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New Puppy Checklist: 14 Things You Need to Buy for Your New Dog

These new dog supplies will help make sure your dog stays healthy and happy as she eases into her new home.

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You need: Dog crate

The biggest mistake new pet parents sometimes make is not sufficiently controlling the environment of their new dog. A dog crate can be a convenient way to help you do just that for short periods, particularly with housetraining. Durable plastic crates are easy to clean and perfect for traveling. Wire crates are another option—they offer more ventilation and a full view, and you can cover them with a towel at night to create a cozier atmosphere. Look for a crate that is easy to open and close and just large enough that your dog can stand up and turn around in it easily. You might also consider getting an oversized crate with an adjustable divider panel so that you can slowly expand the room your dog has as she grows and also begins to understand that she shouldn’t do her business in the crate. Here are the first 5 things to train your puppy.

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You need: Baby gate and puppy playpen

A gate and a playpen can assist with supervision: A gate prevents your dog from entering rooms you don’t want her to go into, while a playpen allows her to run around and play in a confined area. Gates are also essential for blocking staircases. Keep one up until your dog is at least six months old and can navigate the stairs on her own. Choosing a gate that’s durable and made of a material other than wood. Make sure no openings on the gate are large enough for the dog to stick her head through—she can wind up getting stuck or strangled. As for a playpen, make sure it is sturdy and that your dog can’t chew through it or climb out of it.

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You need: Bowls

Your dog will need at least one bowl for food and one for water. Get a few extras so that you can wash them every day and easily swap out a dirty water bowl with a clean one. Try an elevated dog bowl to prevent spillage and messes. Did you know a dog bowl is dirtier than a toilet seat? Stainless steel is your best bet because it’s durable and won’t chip. Heavy ceramic is another option, but make sure it doesn’t contain lead, which can be toxic to your dog. Avoid anything with dyes, and stay away from plastic if possible—some dogs are allergic to it while many like to chew on it, and pieces might splinter off.

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You need: Food

Find out what your dog has been eating at the place where you found her and buy a small bag of that food. Suddenly switching from one food to another can cause diarrhea (just what you need with a dog who isn’t housetrained yet!). When it’s time to change foods, Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution goes into more detail about how to choose the right one for your dog, or get advice from your vet or pet store.

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You need: ID

If your dog were to run away and get lost, an ID tag that hooks onto your dog’s collar can be the key to reuniting with her. It’s up to you what the tag says; at least include your phone number so if someone finds your dog, they can contact you. Some people opt to also include their name, address, their dog’s name, and other identifying details.

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You need: Collar or harness

Your dog will need a collar right away to hold her ID tag and eventually her rabies tag. At first, just pick up a simple adjustable nylon or leather collar that buckles together. You should be able to slip only two fingers under the collar. For safety reasons, take the collar off when your dog is in her crate. While a collar is essential for your dog’s ID tags, a harness is also great for most dogs for general control, safety, and training—especially for puppies eight months and younger, small breeds, those with short noses such as Pugs and Boxers, and dogs with thin necks such as Greyhounds. Choose one that’s easy to get on and off.

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You need: Leashes

You’ll need a leash not only to walk your dog but also for training. For the initial leash, choose one that’s four to six feet long—ideally nylon because they are the least expensive, you can tie them to a belt loop, and they are the easiest to wash. Leather and rope are fine, too. You’ll also need a longer lead leash—20 to 30 feet—for training.

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You need: Grooming tools

It’s your responsibility to keep your dog clean, but which tools you’ll need depends on her breed or combination of breeds and whether or not you plan to hire a groomer or do it yourself. At first, at least make sure you have a good bristle brush to keep your dog’s coat tangle-free. Pick up shampoo, nail trimmers, cotton balls, an ear cleaner, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.

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You need: Toys

When it comes to toys for your dog, don’t go overboard. Buy a few different types and see what your dog likes. Choose toys that are durable, size-appropriate, and a little bigger than you think you need; for instance, choose a ball that will fit in your dog’s mouth but one she can’t swallow. Many dogs, especially puppies, have a strong urge to chew—stick with hard rubber toys that help her satisfy this need. If you notice your pet tearing her squeaky rabbit to shreds or eating the plastic eyes off of it, or a toy rope starts to fray, then remove it immediately. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, choose toys that are “indestructible,” “ultra durable,” or something similar.

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You need: Chemical deodorizer

When you’re housetraining, your dog is going to have accidents in the house. It’s a normal part of the process. Of course, you’re going to clean up any mess right away, but your dog’s keen sense of smell will detect the urine or feces odor for a long time even when you can’t. This, in turn, can lead her to continue marking the same spot repeatedly, as at first dogs are likely to go to the same spot or two to do their business. To remove the odor, clean the soiled spot with an enzyme-based chemical deodorizer you can find in pet supply stores or some grocery stores.

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You need: Poop bags or scooper

Many areas require by law that people pick up their dog’s poop. And even if your city or neighborhood doesn’t, do it anyway—leaving a mess on the street is not only unneighborly, it’s also dangerous: it can cause the spread of parasites, and the feces can wash into local water sources and contaminate it. Stock up on plastic bags or pick up some dog poop bags at your pet supply store along with a dispenser that attaches to your dog’s leash. After your dog goes potty, put the bag over your hand, grab the poop, and then turn the bag inside out and tie it closed; when you get home, dispose of it in your trash. Another option: a pooper-scooper, a device designed to pick up dog poop, handy for cleaning up your yard.

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You need: Treats

Treats can be an essential training tool or just a nice way to give your dog a little something special. There are two types: The first is high-quality soft dog treats (commonly known as “training treats”) that you can store at room temperature and easily access to reward your dog spontaneously when she does something you like. However, for primary training sessions, you’ll want to get your dog excited and motivated for training, so the key is to choose a treat that she really loves such as tiny pieces of boiled chicken or another real meat as the treat. In general, make sure training treats are low in fat and sodium and made in America. Also, while you shouldn’t over-treat your dog with low-quality commercial dog treats “just because,” the occasional traditional dog biscuit is fine.

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You need: Bones and rawhides

You’ll likely want to have at least a bone or two on hand to help satisfy your dog’s chewing urge, which is particularly strong for puppies as their teeth come in. Always choose a bone that your dog can’t possibly choke on. If you want to give your dog rawhides, buy the ones that are compressed and don’t have a twist on the end (dogs can unwind these, which can lead to a choking hazard). Once your dog has consumed half the rawhide, replace it, and if you notice that your dog is going through rawhides very quickly, find something else for her to chew. Another favorite option: 100 percent naturally shed deer antlers, which last an extremely long time, clean teeth, and don’t stain, splinter, or chip. Other hard bones that don’t splinter may be good options, too.

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You need: Bedding

You’ll have dozens of dog beds to choose from, if and when you decide to purchase one for your pet—everything from your basic donut beds to luxury couches, orthopedic cushions, and even heated beds. But don’t invest in a pricey bed right off the bat; wait until your dog is done housetraining. Also, during their first several months or even longer, many dogs will chew up their new bed. In the meantime, you can make your dog’s crate extra cozy with a simple mat or old blankets or towels (as long as she doesn’t chew them).

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More Ways to Prepare for a New Dog

Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution is a groundbreaking, comprehensive guide that teaches people everything they need to know to raise and train their dogs. Learn more and buy the book here. Also, visit and check out Zak George’s You Tube channel for more ways to get your home ready for a new dog.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest