20 Puppy Essentials Every First-Time Pet Parent *Needs*
New to dog ownership or haven’t had a dog in a while? Puppy-proof your home by brushing up on which people-foods and plants are poisonous to canines. Dogs can eat some fruits, vegetables and nuts, but not all are safe.
In addition to gathering your puppy essentials, you should research everything you can about your new family member. If you’re purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder, learn as much as possible about that breed’s personality traits and tendencies (The American Kennel Club is a terrific resource.)
Some breeds, like Golden Retrievers, eagerly learn commands and love being around people; others, like Chow Chows, are slightly stubborn and need their alone time. The more you know going into life with your new puppy, the smoother it will be for both of you. Remember to meet your dog where they are, not where you want them to be! Every canine is an individual (we can’t stress this enough) and one method or tool won’t work for everyone.
Always defer to your vet
Along those same lines, always check in with your vet if you’re unsure about a puppy-related issue. There are many trends (human-grade dog food delivery, CBD oil for dog anxiety, freeze-dried treats and more) that may sound awesome but aren’t necessarily the best option for your dog.
Grand View Research says the pet supplement market is expected to hit $1 billion by 2027, which means hordes of innovative products are just waiting for consumers to buy for their dogs. Some brands, like Zesty Paws, Wild One and Green Gruff have been at the supplement game for a while. However, it seems like every day a new supplement pops up on the market. Always discuss supplements with your vet.
Can’t get in to meet with your vet these days? See if your vet’s office offers telehealth appointments or has an app you can use. Banfield Pet Hospital is among the many clinics incorporating remote appointments and chat features into their services. Theirs is called Vet Chat (and is a favorite of celeb puppy parents like Jane Lynch).
Invisible puppy essentials
Some of the most important tools you can give your puppy aren’t found in stores. We’re talking about socialization! Socialization is the process of introducing a pup to new people, other dogs and strange environments. Every single puppy, no matter the breed, benefits from early socialization because it instills confidence and manners while their brains are still malleable. Ideally, puppies begin the socialization process just after receiving initial vaccinations and parasite prevention medication. Typically, this lands her around eight weeks old.
Socialization is incredibly important because it establishes expectations. As adults, dogs should not jump on people or attack strangers in moments of uncertainty. They should feel relaxed and safe (or at least curious) in unfamiliar environments. An emotionally healthy adult dog is the direct result of early socialization as a puppy.
20 Puppy Essentials
1. LupinePet Eco 3/4“ Colla
The puppy is yours - part of your family! Don’t risk losing her forever. Get a collar so you can proudly display her name tag with her vaccination information and your contact info, should anyone need to find her. This version is made from recycled plastic bottles. Soft to the touch and strong enough to withstand chewing and pulling, it’s a no-brainer.
2. Speedy Retractable Leash by maxbone
A retractable leash gives puppies an opportunity to explore while out on a walk. This one from maxbone brakes and locks easily—and it’s stylish. It’s ideal for puppies and dogs up to 44 pounds. (If your puppy eventually outgrows this leash, definitely get a heavy duty one that can handle your dog. The TUG 360° is the best-selling retractable leash on Amazon for large breeds.)
3. Wild One Harness
Harnesses give dog owners a little more control over where their pup wanders on walks. For puppies, this is especially important. A harness is a very helpful tool when lead and leash training. We’re obsessed with this harness from Wild One (to put it mildly). It also comes with a matching leash and collar, if you’re so inclined.
4. Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags
Cleaning up after your dog on walks is the neighborly thing to do! No one wants to step in that… stuff. These bags are the number one best-seller on Amazon. Not only are they guaranteed leak-proof, they are made of recycled materials (as is the packaging).
5. Wild One Poop Bag Carrier
Just because it concerns poop, doesn’t mean it can’t be fashionable. These poop bag carriers from Wild One can be ordered to match your harness, which is just too darn cute.
6. Diggs Revol Dog Crate
At one point, the wait list for the Revol Dog Crate by Diggs was 25,000 people long! Not only does this crate combine aesthetics with functionality, it’s ideal for puppies. The crate comes with a divider to make crate training simpler and an easy-to-clean tray in case of accidents.
7. Mighty Paw Stainless Steel Dog Bowls
Stainless steel is the material of choice for pet food bowls as it doesn’t grow mold or wear down as easily. This set also has BPA-free, silicone lining along the bottom so the bowls won’t slip or slide around while your pup is chowing down. They’re also dishwasher safe, which is a must.
8. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
According to Dr. Annie Valuska, Ph.D., at Purina, puppies need more protein, fat and calcium than adult and senior dogs. Small- and medium-sized breeds should eat puppy food for about a year; large breeds should eat puppy food twice as long. Check to make sure your puppy’s food contains DHA omega fatty acid, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus and protein. Purina’s Pro Plan Puppy Formulas definitely cover those bases.
9. Duck, Duck, Beet Soft Baked Dog Treats by Shameless Pets
Um, yeah, puppies love treats! Treats come in handy during training sessions, after stressful events (like baths) and whenever your dog has achieved something important. Shameless Pets makes dog (and cat) treats that provide canines with essential nutrients. Plus, their treats are made from upcycled food. A brand combating climate change and food waste while also feeding our animal companions? Sign us up.
10. Best Friends by Sheri Calming Donut Dog Bed
Transitions can be hard on puppies! They’ll need a calming, comfortable bed to snooze in after a long day of playing, chewing, learning and loving. This bed is made of pet-safe, vegan materials and designed to remind puppies of their mother’s fur. (Pro tip: If you live in a hot climate or you adopt a puppy in the summertime, consider a cooling bed.)
11. PetFusion Microplush Quilted Dog Blanket
Now, whether you let your puppy sit on the couch or bed is up to you. This blanket will help protect your furniture from puppy nails, hair and general grime. Even if you don’t use it for furniture, it’s a nice addition to your puppy essentials welcome kit, as it also works in cars and crates.
12. Carlson Extra Wide Walk-Through Pet Gate
Again, where you let your puppy roam is up to you. Blocking off certain areas is usually wise in the first few weeks. You’ve got to establish boundaries—especially if you have a breed that has trouble using stairs, like a Dachshund.
13. Kurgo RSG First Aid Kit for Dogs
Please don’t wait until it’s too late to put together a dog first aid kit. Puppies get into a lot of stuff. They might cut themselves on sticks, knock over a glass and step on a shard, or worse. Having a first aid kit (with all your dog’s medical paperwork and vaccination records inside) is key to keeping your pup healthy. You’ll thank yourself later should you need gauze, hydrogen peroxide or a thermometer in a pinch.
14. Premium Pet Carrier
Frequent vet check-ups are common for puppies, especially as you get your pup immunized. The Diggs Revol Crate also doubles as a travel carrier, but if you want something soft and airline-approved, try this one. It’s ideal for puppies and small dog breeds. You can buckle it into your car with a seatbelt and lock the zippers so your pup can’t escape.
16. gonicc Pets Nail Clippers and Trimmers
Get ready to trim some nails. These doggy nail clippers make it safe and easy to keep your puppy’s nails trim (a safety guard prevents cutting too short). Start clipping nails early so your dog gets used to it!
17. Frisco Beginner Grooming Kit for Dogs
Here’s where additional breed research comes in super handy. The type of brush you need for your dog depends on your puppy’s coat length and how many layers she’s got. Frisco makes a ton of unique brushes that tackle mats, short fur, long hair and more. Start with a beginner’s kit or go right for the brush you know you’ll need.
18. Virbac C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Dog Kit
Similar to nail trimming and coat grooming, the sooner you start cleaning your puppy’s teeth, the better. Plaque build-up is a huge issue in canines and felines. Vets say oral hygiene is one of the responsibilities humans often neglect to provide for their pets. To avoid hefty vet bills later, start brushing now.
19. Burt's Bees for Dogs 2 in 1 Dog Shampoo & Conditioner for Puppies
Puppies roll in stuff. Stuff can include mud, grass…their own poo…bathtime is essential after your dog has accumulated lots of dirt. Even though this Burt’s Bees formula is 99.7% natural and vet-recommended, there are ways to make your own dog shampoo before giving your dog a bath. Try a few options to see what works best!
20. KONG Puppy Toy
The most fun item(s) on the list: toys! Puppies love toys! They chew on stuff as throughout teething and this actually helps them learn about their environment. Kong toys are classics for a reason. They’re durable, long-lasting and provide hours of entertainment. Don’t stop there, though. Get as many chew toys for your puppy as you want. Just be sure to avoid anything your puppy shouldn’t chew.