Updated: Feb 15, 2021
"What do I need to buy for my puppy?" If you are asking this then you are already on the right track to being a great puppy-parent.
Below is a list of the essentials followed by a break down of which products I personally found over my 10 years of being a qualified dog trainer to be the best in the industry.
Things you need for your puppy
High quality dog food
Water and food bowl
Crate and puppy pen
Lead, collar and harness
Dog ID Tag
Safe natural chews
Puppy safe treats
Heartbeat Snuggle puppy
Puppy litter tray
Getting everything before the puppy arrives is going to help your puppy to settle into their new forever home and will help to ease you into the journey of puppy-parenthood.
Management is key. Prevent your puppy from doing the unwanted behaviours such as chewing cables, furniture and chairs. Use puppy pens and baby gates and train your puppy to do what you would like them to repeat. For example sitting for attention rather than jumping, chewing on their puppy safe chews rather than your hands and clothing.
Along with buying all your puppy the essentials products, you should also ask your self "what does my puppy need form me?"
Along with consistency, patience, and lots of love, your puppy is going to need early health screenings, veterinary visits, vaccines, safe and appropriate socialisation and the most important thing obedience training from a qualified positive trainer. All of this is key to raising a happy, healthy, and well-rounded puppy!
So, let's go through the list in more detail.
Puppy Food - What to look for
Puppy food contains more nutrients than adult dog food does and a puppy needs these special nutrients to grow and develop properly.
Your puppy might come home with a bag of the food his breeder has weaned him onto. If you are looking at changing the brand then make sure you do it gradually over the following week. Speak to your vet about when and how to transition if you are unsure.
Picking a good quality food brand can feel like a mine field. There are so many brands out there all saying how good they are. The important thing to look for is the ingredients. You want to make sure the food contains at least 60% real human grade meat. ( you will be surprised how many don't.) I have written a detailed blog post on everything you need to know about picking the best quality food for your puppy here: 'How to choose the best puppy food'
Butterbox is my go to fresh food brand. - Get 75% off your first order here
Eden is my favourite dry food brand
Natural Instinct is my go to Raw food brand
Water and Food Bowls
Ceramic or stainless-steel bowls are easy to clean and won’t harbor bacteria like plastic does. They are also dishwasher safe and you can get them in a variety of colours.
This Mason Cash bowl comes in a couple of colours and sizes
Your puppy should always have access to water even through the night. Puppies get dehydrated quickly and need access to water during the night. Your puppy will more than likely get up a couple of times during the middle of the night to go to the toilet. Their bladders are still tiny and they can't hold it in yet. Not giving them access to water wont stop this as they will still need to get up. So it is best to make sure you have a water bowl that can be attached to your puppy's crate. (if you are crate training.)
This crate water bowl by GreeSuit hangs off the bars of the crate. This way your puppy won't accidentally knock the water bowl while they are sleeping or step in it.
Crate and Puppy Pen
When you're looking at what size crate to get, ideally you need one that is big enough for your puppy to be able to stretch out and stand in. Puppy crates don't have to be used forever. Once your puppy is fully house trained then you can ditch the crate for a comfy bed.
For the first few nights I would recommend that your puppy sleeps near you either in your bedroom or you move into the puppy's room and sleep on a blow up bed or pull out sofa. Don't forget this will be the first time your puppy has ever slept on their own without their mum or siblings, on top of that they will be in a strange house with people they have only recently met.
A foldable fabric crate might be easier to have in your bedroom than a crate.
Puppy Pens are great for keeping your puppy safe. The last thing you want is your new puppy wondering around the house where there are lots of potential dangers. Puppies like to explore new things with their mouth. They will chew anything and everything in reach. On top of that your puppy has no idea where they should go to the toilet and will just go anywhere.
Whenever you can't supervise them, you will want to be sure they are confined to an area where they are safe and their toileting accidents can be contained. Puppy pens are great for giving your puppy a safe play and sleep area.
A lot of puppy owners use puppy pads however I have found that puppies tend to tear them up and eat them which can be dangerous. If possible I would recommend not have any puppy pads in the house as you end up having to train your puppy twice. Once to go on the pad and again to go outside on the grass, however if you don't have access to a secure garden or live in an apartment then I would recommend looking into getting something more natural to your puppy like a slab of grass, sand or pebbles in a puppy litter box. That way your puppy will be practicing weeing and pooing on an outdoor surface while in the pen at times you can't take them outside. For more information on how to toilet train your puppy check out my blog post here.
Dogs like to have a choice of places to sleep. In the early months your puppy will be spending most of the resting time in their pen but once they can have access to most of the house it would be a good idea to give them a couple of bed options. Dogs like to sleep off the floor especially in the colder months. (That is why they love to sleep on your sofa or bed.)
For the early months vet bedding is great to use in their crate. It can soaks up urine and can be easily washed. Get a bed that your puppy can stretch out on, in their puppy pen. Small round beds can be a bit limiting and bad for their growing joints. Even though puppies love to curl up small at times it's good to have a bed that does not limit them to that position. Something with low sides.
Once your puppy is out of the pen you can look into getting them an elevated bed. The ones from Hik9 are great.
As mentioned at the start of the blog, management is key. You will need to puppy-proof the house for at least the first 8 months as your puppy will be into everything, just like a human toddler. You will need to make sure there is nothing on the floor that is not puppy safe or anything on open shelves that is at is at puppy height.
baby gates are very handy to keep puppies in or to keep puppies out. If you don't want your puppy having access to your rooms upstairs then a stair gate is a great management tool.
Bettacare Auto Close Gate Slate work exactly how you need them to.
Your puppy will need - Lead, Collar and Harness
Your puppy is new to “wearing” things, so when picking out a collar, look for a soft, adjustable one that won’t irritate his sensitive neck.
I like the collars from Halti. They come in a few different collars and are nice and light.
Now let's talk dog leads. The regular dog lead (1.2m) is far too short. They don'y give your puppy enough slack to sniff and safely explore without going tight. If the lead is constantly tight, your puppy will pull against it. The looser the lead then less your puppy will want to pull. I would recommend buying a 2.5m or 3m.
The training lead from Halti is a good size. Make sure you order the small as its lighter and the clip is smaller.
A recall Long line is very useful when you start to take your puppy out to the park to practice their recall. It gives your puppy that extra bit of freedom while also having the safety of them not being able to run off. The long line should be between 10m - 20m long.
Clix do some nice light ones, which are perfect for little pups.
A harness is a must. It helps to take the pressure off your puppy's neck. Many dogs suffer from thyroid problems later in life because of the constant pressure on their neck during a walk. Harnesses don't encourage your puppy to pull. Stopping your puppy from pulling all comes down to training. No equipment can stop this or encourage it. There are lots of great harnesses out there. I love the PerfectFit harness. Getting a harness with a front clip is great for consistency with your loose lead training. I discuss this in more detail in my 6 week online puppy training course.
Things to consider when looking for a harness:
Avoid getting a harness that your puppy has to step-into. They can be really tricky to put on and can course a lot of frustration and nipping each time you try to fit it.
Avoid getting a harness that has a strap over your puppy's shoulders like the Julius-K9 harness as they restrict movement and can cause growth problems in later years.
Get a harness that has a Y fitting around the chest area. These harness don't restrict movement and paired with training can be the easiest to put on and take off.
The Rabbitgo Harness is a good starter harness with a front clip option. Please note it does say it is a non-pull harness but your puppy may still potentially pull no matter the equipment so please do seek a professional dog trainers help as mentioned above.
All dogs are required by law to wear an ID Tag and be microchipped. I have written a blog post going into detail about what legally needs to be on the ID Tag here. The jingle of the tag when puppies are drinking or eating from a bowl can be very loud on their ears. Why not look into getting a slide on tag instead.
This Vcalabashor Slide-On Pet ID Tag is one option.
Natural Long Lasting Chews
Dogs need to chew! It’s been scientifically proven that chewing is an affective way of dealing with stress. Under stressful conditions, chewing reduces the increased stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin. Chewing also offers offer other benefits such as realising feel-good endorphins in the brain are are brilliant for keeping your dog occupied when you need to get on with your daily to-do-list. Puppies who are teething need chews to help ease the pain. There are lots of great natural chew options out there and I have written a post on my top 10 must have chews.
Don't buy any Rawhide chews as they are unsafe. I go through why in more detail in my blog post. Pizzel sticks are always a winner but buy your pup a variety of chews so they don't get bored with just the one option. Chews will be an absolute life saver.
Kongs are fantastic. They can be used as a food bowl replacement. I would recommend getting at least 4. So that you can have some already prepared and stored in the fridge.
Here is a video on how to fill a Kong:
Snuffle mats are a great enrichment activity. You can give your puppy a snuffle mat as a replacement of their food bowl. Just sprinkle your puppy's dry food onto the snuffle mat and place the mat in the pen. Dogs are natural scavengers, they like to search for their food. Snuffle mats encourages your puppy to use their nose to find the food. This is a nice calming activity which will help to tire your puppy out.
This snuffle mat is by Buygoo
Puppies love to play and its a great way to bond with your puppy. I would recommend getting 8-10 toys and rotate them regally so your puppy doesn't get bored. Long soft toys are ideal for playing a friendly game of tug-of-war. (side note: Playing tug is safe to do and yes let your puppy win. It's never fun playing if you don't win from time to time.) An old dressing gown tie is perfect.
Over the passed year I have worked with over 200 puppies and they have all loved the tug toy by Tug-E-Nuff. Be sure to not leave this toy out with your puppy as they can easily un-fluff it. This toy should be a special toy that is kept in a draw and taken out to play a fun tug game with you.
I also love this toy set by PODOM Dog Rope Toys. You can keep the rope toys in the freezer and give one to your pup when they are teething. (Make sure the toy is slightly thawed before giving it to your puppy.)
Puppies love soft plush toys. This set by KONKY Squeaky Dog Toys is great.
Treats are a must have when it comes to puppy essentials. Puppies can be trained right from the day you bring them home. Have little pots of treats around the house is going to make your life easier as that way when you see your puppy doing something you like, you can reward them straight away.
Since you will be using treats daily as a training tool, you want to make sure are giving your puppy the healthiest treats possible.
The treats should be small and soft. Big hard treats can be too much for those painful teething teeth to handle.
Freshly cooked human grade food like chopped up chicken, beef, sausages are always going to be the most valuable to your puppy. Chop them up to pea sized and place them in a plastic container in the fridge.
For the treats that you want to keep in little pots close by I love using ZiwiPeak. I normally buy the 400g bag and use them as my training treats. You can get 6 rewards by breaking one piece. The bag will last you a few months.
Natures Menu Dog Treats is another favourite treat.
Get your puppy used to being groomed at home before taking them to the groomers. Take it slow and pair your grooming sessions with treats. Check out my YouTube channel for husbandry tips.
A soft-bristled brush such as the Harzara Eco-Friendly Pet Brush is perfect for everyday brushing and getting your puppy used to being groomed.
There will be times when your puppy has rolled in something smelly and will need a wash. I would not recommend washing your puppy weekly or fortnightly. Puppies have natural oils on their skin to help keep their fur clean and skin moisturised. Too much shampooing can cause dry flaky and itchy skin.
DogWood Grooming have a variety of natural shampoos.
Heartbeat Snuggle puppy
Your puppy's first nights are going to be hard on your puppy. They would of just left everything they have ever known and now they are in a strange house with people they have only just met. It can be quite daunting for your little pup. I go through my 7 night survival guide in my online puppy course to help new puppy owners get through the first week at home.
One way to help your puppy is by having something to represents a heatbeat is one way to help your puppy settle at night. You can use a dog safe hot water bottle and a watch with a second hand or there are lots of toy options out there now.
I like the All Four Paws little buddy range.
Having a puppy camera set up while you are upstairs or at work can put new puppy-parents at ease. It is also a useful tool when gradually teaching your puppy to be alone while you leave the house for short 5 minute trips.
Knowing you are able to check up on your puppy any time can help out your mind at ease. You can use a baby monitor or nanny cam or if there is two of you, you could set up a one of your phones to be on videocall while you pop out for a short walk around the block.
Furbo Dog Camera is one of the most popular dog cameras. You can access the video off your phone and even dispense treats with a tap of the screen.
Training your puppy to ring a bell on a string by tapping it with their nose is a great way to get your pup to communicate that they need to go outside. It's far better than barking, whimpering or scratching at the door. It's also very quick and easy to teach. I would recommend focusing on toilet training your puppy first before introducing the bells. Once your puppy is walking to the back door on their own and starting to make a connection that the back door is where they need to be then you are ready to introduce the toilet bells.
Below is a training video of how to teach your puppy to ring a bell.
Now you are all set
You have everything you need to start your new life with your new best friend.
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Disclaimer: This post contains Affiliate Links. This helps to fund the blog and for me to be able to provide more free helpful advice.
By Melissa Hartnack
Melissa is a puppy specialist trainer. Her catchment area is Cambridge, Cambridgeshire but she offers video training sessions and works with clients nationally and internationally so don't hesitate to get in touch from wherever you live in the world.