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14 Things You Need Before You Get a New Puppy

Before you give in and add that family member you didn't know you needed, read this checklist of the must-have items you'll want well before you bring your new furry friend home.

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Puppy CrateVia

A sturdy crate


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Investing in a crate the right size for your puppy is one of the smartest moves you can make. That’s because a crate is useful in meeting both the emotional and physical needs of a young puppy, says Dawn Hoover, DVM, who practices veterinary medicine through Veterinary Relief Services. “This space can give the puppy a safe haven, and also comes in handy when potty training,” she says. “Find one large enough for them to turn around and lay down in, but no larger,” advises Lauren Robinson, DVM, with Alabama-based Grayson Valley Pet Clinic. “Dogs don’t like to lay in their urine or feces and will often hold it. Make it too big for them, and you risk the puppy going to the back to do their business.” Not sure what size puppy you’re about to bring home? Look for a crate with dividers so you can adjust the interior spacing to accommodate the size of your growing dog. This folding metal dog crate from MidWest Homes for Pets comes in seven different sizes, each with dividers, making them ideal for tiny breeds like Chihuahuas all the way up to larger sized dogs like Labrador Retrievers. In case you’re wondering about a substitute for a crate when you travel with your dog—check out these dog carriers. Just make sure you don’t make these puppy training mistakes you’ll regret later.

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

Chew ToysVia

Chew toys


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To help your pup through its teething stage, Dr. Robinson recommends rope toys, stuffed toys, and Nylabones, like this puppy starter pack. However, Dr. Robinson advises not to turn your back for too long. “Always observe your puppy to be sure it isn’t breaking off pieces of toys and eating them.” Make sure you’re protecting your dog from these 11 common household items that can harm pets.

Puppy Play PenVia



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A playpen like this metal playpen from New World Pet Products can be useful, especially if you don’t have a yard or you’re adopting your pup in the winter when it’s too cold to go outside for long periods of time. On the other hand, it’s also sure to get a lot of use if you have a large yard and want to keep your pup from wandering off. “This is one of those nice items to have around because it lets you create a larger area for puppies to play safely in—and that’s important because you can’t watch them constantly,” Dr. Robinson says.

Flirt PoleVia

Flirt pole

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Want to ensure you have a happy, well-adjusted puppy? One of the most important things you can do is to spend quality time playing with them and walking them, says Dr. Hoover. Investing in toys that foster interactive playtime, like this Outward Hound Tail Teaser Dog Flirt Pole, can be great to have around. It can also help your puppy burn through all that pent-up energy. Check out these cutest dog breeds as puppies.

Dog foodVia

High-quality dog food


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This is one of the biggest ongoing expenses of having a dog. Most vets agree that while you don’t have to spend a fortune on dog food, you should pay attention to the ingredients and keep in mind that, as with most other things in life, you get what you pay for. “I look for a good quality protein as the first ingredient along with healthy grains and an AAFCO label,” Dr. Robinson says. This Victor High Protein dog food delivers on all three.

Puppy Training PadsVia

Puppy training pads


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In those first few weeks, some pet owners may be tempted to ease into the potty training routine by using puppy pads. Dr. Robinson says that while these are fine to use, she cautions against using them for too long; this can make it difficult to train your pup to go outside. These American Kennel Club’s Training Pads can be helpful as you transition to day-to-day life with your new pup. These are the 19 things your dog actually wants from you.

Flea and tick killerVia

Flea and tick prevention


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Another considerable but vital expense of pet ownership is preventative flea and tick treatments. Dr. Hoover suggests talking to your vet as some areas of the country don’t require year-round prevention, she says. She recommends looking for vet-approved brands like Advantix. Combination formulas like this K9 Advantix II protect against fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Make sure you aren’t making these mistakes that most dog owners make.

Dog TreatsVia

Healthy treats


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Dr. Hoover recommends Hill’s Science Diet Training Treats because they’re backed by veterinary research and are lean and lower in fat, so you’re not adding unnecessary calories or junk food to your puppy’s diet. Dr. Robinson adds that pet owners should also choose U.S.-made products (Hill’s fits the bill). “There have been issues in the past with toxicity in dog chews and treats from other countries,” she says. If you haven’t figured out a name for your new pup yet, check out the most unique dog names.

Dog CollarVia



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Until you have trained your new puppy to walk alongside you, a head collar can help keep you both happy. Dr. Hoover recommends the PetSafe Gentle Leader Collar, because it helps to prevent pulling, while also protecting the dog’s neck. (If you are considering a brachycephalic or squishy-faced breed, like a French bulldog, Dr. Hoover advises investing in a harness.) “You can’t teach manners soon enough,” Dr. Hoover says. “It’s especially important with large breed dogs, as a puppy with no manners can quickly become a 90-pound menace.” Don’t miss the etiquette rules every dog owner needs to memorize.

Dog LeashVia



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Dr. Hoover recommends a flat nylon leash to start. “Nylons are washable and they come in a lot of colors, making it easy for owners who like to coordinate their pet’s collars for the season.” She adds that the Lupine brand of leashes is known to perform very well and is backed by a lifetime guarantee, even if chewed. These adorable puppy pictures will melt your heart.

Dog bed Via

Dog bed


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To give your puppy his or her own place to sleep (that is not your bed or the sofa), invest in a pet bed made from washable, breathable fabric. Dr. Hoover recommends choosing a sturdy nylon material or memory foam, as long as the bed includes a waterproof cover. This Friends Forever Memory Foam bed has all that, plus offers the added benefit of being chew-proof. Make sure you know the 14 things you do that your dog actually hates.

Food and water bowlVia

Food and water bowls


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It can be tempting to spring for the cute bowls with bright colors and prints, but Dr. Hoover cautions against plastic bowls as they are porous and can harbor bacteria. Instead, opt for a stainless-steel set, like this pair of dishwasher safe dog bowls from Basis Pet. Here are the first 8 things you need to know when training your puppy.

Dog BrushVia

Grooming tool

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When it comes to the ongoing battle between your vacuum cleaner and stray dog hair, the Furminator is well worth the investment, Dr. Hoover says. “They really get all the loose hair out of the puppy’s coat.” There is another advantage to buying (and regularly using) grooming tools like the Furminator brush, she adds. “It’s important for people to start brushing their puppies early so they’re used to being brushed, having their feet handled, and their faces wiped so they are not a nightmare when they get to the vet.” Here are more secrets pet groomers wish they could tell you.

Dog TagsVia

ID tags


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For identification that is easily read and unlikely to be lost, Hoover recommends these personalized collars from GoTags, which include the puppy’s name and owner’s phone number embroidered into the fabric. However, you should also have your pet microchipped. “Collars can be lost or removed, so a microchip implanted by your veterinarian is the best way to ensure lost babies come home.”

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Rebecca C. Walden
Rebecca C. Walden is a freelance writer with Deep South roots, an Alabama native now living in north Texas. Her writing has appeared in Reader's Digest, the Huffington Post, Southern Living, and many other regional publications, focusing on everything from health and wellness to parenting, family, and women's interests. Walden also writes for corporate clients in finance, government, healthcare, and higher education. Check out her latest work