10 Essential Items First-Time Dog Parents Need
Say it's a Friday and you've just found out you can bring home your dream pup tomorrow. Obviously, you need a collar, leash and crate, but there are a few other things you might forget in the rush to get ready. Get these essential items before you welcome your new dog home.
Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
Dog Leash With Buckle
The strong buckle on this Chaco leash makes it the most versatile leash you'll own. Clip the leash around your waist, like a belt, to walk your dog hands-free, cinch it around your wrist for a good grip on a pupper who likes to pull or secure it around the leg of a table when you're out to brunch and bring the dog along to sit on the patio.
Buy It: Amazon, $16
Collapsible Dog Bowl for Travel
It's always good to have a bowl on hand so your dog can have a drink of water whenever needed. Ruffwear's Quencher Collapsible Dog Bowl folds up flat so it fits easily inside a purse or backpack. It's super-durable: My puppy has an odd attachment to this bowl and will often carry it around the yard half-full of water. But even though we've caught him gnawing on it on several occasions, it's never sprung a leak. I highly suggest setting aside a tote or backpack as your dog's and keeping it stocked with a bowl like this one, treats, a toy and poop bags so it's ready to go when you want to head out the door together.
Buy It: Amazon, $15 and up
Poop Bags and Dispenser
Whenever you take your dog for a walk, regardless of where your're going, you need to be prepared to clean up after him or her. And yes, dog waste is quite different from other animals' poop, which is why it's not OK to leave it behind in a grassy patch on the sidewalk, at a park or in the wilderness, even if you kick it off the trail. In short, it's full of nasty stuff that can be harmful to other creatures and potentially even humans when it washes into water systems. It also contains fertilizers that can wreak havoc on bodies of water. The easiest way to clean up after your dog is to always have poop bags handy and attached right to your leash. Newspaper and grocery bags certainly do the trick but if you don't have any of those, biodegradable bags in a handy container you can attach to the leash help avoid putting more plastic into the landfill. Whenever you hike with your dog, be sure to follow Leave No Trace practices and pack out waste instead of leaving it on the trail. Bring it home with you if there's no trash can available (filling the bag with a bit of dirt can help mitigate the smell).
Buy It: Amazon, $22
Comfy, Cozy Dog Bed
Whether you plan to let your fur baby sleep on your bed or not, he or she should have his own bed, too. Ruffwear's Restcycle bed is a good one for a long list of reasons: It's durable and will survive clawing and gnawing; it's made from repurposed and recycled materials; and the cover zips off and is machine-washable. The bottom of the bed is also waterproof, intended to contain accidents and the repurposed foam padding won't absorb liquids. The stuffing is pretty free-flowing inside the bed, so your dog can "dig" to move it around and create the perfect little nest to curl up in.
Buy It: Amazon, $100
Stuffed Animal Chew Toy
Soft plush toys can be comforting to dogs adjusting to new homes. Plus, let's face it: few things are cuter than a puppy in love with his stuffed animal. But the problem with many plush dog toys is that they can be ripped to shreds pretty easily by bigger dogs and pups with a bit of a destructive streak. And at the very least, that means you're buying toys over and over again. Kong's Floppy Knots Fox Dog Toy, and others in this line, look as cute as plush toys but they're stuffed with knotted ropes instead of stuffing, so it takes a lot more to destroy them. This one does have a few squeakers in it, so beware if you're on the lookout for a silent toy.
Buy It: Amazon, $9
Rope Toys for Tugging
Playing fetch is great, but tug-of-war can be even more fun, and it's a fantastic way to help your dog burn off some energy. Trust us: You're going to be slightly desperate for energy burners in short order. Puppies want to explore everything in your house, and they're not above taste-testing all your favorite clothes, shoes and foods. Rope toys like these can sustain a lot of abuse, so you can throw them, tug them and let your dog chew on them to their heart's content.
Buy It: Amazon, $10 and up
Puppies have way more energy than you even imagine is possible. And a bored pup is often a destructive one: They don't see the difference between their toys and your shoes, laptop cables or furniture. Don't learn this expensive lesson the hard way. Right off the bat, give your pup a challenging toy that rewards puzzle-solving, like Ruffwear's Gnawt-a-Rock or the Kong Classic Dog Toy. These toys allow you to hide a treat inside, and it takes a lot of trial and error for your dog to figure out how to get them out. I work from home so my dog is used to a lot of attention, which is hard to give him when I'm on a phone call or need to concentrate on writing. Whenever he gets restless, I toss either the Gnawt-a-Rock or Kong his way, and he's immediately entertained for at least the next 20 minutes. These toys exhaust him mentally, which is a win for both of us.
Buy It: Amazon, $20
Treats are non-negotiable for helping your new dog learn to trust you, as well as for teaching tricks and essential commands like sit and stay. My pup goes crazy for Zuke's, and I love them because they're so small. He can have quite a few throughout the day or during a long training session without it disrupting his eating schedule or upsetting his stomach If you only carry a small bag, fanny pack or purse with you when you walk your dog, I'd suggest putting a handful of these into a film canister or other small container for a super-portable treat supply. And a quick note on food: be sure to introduce new food gradually rather than switching overnight to your new food of choice. Mix whatever they're accustomed to with the new diet and gradually get them used to it. And while "grain-free" may sound great, consult your vet before determining whether that's what your dog really needs. Concerns have recently been raised that the other fillers in these pet foods may be linked to a rise in heart disease in some dogs who don't have a health need for a grain-free diet.
Buy It: Amazon, $16
Bones and Other Chew Toys
Puppy teething is no joke! Those biters are sharp, and play biting gets even more painful when the baby teeth fall out and the adult teeth start to grow in. Help meet your dog's need for chewing with flavored bones like these, which entice him or her to pick up these rather than your nice, new leather shoes. This kit from Nylabone and others like it include both puppy- and young adult dog-specific bones, along with one fully-edible treat bone your dog will go crazy for (and take a little bit to get through).
Buy It: Amazon, $9
Snack and Treat Subscription Box
Just like people, pets can get bored of their toys, too. Subscription boxes can be an affordable (and fun) way to get a new toy or two every month without breaking the bank. We've been loving BarkBox for its creative themed boxes, which always include a couple of toys and a few treats. You can have your box customized to suit whatever size dog you have, and they'll also accommodate dogs who are serious chewers and shred most normal toys like cardboard. It's always a fun surprise to open, and everything is high-quality. Our dog goes absolutely nuts for their treats.
Buy It: BarkBox, $21 and up