The Ultimate New Puppy Checklist: 17 Items to Make Your Dog Feel at Home

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Whether you currently have a dog, have had a dog in the past, or have never had a dog, bringing home a new puppy is no small feat. To make the transition as easy as possible, it’s important to make sure you’ve collected all the essentials you’ll need for your new fuzzy family member.

In this guide, we’ll provide you with a list of everything you’ll need for your new puppy, broken down into two categories based on the immediacy of the need:

  • What you’ll need right away (preferably before your pup comes home)
  • What you’ll need within the first two weeks

And, after each list, we’ll explain each item in further detail, including why your new dog will need each item, what items are best for a puppy (rather than a grown dog), and where to find them. So let’s get to it!

The Basic New Puppy Checklist

Working with a barebones new puppy checklist will let you immediately see what items you’ll need when bringing a puppy home. After the list, we’ll discuss each item in detail, such as the different kinds of dog food available on the market and the best styles and materials to buy for your pup’s leash, harness, and collar.

Don’t panic if you don’t know what kind of crate or dog toys to buy yet; we’ll lay out all the details so that you can make the best choice for everything your new family member needs!

What You’ll Need Immediately

Food
Bowls
Treats
Collar
ID Tag
Leash (and Harness)
Bedding
Soft Toy
Chew Toy
Cleaning Supplies
Containment (such as baby gates or dog playpen)
Optional: Crate (if you’re crate training)

What You’ll Need Soon (Within the First 2 Weeks)

Additional dog toys and chews (balls, Kong toys, rope toys, pig’s ears, bully sticks…)
Dog Shampoo
Hairbrush or comb
Nail clippers
Styptic (blood clotting) powder or gel
Dog toothbrush and toothpaste
Optional: Car travel crate or harness
Optional: Bitter Apple spray
Optional: Wee mats or artificial turf (if potty training indoors)

 

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Now that we’ve got the list, let’s talk specifics

 

The New Puppy Supplies You Need, Explained

As we said, a basic new puppy checklist like the one above is a great tool for double-checking that you have everything you need. But if you’ve never had a puppy before or it’s been a long time since the last time you brought a new puppy home, you’ll probably want a little more information than to just “buy food.”

Here, we’ll go into more detail for each of the items on our dog supplies checklists so you can make sure you’ve bought the right puppy supplies to make your new furry  friend the happiest and healthiest it can be.

 

New Puppy Essentials

It’s best to lay in some supplies even before bringing a puppy home. That way, you know you’re prepared and can get straight to introducing your dog to its new home, rather than scrambling last minute at the store.

 

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Everything you’ll need right away

 

Food

Of course, probably the most important item on the list for your new puppy is food. Your puppy will need to eat 2 – 3 times a day, so food is a top priority.

Nutrients

A good quality puppy food should have a balanced mix of animal proteins and fat, with an addition of carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. At least 60% of the total calories in your dog’s food should come from protein, but it’s best if it’s somewhere between 70 – 80%. And the first ingredient(s) of a quality puppy/dog food should always be some type of meat (beef, poultry, fish, lamb, rabbit) and meat meal.

In order to help your puppy avoid indigestion, buy a small bag of the food your pup has been eating already in addition to whatever new food you choose. Over the course of 7 – 10 days, mix your puppy’s current food with whatever new brand of food you’ve chosen until you’ve completed transitioned your puppy to the new diet.

Type of Food

As for the style of food, the most popular and economical type of dog food is dry food or “kibble.” Do take note, though, that there are many different brands and types of dog food that you and your pup can experiment with, such as freeze dried food, wet food, or even a raw food diet.

Some dogs respond poorly to certain brands or types of meat, so you may need to try a few different types of food before you find the right one for your puppy. Lamb is generally the easiest kind of meat for dogs to digest, so if your pup has a touchy stomach, it’s a good idea to start off with a lamb-based diet. 

It’s also a good idea to avoid dog foods with large amounts of wheat or grain-based protein. Dogs are capable of digesting wheat and other grains, but it’s not the best for them nutritionally (just like we can eat fast food every day…but we probably shouldn’t).

Puppy vs. Dog Food

Puppies are growing at a fast pace, and they need a higher calorie diet than grown dogs. So, if you’re bringing home a new puppy, it’s a good idea to get a puppy-based dog food if you can.

If you can’t find a good quality puppy food, don’t panic! Most adult dog food is perfectly acceptable for puppies, and most brands give a different serving size for puppies. Just follow the directions and reduce the portion size when your puppy becomes a full grown dog.

 

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Although more omnivorous than their wolfy ancestors, domestic dogs still require a mainly meat-based diet

 

Bowls

You’ll want somewhere to put all that delicious puppy food (and your dog’s water, of course), so let’s talk bowls.

Your puppy should have a fixed place where it eats and drinks as well as its own food and water bowls. This will give your puppy a sense of routine and help prevent any “begging for food” habits from forming.

No matter the type of diet you feed your new pup, always use glass, stainless steel, or ceramic dog food and water bowls. Don’t use plastic bowls, as they can cause a greater buildup of bacteria than other types of bowls and potentially make your dog ill. And, since they’re so light, plastic bowls can also be a tempting target for young puppies to chew on or carry away….

Stainless steel is generally the best material to use for dog bowls in terms of sanitation, but can also be the most expensive option. But, no matter the material you choose, make sure the bowls are dishwasher safe and free of lead.

Do also remember to give your dog’s bowls a good clean with soap and water or a run through the dishwasher after each meal. Bacteria builds up quickly, and if you wouldn’t want to eat off the same unwashed plate for every meal, your dog shouldn’t have to either.

 

Treats

Treats are a must when it comes to teaching your new puppy the basic do’s and don’t’s around the house, so you’ll want to stock up before your pup comes home.

As with your puppy’s main source of food, look carefully at the ingredient list of any dog treats you may want to purchase. Avoid treats that are mostly “filler” ingredients like wheat or corn, and steer very clear of any dog treats with added sugars—your pup doesn’t need it!

Meat-based dog treats are a good bet for almost any dog when it comes to flavor and nutrition. Do take note that if the treats contain pumpkin, use them sparingly. Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber and, in small doses, can help bulk up a dog’s loose stool. In large doses, however, it can cause diarrhea, which is especially problematic (even dangerous) for puppies.

And finally, keep track of the amount of treats you give your puppy throughout the day and be sure to reduce meal sizes accordingly to compensate for those extra calories.

 

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Behold the miracle of treats + training

 

Collar

A collar is the place to hang your dog’s ID tag, which tells the world that your pup belongs to someone. You can also hook up a leash directly to a dog’s collar for any type of outing (though we’ll also talk harnesses in a bit).

Material

In terms of material, the most popular type of dog collar is a nylon collar. These types of collars are popular because they’re inexpensive, machine washable, and come in many different styles and patterns.

Though there are other material options for collars (including leather or metal), for a puppy, it’s best to go with a thin nylon collar to avoid too much weight being placed on the neck.

Style

As for collar style, a “quick release” collar is the most common, inexpensive, and popular option. This is a flat collar with a pinch mechanism (usually plastic, but sometimes metal) that allows the buckle to snap open with a squeeze.

A quick release collar is the most common because it’s fairly durable, easy to use, and one of the least expensive types of dog collar. Do take note that the release may become loose over time, so be sure to check it periodically.

Sizing

Make sure you buy an appropriately sized collar for your new puppy and that it’s fastened at the proper fit.

  • You should not be able to slip the collar over your dog’s head while the collar is fastened
  • You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably between your dog’s neck and the collar

Puppies grow quickly, so be sure to continually check the fit of your dog’s collar as your puppy grows bigger.

 

ID Tag

In case your puppy is ever lost, an ID tag is a must. An ID tag is usually a thin piece of metal tag attached to a dog’s collar that allows people contact you if your dog ever becomes lost.

There are a few pieces of information your dog’s ID tag should always have:

  • Your phone number
  • An alternate phone number or your veterinarian’s phone number

Any other information is useful, but ultimately unnecessary. So if you have a small ID tag, save the real estate for important phone numbers. If you do have more room on the tag, however, then go ahead and put additional information. 

Optional information to put on an ID tag:

  • Your dog’s name
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • A short message like, “I’m lost!” or “Call my family!” or, if your dog requires medication, “Needs medication.” (In some communities, dogs are commonly off-leash, and a short message like this lets people know that your dog is actually lost and needs help to get back to you.)

If your dog is microchipped, then it’s also a good idea to have a separate tag with the microchip number and the name of the company.

 

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The proud owner of a quick-release collar and some lovely ID tags

 

Leash (and Harness)

A leash lets you take your new puppy out and about to see the sights of the world, which is important for your puppy’s mental and social development.

As with collars, leashes can be made from a variety of materials. Again, the most popular option is nylon, as it is easily cleaned, inexpensive, and comes in a variety of styles.

You can attach a leash directly to either a collar or to a harness, but a harness is more secure and less likely to slip off a dog if the dog: pulls, becomes panicked, tries to chase after something, or is otherwise a “flight risk.” A harness also keeps a dog from straining its neck and back if the dog has a tendency to pull.

Puppies and small breed dogs have delicate necks, so a harness is a safer option than attaching a leash directly to the collar. A lightweight, standard leash (typically 6 feet long) made of nylon, attached to a chest harness is the best bet when training a puppy to walk with a leash.

 

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The harness keeps the little pup from doing damage to its neck (even as it strains for the Wild)

 

Toys (Soft and Chew)

Toys help your puppy develop its growing brain, as well as provide entertainment and security. Puppies need toys (or else they’ll make toys out of your prized possessions!), and they’ll want a variety.

Different puppies will have different play styles and puppy toys come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and option. So you may need to experiment with a few different types to find the best puppy toys for your particular pup.

Chew Toys

Puppies, in particular, are voracious chewers. So be sure to stock up on a few chew toys!

Always make sure to read the packaging and buy chew toys that are specifically marked for puppies. Once your puppy has lost the majority of its baby teeth (usually around 6-8 months old), replace all puppy chew toys with adult chew toys to prevent any choking incidents.

Hard rubber chew toys and antlers are both long-lasting and generally safe for chewing. Do keep in mind that it’s normal for a dog to break off small pieces of a chew toy (no larger than a grain of rice), but remove any larger pieces and replace the toy when it gets worn.

When it comes to edible chew toys like bully sticks, hooves, and pig’s ears, give these to your puppy in moderation. These chews contain a lot of salt and calories, so it’s best to save them for special occasions only. And make sure to replace or otherwise remove edible chews when they become too small, as they can pose a choking hazard.

Soft Toys

Soft toys can provide both fun and comfort for a puppy, so be sure to give your puppy at least one soft toy to play with. Some dogs like to carry a soft toy around like a “security blanket,” while others prefer to shake, chase, or “kill” their soft toys. Experiment with different types as you come to understand your puppy’s play style.

If the soft toy has a squeaker, make sure to remove the plastic squeaker if or when your puppy gets ahold of it. Your puppy can easily choke on the thin plastic, so keep a sharp eye out.

 

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Chew toys will help prevent such adorable disasters

 

Bedding

Your pup will need a soft place to rest in the house, especially if you’re training your pup not to get on the furniture. But even if your puppy is welcome on the bed or couch, a bed of its own gives your puppy a place to rest and even retreat to when necessary.

Any soft dog bed, mat, or nest will be perfect for your puppy to rest on. One of the more popular options is a circular dog bed with raised sides, but dogs will naturally gravitate to soft surfaces in the house, so your pup will be happy with most any type of comfortable resting place.

In addition to bedding in common spaces, your puppy will also need bedding in the crate (if you’re crate training). As with common-space bedding, any type of soft dog bed, blankets, or other padding will be perfect in the crate.

 

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Now there’s a comfy pupper

 

Optional: Crate

Some dog-parents decide to crate train and some do not. We’ve listed a crate as “optional” for this very reason. If you do decide to crate train, it’s best to obtain a dog crate right away (preferably before your pup comes home). This way, you can get started training your pup to accept and sleep in the crate immediately.

Though not strictly necessary, crate-training is often a good idea. A crate provides a den-like space for your puppy that’s all its own and is also useful for: potty training, as a place for your puppy to sleep, and for limiting your puppy’s access to the rest of the house during certain times.

Dogs are naturally averse to soiling their “den,” so the crate will be a place free from most potty-training accidents. Do note that a few accidents will still happen, especially in the case of young puppies. Don’t be discouraged. Simply clean out the crate as thoroughly as you can and move on.

Material

Most crates are either made from plastic or metal wire, and neither is inherently better or worse than the other. The type you choose will depend on the type that fits your lifestyle and aesthetic.

Plastic crates are lighter weight and often less expensive than metal crates, but are rigid and so cannot be folded up and stored away. They are also difficult to clean and more odor-absorbent than metal crates.

Metal crates can be folded and carried from place to place, but are also heavier (and sometimes louder) than plastic crates. They are easy to clean, but are often more expensive than plastic crates.

Again, these are generally minor differences, so simply choose the type of crate that appeals to you the most.

Size

A crate should be just large enough for your puppy to: lie down flat and stretched out, turn around, sit, and stand up in. Any larger than that and the puppy will have room enough to relieve itself in a corner and lie down on the other side of the crate without much stress. A smaller crate/“den” will prevent these kinds of potty accidents from happening.

You want the den to feel cozy, but not too cramped for your puppy to move around in, so use your best judgment. Eventually, you’ll most likely have to either expand the crate (if it comes with partitions) or purchase a new crate as your puppy grows older and larger.

 

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Make sure your puppy’s crate is a liiiiiiittle bigger than this

 

Other New Puppy Supplies (Get Within 2 Weeks)

The immediate-need list will typically get you through the first few days (or even the first week or two) without a problem, but you’ll need to lay in a few more dog supplies to keep your new pup happy and healthy in the long-run.

 

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You have some time to gather the rest of your puppy supplies (though sooner is better than later)

 

Cleaning Supplies

Puppies are bound to have potty-training accidents, but you can help prevent more of them by buying the right cleaning products.

Dogs will naturally want to urinate in the same places they’ve already done so, so you’ll want to use a cleaner that helps to dispel the smell of doggy urine. Look for a cleaning product that uses a bio-enzyme cleanser—this removes the scent of urine and pheromones so that your dog (hopefully) won’t target the same spot over and over.

Make sure to look for the label “bio-enzyme” specifically, as some cleaners will only remove the stain or the smell from human perception. But your dog will still be able to smell it just fine!

A cleaner meant for dog urine, vomit, and fecal stains and odors should be pet-safe and nontoxic, but always double-check the labeling just in case. And be sure to note whether or not you can use the cleaners on carpet, wood, tile, stone, linoleum, or other floor surfaces, as well as on new or fresh stains (preferably both).

 

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Only a thorough cleaning will prevent your puppy from targeting the same spots again and again

 

Containment

Your puppy should not be locked in a crate all the time, but until your pup is trustworthy and well potty-trained, it shouldn’t have free access to all areas of the house either. At any given time, your pup should always be in one of three places: in a controlled space, near you on a leash, or loose within your eyesight.

Baby gates/puppy gates can help wall off areas of the house that your puppy shouldn’t have access to, or allow you to confine the puppy to one space—like the kitchen—while still allowing you and your puppy to see, hear, and smell each other.

You can also provide your puppy a playpen/den (usually made from metal wire) as a safe place to play and sleep in that’s larger than a crate. The den should be large enough for your puppy to romp around in, but not allow for free-access to the whole house.

A den or other contained area, plus a strict bathroom schedule, should help prevent both potty mishaps and any puppy-related destruction of property in the house.

 

Dog Shampoo

Puppies need to be bathed more often than adult dogs, but also shouldn’t be bathed too often. If that seems confusing, it’s a general rule of thumb that it’s better to bathe a puppy (or a dog) too little rather than too often.

If your puppy is noticeably dirty, smelly, sticky, or otherwise in need of a bath, then it’s time for one. Otherwise, a bath every 1 – 2 months is perfectly fine for a puppy.

Puppies have very sensitive skin, so you’ll also want to find a puppy shampoo—not an adult dog shampoo and definitely not a human shampoo!—for your pup. If possible, try to find one with aloe vera or coconut as one of its ingredients.

 

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A gentle bath for gentle puppy skin

 

Nail Clippers

Most dogs (especially puppies) don’t get enough everyday wear on their nails to keep them short naturally, and so they’ll need to have their nails trimmed every so often. If you don’t trim their nails, the nails will become sharp and over-grown and will cause your dog pain while walking and jumping. The nails can also become ingrown and lead to infection.

Some dog breeds will naturally have longer nails than other breeds, but for most dogs, it’s time to give their nails a trim when you can hear them click-clacking on hard flooring. When it’s time for a nail trim, you can either do it yourself or get them trimmed regularly at a dog groomer’s or vet’s office.

Scissor clippers are the most popular option for clipping your dog’s nails at home, as they are: inexpensive, easy to use, and appropriate for both small to medium dogs and puppies. These clippers are shaped like small scissors with notches on the ends to hold the dog’s nail in place. The scissors snip off the end of the nail when you squeeze the handle.

Do note that scissor clippers are useful for small dogs and puppies, but don’t have enough power for larger dog breeds. So if your puppy will grow into a large dog, you may have to graduate to a different style of nail clipper, such as guillotine clippers or a nail grinder.

 

Blood Clotting Powder or Gel (Styptic Product)

The quick of a dog’s nail contains the blood and blood vessels. If you accidentally cut a dog’s nail too short, you’ll nick the quick and it will cause the dog pain and bleeding. For most people, this is a rare occurrence, but is distressing for both the dog and the human when it does happen. A blood-coagulating product (also known as a “styptic”) will help keep any pain and stress from nail-clipping accidents to a bare minimum.

The quick of a dog’s nail tends to bleed a lot and is slow to clot on its own (when nicked, it can bleed upwards of 20-30 minutes), so having a blood clotting powder or gel on hand for nail-cutting emergencies is a must. If your puppy’s nail starts to bleed, apply the styptic powder or gel as quick as you can and hold pressure for at least 30 seconds.

Each product will have its own instructions on how to use it, but they all work to stop the bleeding in well under a minute. Most products also act as an antiseptic as well as a coagulant, so you won’t have to worry about infection so long as you prevent your pup from licking at the nail.

 

Optional: Car Travel Containment

At some point, you’ll probably need to take your puppy somewhere in the car, like to the vet’s office, a friend’s house, or a dog park. When traveling by car, it’s safest for both the driver and the dog for the dog to be restrained. This way, the dog isn’t distracting the driver during the trip and will be secured if there’s any unexpected stop, swerve, or even crash.

Two of the most popular dog travel containment systems are a harness or a booster seat. And, of all the car travel options, the harness is generally the cheapest and most convenient to use.

A car harness attaches to a clipped-in seat belt and supports the dog’s chest while holding the pup in place during the drive. The harness gives enough room for the dog to sit or lie down, but stops the dog from launching forward as a projectile in the instance of a sudden stop or crash.

Do note that you should always use a harness specifically designed for a car—don’t just clip your dog’s walking harness to the seatbelt. Walking harnesses are not designed to absorb impact from sudden starts, stops, or crashes from a car.

However, most car harnesses can also double as a walking harness, so you can save yourself some time and money by purchasing a car harness and then using it for everyday walking and training.

 

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Pictured: the exact opposite of safe dog containment in a car

 

Optional: Bitter Apple Spray

Bitter Apple is a training product designed to deter unwanted dog-chewing. It’s an unpleasant-tasting (but nontoxic!) liquid that most pups try to avoid at all costs.

So if your pup starts chewing on anything forbidden—furniture, leashes, carpets—a few squirts of bitter apple spray on the item in question should deter the dog for a little while. Do take note that you’ll have to reapply the product periodically, as the taste will wear off in a day or two.

 

Optional: Wee Mats or Artificial Turf

If you choose not to potty train your pup outdoors or if you live in an apartment, you may choose to use wee mats or artificial turf for your pup.

Artificial turf can be placed indoors or outside on a patio or balcony and typically contains both fake grass as well as some type of waste-catching receptacle. Buying artificial turf is often more expensive than buying wee mats, but the turf can be used over and over again (provided you make sure to clean it often).

Wee mats are disposable, absorbent mats that you can place anywhere in the house or outside on a balcony or patio. These mats contain pheromones that your dog can smell which signal that the mat is a place to potty (as opposed to your bathmat, for instance). Generally, each mat can be used once or twice, but you’ll have to replace them continuously, as your pup won’t want to keep going to the bathroom a dirty mat. 

 

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So long as your pup gets a chance to walk and run around during the day, how you choose to potty train is totally up to you

 

Where to Shop for Dog Supplies When Bringing a Puppy Home

In the course of completing your new puppy checklist, you can easily spend anywhere from 350 to over 1,000 dollars, depending on the sizes and quality of the products you decide to purchase. And depending, of course, on where you decide to shop.

If convenience is your priority, then any big box pet store like Pet Food Express, Petco, or PetSmart should have all the dog supplies you’re looking for, from the lowest to the highest quality. You can easily do one sweep and complete your whole list in under an hour. Do take note that, while these stores often have deals, their prices will still generally be on the high-end of the scale.

If low price is your priority and you’re willing to shop around a few different places, then you can shave off some of the expense by shopping used, shopping online, or shopping at membership clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club.

You can often find crates and puppy accessories like leashes and collars from Craigslist or Ebay for a fraction of the price you’d get from a store. For items that should be purchased new, like toys and bedding, you can often find what you need at membership clubs at a deep discount. And, if you’re a savvy enough shopper, you can find almost anything dog-related from online retailers like Amazon (just be sure to compare their prices to the big box stores—you can end up paying more online if you’re not careful).

No matter how or where you shop for your dog supplies, you’re going to find that your wallet feels a little light by the end. Luckily, many of the items on the new puppy checklist only need to be purchased once or twice for the entirety of your pup’s life, but when it comes right down to it, pet ownership is costly no matter what you do.

But, in the end, you’ll be bringing home a new family member. And your puppy will be grateful for the warm welcome. 

 

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