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New Puppy Essentials to Make Your Life Easier

New Pet Owners  •   Mary Shaughney  •   Nov 30, 2021


Congratulations! You’re welcoming home a new puppy. This furry bundle of joy won’t just add fun and excitement to your day, but could also help you reduce stress, get out to socialize, and even lower your blood pressure.

Remember, dogs will do anything for you, so it’s important that you do your part as a pet owner to give them everything they need to thrive in their new home.

When it comes to the things you need for a puppy, you're going to get all kinds of recommendations from pet-savvy friends. Try to use common sense and choose the puppy necessities that are actually… necessary.

Here are our suggestions for new dog owners, as well as our new puppy checklist for you to peruse:

Essential Puppy Supplies: The Basics

Don’t forget these puppy essentials when going down the new dog checklist. 

  • Collar, ID tags, and microchip: It’s a sad fact of pet ownership: dogs get lost and stolen all the time. With collars, identification tags, and microchips, lost pets stand a far greater chance of ultimately finding their way back home. Put your contact information (including phone number) on their identification tags and make sure to update this information if you move. During your puppy’s first veterinary visit, it's a good idea to talk to their doctor about microchipping. This quick and inexpensive procedure involves implanting a small chip under a dog’s skin. Once you’ve had your dog microchipped, register the chip in the appropriate database.
  • Crate and dog bed: Puppy crates are a valuable training resource that can also provide a comfortable personal space for dogs. Purchase a dog crate that your pet can grow into to ensure you don’t need to buy one or several replacements as they age. A soft bed can help make a crate more inviting.
  • Food and water bowls: Specially-formulated food will help your new puppy get healthy and strong. Don’t forget food and water bowls! Options range from plastic and stainless steel to metal and stoneware, but picking something high-quality and sturdy is always a great idea, since puppies can have voracious appetites.
  • Treats: More than just a tasty snack, treats can serve as a valuable tool throughout the training and socialization process. Plus, it just feels nice to pamper your puppy.
  • Leash and poop bags: Walking is great exercise for puppies and pet owners alike. Pick up a sturdy leash at the local pet store and plenty of bags to clean up after your young pup. Disposing of dog waste isn’t just the right thing to do. In many areas, it’s the law!
  • Pee pads and cleaning supplies: No matter what you do to try and stop it ahead of time, there are going to be accidents of all kinds with a new puppy. Having pee pads, paper towels, a scrub brush, and cleaning sprays on hand for carpet, hard flooring, and furniture is the best way to ensure you're prepared for the worst.

Toys for Puppies

Dog toys aren’t just about fun and games. They’re often a valuable training resource that can help with the development of skills, while encouraging good behavior and strengthening the bond between pet and owner. Toys are puppy necessities, and a must-have for any new pet owner.

  • Puzzle toys for dogs: Offering mental and physical stimulation, puzzle toys provide hours of fun while keeping pups engaged. They’re an especially great choice for pet owners who are concerned about leaving their puppies alone for long periods. A puzzle toy is often a great antidote for boredom and separation anxiety in dogs.
  • Fetch toys: Fetch is an old standby for a reason – dogs love it. If you’ve got the space for your dog to run and fetch, pick up some balls and provide an opportunity to exercise and get rid of excess energy.
  • Dog chew toys: As they lose their baby teeth and grow their set of adult dog teeth, young puppies will gnaw on just about anything they can get their paws on. A good dog chew can provide an appropriate outlet for what could otherwise prove to be destructive puppy behaviors.

More Tools and Gear for New Puppy Owners

You may not need to grab all these pet care items on day one, but these puppy essentials will help you considerably throughout your dog’s puppy years and into their adulthood.

  • Brush: Count on regular brushing if you’ve got a dog with a thick coat. Some breeds will require grooming sessions several times a week to keep them comfortable and to cut down on excessive shedding. A gentle puppy shampoo with oatmeal or a dog-safe soap can help with bathing as well.
  • Dog toothpaste and a toothbrush: Introducing proper dental hygiene early is essential for safeguarding the health of your dog’s mouth, teeth, and gums. A staggering two-thirds of adult pets suffer from periodontal disease and illnesses related to poor dental hygiene. Your puppy may never enjoy having their teeth brushed, but introducing the process early can help them learn to accept it. Don’t reach for the toothpaste in your medicine cabinet! A dog toothpaste developed for your puppy's specific needs is the best choice.
  • Cleaning products: Accidents happen. Despite your best potty-training efforts, you’ll definitely clean up a few messes during your dog's life. Stock up on products designed specifically for pet stains and pet odors.
  • Puppy Gates: Use a puppy gate (or baby gate) to set boundaries and keep your new pup out of harm's way. Dog gates can be a great training tool to help your dog understand where they are welcome and where they are not.

Be sure to have fun with your new puppy, and don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian if you have any questions big or small.

Puppy Foods: What to Consider

For new dog owners, especially the novices among us, buying puppy food for the first time can be daunting. There are hundreds of brands and puppy food blends to choose from, as well as making the decision between hard and soft food, and whether to splurge on human-grade dog foods that require refrigeration.

The truth is, it's easier than it sounds. You'll want to steer clear of foods where anything but meat is the first ingredient. Stick with meats like chicken, turkey, duck, beef, lamb, and even venison.

There's also the debate over whether the addition of legumes to dog food is good or not. Adding legumes allows dog food makers to stay away from gluten and complex carbohydrates typically associated with a human diet. However, new research indicates that legumes like beans and peas are actually problematic for some dogs, as new studies have found a potential link to canine heart disease.

Your best bet is to discuss which food is best with your new dog's vet. But, until then, your new pup will be safe with a food that uses meat as the first ingredient, that stays away from legumes, and has a higher protein count sufficient for a younger and more active dog. And, when it comes to hard versus soft food, stick with hard unless your pup was bottle fed or you were otherwise directed by a licensed veterinarian.

Finally, some dog breeds need to be fed puppy food longer than others. We’ve found that it’s best to err on the side of caution no matter the breed or size and keep young dogs on puppy food for a longer time rather than a shorter one, especially if you aren't able to make it to the veterinarian right at the one-year mark.

Puppy Insurance: Yes, It’s a Necessity

Whether you’ve realized it yet or not, dogs -- especially puppies -- tend to get into all kinds of trouble. And, even when they aren't actively digging through the trash looking for chicken bones or playing wildly, new dogs are still susceptible to a variety of accidents and illnesses. When it's 2 a.m. and you're up against kennel cough, a rash, or an unexplained fever, you'll thank your lucky stars that you already have pet insurance.

Getting pet insurance is easier than you think. For the best dog insurance around, check out AKC Pet Insurance. They’re the pet insurance of champions and the only pet insurance provider that covers curable and incurable pre-existing conditions*. You can review the various AKC Pet Insurance plans here -- there are several options to choose from, so no matter what your budget looks like, there's an option here suitable for you and your new dog.

*Not available in all states. Pre-existing condition coverage requires a 12-month waiting period.

A Few Closing Words on Your New Puppy

There's nothing more wonderful in the world than having a brand-new baby doggo in the house. But before you run to the dog breeder, dog rescue, or other adoption venue, be sure you’ve completed the following:

  • Puppy proof your home: Just as you would keep a baby or toddler away from harsh chemicals, open toilets, and wide-open cabinets at floor level, you'll want to do the same for a new puppy. They get into things the same way kids do, and that could wind up being lethal.
  • Choose a dog breed appropriate for your lifestyle: If you live in a small apartment, a Great Dane is not the best dog breed for you. Likewise, unless you enjoy walking more than four or five miles a day, a Jack Russell Terrier won’t be the best fit either. Take this dog breed selector quiz to learn which breeds are the most suitable for your lifestyle and home size.
  • Pick the right age: If you’re getting something other than a puppy, keep in mind that senior dogs have a history that might not mesh well with your lifestyle. For example, an older dog may have an aversion to children, cats, other dogs, or people. Even if you are adopting a brand-new puppy, you'll want to make sure their general disposition agrees with the pace and style of your home. If you have the chance to take them on a play date before adopting, say yes, as this can help avoid any heartache later.
  • Keep the right things within reach: Just as you don't want your new puppy getting into the chemicals under the sink, you also want them to be able to access the things that are theirs with ease. If you have a giant breed, for example, go ahead and get a water and food bowl with a lift so they don't have to crane their neck. Make sure their toys are also within reach. Putting them away to keep your house tidier could cause them to reach for something else -- like the baseboards or the trash!
  • If you love it, hide it: We've already covered putting away dangerous things like chemicals. But what about shoes, sunglasses, watches, earrings, and even family heirlooms? Yep, a new puppy will find it if it has any value. For this reason, keep your closets closed, keep your jewelry up high, and keep anything you care about far out of their reach by any means necessary!
  • Get them used to nail clippers early: To keep your pup from being skittish later in life, consider cutting their nails as early as needed. Getting young dogs used to a hygiene routine is good for the both of you, since it means less stress in the future and less fear for your dog.
  • Start crate training immediately: Unless you plan to avoid crate training entirely, it's something you'll want to start right away. Now, a puppy should not be taken away from their mother or littermates until they are at least eight weeks old, and a pup younger than that should not be in a crate alone. But, as long as your new dog is at least eight weeks of age and has been properly socialized with their littermates and others, you can have their crate ready for bedtime on the very first night.

Click here for our printable new puppy checklist.

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