Short List of Essential Supplies for the New Dog Owner

Green dog bowl with purple leash and other supplies against a blue backdrop

If you are in the process of adopting a dog, you will need some basic supplies before you bring your new pooch home. Even if you have had a dog in the past and have a good sense of what you need, pet suppliers continue to improve and offer new products to make life better for you and your dog.

Initial supplies for the new dog owner include collars, leashes, poop bags, beds, a crate, food/water bowls, training treats, toys, and chew sticks. Undoubtedly, you will purchase many more things over the course of your dog’s life, but there are about 6 types of items you will need immediately. See my short list of recommended products below to get you started.

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1. Food and Water Bowls

Most new dog owners will usually think of bowls as one of the first suppplies to buy. But there are so many to choose from! Retailers offer a huge diversity of food and water bowls. Many come with mats or holders and you can even have your dog’s name engraved on them! The come in an array of colors and are made of nylon, ceramic, and stainless steel.

But honestly, unless you have a large elderly dog who needs a raised platform to reach his food, a simple stainless steel bowl is really the best. You may want to get a mat to slide under the bowls to protect your floors. I prefer Amazon’s basic stainless steel bowls for both water and food. They are easy to clean, have non-slip rubber rings on the bottom, and will not rust or break. They are also very affordable and will last for years.

2. Poop Bags

What goes in must come out! I never let myself run out of poop bags! They are essential for keeping my backyard clean and a must have on our walks to the park. Their are numerous brands available and many come with a handy plastic dispenser you can clip to your pocket or belt. You may want to check various sellers to find the most economical ways to purchase including a monthly subscription which can save you up to 5% –10% on each purchase.

And don’t forget to get a good Upsky 32″ pooper scooper! It will keep your hands clean and save your back while cleaning up the yard.

My favorite bags are Earth Rated due to their affordability and climate friendly pledge. These bags are sturdy and do not leak or tear. I usually buy at least two boxes at a time that each have 18 rolls and a total of 270 bags. They are non-scented and can also be purchases with a dispenser.

3. Collars and Leashes

You will certainly want to take your new pup for a walk once he is settled in, and you cannot do that without a leash and collar. Additionally, collars are essential as supplies for a new dog. Not only do they allow you a way to hold onto your dog if needed, you can attach identification tags with contact info as well. Even if your dog is microchipped (which I highly recommend) the first line of finding a lost dog’s owner is to check his tags. And most dogs actually like wearing their collars once they are used to them. It is like putting on their clothes each day!

I love the Country Brook Design collars and matching leashes. They are made from a soft, but strong nylon with strong metal buckles. They come in 30+ colors and four sizes and are made by a small company that takes great pride in their products. My dogs each have their own color, purple for my tan dog and bright fuschia for my black dog. That way I know which one is pulling me off balance when we go for our walks!

If your dog or puppy is not leashed train yet, you may need to get some type of head or body harness. If your dog is constantly straining and pulling ahead, it is really hard on their necks, not to mention your arm. I prefer the PetSafe Gentle Leader Head Collar as the most effective way to keep my dogs from pulling.

It does not hurt them but applies enough gentle pressure to their nose to deter them from trying to charge ahead at full speed. My dogs pull too much with body harnesses, but not nearly as much with the head collar. And, I found some colors that matched their collars and leashes!

4. A Really Comfy Bed

Most basic oval or donut bolster beds are usually fine for small and medium-sized dogs. A larger dog may need a bigger rectangular bed to stretch out on. There are hundreds of beds for every need, including orthopedic foam for older dogs who may be arthritic.

But if you really want to make your new puppy feel secure and welcome, consider buying a Best Friend’s by Sheri bed. These unique, shaggy beds mimick the fur of a dog’s mother and littermates and will surround your pup with a plush, feeling of safety, warmth and comfort. These beds are often recommended by rescue facilities.

I bought a large Sheri bed for both of my dogs and they love it! They have other beds, but his is their favorite. You can see my recommended products page for more about beds.

Brown and black dog in their new Sheri bed
Charlotte and Georgia in their new Best Friends by Sheri Bed.

5. Comfort Toys

Comfort toys are not just for fun. They are essential supplies for your new dog to help them aclimate to their new home. Think of them in three ways:

  • They give your dog exercise and something to do to hold their interest
  • A toy can help ease a dog’s anxiety
  • A stuffed toy can provide reassurance and comfort at night.

Daytime Toys for Entertainment

Give your dog something interesting to focus on each day as well as get some great exercise. My dogs favorite game is fetch and their favorite ball are the Chew King Fetch Balls. They are durable but have a little bit of flexibility so my dogs can squeeze them in their mouths. They have a hole in the middle to make them easy to throw and to hide treats. You can see more about balls and toys here on my recommended products page.

Toys to Ease Anxiety

My dogs love chew toys. And, I find that having something to chew on can really help them stay calm and less agitated if something has upset them like fireworks or other loud noises. I always make sure I have plenty of chew toys on hand during the 4th of July in the USA.

The key to chew toys is safety and something your dog will like. I have purchased several chew toys which did not work. They either chewed them up too quickly, they were made from harmful or toxic materials, or they just weren’t interesting to my dogs. You can read more about chew toys on my recommended dog toys page.

My dogs have a favorite go-to chew toy when they are agitated and really need to chew — Spot Bambone Wish Bone Bacon Pet Chew Toys. My dogs love the flavor of these fused bamboo fiber bones. They are not quite as hard as plastic, so they are easier on their teeth.

They can slowly nibble away at the bamboo fibers for weeks and even months before the bones are worn down. It is probably not as ideal as the safer hard rubber bones, but they really love these bamboo bones! They get new ones every year at Christmas.

I also keep plenty of Earth Animal beef chew stix on hand as well. These are safe alternatives to rawhide chews as they have no hide and are fully digestible. Earth Animal is a very reputable company that produces quality products. The chew stix keep their full attention for several minutes. I also get the larger ones which will take them up to 30 minutes to finish, but the chew stix are more economical for frequent use. The only down side is that they can be costly if your dog gets a chewy each day. But you can save money by doing an auto-subscribe at either Amazon or Chewy.

Stuffed Toys for Nighttime

My dogs absolutely love their stuffed animal toys. They have realistic looking squirrels, durable rabbits, and fuzzy non-descript stuffed animals. When they run upstairs for naps, they often drag their favorite stuffed animals with them.

They tend to nibble on these toys, so I make sure I get ones that are made from durable, safe material with no plastic buttons or parts that they can swallow. They think of these toys as their personal possessions they can carry around. This seems to give them a lot of comfort.

Probably the most comforting stuffed toy to give to a new dog or puppy at night is the Original Snuggle Puppy Heartbeat Stuffed Toy. It comes with a battery-operated plastic heart that mimics a real heartbeat’s feel. A heat pack is also included, which can be placed inside the Snuggle Puppy to radiate warmth. The toy is manufactured by a small company that takes pride in using certified safe materials.

6. Crates

Dog crates are important for a number of reasons. They can serve as a safe den for your pup when he first arrives. With the addition of a soft mat and blankets, a crate can also make a cozy bed at night. Until you are certain that your dog is house broken, a crate can also help keep him secure.

Crates are also crucial during the initial transition and adjustment period when you have to leave during the day. It will keep your dog out of mischief and help him to feel more secure. The safest way to transport your dog is in a crate, if you can find one to fit your car.

Crates should be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. They should have good ventilation. Make sure you do not leave your dog in a crate for more than a few hours, however. You can just imaging what it would be like to be confined within a small enclsoure for more than a couple of hours every day.

Midwest Homes has a strong metal crate which has two openings, is foldable, and has a leak-proof pan. It allows full visiblity and air-flow for your dog.

I had a large metal crate that my dogs shared for a while until they were more settled. It kept them out of trouble when I was gone for brief periods and served as their sleeping area for the first several nights. Although each dog should have their own crate to avoid potential fights, my dogs were used to being together and did fine in one crate. However, it was too big to fit into my car, so I had to equip my car in other ways to keep them safe.

If you need a more portable crate for your car, their are many options to choose from. Again, make sure your dog has enough room and can get fresh air. I am planning to buy this unique PetSafe Happy Ride Collapsible Dog Travel Crate because of the way they are designed.

Although not as sturdy as a metal crate, they will keep my dogs contained and allow enough headroom to sit and stand up. They can still see out the windows through the mesh liner and get fresh air flow. The crates can be secured to both the front seat and back seat belts. And the excellent news for me is that I can fit two of these into my back seat! Most other portable carriers and crates needed to be bigger. I am hoping this will also keep my dogs a little calmer and my car seats from being scratched and full of dog hair!

Other Considerations

Of course you will also need food and dog treats. People often have strong opinions about what to feed dogs. Some owners insist that their pets should always eat fresh food and never be given commercially prepared dog food. Others believe in feeding their dog only raw foods. But home cooked or raw meals can get expensive and messy to prepare.

Feeding your dog commercial kibble initially is usually just fine, especially if that is what the shelter or rescue group was feeding him. It is always best to continue the same diet a dog is used to for the first several weeks. You can slowly change his diet after a few months.

If you want to upgrade your dog’s meals, one option is to continue to feed mostly kibble but supplement it with plain, home-cooked food. Click this link to get my free eBook, Homemade Food and Kibble for more information about how to do this.

Once you have the basic supplies and food taken care of, you will be able to focus on enjoying your new pup and making him feel comfortable and welcome in his new home!

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