Bringing home a new puppy is definitely a big commitment. At the same time. it’s also full of excitement, and if you’re smart, careful preparation.
But in my experience, this is the area where most people tend to splurge, sometimes unnecessarily.
My advice is to keep it simple. If you can, try to find a balance between being properly prepared, and spending money on unnecessary items.
Below is my list of must-haves for newly adopted pups.
Later in the post, I’ll explain why some of the most common dog products can be put off until you actually need them, or skipped altogether.
15 items you absolutely need for a new puppy
#1 – Chew toys
Every puppy needs to have something to play with to relieve boredom and anxiety. This keeps him occupied while you’re away and helps him avoid chewing other items around the house.
Chew toys can also soothe hurting gums caused by teething. However, they need to be durable and fit your pup’s size to prevent suffocation.
I found that KONG chew toys are very strong and safe, even for heavy chewers!
But the best thing about KONGS is that you can fill them with anything from peanut butter to tasty treats and your dog’s food.
#2 – Dental care products
A good dental routine isn’t just useful for keeping your puppy’s bad breath at bay. Dental issues can eventually lead to inflammation and damage to the heart and liver.
Since most dogs over the age of 3 have some sort of dental problems, you should probably get your new pup used to teeth brushing as soon as possible.
Most dental sticks and chews are intended for consumption by adult dogs, but there are some for puppies, so be sure you’re buying the right kind.
#3 – Dispensing toy
As an added bonus, it’s an easy way to keep your pup busy and entertained, and it even provides him with extra exercise.
The KONG Wobbler is one of the most durable toys for dogs and a great way to provide mental stimulation.
Alternatively, you can try a treat ball, but make sure you get the rubber one and not the plastic toy, which is more likely to break and may also contain BPA or other chemicals.
#4 – Dog bed
Buying a dog bed is one of the most basic things you need to do for a small puppy. The reason for this is that puppies burn a lot of energy, and having a comfy bed is a vital part of getting quality and long sleep.
Orthopedic beds are best but look for one that’s also waterproof or water-resistant, which will help prevent any potty accidents from reaching the padding or your floors. Also, check if the cover is removable and machine washable.
#5 – Flea treatment
No one likes fleas. These parasites not only irritate your puppy’s skin, but they may lead to tapeworms if swallowed. Ticks and mosquitos aren’t a treat either, since they can transmit Lyme’s disease and other ailments.
While you should use some sort of flea treatment all year long, be aware that during the summer, your puppy can catch fleas very easily.
When possible, I prefer to use a natural flea repellent. You can also look for a flea treatment that spreads throughout the skin, glands, and hair follicles and is not absorbed into the bloodstream.
#6 – Bowls
Your puppy should have his very own food and water dishes. After all, you don’t want him to think that eating from your plate is allowed.
Don’t use plastic bowls, which your puppy can chew on. Plastic may also contain harmful chemicals that can lead to allergies, and it tends to absorb odors and colors, which makes it harder to clean.
Stainless steel dog bowls, or better yet, ceramic bowls, are your best bet.
#7 – Grooming brush
A grooming brush is a good investment for every pet parent. Tangles and knots can irritate your puppy’s skin, and dander and dirt building up on the fur can make him smell.
Grooming time is also a great way to bond with your new best friend!
A pin brush is gentle enough for everyday brushing, and can even be used for untangling matted hair without hurting your puppy or scratching his skin.
To get the most bang for your buck, look for a brush that’s easy to clean, too.
#8 – Harness
This is another essential item that every puppy parent should own. Not only is it necessary for connecting the leash, but it’s where you attach your pet ID.
For puppies, I recommend a breathable mesh harness, since it creates less pressure on their delicate neck when they pull on the leash or jump on people.
Just don’t forget to measure your puppy’s neck and chest beforehand to ensure it’s not too tight or too loose.
#9 – Leash
A leash is a cheap tool that effectively keeps your puppy safe outdoors. It’s also a great training aid and depending on where you live, it may be required by law.
A leather leash is a good option that should last for many years, as long as your puppy doesn’t get wet. Personally, I would rather get a thick nylon leash, as it’s a bit lighter and easier to wash.
#10 – Puppy pads
In the first year of a puppy’s life, he needs to go through a series of vaccinations to protect him from various diseases.
Unvaccinated puppies shouldn’t walk outside, or meet up with unfamiliar dogs until at least two weeks after receiving the second set of vaccinations. In the meantime, your pup can use a pad to do his business indoors.
#11 – ID tag
Perhaps one of the things that people tend to overlook when they bring a new puppy home is the identification tag. This ID tag sits on your pup’s collar and has all of your contact information in case he ever goes missing.
Any personalized pet tag will do the trick, just make sure it’s well-built and proportionate to your puppy’s size. One quick tip though, don’t stuff in too much text when adding your contact details.
#12 – Stain and odor eliminator
Dogs have an amazing sense of smell, much better than our own. That’s why they are able to detect traces of urine, long after you’ve cleaned up their messes.
That means that if your puppy has an accident during his house training (which isn’t at all uncommon), he may return to that spot in the future. Unless you clean it properly, of course.
Enzyme-based cleaners are specifically designed to get rid of urine smells, and they can even help remove stubborn pee stains. But above all else, they are non-toxic and safe to use around pets.
#13 – Playpen or pet gate
You should always confine your new puppy while you’re not around him. Not just for safety reasons, but also because it’s necessary for housebreaking.
Setting boundaries will give your pup a sense of security and belonging, which may help to prevent separation anxiety and other behavioral problems.
We used to have a metal exercise pen, which is super simple to set up and adjust to different sizes, and it quickly folds down for easy storage.
Another option you may want to consider is a pet gate.
#14 – Puppy food
Feeding your puppy the right food is a must, as this will affect his growth and development into an adult.
In general, puppies can eat whatever adult dogs are eating, as long as it’s nourishing and can support their growth. But the truth is, you can’t go wrong with puppy formulas.
Look for high protein content and avoid ingredients and additives that have low to no nutritional value. You should also make sure the food can fit your puppy’s little mouth.
#15 – Training treats
Most dogs are food motivated, puppies included. Therefore, treats are a big part of positive reinforcement training. In fact, you should use them mostly for training purposes, right when your pup is working hard.
While homemade treats can be quite tasty, store-bought treats are less messy, and they won’t spoil outside. For training purposes, always choose small, soft dog treats that have the least amount of ingredients and calories.
7 items you may need later on
#16 – Couch cover
Puppies are prone to accidents. If you plan on letting your dog on the couch, do yourself a favor and get a machine washable couch cover. Believe me, it will be worth the investment.
#17 – Dog crate
A crate can be a safe place for your puppy, and it also doubles as a second bed to sleep in. If your puppy shows signs of separation anxiety, he will definitely appreciate the sense of security a good kennel provides.
#18 – Door scratch protector
Scratching is a common destructive behavior in puppies. This can be a symptom of separation anxiety, but it can also mean that your puppy enjoys it.
If your pup has this nasty habit, a good way to stop him from destroying your door is to use a plastic scratch shield over it. This product will provide basic protection against clawing and also discourage him from doing it again.
#19 – Dry shampoo
Ideally, you shouldn’t wash your dog very often, since this will also remove some of the oils that protect and nourish his skin and coat. But what if your dog smells?
Dry shampoo, as well as odor neutralizing spray, are both tricky little ways to space out your puppy’s showers, while still keeping his hair and paws clean after walking outside or playing in the park.
#20 – Shampoo and conditioner
Eventually, your furry companion will need a real bath.
Puppies should have their own shampoo and conditioner as their skin pH level is different than humans. Dogs also produce natural oils that nourish and protect their skin and coat, so using the wrong products could cause dryness and itching.
Always use a gentle shampoo and a conditioner afterward to remove unwanted buildup in the fur without irritating and restore moisture and softness to the coat.
#21 – Sweater or jacket
A sweater or jacket is generally required during the cold seasons, as puppies don’t have a full coat to protect their skin and their immune system hasn’t fully developed yet.
So, when it starts to get a bit chilly outside, get your pup something warm to wear.
6 items you should cross off your list
#22 – Bitter spray
When puppies are in their teething stage, they’re notorious for chewing upon everything from shoes to books to furniture. The theory is that spraying surfaces with an unpleasant tasting, bitter spray will help to discourage your pup from chewing on things.
The reality, however, is that this spray more often than not doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. In most cases, your puppy is likely to simply get used to the bitter taste, to the point where it won’t discourage him anymore.
#23 – Grooming wipes
No matter what the advertisements tell you, there’s really no need to go out and buy special pet wipes. Instead, look for unscented baby wipes and make sure they’re hypoallergenic, as these can wipe dirty paws just as effectively.
#24 – Nail clippers
Dogs’ nails contain blood vessels and nerves, so you have to be very careful not to cut them too short.
While you can do this at home if you’re absolutely sure you know what you’re doing, it’s generally best to leave it to a professional groomer or your veterinarian.
#25 – Retractable leash
There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t use a retractable leash, but the main issue is the lack of control you have over your puppy when you’re using a 16-foot-long leash.
On top of that, an extendable leash teaches puppies to pull while on walks, which is a bad habit to start.
#26 – Scented poop bags
It’s true that you should always clean up after your puppy. But do you need a scented waste bag for that? Probably not.
An unscented (and preferably biodegradable) poop bag will work just as well as any kind of specialized pet waste bag. But even if you don’t have one, there are plenty of dog waste stations in nearly every city park and public area throughout the United States.
#27 – Squeaky toys
Most, but not all, squeaky toys for dogs just aren’t durable enough for aggressive chewers. They can also be dangerous, as a puppy who will get to the small squeaker inside the toy can easily swallow it and choke.
#28 – Treat pouch
I always look ridiculous with a pouch, and it isn’t particularly comfortable to wear one either. As an alternative, grab a few of your dog’s favorite treats and put them in one of these small pill cases.