So you’re getting a puppy … CONGRATULATIONS! This is an exciting time! But, before you hop in the car to pick up your little one, there are a few things you will need to get from the pet store. As you read through our New Puppy Checklist, you’ll find some items are more essential than others. However, I highly recommend picking up all of these items for your fur baby!
Collar and/or Harness
Decisions, decisions. Should you get your puppy a collar or a harness? Or do you need both? I personally recommend both!
I like to use a traditional, adjustable nylon collar as an accessory to hang ID tags. You’ll also find many people attach their dog’s leash to the collar, however, there is a downside: If your puppy pulls on the leash when walking, it will put tension on his neck and could lead to injury. Delicate toy dogs and breeds that are prone to respiratory problems and tracheal collapse tend to fair better in harnesses. Additionally, for Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds with shallow eye-sockets, collars can put too much pressure on the neck and actually cause the dog’s eyeballs to protrude from their sockets. It’s called proptosis.
If you plan to go the harness route for walks, you’ll notice there are two primary types. The main difference? The “ring” placement for where the leash hooks onto.
Back-Clip Harness – The back-clip harness is perhaps the most common. A dog’s leash clips to a ring located on the back of the harness. It may be at the neck area or it may have a ring further down on the spine – or both. It’s great for small dogs and, as I mentioned a minute ago, decreases pressure on the trachea. The only con? You have less control. For a dog who pulls, the back-clip attachment makes it easy for him to pull you along, like you’re a wagon behind him. If your pooch needs to learn proper leash manners, you may want to try another option.
Front-Clip Harness (AKA No-Pull) – The front-clip harness puts you in control during walks. The leash is clipped to a ring on the front of the dog’s harness, at his chest. If your dog starts tugging and pulling while you’re walking, a front-clip attachment won’t allow him to continue moving forward. Instead, he’ll be redirected and forced to pivot around toward you. It shouldn’t take very long to get the message – that pulling isn’t going to get him anywhere. Before you know it, you and Fido will be having much more enjoyable walks.
Dual-Clip Harness – Let’s call this one the best of both worlds since, with a dual-clip, there are clips in the front and the back. This type is commonly used by dog trainers. They attach both clips at once – the back-clip serves for normal walking and the front-clip allows for immediate control if the dog starts to pull.
Not all leashes are created equal. While you want something lightweight for a young puppy, it also has to be durable enough to handle puppy teeth (they will chew on their leash in the beginning) and pulling. Whichever leash you wind up selecting, my biggest piece of advice is to opt for a standard leash over a retractable one.
When you first start training a dog to walk on a leash, what’s the goal? The answer: For Fido to walk nicely by your side (not ahead of you) without yanking and pulling. Well, when you use a retractable leash, you’re basically teaching your pooch the exact opposite. They begin to learn that pulling gains them more freedom. And too much freedom isn’t necessarily a good thing. With many leashes extending upwards of 25 feet, dogs can easily get far enough away from their humans where a situation can quickly turn dangerous.
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. If your dog ever escapes, ID tags (and an updated microchip) could help bring him back to you! An ID tag should include the following information:
- Your pet’s name … duh!
- Your phone number
- Your city
- Any medical needs, if applicable
- Microchip info or the words “I’m Microchipped”, if you have room
- A personal message like “I’m Lost. Please Call My Mom” is always a nice touch
You can either order tags online or swing by your local pet store and have them engraved in a matter of minutes!
Food and Water Bowls
I recommended using stainless steel or ceramic bowls versus plastic. Plastic dog bowls are very porous and can get scratched easily. For this reason, it’s much easier for bacteria, algae, and mold to collect and grow.
What you feed your puppy now is essential for their future development and overall health. I firmly believe fresh food is the best food we can feed our dogs, starting from when they’re just young puppies! Fresh dog food is filled with quality meats, vegetables, and other ingredients that help our dogs thrive. It benefits their immune system, digestive health, weight, energy level, and the list goes on.
I personally feed my dogs The Farmer’s Dog, a real food subscription service that cooks fresh, human-grade dog food with your canine companion in mind. Here’s how it works: On their website, you answer a few simple questions about your dog (like name, age, breed, weight, etc.). You’ll be offered 3 formulas: beef, turkey, and pork. You choose which ones you want (it can be just one or all three). Then, The Farmer’s Dog whips up the meals and perfectly portions them out to your dog’s unique calorie needs. Once your dog’s food is ready, it immediately gets packaged, labeled, and shipped over dry ice. The food will arrive at your house frozen, but it’s never been deep-frozen or stored on a shelf for months!
I reached out to the company to see if I could get you a discount! And, good news: They’re offering Proud Dog Mom readers 50% off your first trial order. Just click here to redeem your 50% off!
If kibble is all your budget allows then work with your veterinarian to find the highest-quality puppy-formula you can feed.
I’m a huge advocate of crate training because it:
- Can help speed up the potty training phase
- Can help keep bad habits from forming, like chewing the furniture
- Helps get your puppy into a routine
- Gives your puppy a safe haven during stressful times
- Prepares pets for traveling
When shopping for crates, keep this in mind: One of the biggest mistakes dog owners make when choosing a crate is getting one that’s way too big. If you’re using the crate to help potty train your pup, an oversized crate will defeat the purpose. It should be large enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and stretch. But it shouldn’t be so large that they can go to the bathroom on one end and then sleep on the other end. Naturally, dogs don’t want to soil where they eat and sleep.
Every dog deserves a plushy comfy bed! While my two pups sleep in bed with me, I still keep comfortable dog beds in other rooms so they can relax throughout the day. If you’re adopting a small dog who loves to burrow (my Chihuahua, Diego, burrowing) then look into tent-style pet beds.
This isn’t something you’ll find on many “Puppy Essentials” lists, but, if you ask me, a black light is 100% essential for new puppy parents. When you first bring your new puppy home, they won’t be potty trained. That means you can expect to find pee on your floor. And, if your puppy runs into another room where you can’t see them, they may pee without you realizing it.
It’s important to find and treat urine spots so your dog doesn’t keep smelling and marking over and over. To check for surprise puppy pee-pee accidents that could spark unwanted odors, wait until the evening when it’s dark, turn off all interior lights, grab a blacklight, and scan your entire house.
Enzyme-Based Carpet Cleaner
When a dog pees on the carpet, the urine soaks down past the bristles and spreads into the padding. So, the size of the spot you see on the carpet is even larger underneath. If you are not properly cleaning up the urine, your dog will be able to smell it and may continue to have accidents in that same spot. Another issue — urine odor will begin to fill the room. No one wants to take a big whiff of urine! So, make sure to grab an enzyme-based carpet cleaner that will neutralize the urine and eliminate stains.
Here are some of my favorite cleaners:
Puppy Shampoo & Grooming Wipes
Bath time may not be the most fun activity for your dog, but it’s extremely important to keep your pooch clean! How often your dog needs to take the plunge depends on the hair/fur type, lifestyle, and shampoo.
I also recommend keeping grooming wipes handy. A quick paw wipe after walks around your community will help to keep both your dog and your home clean!
Hair Brush / Comb
Regular hair brushing with either a dog brush or comb will help to keep your pup’s coat shiny and healthy. It helps to prevent nasty tangles and mats from forming, spreads natural oils throughout the coat, and allows for a flea/tick check.
Long-haired and medium-haired dogs may require daily brushing to prevent mats. In addition to stocking up on a traditional dog brush and comb, you may want to look into a specific mat comb.
While short-haired dogs can go a few weeks in-between brushing sessions, my short-haired Chihuahua is a big shedder. So, I run a de-shedding brush through his hair several times a week. I notice a huge difference in the feel of his coat, along with how many loose hairs are lying around my furniture and carpet.
Dog Toothbrush & Dog Toothpaste
A big mistake new puppy parents make is ignoring dental health. Get this: More than 70 percent of dogs and cats reportedly suffer from periodontal disease (AKA gum disease) by the time they’re just two years old. The thing with periodontal disease is that it can lead to life-altering health issues, such as pain, kidney disease, and heart disease to name a few. Bacteria from the diseased gums can enter the bloodstream and have devastating effects. Daily toothbrushing is one of the best ways you can keep your pup’s teeth pearly white! I promise it’s not a time-consuming task. But spending a few minutes each day to show your canine kid’s teeth a little TLC will provide him many benefits throughout his lifetime.
Waste Bags and Holder
Whether it’s in my backyard or on a hike, I’m always armed with poop bags. Over the years, I’ve tried many different brands and one thing is clear: always opt for functionality over appearance. There’s nothing worse than reaching down to pick up a hot-off-the-press doggy present and then the cheap bag breaks! My absolute favorite brand is Frisco (sold at Chewy.com), and I get the Refill Dog Poop Bags + 2 Dispensers, 900-count. Yup, 900! In my house, I have one entire bin dedicated to poop bags and it will be a long time before I need to restock.
Plush Toys & Teething-Friendly Toys
Puppies love to play! Plus, teething pups will look to chew on something to relieve their discomfort. So, make sure to load up on all different types of toys: squeaky plush toys, rope toys, KONG toys, and freezable teething toys.
Interactive Puzzle Toys
When it comes to raising a happy and healthy dog, most pet parents know physical exercise is essential. But, did you know mental stimulation is just as important? Some benefits include:
- Fires up your puppy’s mind
- Activates and heightens all senses
- Improves mood
- Busts boredom (yes, dogs can get bored too)
- Tires them out
- Helps to prevent certain behavior problems
One way to help mentally stimulate your pooch is through enrichment toys and puzzles. There are a variety of dog puzzles on the market. They each require slightly different problem-solving skills and offer various challenge levels. But they all have one thing in common — you hide treats somewhere in the puzzle and your dog has to figure out how to get them out. The top puzzle brands to check out are Outward Hound, Trixie, Planet Dog, and KONG.
Save the new puppy checklist photo below and take it with you when you go shopping for your new fur baby!