Welcoming a new puppy is an exciting step in expanding your family. But as exciting as it is, it’s also a big responsibility and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You need to have all the right gear on hand before you bring your new puppy home.
While bringing a puppy home doesn’t require quite as much gear as what you might need when you bring home an infant, there are some similarities. You’ll need puppy-specific food, bathing items, bedding, safety and first aid items — the list goes on.
But don’t feel overwhelmed! This exciting time in your life can still be an enjoyable one.
All you need to do is follow our handy new puppy checklist with these 31 must-have items.
Puppy Food and Treats
First things first, your puppy will need the right kinds of food and treats. You want to look for a dog food that’s specifically made for puppies, as puppies have certain nutritional needs that differ from those of adult dogs.
Whether you adopt a puppy or purchase from a breeder, you want to check what your puppy has been eating up to this point. If you suddenly switch them to a brand-new puppy food, you may end up with a mildly sick puppy. Your vet may also recommend food based on your puppy’s individual needs, according to their breed, size and any health concerns.
Don’t skimp when it comes to buying food, either! Puppies may eat up to three times per day.
Keep your dry dog food fresh in a sealed container. There’s no need to buy a specialty product; you can easily use any air-tight container. Add a handy scoop to the container, and feeding time becomes easy and convenient.
You want to similarly take your treat purchases seriously. Go for treats designed with puppies in mind, again, and look for a treat that’s healthful, rather than calorie-laden.
You may want to buy several types of treats at first, to see which kinds your puppy likes best (soft vs. crunchy, bones vs. bacon, etc.). The right puppy treat can make all the difference when it comes to training your pup, too — getting Fido to sit properly will go a lot further, a lot faster, when he knows there’s a yummy snack in it for him.
You’ll also need something to put your dog’s food into. Purchase two dog bowls for home use (many pet parents prefer stainless steel food bowls for easy cleaning), one for food and one for water, and then an additional set of travel dog bowls, for use anytime you take your dog in the car, on a hike or on a trip. Most travel water bowls are collapsible and durable for added convenience.
A bowl mat will give your puppy’s dishes their own designated space in your home, and can additionally be aesthetically pleasing. Go with an easy-clean, non-slip option.
When it comes to choosing bowls, you may want to start out with smaller bowls that fit your new dog’s smaller size and smaller quantities of food, with the intention of sizing up as they get older. If you have a large breed of dog, you may also want to plan on purchasing a food stand at some point, making it easier for larger dogs to reach their food without having to bend so low to the ground.
A Space of Their Own
A dog crate is a must for most dog owners, especially if you leave the house for work during the day, or if you travel and want to take your dog along with you.
A dog crate should be just large enough for your dog to turn around and lie down. If you purchase an overly large dog crate, you may find that some puppies use the extra space as their personal bathroom — not exactly something you want to clean up.
If you have a large breed of dog and you anticipate needing a larger crate at some point, it is possible to purchase a crate with dividers, so you can buy one crate and then adjust the interior size as your puppy grows.
You’ll also want a dog bed. Look for a dog bed that’s easy to clean, provides the right amount of support for your dog’s size and is non-slip.
Some puppy owners may additionally need baby gates to keep the new puppy in or out of certain areas of the home.
On the Go Gear
Whether you have a backyard or not, these items are necessities for your dog, both anytime you leave your home and just for their own safety.
Go with an adjustable collar for your puppy so that you don’t need to buy a new collar every time your puppy grows a size. Look for something sturdy, that will stand up to your pup’s strength as they grow, too.
A comfortable collar will be tight enough that your puppy can’t pull it over their head, but loose enough that you should be able to slip two fingers between the collar and your puppy’s neck.
When purchasing a leash, you similarly want to look for something sturdy and strong enough to stand up to your pup’s growing strength over time. While smaller, thinner leashes may work well for small breeds, larger breeds may require stronger, thicker leashes.
ID tags are a must for keeping your puppy safe in the event of an accidental escape. Look for an ID tag that can be easily read and that won’t deteriorate over time. Your ID tag should include your puppy’s name, your name and your phone number.
And, of course, anytime you take your puppy to the park or just on a walk around the block, it’s the responsible thing to clean up after them. You could simply go with poop bags and pick up after your pet by hand, but if that’s not your preference, a poop scoop is an affordable remedy.
Lastly, if you do plan to take your puppy on frequent car rides, you may want a car seat cover to protect your upholstery from dirty paws and sharp nails.
Not all puppy toys are the same. Just as you would want to purchase the right toys for a child, to stimulate their mental development and give them a well-rounded experience, you want to provide a range of experiences for your puppy.
Chew toys are crucial, as your puppy will be teething and need something safe to gnaw on. The right chew toys can mean the difference between your puppy chewing on them or your shoes. Choose chew toys that are made from safe materials and go with well-rated, vet-approved options.
Comfort toys — think plushies — may appeal to your dog in one of two different ways. On the one hand, they may actually use them for comfort, like a child would a stuffed animal. On the other, they may see their soft, fuzzy and furry new friend as potential prey, and rip it to shreds. If you suspect that your puppy may be more inclined to do the latter, look for a toy that can withstand a beating.
Interactive toys are important for your puppy’s mental stimulation. Depending on your dog’s breed, they may prefer interactive toys over other toy types, as some breeds are more likely to enjoy puzzles and problem-solving, or simply social play. Interactive toys run the gamut and may be as simple as a ball for a game of fetch, or something more tech-heavy that can keep your puppy engaged while you’re doing something else.
When you bring your new pup home, purchase a range of toys until you learn what they like and dislike. Some puppies may only like interactive toys, while some may only care for chew toys.
Whatever type of dog toys your puppy enjoys, you’ll want a place to store them all.
Rather than toy storage that tucks your puppy’s toys away, out of sight, go for an option that makes it easy for your puppy to access their toys when they want them. They should be able to find their favorite toy on their own, without waiting around for you to fetch it for them.
Lastly, many puppies will quickly find a pillow or blanket on your couch or bed and claim it as their own. If you don’t want to give up your favorite throw to the dog, purchase one specifically for them.
While you likely won’t need to groom your puppy frequently, it is nice to have the grooming supplies on hand to give them a quick bath if they happen to get dirty, or if you start to notice an unpleasant smell.
Choose a dog brush made for your dog’s hair type and breed. Some pups may need a brush that can cut down on severe shedding. Others may need something that can untangle knots and curls with ease.
Look for dog shampoo formulated for puppies, in a scent that you and your family will like.
While many dogs do not enjoy nail clipping or teeth brushing, it’s still an important part of keeping your puppy both groomed and healthy. Starting them out with regular nail clippings and teeth brushing early can prevent long-term health issues, and make them more comfortable with these chores, versus introducing them once the dog is a few years old.
Puppy Training Gear
Your puppy will have accidents. They just will. As hard as you try and as much as you train, all dogs have accidents on occasion. Be prepared when the time comes.
Puppy pads are good for potty training and can be helpful if you do have to leave your puppy alone for some time. They help cut down both odor and mess and are easy to dispose of after usage.
An enzyme carpet cleaning solution specifically made for pet stains and odors will cut back on long-term damage that your pet may cause to your carpet. Most puppies will quickly pick a certain spot in your home that they claim as their go-to area for accidents, but if you keep it clean and odor-free, they’re less likely to continue having accidents in that same spot and your house training will be more successful.
The bitter apple spray is also sometimes called no-chew spray. Odor-free to humans, the non-toxic spray is a big turn-off to dogs and can be safely sprayed on furniture, shoes or anything else that you don’t want your pet to chew on.
The Right Team of Professionals
First and foremost, you should absolutely have a vet for your new puppy. Not only will you need to get all of your puppy’s first time vaccinations and shots, as well as neutering or spaying services, but a vet can provide you with all the information you might require when it comes to the right supplies and food for your puppy’s individual needs. They can also help you choose pet insurance and get you hooked up with heartworm medication and flea and tick prevention.
Even if you don’t need a dog sitter or walker regularly, it’s a good idea to have someone on speed dial who you can call up in the event of an emergency or anytime you need to go out of town and won’t be bringing Fido along. If you would prefer to board your dog when you travel, start researching boarding and kennel options in your area.
The New Puppy Checklist
Bringing your new fur baby home may be a lot of work and a bit of a financial commitment, but you won’t regret your decision for a second. Whatever breed you choose, whether you adopt or shop, a puppy is a part of the family and a true friend for life.
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- Puppy food
- Dog food storage
- Dog bowls (2)
- Travel dog bowl set
- Bowl mat
- Dog crate
- Dog bed
- Baby gates (if needed)
- Dog collar
- Dog leash
- ID tags
- Poop scoop
- Poop bags
- Car seat cover
- Chew Toys
- Comfort Toys
- Interactive Toys
- Toy Storage
- Blankets and pillows
- Dog brush
- Nail clippers
- Puppy shampoo
- Puppy toothbrush/doggy toothpaste
- Carpet cleaner
- Puppy pads
- Bitter apple spray
- Dog sitter/walker
- Dog trainer
- Dog groomer