1. Crate. Your fully grown Cavalier will need a “Medium” size crate approximately 24 inches long x 18 wide x 21 inches high. It is advantageous to purchase a crate with a panel included to section off the crate so it is smaller at first. Another option is to also purchase a smaller crate for the puppy stage. A full size crate leaves the small puppy too much room for accidents. You’ll want to bring a crate or travel bag for the puppy with you to pick him up. Dogs need to ride in a “carseat” in cars, just like children. A crate offers them some protection. This wire crate is our favorite. If you prefer an airline-approved plastic crate, a 200 Vari Kennel is the correct size for your adult Cavalier, and this is a good, sturdy brand. Plastic crates should be held together with metal bolts not plastic clips. We prefer a wire crate at home, to give the dog more visibility and ventilation and a plastic crate in the car to offer more protection. We use a small or medium Rough Tough Kennel crate in the car, because they offer crash protection.
If you will be flying with your Cavalier as a carry-on, you’ll need a Sherpa Bag. We advise new families flying to pick up their puppy to have the bag shipped straight to us. We introduce the puppy to the new bag several days early, so it will be comfortable and familiar. A large Sherpa bag will last through adulthood. If you’re sure you’ll only travel with your puppy one time, order the medium size.
2. Crate pad/bedding to fit the crate. We recommend having at least two so they can be washed frequently. 23×18 is good. We like this crate pad. I will provide you with a small blanket that smells like home and mom.
3. Stainless steel food and water dishes. We prefer stainless because it can be sanitized in the dishwasher. We recommend having at least two sets so that they can be washed frequently. These bowls with rubber no-skid bottoms are great and have held up well for us. If you want to spoil your new Cavalier baby, nothing beats a hand thrown Spaniel Bowl for protecting their ears. These are all we will use for water, and they last forever.
4. Small Collar and leash. We recommend embroidered collars because often when dogs get loose, they lose their ID tags in the process. An embroidered collar can have your phone number right on it, and if purchased online, costs about the same as a plain collar in a pet store. Be sure to get a leash without a large buckle that might hit the puppy in the face and cause leash anxiety.
5. Engraved Tag. We highly recommend flat collar tags from boomerangtags.com. These tags last forever and are deeply engraved on stainless steel instead of lightly engraved on aluminum or plastic like the ones in the pet stores. Flat tags don’t jingle, don’t fall off, and can’t catch on something causing a strangulation danger.
6. Toys. We give raw carrots for teething and chewing. The specialist who cleans our dogs’ teeth recommends “Bully Sticks” as the only safe chew that actually cleans teeth. The best price we’ve found is at Costco. We also like elk antlers, rope bones, fleece ropes and various squeaky toys. Cavaliers seem to love things that squeak. We are careful to watch our dogs and throw away any toys that start to fall apart. We tend to buy seasonal puppy and dog toys at pet stores on clearance after holidays.
7. Safety gate. If you have stairs, you may consider getting a gate to block them off while the puppy is too young to understand heights. We’ve heard of far too many tragic stories of small puppies running straight through stair railings. We love metal gates and play yards by North States, because they are very strong and sturdy. You want a gate without any horizontal bars or diamond shapes that little paws could use to climb.
8. Grooming supplies. You’ll want a small pin brush, comb and slicker brush. Our show dogs get brushed daily to prevent mattes, but your pet can probably be brushed weekly. We like the Isle of Dogs line of shampoos and conditioners. If you prefer to buy something in a pet store, we recommend choosing a natural product that is dye and fragrance free to hopefully prevent any allergy issues. We bathe weekly to maintain show coat, but you can probably bathe monthly unless the dog gets dirty, of course. You’ll also want a tool for clipping nails. We prefer to use scissor style clippers from Millers Forge. Ask your vet to show you where to clip.
9. Waste bags for walks. There are many options, but cheap sandwich bags from the grocery store work well.
10. Food. We are feeding the puppy Orijen Puppy. It is a high quality, natural grain-free food that is corn, wheat, soy and by-product free and available at PetCo or PetSmart. I will provide you with a small bag of the food. If you choose to feed something else, please mix the two foods together and switch over slowly. It is best to always feed a food that is corn, wheat, soy, and by-product free as these ingredients can quickly cause health problems in Cavaliers.
11. Books. We recommend a wonderful book by Jane Killion, author of “Puppy Culture” called “When Pigs Fly”. This book is not just for difficult dogs and continues the clicker training, positive reinforcement training style we have started your puppy out with. We find many of the popular fad training books written by television personalities to contain too harsh an approach for Cavaliers.
There are many great books specifically about Cavaliers. There are also many awful books full of misinformation. The best but also the most expensive is “Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in Fact and Fancy” by Barbara Garnett-Wilson. This book is cheapest when purchased directly from the author: http://www.laughingcavaliers.com/in-fact-and-fancy.htm If you can find a used copy online, we also love “Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Today” by Sheila Smith. This gem is unfortunately out of print.
Our favorite Cavalier King Charles Spaniel magazine is “Royal Spaniels”. Packed full of beautiful high-resolution photographs, this quarterly periodical is a true delight.
12 Exercise Pen. It’s certainly optional, but it really helps to have an exercise pen. You can use it for the lifetime of the dog, if you ever travel and need to set up a place for him to safely potty off leash. I have this one and love it: http://amzn.com/B00063KG0K . 30″ tall with a door will be all you’ll ever need, though I wouldn’t leave an adult dog unattended in one. If you do have an exercise pen, you can keep the puppy in it when he isn’t being actively watched or if you have to leave for hours at a time. In it, he can have room to move around, a bed, food & water, and a puppy pad to potty on.
13. Training Treats. It is not necessary to waste money on unhealthy commercial treats full of preservatives and junk ingredients. Try bits of sliced or string cheese or diced, cooked chicken breast. Dried liver is good when you don’t have access to a fridge. We also use Natural Balance food rolls sliced, frozen, then diced into small pieces. Your dog and his waistline will love you for it.
14. Puppy Training Class Contact your local AKC Cavalier Specialty Club and ask about recommended trainers in your area. Look for local small businesses or independent trainers who have a lot of experience and knowledge. Classes that take place in a pet store are often a waste of money, time and germs. Our trainer recommends the APDT website as the best place to begin your search for a positive reinforcement trainer.