20 must-have products for new dog owners
Behold: Your one-stop shopping list for dog ownership
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You’re probably going to experience a big jumble of emotions when bringing home your new dog or puppy. On one hand, you’re unbelievably excited for your adorable new pet, but chances are you’ll also be a bit worried about how they’ll fit into your family and whether you’re prepared to take care of them. I felt all these emotions—and more—when I brought home my dog, Addy!
I’m willing to bet you’re more prepared than you think (especially if you’re reading this article), but just to assuage your concerns, here’s my list of must-have dog products, based on my own personal experience. With these items on hand, you’ll be fully prepared for anything dog ownership throws at you, so you can relax and enjoy every moment with your new pooch.
1. An appropriately sized dog collar
First thing’s first, your pup is going to need a collar! If you adopt from a rescue or a breeder, they may give you a collar, but chances are you’re going to want one that suits your personal tastes. When shopping for a dog collar, it’s best to select one that’s the right size for your dog, has a quick-release clasp for safety, and has a sturdy D-ring where you can attach a leash. Additionally, collars like this one from Blueberry Pet include an extra loop where you can attach dog tags, so they won’t get in the way of your leash.
2. A crate for mandatory naptime
Whether or not you decide to crate train your dog is up to you, but many pet owners and professional trainers recommend the practice. Personally, I crated Addy until she was around 6 months old, just to ensure she didn’t destroy anything while I was away or have accidents during the night.
If you do decide to crate train, a product like the Frisco Wire Dog Crate is a great option, as it includes a divider panel for growing dogs and folds up for easy transport. It also has two doors and an easy-to-clean plastic base—because accidents happen!
3. A cool, comfy bed that’s ideal for chewy-happy dogs
Many pet owners want to get their dogs plush, cushy beds, but if you’re not sure if your new dog is a chewer, you might want to err on the side of caution and get one of these elevated dog beds instead. These beds have a steel frame covered in durable, PVC-coated fabric, and their elevated design will keep your dog cooler on hot days. Reviewers say that dogs love this bed, and many note that you can put a blanket or towel over it if you want to give your dog extra cushion.
4. This ingenious product that makes bathtime a breeze
Most dogs don’t love getting baths, but you can convince them it’s not so bad with the Aquapaw Slow Treater Dispensing Mat. This silicone mat has a nubby surface, and you simply smear peanut butter over the bumps, then stick the mat to the wall of your bathtub. Your dog can go to town licking the peanut butter, and they’ll barely even notice as you wash them. I own one of these, and it’s the sole reason my dog likes bathtime!
5. An airtight storage container for food
It’s important to store dog food in an airtight container—otherwise mice, bugs, and other unwelcome critters may break into your supply. These stackable pet food containers are an extremely popular option for dog food, as they can hold up to 40 or 60 pounds of kibble and have convenient spin-off lids. They’re made from heavy-duty, BPA-free food-grade plastic, and their airtight seal keeps pests out and odors in.
6. A baby gate to block off certain rooms
Whether you want to keep your dog out of the kitchen, away from the cat litter box, or from going upstairs, a “baby” gate will be your best friend. This extra-wide gate from Carlson Pet Products works in doors 29 to 36.5 inches, and it has a convenient walk-through design that you can easily lock. Plus, there’s a smaller door on the bottom of the gate, just in case you have a cat or small pup who might need to pass through.
7. A sturdy leash for your daily walks
A leash is another essential product for dog owners, and not all leashes are created equal. Personally, I like leashes that have double handles—in addition to the loop at the end of the leash, there’s another loop mid-way down for those instances when you want to keep your dog close to you. This particular double handle leash is 6-feet long and made of heavy-duty nylon, and it even has reflective stitching for when you’re walking at night.
8. A set of washable dog bowls
Your new dog is going to need food and water bowls, and these affordable stainless steel bowls are a great option. They have a 4-¾ cup capacity, so they’re best for medium to large dogs, and they have a rubber base to prevent skidding and protect your floors. Plus, when the bowls get dirty, you can just toss them in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
9. A food mat to minimize dinnertime messes
It’s also a good idea to invest in a food mat, which will keep your dog’s food bowl from damaging your floor. I ended up getting one of these when my dog started playing in her water dish—it kept the mess contained and prevented my hardwood floors from getting wet. The silicone mat has a raised lip to keep spills contained, and it’s stain-resistant, making it a breeze to clean.
10. A Kong toy (or two) to keep your pup busy
When Addy was little, she used to get a Kong stuffed with peanut butter and fruit every night at bedtime—it was the only way she would settle into her crate without a fuss. Now that she’s grown, I still use our Kong toy to keep her occupied when I’m busy working or when we’re going to be gone all day. In fact, we own four of them!
As you might be able to tell, I’m a huge fan of the Kong, which is essentially just a rubber toy with a hollow interior. You can stuff it with all kinds of treats or food, and your pooch will be occupied for hours trying to get the goodies out. You can even freeze them to keep your dog occupied for longer.
11. A special doggie water bottle for hot days
If you’ve ever gone hiking with your pooch, you know it’s important to bring enough water for both of you, and if you don’t want to share your own water bottle, you’ll love this product. This portable water bottle and bowl in one is incredibly handy, as you can squeeze water up into the bowl for your dog to lap up. When your pooch is finished drinking, simply release the bottle to let the remaining water trickle back down into the interior—no water wasted!
12. A medication to repel fleas and ticks
Flea and tick medication is a must-have, especially for those living near wooded areas. One popular choice is the K9 Advantix II topical medication, which comes veterinarian-recommended and lasts up to four weeks between each dose. It's also a good alternative to the Seresto collar, which has been found to have risks associated with it.
13. This guide to help you train your new pooch
Whenever anyone asks how I trained Addy, I recommend two things: puppy school, and this book. I used the five-week program outlined in Training the Best Dog Ever—written by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, who has trained the dogs of several presidents—to teach Addy all her basic commands, and we had great results with the positive reinforcement system. Plus, it doesn’t have to be used with puppies—the program can also be used with adult dogs, which is great if you’re bringing home a rescue.
14. A top-rated ear treatment for infections
There comes a time in every dog’s life when their ears get dirty, itchy, and smelly, and you’ll be glad you have this product on hand. The Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment is an over-the-counter treatment for bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections, cleaning and treating your dog’s ear issues with a once-daily treatment. It also contains hydrocortisone to minimize itching and inflammation.
15. This dog brush with a cult following
A good dog brush will save you a lot of time and effort vacuuming pet hair off your carpets and furniture, and many pet parents swear by the FURminator. The brush comes in two different designs for long- and short-hair dogs, and it’s incredibly effective at removing loose undercoat hair without cutting skin or damaging the topcoat. The FURminator is more expensive than other brushes, but reviewers swear it’s worth it if your dog sheds a lot.
16. Nail clippers for at-home grooming
If your dog’s nails get too long, it can be uncomfortable for them, so it’s important to trim your pooch’s nails at home if they don’t go to the groomer regularly. These popular dog nail clippers deliver clean cuts every time, allowing you to make quick work of this grooming task, and there’s even a built-in safety stop that will prevent you from cutting the nail too short.
17. All-in-1 dog shampoo and conditioner that smells amazing
After a long day of swimming or playing in the dirt, your dog will probably be quite stinky! When this happens, it’s time to break out the licking mat listed above and give them a good bath. The Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo and Conditioner is a top-rated product among pet parents, who say it will leave your dog super soft and smelling fresh. Plus, it’s gentle enough for pups with sensitive skin.
18. These durable rubber toy balls
Toy shopping for your dog is always fun, and I’d definitely recommend adding some Chuckit! Balls to the list. These rubber balls are incredibly durable, even for dogs who love to destroy toys, and they’re easy to spot in your yard thanks to the bright orange color. Plus, you can also get a special Chuckit! Launcher to go along with them, which allows you to send the balls flying for some seriously intense games of fetch.
19. A big box of treats for your good boy or girl
Milk-Bone is arguably one of the most popular dog treats out there, as they’re loved by dogs and affordable, too. This 10-pound box of medium-sized treats costs just $12, and it will last you for months! Milk-Bones are fortified with 12 vitamins and minerals, and their crunchy texture helps to remove plaque and tartar, keeping your dog’s teeth nice and clean.
20. A long-lasting supply of poop bags
While not the most glamorous purchase you’ll make for your dog, poop bags are a necessity, especially if you don’t have your own yard. Luckily, many retailers offer multi-packs of poop bags, ensuring you’ll have enough to last several months.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.