First of all, congratulations! You’re here because you are welcoming a brand new family member. Or, maybe you’re doing some prep work before you make the commitment — p.s. it’s worth it. Either way we are so excited for you and the incredible joy a new dog will bring to your life. If you’re a long-time dog owner, this checklist will hopefully help you turn on the memory lightbulb. If you’re a first time dog owner, welcome to the club! This essentials checklist is a great starting point for your journey. So, let’s get into it.
In time, this is going to be your dog’s den — his or her special place so long as they are introduced to it properly. Look into crates that are durable and of high quality; collapsable crates are great for travel but won’t last long if this will be for primary use. The size of your crate really depends on the size of your dog. Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Any more than that and you’re asking for potty accidents. Our suggestion is to purchase a crate your pup can grow into. Most crates will come with a divider that you can adjust as they get bigger. Or you can simply use a sturdy piece of cardboard as a make shift divider.
You’ll probably want to line the crate with some padding and make it a comfortable space for your pet at night or during the day while you’re away. We also suggest getting a second bed to place in the play pen or another designated area so you don’t have to pull the bedding out of the crate every day. Make sure you purchase something with enough cushion so your dog does’t develop callouses on his or her elbows from getting up and down. Another option is an elevated, steel frame bed which is great for super chewers.
Pro tip: look for bedding with covers that can be unzipped and tossed in the washer and dryer.
#3 Play Pen and/or Gate
When you are keeping a close eye on your new dog, a play pen or gate will be life-saver. This is especially true when you are trying to keep specific areas of the house off limits until he or she is fully trained. Wire playpens are great because they can easily be adjusted into any shape you want. Plus, they are collapsable which means painless storage.
#4 Toys… lots of toys
We are talking about chew toys, plush toys, toys that bounce, toys that hide treats, and toys that jingle. Puppies, and dogs in general, love to chew on things so give them something to distract them from chewing on your furniture. If you do catch your dog chewing on something they’re not supposed to, quickly switch it out for one of their chew toys. Also, try to keep their toys in one spot such as a toy basket in the living room or by their crate. That way they’ll always know where they will find something entertaining.
#5 Household Cleaner and Bitter Apple Spray
This brings us to number 4. Accidents happen and you can easily find spot and stain cleaners at your local pet store. Try an enzyme cleaner which will help remove odors better than your every day household spray. We also suggest finding an organic spray that won’t leave any harsh chemicals behind.
You may also want to try Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray which is great for keeping your pup away from things they shouldn’t be chewing on. They are not a fan of the smell so we like to spray a little on furniture and the corners of rugs. You can also spray it directly on your dog in case they chew on their paws or have a bandage/stitches you don’t want them licking.
#6 Food & water bowls
Puppies are messy eaters so go with something sturdy like stainless steel, ceramic or stoneware. All of these are great options. Some people like purchasing a silicone mat to place the bowls on just to give the bowls some grip. While it’s cute to watch your puppy push the bowl around as they eat, a silicone mat will help reduce the spillage.
#7 Food & Treats
Look for food make specifically for puppies. This food will be easier for them to chew and digest. While you’re training your pup, treats will be highly motivational. Charlee Bears, dehydrated sweet potatoes, and bully sticks are our dogs’ personal favorites. There are so many options just keep an eye out for the ingredients and try to keep it all natural. You can also mix up your options with some dental treats and make it a twofer.
#8 Collar, Leash & ID Tags
This is cutest part. It is so fun picking out a new collar for your best friend. If they’re not already your best friend, they will be. Choose a soft collar that fits snuggly around your pup’s neck. Rule of thumb says you should be able to fit at least two fingers underneath the collar.
Next, you’ll want a good nylon leash that is long and durable enough for your furry mate. During training, a classic leash is a good choice. You can always upgrade to retractable leash per your personal preference. Keep in mind that if your dog tends to chew on its leash a thick, durable leash is probably the choice for you.
Once you’ve settled on your collar and leash set, head to the name tag section and get some identification on that pooch! Your dog’s name, a phone number and any medical needs is all you need. We also highly suggest getting your pet microchipped in case they are ever brought to an animal shelter or vet without a collar.
#9 Pet Insurance
With the rising costs of better vet care, pet owners are often left with costly bills for unexpected medical expenses. The average cost of an unexpected vet bill is between $800-$1,500. If unable to afford an expensive treatment or procedure, pet owners may find themselves making medical decisions based on finances rather than their pet’s wellbeing.
Pet insurance helps mitigate out-of-pocket expenses for an unexpected vet bill so you can focus on your pet’s ongoing health. Not only is it super affordable but you can customize plans around your monthly budget. Plus, pet owners can get up to 90% reimbursed on those unexpected medical bills. That’s a big relief.
Check out Odie Pet Insurance to get an instant quote!
#10 Potty Pads & Poop Bags
When you are house training your dog, it’s best to set them up for success right away and train them to potty outside. However, we understand that some dog owners may need to potty pad train their pets for convenience. If this is the case, don’t scrimp on the quality of the potty pads. You are looking for something super absorbent and won’t leak through. What’s great about potty pads is that they’re portable and easy to clean up.
You’ll also want to purchase a box of poop bags and a dispenser that attaches to your dog’s leash. Get in the habit of checking the dispenser before you leave the house; it’s not fun having to clean up poop with a leaf.
#11 Grooming Supplies
SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER
Always, always, always have dog shampoo and conditioner on hand. Your dog will get dirty and stinky, that’s for sure and you don’t really want to use human shampoo on your pet. Pet shampoo’s are specifically made for their skin and much more gentle. Look for tearless options and find a smell you will love snuggling up to.
This is a great tool if you have a long-haired dog like a golden retriever. Look for something that works well with both dry and wet hair. The Furminator is an incredible product and really helps smooth out knots on both the under coat and top coat. Just go easy if your brush has metal bristles.
Wipes are also a great item to keep around. They are perfect in between bath time and also for wiping your dogs paws after coming back inside from a long walk.
EAR AND EYE CLEANER
As with the shampoo and conditioner, look for dog specific products that do not contain any harsh chemicals such as bleach…yes, we said “bleach”…we couldn’t believe it ourselves. These areas are very sensitive and even the most gentle products still do the trick.
TOOTHBRUSH AND TOOTHPASTE
Personally, we prefer the finger brush. It’s just easier but it is entirely up to you…and your dog. Regular toothbrushing plus the dental treats will help you keep your dog’s teeth pearly white and clean.
#12 Flea and Tick Treatment
If you live in an area where fleas and ticks are prevalent, this is a must. If your dog is a swimmer, monthly spot treatments or oral chews are the best choice. Collars and shampoos work well too, but are not water resistant.