate for your Poodle because you look at the bars and think jail. You’re thinking, naturally enough, like a person. A dog, however, looks at a crate and thinks den. The crate provides many benefits from your Poodle’s point of view:

– He sees a cozy and safe place he can turn to.

– He can face the opening to observe what’s going on without worrying about anything approaching him from the back, sides, or top.

– A crate offers a draft-free place to sleep.

– In cooler weather, the crate helps contain his body heat.


Unfortunately, many people misuse crates. A crate should be a temporary quarters, not a permanent home. Crate your Poodle only when you need him temporarily out of the way. You can crate for a few hours when you need to go out (ideally, for no more than four to six hours at a stretch). You also can crate for the night. However, if you plan to routinely leave your dog crated for 8 to 10 hours a day while you work, with no one to give him a break, you should rethink your decision to get a dog.

In the following sections, I describe the various advantages a crate has for you, and I present the different styles of crates for Poodles.

The benefits of crates to owners

I can’t imagine having a dog without a crate. Why? Here are just a few of the reasons:

Crates make housetraining easy. Dogs don’t like to go to the bathroom where they sleep. (See Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive for more about housetraining.)

A crate provides a safe place for your Poodle when you can’t watch him. Crates get your Poodle out of the way when you have company. You also don’t have to worry about someone stepping on your Poodle or giving him a forbidden food. When you leave the house, your Poodle can curl up with a toy; you’ll know that he’s safe and not gnawing on an electric cord.

In the car, a crate keeps your Poodle in one spot — not under the brake pedal, in your lap, or hanging out the window. In case of an accident, your Poodle won’t fly into the windshield or escape through a door into traffic. (Head to Chapter Hitting the Road with Your Poodle for more about traveling with your Poodle.)

People who might not otherwise want you to bring your Poodle to visit may allow it if he’s crated. Crating your Poodle in a motel room ensures that he won’t cause you to get a bill for damages.

Types of crates


Crates come in two basic styles: solid plastic and wire. A third, lesscommon style is a soft mesh crate. Figure 5-1 shows these styles; the following list presents the differences between the three types:

A plastic crate seems more like a den to your Poodle and will protect him against drafts and keep him warmer. If you plan to fly with your Poodle, and he’ll be in cargo, not in the plane’s cabin, you need the solid plastic type of crate. Plastic crates are the safest way for your dog to travel in a vehicle. A disadvantage is that they hold in more heat in summer.

A wire crate allows for more ventilation in summer. A wire crate will most likely have a removable bottom tray, which can make cleanup easier. Also, many wire crates come with a wire panel that makes the crates smaller for puppies; you can remove the panel when the dog is full-grown. The downside of a wire crate is that it never seems very snug to your Poodle.


If you choose a wire crate, consider buying a special crate cover or covering the top and sides of the crate with a blanket or towel. In the summer, you can flip the sides up on a wire crate to allow more air to reach your Poodle.

A mesh crate is an option for frequent travelers. This crate is lightweight and folds compactly; is easy to pack and carry; and allows for quick setup in a motel room. Many dogs do well with these in the short term. People who compete with their dogs in various events find them easy to carry, and they offer good ventilation. They aren’t recommended for car travel, though, because they don’t offer any protection, and they aren’t the best for puppies or for long-term crating, as dogs may try (and succeed) to chew their way out. Also, the bottoms are mesh, so they offer no solid barrier should a puppy have an accident.


If you have a Toy or Miniature Poodle, and you plan to fly with your dog in the cabin, you may consider several brands of carriers designed specifically to fit beneath an airline seat.


A crate must be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around comfortably. It may make sense to your pocketbook to buy the crate your Poodle will need as an adult, but going that route can make housetraining harder. No dog wants to go to the bathroom where he sleeps, but a crate that’s too big may make it possible for him to have a cozy bed at one end and a bathroom at the other. I recommend that you buy or borrow a puppy-sized crate when you first get your Poodle and plan to buy a larger crate later, or buy an adult-sized crate now and insert a divider. 

Figure 5-1: You can corral your Poodle in a variety of crates.


If you have certain places in your home that you want to keep offlimits to your Poodle, baby gates can serve as great barriers to entry. Maybe you have an elegant sitting room with a priceless Oriental rug that you don’t want your Poodle to use as a bathroom. Maybe you own an antique desk that won’t increase in value if it receives a puppy’s teething marks. If you have cats, you may want to keep one room Poodle-free so that your cats can have some privacy. You may have an open staircase, and you don’t want to risk your Poodle taking a tumble.
Whatever your reason for wanting an off-limits area, a baby gate makes it easy to keep your Poodle out of certain spaces. Among the types of gates available are the following (see Figure 5-2):

Metal: Metal gates are sturdy and less apt to be destroyed.

Wood: Wood looks nicer and may blend better with your furnishings, but puppies may find a wood gate the perfect teething tool.

Mesh: Mesh is generally cheaper, but that also means that it’s easier for a dog to destroy.


Most dog-supply stores and catalogs should sell baby gates. Or, you can use a gate made for human babies. You can assemble and break down many types of gates with no tools and no attachments to a doorjamb. Some gates are more permanent; you can open and close them instead of having to step over them. You can even find some gates made for wider or irregular-shaped openings. Prices can run from $30 to $130, depending on the model you need.

Figure 5-2: Gates can keep your Poodle out of rooms and away from staircases.
When you’re scoping out gates, consider the following points:

– If you plan to keep certain rooms off-limits when your Poodle puppy reaches adulthood, make sure you buy gates high enough to keep an adult Poodle from jumping over.

– Consider the material the gate is made of, as I describe earlier.

– Consider the size of the gaps between the bars, if the gate has any. Make sure your Poodle can’t get his head stuck in a gap. Getting stuck could just frighten your Poodle, or it could cause serious injury. Even small gaps can trap a puppy who’s determined to shove through an opening.



An exercise pen, or an ex-pen, is a playpen for your Poodle. An expen isn’t a necessity, but it can be a useful piece of equipment. If you want to corral your Poodle in a small part of the yard, an expen is the way to go. It gives your dog more freedom than a lead, but it still limits where he can roam. You also can use an ex-pen indoors. It can act as a gate across a large opening, or you can use it to fence off part of a room for housetraining purposes, if crate training isn’t practical for you (see Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive for more on training). Most ex-pens run between $40 and $90.

Buying Comfortable Bedding

Dog beds come in dozens of different shapes and sizes and can cost anywhere from $20 to $100. If you want to get really fancy, you can buy a four-poster or a French provincial day bed, which cost even more. The style you pick, for the most part, is up to your personal preference.


Whatever you choose, though, you may want to wait until your Poodle becomes an adult before you buy his “good” bed. Why do I say that? Because puppies have accidents and puppies chew. A puppy can chew an expensive bed to pieces faster than you can imagine. Housetraining is another consideration. Most good beds have some kind of padding that makes them warm and comfy for your dog. If your puppy has an accident, it can take two or three days for the “stuffing” to dry.


To keep your Poodle comfortable, make him a bed of old bath towels and some synthetic fleece. Both items are renewable and inexpensive, and you can machine wash and dry them quickly. For untrained puppies, make a nest of shredded paper. They can burrow into the paper for warmth, but there won’t be the danger of them chewing and swallowing fabric chunks, which can cause intestinal blockage.

After your Poodle gets beyond housetraining and teething (see Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive), or if you’re bringing home an adult Poodle right off the bat, you should enjoy finding the perfect bed for your Poodle. You have many options:

– You can find basic crate pads if you want to keep it simple.

– You can buy bumper pads to cushion the sides of wire crates.

– Some beds are made to fit the corner of a room.

– Some beds have bolster edges to them for dogs who like to sleep with their heads on pillows.


No matter what style bed you buy, you should get one that has a removable cover so that you can launder it regularly without having to wash and dry the filling.

Staying Attached with Collars and Leads

You can find almost as many types of leads (also known as leashes) and collars as you can beds and crates. And as celebrities and socialites have shown you, many people can combine functionality with personal style. However, you shouldn’t invest a fortune in a rhinestone-studded collar-leash combo until your Poodle puppy is fully grown. Starting out with a basic model is the way to go. In the following sections, I discuss the different types of collars and leads you can buy and when you should buy them. Chapter Housetraining Made Easy has the full details on fitting different collars and leads on your Poodle and using these items in training.

Shopping for collars

A collar is necessary for your dog so you can control him. A hand or a lead on a collar lets you guide your dog or restrain him. The type of collar you buy depends on how old your Poodle is, how you plan to train your dog, and personal preference. For a Poodle puppy, you should find a basic puppy collar that you won’t mind replacing as he grows. Puppy collars are just like “big dog” collars except that they are thinner, lighter, and smaller. Many nylon puppy collars allow you to push the tongue of the buckle through the fabric at any point so you can increase the size of the collar as your Poodle grows. Another choice is an adjustable collar with a quick-release fastener that makes it easy to get the collar off should it catch on something.


When your Poodle enters adulthood (around one year of age), you can consider any of the following collars (see Figure 5-3 for a sampling):

Flat buckle collars: Typically, these collars are made of leather or nylon. Fancy ones may be made of velvet, decorated with rhinestones.

Martingale collars: These join the larger collar with a smaller loop that connects the ends of the larger part. Martingale collars can be tightened, but only to the size of the larger loop. You also can find Martingale collars that have a section that pulls out and acts as a handle. The advantage of these collars is that they can’t choke your dog, yet they’ll tighten so that the dog can’t pull out of the collar. You can’t leave a Martingale collar on all the time because the smaller loop can easily snag on things, or a dog can catch a leg in it and be injured.

Prong collars: These collars have metal prongs that face inward and pinch the dog’s neck when it’s tightened. They’re typically used on large, strong dogs to keep control; they’re not a “general use” collar.

Training collars: You don’t want to get a training collar until your puppy is at least 6 months old because there is a risk of harming a younger dog whose muscles and bones are still forming.


With the exception of a buckle collar, you should never leave any kind of collar on your Poodle when he’s unattended. Collars with attachments can catch on objects and injure or kill your dog.

Figure 5-3: An adult Poodle can wear one of several different kinds of collars (or one of each!).
Many dog owners prefer a harness to a collar. Because many small dogs may have sensitive tracheas, a harness replaces a collar that could press on and injure the trachea.


But don’t use a regular walking harness with a car seatbelt. This type of harness isn’t strong enough to restrain a dog in an accident. Use only a harness specifically designed for car travel, and make sure that it’s correctly adjusted to the dog and fastened to the seatbelt. Figure 5-4 shows this setup.


I recommend collars over harnesses for walking around. A harness gives you no control over your Poodle and makes it easier for your dog to pull you down the street during a walk. If you’re training your Poodle for a competitive event like tracking, weight pulling, skijoring, or sled pulling, get a harness appropriate for that specific activity. Otherwise, stick with a collar.

Figure 5-4: Toy and Mini Poodles may be comfortable in harnesses.

Looking at leads

You need a lead (also known as a leash) right away so you can take your Poodle puppy out into the yard, and a lead will come in handy throughout your Poodle’s life — from training (see Chapter Housetraining Made Easy) to the golden years of leisurely strolls. You have a few considerations when finding a lead for your Poodle:

Length: A six-foot lead is a good length, no matter the Poodle’s age.

Weight: Buy a weight that suits the Poodle you have. Heavier isn’t necessarily better, but a quarter-inch-wide nylon lead that restrains your puppy may be too light for a Standard Poodle. A lead of 3⁄4 inch is nice for a Standard and not too bulky to hold.

Material and color: You can purchase nylon leads in assorted colors, which frequently have matching collars. You also may find leads made of cotton, and leather is always a good choice. I like leather because it’s flexible and feels good in my hand when I take my dogs for walks. It also lasts a long time.


Avoid plastic leads, which have a tendency to crack and break. You also should avoid chain leads. The only way to hold a chain lead comfortably is by grabbing the loop at the end, and many times you need to actually grab the lead itself. Grabbing a chain is uncomfortable, and if your Poodle happens to lunge forward, he’ll pull the chain across your hand. Hello, first-aid kit!

Another type of lead you may consider is a retractable lead. This lead consists of a thin, light black line contained in a plastic holder with a handgrip. With this model, you get from 10 to 30 feet of lead. If you walk your Poodle in a wide-open space, a retractable lead is great for allowing him more freedom, and it can give him more exercise. However, a retractable lead isn’t as good for a stroll around the block. It doesn’t give you as much control as the other models, and it can get tangled in brush, around a mailbox, or around trees. Don’t use a retractable lead with a puppy, who can get easily tangled in the cord. It isn’t for training, either.


If you opt for a retractable lead, make sure you know your surroundings, and be careful. If you’re crossing the street with your Poodle ahead of you by 15 feet or so, you’re putting your dog in danger of being hit by a car.

Securing Proper ID for Your Poodle


It doesn’t matter how carefully you watch your Poodle, accidents can happen. You may not latch a gate properly, or you may leave a door open a second too long. Bang! Your Poodle is on the loose. You can do your part to help him get back home by outfitting him with proper identification. Your options include the following:

Have a tag made for your Poodle’s collar that features your phone number and any other information you may want to include. The tag is visible and easy to use. One drawback is that a collar can come off or be removed if someone steals your dog (a worst-case scenario). Most veterinarian offices sell them, as well as animal shelters. Dog shows and carnivals frequently have booths that make up tags as you wait. Tags generally cost less than $5.

Get your Poodle some ink. Some breeders tattoo all their puppies for ID purposes. If yours didn’t, you may choose to have your Poodle tattooed with his registration number or a phone number (a vet can tattoo your dog). Tattoos usually appear on the inner thigh or on the inside of the flap. The advantage to a tattoo is that it’s permanent; the problem with ID tattoos is that they can stretch and fade as a dog grows, and they can be covered by hair. Costs range from $25 to $55.

Talk to your vet about getting a microchip. A microchip is a small tracking device, about the size of a grain of rice, that a vet implants between your Poodle’s shoulder blades. A scanner can read the information on the chip, which allows vets or shelter workers to contact a particular microchip’s registry. The registry, in turn, contacts you. A microchip has an advantage over other forms of ID because it will always be a part of your Poodle; it never fades, and it won’t get lost. A chip costs between $40 and $50.

Check out Chapter Hitting the Road with Your Poodle for more information on carrying proper ID when you travel with your Poodle.

Beautifying Your Poodle with the Right Grooming Tools

While you’re out shopping for Poodle essentials for your new pal’s homecoming, you can’t forget grooming supplies. Grooming is an important part of Poodle ownership. Even if you plan to hire a groomer to keep your Poodle looking good, you still need to do some basic grooming between appointments (see Chapter Providing Your Poodle with a Nutritious Diet for the full scoop on grooming).

Hair care

For starters, you should pick up a comb and a slicker brush. (A slicker brush has a rubber base, and thin metal wires bent at an angle near the tip are set into it.) Brushes cost between $5 and $30, depending on size and quality. Spend between $10 and $15, and you should be fine.
If you plan to shave your puppy’s feet and face, you should talk to your breeder about the proper clipper and the types of blades you need (see Chapter Providing Your Poodle with a Nutritious Diet for details).

Nail care

You also need to trim your Poodle’s nails. Nail clippers come in several sizes, so you should buy the clippers best suited for your Toy, Miniature, or Standard Poodle. They run in price from $8 to $15. Here are several types of clippers:

– The guillotine type, with a blade that slides across and slices the nail

– Clippers that squeeze together to cut the nail

– Clippers that have small, rounded cutting blades and that cut scissor style


An alternative to nail clipping is grinding the nails. A grinding tool (which costs between $50 and $65) has a wheel that rotates at a high speed to grind away excess nail. Many dogs that fight ordinary clipping happily (or at least willingly) accept grinding. Used frequently, grinders have the advantage of causing the “quick” of the nail to recede so that the nails can be kept shorter.

If clipping and grinding prove too difficult, you can try to just file the nails. Check out all sorts of nail tools — including clippers, grinders, and files — in Figure 5-5.

Self-grooming considerations

Along with a brush, comb, hair clippers, and nail clippers, you may want to think about investing in a grooming table. A grooming table saves strain on your back, and your Poodle may be less apt to fight the grooming process if you have a special table he’s used to. Most grooming tables fold up, like a card table, so you can store them easily between grooming sessions. A grooming table, depending on the size of your Poodle, costs between $100 and $150.
If you’re doing all your bathing at home, consider investing in a doggy hair dryer. Dryers can cost as little as $50 to as much as $500 for a large floor model. See Figure 5-6 for an example of a grooming table and dryer.
Figure 5-5: Different tools keep your Poodle’s nails neat and pretty.
Figure 5-6: A grooming table and dryer can be handy if you plan to groom your Poodle yourself.

Savoring the Details of Food and Bowls

Before you bring home your Poodle, you need to pick up a supply of whatever food your breeder fed the puppy, along with the necessary feeding and drinking tools: bowls. A breeder may be courteous enough to give you a few days’ worth of food, but whether she does or not, you shouldn’t change the dog’s food right away. He’s experiencing enough change without having to digest different food. (See Chapter Making a Match with a Poodle for full details on food.)
When you have the food in tow, you can turn your attention to what to put it in. Bowls for food and water come in plenty of different shapes and materials:

– Plastic bowls probably have the most variety when it comes to shapes and colors, and plastic has the advantage of being virtually unbreakable. However, it may be harder to clean plastic, and a dog can develop acne from rubbing his chin on the plastic when eating. Plastic bowls cost between $5 and $10.

– Ceramic bowls are heavy, so they prevent easy tipping when your Poodle goes to dine. Many of these bowls come in bright colors and have fun doggy designs on them. The disadvantage of a ceramic bowl is that it’s breakable. These bowls cost between $5 and $10 or, for a really fancy bowl, up to around $25.


If you choose ceramic bowls for your Poodle, make sure the glaze on them is lead-free; otherwise, your Poodle can get lead poisoning and become ill, or even die.

– Stainless-steel bowls are unbreakable and easy to clean. Some come with rubber bases that prevent tipping, and some are made deeper and with smaller openings to help keep doggy ears from dragging through food or water. These bowls cost between $2 and $15, depending on size and whether you get a bowl with a rubber nonskid bottom.


Whatever your choice of dishes for your Poodle, make sure you wash them after every meal. Just because your Poodle polishes a food bowl with his tongue doesn’t make it clean. Wash water bowls daily, too. Wash bowls with soap and water, or put them in your dishwasher. 

Getting the Scoop on Cleanup Tools

What goes in must come out, so think about waste management as you shop for your new pet. Invest in pooper-scoopers. These tools are generally made of metal and have large pans at the end of their long handles and a shovel or rake arrangement at the other end. A pooper-scooper makes cleanup easy on you and keeps your living area looking and smelling nice; it costs between $25 and $30.
Of course, after you scoop, you need somewhere to put the waste. Consider lining a small trash can with a garbage bag and keeping this can out of your home! If you’re ambitious, you can install a doggy septic tank in your yard with just a bit of digging. Dig a hole deep enough for the unit (about two feet). The top sticks up above the ground and is covered with a lid. Simply scoop the waste and drop it in. The drawback to a doggy septic tank is that you can’t use it if your ground freezes solid in the winter. Doggy septic tanks cost between $40 and $75.
You need to be a responsible pet owner and pick up after your Poodle on walks, too. For Toys and Miniature Poodles, plastic sandwich bags work well. If you have a Standard Poodle, you need to graduate to a larger bag. You can save money and recycle by using plastic grocery bags, bread bags, or newspaper bags. (If you decide to use second-hand bags for cleanup duty, make sure they don’t have any holes in them — for obvious reasons!) You also can buy special bags for walks at many pet-supply stores. Some come in containers that clip onto your lead, and some are opaque and have easy-to-tie handles.


If you’re a bit squeamish about picking up your Poodle’s messes with a bag, you can purchase a small, heavy-duty cardboard cleanup kit. You use the box portion of the kit to pick up, and then you seal it and toss it. If you don’t think you can clean up after your dog at all, you should think about getting tropical fish rather than a dog. Responsible dog owners are good neighbors; they clean up after their dogs.

Check out Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive for more details about the housetraining process.

Finding Toys for Toys (And, Yes, Miniatures and Standards)

The best part of a Poodle-shopping spree is arriving at the toy aisle. Dozens of wonderful toys are on the market for your dog. You can buy cuddly, fluffy toys, latex squeaky toys, flying discs, balls, chew toys, rope toys, and more. You also can make toys out of items you have around the house. In the following sections, I set you up with a few toy guidelines and describe a variety of toys that you can buy (and make!) for your Poodle.

Following a few toy guidelines


Different dogs enjoy different toys. Your Poodle may adore stuffed toys and ignore hard rubber ones. Or maybe your Poodle is a fool for any kind of ball. Consider the following when picking out toys:

Make sure the size of the toy fits the size of your Poodle. A ball that’s just right for a Toy, for instance, may be small enough for a Standard to swallow, and a swallowed ball can mean surgery. On the flip side, a ball that suits a Standard is no fun at all for a Toy who can’t pick it up.

Watch your Poodle with toys. You won’t know what kind of toys work best for your dog until you try them. Experiment to find out what’s safe and fun for your Poodle.

Consider unstuffed toys if your Poodle likes to be destructive. Manufacturers seem to be aware of the destructive powers of dogs, so many produce unstuffed toys. These toys still have squeakers, and dogs still rip them open, but at least you won’t have to contend with the stuffing.

Gnawing on chew toys

Dogs love to chew, and you’ll love it when the objects of your Poodle’s affection aren’t pieces of furniture or shoes. Chew toys come in many forms, including the following:

Ropes: Thick rope toys can be both chew toys and tug toys, providing endless entertainment for your Poodle. Supervise your Poodle’s chewing so that he doesn’t swallow chunks of rope. And if you want to play tug with your Poodle, be gentle so you don’t hurt his jaw. With older dogs, stop if the game gets too rough. Some handlers advise that you never play tug with your dog, because it encourages aggression, but others say that the practice isn’t a problem if you control the game.


Teach your Poodle the “Leave it!” or “Drop it!” command with a toy like a rope. When you give the command, he must drop whatever he has in his mouth. During play, give him the command. When he drops the rope, tell him that he’s a good dog, and then offer the toy again. If the game gets too wild, stop it and move on to something else. (See Chapter Housetraining Made Easy for more about commands.)

Food-stuffed toys: Some chew toys fall between being toys and being food. You can find several toys on the market that allow you to stuff them with food. These toys make wonderful chews for when you leave your Poodle alone. Some toys dispense bits of kibble or biscuits as your Poodle plays with them, giving him something to think about.


Rawhides: Dogs love rawhides, but you need to be careful with these chews. Some dogs swallow chunks of rawhide and end up with impacted bowels. Even a dog who seems to be thoroughly chewing a rawhide can end up with lumps of indigestible material in his stomach. You may be able to pinpoint this if he vomits the material. I give my dogs rawhides sparingly and usually in the form of “bones” made of shredded rawhide; this eliminates the danger of my dogs swallowing large clumps. Always supervise any rawhide treat.


Animal hooves: Dogs love to chew on cow hooves, but stand warned that cow hooves smell terrible and can crack your Poodle’s teeth. Swallowed chunks can cause intestinal blockage.

Rollicking with retrieving toys

Most Poodles love to retrieve, so retrieving toys like balls make good exercise tools. If you own a Toy or a Mini, you may enjoy a game of indoor fetch, so tennis balls are good toy choices. Tennis balls, indoors or out, make good, inexpensive toys. If you live near a tennis court, you may even be able to get used ones for free!
Dogs also enjoy batting and pushing larger balls, like basketballs or beach balls, even though traditional fetch isn’t an option.


A ball that is too big is better than one that is too small. It’s easy for a dog to swallow a ball, which can end in tragedy.

Another favorite retrieving toy of the Poodle is the flying disc. Besides the hard plastic versions, there are soft discs made of fabric stretched around a stiff rim. Others may have pieces of rope or a bone shape attached for easy grasping by your dog. Just remember to start out a disc game gradually. Keep the disc low so your Poodle doesn’t get hurt leaping and twisting.

Settling on squeaky toys

Dogs love squeaky toys because that squeaky noise sounds like prey. It excites them and makes them want to attack and “kill” the toy. These toys come in latex or stuffed form. Your Poodle may enjoy a latex squeaky toy for its noise-making ability and chewiness. Many dogs eventually chew bits off of latex toys, but these small bits pass harmlessly through their systems. Just make sure that the toy you purchase is large enough that your Poodle can’t swallow it whole.

Getting creative with homemade toys


You don’t have to buy all your Poodle’s toys. You can utilize items around your house to make toys that your Poodle will love (under your supervision, of course). The following list presents some ideas:

– Open up a paper bag and put it on the floor. Cats aren’t the only animals that enjoy the rustle of a bag.

– Toss your Poodle the cardboard from the center of a roll of paper towels or toilet paper.

– Let your Poodle bat around a plastic milk carton. You can put a few beans or some dried corn inside so the toy makes an interesting noise. Just make sure you supervise his play.

– Give your Poodle a whole carrot and watch him play with it and gnaw on it.

– Tie multiple knots in an old sock and let your Poodle go wild. You also can stuff a tennis ball in a sock and then knot it. If your puppy is teething, wet the toy and freeze it. You also can wet and freeze an old washcloth and let your puppy chew on that.


Don’t be afraid that using a sock as a chew toy will teach a puppy that chewing on clothing is acceptable. A puppy will chew on just about anything you leave lying around, whether he’s seen the item before or not!

Poodle-Proofing Your Home

Take time to protect your Poodle from himself. Dogs don’t have hands, so they use their mouths to explore their world, which can get them into trouble. In the following sections, I show you how to keep your Poodle safe inside and outside your home.

On the inside


Puppies are like toddlers: They want to put every object in their mouths, they’re faster than they look, and they get into places that seem impossible for them to enter. So, before your Poodle walks through the doors of his new home, you need to take the time to puppy-proof each room. Follow these guidelines:

– Electrical cords are real threats to your Poodle’s safety, so try to use the shortest cords possible. Tuck them behind nearby furniture, or hide them under pieces of carpeting if possible. If you have a cluster of cords, you can run them through a length of PVC pipe to keep them hidden from puppy teeth. Still, nothing works 100 percent. Supervise your Poodle when he’s around electrical cords.

– Make it a habit to keep closet doors closed, and don’t leave shoes, socks, or other articles of clothing on the floor.

– If you want certain rooms or stairways to be off-limits to your Poodle, practice keeping the doors to the rooms shut or get baby gates for the entryways (I discuss gates earlier in this chapter).

– If you have stair, landing, or balcony railings, be sure you’re your Poodle can’t get even his head through them. Building codes require them to be narrow enough to protect human infants and toddlers, but puppies are smaller. To keep your Poodle safe, cover railings with wire or fabric mesh, and supervise closely. If your Poodle is a Toy or small Miniature, you may need to leave these coverings up permanently.

– If you have rugs with fringe edges, you may want to store them away until your Poodle hits adulthood and is beyond his chewing stage. Dogs don’t mind chewing on books in a bookcase, either, so put your treasured volumes high on the shelves. Keep valuable furniture in a room that’s off-limits to your Poodle, or store it where he can’t find it.

– Keep trashcans covered or out of reach. Make sure that houseplants aren’t at puppy level so they don’t provide a salad (and some houseplants are poisonous — see “Being mindful of particular plants,” later in the chapter), and that household cleaning supplies are safely locked away.

Out in the yard

A fenced-in yard is ideal for dog ownership. You and your Poodle have the freedom to run and play without worrying about traffic or your Poodle running off to explore.
You need to make sure that your yard, fenced or not, is free from dangerous plant materials. I go over the details of fencing and removing plants in the following sections.


You can have a Poodle without a fenced yard, but it means never letting him off lead, unless you’re in a fenced area, like a dog park. Just like a mail carrier works in all kinds of weather, you’ll need to go out with your Poodle each and every time he goes out, though rain, snow, sleet, and gloom of night.

Examining an existing fence


If your yard is fenced and begging for you and your Poodle to use it as a playpen, give it a thorough check before your puppy arrives:

– Make sure you can’t find any gaps or holes. Dogs can wiggle through amazingly small spaces, so, when in doubt, close the gap. Depending on the hole’s location, put another piece of fencing over the hole, put a cinder block in front of it, or pull its edges together and wire it closed.

– Make sure you can’t find any sharp bits of wire or wood sticking out that could hurt your Poodle. Bend bits of wire back on itself and wrap tape around sharp points. Remove and replace jagged pieces of wood, or plane them smooth.

– Check wire fencing to see whether the openings are large enough for a puppy to get through. On the other hand, are the openings small enough to prevent a puppy from getting his head stuck? You may have to replace the fence if its openings are either too large or too small.

– Make sure the fence is tall enough. Almost any fence can keep a puppy enclosed, but when your Poodle grows up, will your fence contain him? You want to keep other dogs out as well. Four feet tall is good, and five feet is better.

– Check gaps around gates; if any of them are wide enough for your Poodle’s head, fasten stiff wire to the edge of the gate so that it will cover the opening when the gate is closed.

Putting up a new fence

If your yard isn’t fenced in, but you want it to be, you have several choices of material you can use:

Wire: Chain link is strong and lasts a long time without much maintenance. However, you and everyone else can see through any kind of wire fence. If you have neighbors and a lot of backyard activity, will your Poodle bark at them? If a dog roams your neighbor’s yard, will he and your Poodle bark and forth? Also, children on the other side of the fence may poke objects through that you might not want your Poodle to have.


If you decide to erect a wire fence, you also may want to consider planting various bushes and shrubs along the fence line to give your yard more privacy.

Solid fencing: This type of fencing cuts down on distractions . . . and barking. Wooden stockade fences are relatively inexpensive, but they need painting or staining regularly. PVC fencing is more expensive, but it requires little maintenance and looks very nice.

If you choose PVC fencing and want to have a gate, make sure you install the gate so that the gap between the gate and the ground is too small for your Poodle to escape.


No matter what material you choose for your fence, make sure you consider other factors besides your Poodle. For instance, the height of your fence shouldn’t be based solely on keeping your dog in. You also need to keep other dogs out. Consider installing at least a 4-foot fence. Five feet is even better, and you may even want six.

Some people just don’t like the looks of any kind of fence. If you share this opinion, you may want to install an electronic fence. This device relies on a buried wire and a special collar for your dog. As your Poodle approaches the boundary set by the buried wire while wearing his collar, he hears a warning sound. If he continues, he receives a shock. With an electric fence, your dog needs training. Any reputable firm that installs electric fences should also work with you to teach your Poodle the boundaries. If a company you’re considering doesn’t offer this training, find another company.


The drawback to an electric fence is that, although it keeps your dog in, it doesn’t keep out other animals or people. Some dogs get so excited when they see animals or people that they cross the boundary in spite of the shock and then may be unwilling to cross the boundary again to return home.

In addition, some local leash laws don’t accept electronic fences as meeting the requirements for canine restraint, so check your local ordinance before buying such a fence.
Before you install any fence, check with your municipality. There may be rules about height, materials, and distance from neighboring properties, and you may need a building permit.

Being mindful of particular plants

Whether your yard is fenced or open to the world, you should take the time to examine the plants in your yard. Many plants and plant materials are poisonous to dogs, although some are more of a problem than others. The following list outlines some dangers to your Poodle:

– Apple seeds contain cyanide, although your Poodle would have to eat an awful lot of apples to be in danger.

– Iris, tulip, and daffodil bulbs are poisonous to dogs. These bulbs are underground, though, so the risk is slight.


If your Poodle enjoys digging, monitor where he digs. Don’t leave him in the yard unattended.

– English ivy is poisonous, as are phododendron, holly, and elderberry. And don’t forget poison ivy, which is nobody’s friend!

– Oleander — its flowers, leaves, and stems — is very poisonous.

– If you have borders and you use mulch to contain weeds, avoid using cocoa mulch. It smells great, but it isn’t a good choice for dog owners. Cocoa mulch is made from cacao bean shells and contains theobromine and caffeine — the same ingredients that make chocolate harmful to a dog. If your Poodle eats cocoa mulch, he may get an upset stomach or, depending on the quantity eaten, he may become very ill.

– Mushrooms can be fatal. Remove any fungus growing in your yard. If your Poodle eats a mushroom, take him to your vet immediately, along with a sample of the mushroom.


If your Poodle ever becomes ill after chewing or eating any plant material, take him to the vet immediately, and be sure to take a sample of the plant with you to be identified; the treatment may depend on what caused the illness.


Each area of the country has its own toxic plants. Check with your local nursery to find out what plants are safe for dogs.

Choosing Special Spaces for Your Poodle

Dogs are creatures of habit, which works to your advantage. You can create special spaces for where you want your Poodle to do his essential duties: eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. After you begin teaching, your dog will soon learn where his special places are, or he may even make his own with your help. You should decide before your Poodle arrives what spaces in your home will work best as dog spaces. In the following sections, I show you how to select your Poodle’s eating, sleeping, and potty spots. Check out Chapter Preparing for Your Poodle’s Homecoming for details on introducing these spots to your Poodle.


Selecting special spaces doesn’t mean your Poodle can’t use other places in and around the house. Poodles want, and need, to be with their families. Teaching a spot just means that if you choose your bedroom or a plush bed in the family room as your dog’s sleeping spot, he’ll be less apt to decide the sofa suits him best.

The eating spot

Many families feed the family dog in the kitchen. The location is convenient, and the floor (commonly tile or hardwood) can take any spills. Your Poodle’s eating spot doesn’t have to be fancy or take up much space. Your Poodle doesn’t need candles, flowers, or a linen napkin. He just needs enough room for his food dish and his water bowl (see the earlier section “Savoring the Details of Food and Bowls”). You can put the dishes on a doggy placemat to catch spills and to prevent the dishes from scooting around on the floor.
Wherever you want to feed your dog, make sure you’re consistent. If you are, at mealtime, you’ll find your Poodle waiting at his eating spot.

The sleeping spot


For your Poodle’s sleeping area, you want a draft-free spot that’s out of the main traffic pattern of the house. One of the best places for your Poodle’s sleeping spot is your bedroom. You may want him to sleep in his crate or on a bed in the corner, but simply letting your Poodle sleep with you near gives him eight hours in your presence.

If you prefer your dog to sleep out of your bedroom, give him a good bed or a comfortable crate, and put him to bed in his draftfree spot each night. If you’re consistent, he’ll soon get figure out that he has his own sleeping spot. When I tell my dogs that it’s bedtime, they dash for their crates and for the goodnight biscuits they know they’ll get!

The potty spot

Your Poodle’s potty spot should be outside if possible, which will take a bit of training on your part. The key is consistency. Use the same door all the time for going out, and try to return to the same location in your yard. Your Poodle’s nose will tell him that he’s gone in that spot before.
If you have a Toy or a Mini and you live in an apartment, you may decide to litter train your Poodle. In this case, the same rules apply. Take your Poodle to his litter box on a regular basis. When you clean up his box, leave a bit of dirty litter to remind your Poodle what the box is for.
Even if you want to use paper training or housetraining pads, the same techniques apply. Just keep the box or papers in the same spot in your home. Good locations are utility rooms and bathrooms. Don’t decide after a week that the potty spot should be in a different location. Decide on a good spot and leave the training tools there permanently.
Check out Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive for full details on housetraining.

Scheduling a Checkup with Your Vet

One important task you should complete before you welcome your Poodle home is to make an appointment with a veterinarian. It may or may not be time for your Poodle to have a booster shot, but you should get your puppy a physical as soon as possible. If he has some minor health issue, the sooner you treat it, the better.


If you have a contract with your breeder that says your breeder will take back the puppy if he has a serious health problem, have a vet check your puppy within the window of time specified in the contract. See Chapter Deciding Whether a Poodle Is Right for You for more information about breeder contracts.

If you already have a family vet, you know whom you’ll go to see. Otherwise, try to get a recommendation from a friend, or choose a vet you’ve already checked out. You may decide to switch vets down the line, but for now, don’t delay in getting your puppy looked at. Chapter Taking Basic Care of Your Poodle’s Health has full details on selecting and visiting a vet.
by Susan M.Ewing