New Dog Must Haves and Essentials

When we adopted our first dog, Buffy, we had no idea what new dog essentials meant. We figured a bed, a dish and some food was all we needed when we rescued our first dog.

Either way, congratulations. My guess is you landed here because you were looking for new dog essentials.

When we rescued subsequent animals, we recycled some of what we had from Buffy. But we definitely took the new pups “shopping” for pet must-haves, too.

Well, guess what. When you get a new dog, there are definitely some essentials you’ll need. Some of these new dog essentials are items you might not know even exist–especially if you’re adopting your first dog or cat ever.

Also, you might need these supplies if you’re fostering a dog.

What are new dog essentials

We learned our lesson about new dog essentials years later, after Buffy, our original family dog, had died. After his death we adopted two dogs. The two dogs we adopted were puppies–four and five months old when we got them.

Having never housetrained a dog or prepared a house for the arrival of two puppies, I was easily overwhelmed. I mean, new dog essentials are completely different when you have puppies versus an adult dog–Buffy was four when he joined our family.

We found ourselves asking, “What do I need to buy for a new puppy?” Turns out, a lot!

Thankfully, life got easier with two dogs. Why?

Because I finally figured out the must haves for when you adopt a dog or more likely when you adopt a puppy. Or two puppies like we did. (What were we thinking?)

A shopping checklist for your new dog

We’ve had a dog in our family since 2002. So, I know a thing or two about what kind of shopping you need to do when you welcome a dog into the family.

Therefore, I’ve created this shopping checklist, if you will to help if you’ve just adopted a puppy or an adult dog. Either way, you’ll want to take note of these new dog essentials. I think these is a roundup of the best products for new dog owners. 

Indoor gates are definitely new dog essentials

When my daughters were little and first becoming mobile, we had baby gates all over the house. This kept my girls contained in childproof rooms and helped us keep tabs on their whereabouts.

By the time the girls went to nursery school, the gates were gone. It’s too bad we hadn’t held onto them, because we really could have used them with the puppies.

I turned to friends for advice on gates to use, and the ones that were most recommended were walk-through bronze gates you could get from Amazon. They weren’t cheap, to be sure, but they had good reviews and, frankly, they looked nice. Plus, they had a walk through option.

What I love about these walk-through gates was that they fit securely in doorways and were tall enough that our small puppies couldn’t scale them. We used the gates to keep the puppies out of carpeted rooms so as they were learning house training, their accidents occurred on smooth floors where clean up was easy.

Bitter Spray is tops for stopping chewing

Once the dogs were allowed to enter rooms with rugs–especially those with area rugs–they took to chewing the corners of those rugs. Our first dog never chewed anything, except one of my husband’s sneakers. But seriously this dog never did any damage to our home furnishings.

These puppies? They clearly didn’t know whose paw prints they were following in.

Again, my friends helped when I asked how to get dogs to stop chewing on the corner of carpets. Many suggested Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray.

At first I wasn’t sure it would work. I mean, it was odorless to me so how would it repel the pups?

Well, it may not smell bad but clearly it tastes bad to a puppy palette. As soon as we sprayed the corners of carpet with the Bitter Apple Spray, the chewing stopped immediately.

Better yet it didn’t stain the carper or the hardwood floors underneath, and it wasn’t sticky. This stuff was a miracle if you wanted to get dogs to stop chewing. Period.

Get a good garbage can when you get a new dog

If you and your family aren’t very good about cleaning up after yourself, then you’ll quickly learn to change your messy ways once you adopt a dog. Whereas our first dog Buffy wasn’t interested in any garbage or trash left sitting in uncovered trashcans, with our new puppies, nothing was safe–the trash, tissues, tampons, you name it.

Luckily, the kitchen had an integrated trash can in the lower cabinets. However, the rest of the garbage cans in our house fell victim to the puppies.

We ended up having to invest in all-new trashcans, with a cover you could only open by stepping on a lever. This was one of those new dog essentials we never realized you needed–until you really needed it.

We ended up going with the simplehuman Step Trash Can with a pet lock shown above. I can tell you that this simplehuman trash can turned out to be the ultimate pet-proof and dog-proof garbage can, in that it can outsmart even the smartest, strongest, most determined dogs.

A no-pull harness is a must-have new dog essential

When we adopted Buffy, our first dog, he came to us already trained to walk on a leash. So we kept the harness that the rescue gave to us.

We never gave it another thought. However, when we adopted two puppies that we need to teach to walk on a leash, we quickly learned that we needed to invest in a no pull harness.

We asked family and friends what the best dog harness to stop pulling was. They all answered the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness. It quickly reduced pulling to almost nothing on our walks.

What makes this harness different is that it hooks onto your leash on the front of the dog’s chest. So it is a front attach dog harness.

If the dog pulls too hard, it turns itself around. Very quickly any dog will realize that pulling doesn’t get it very far in your walk. So they slow down and walk better.

Years later we continue to use these easy walk dog harnesses, albeit in a bigger size than when we adopted the puppies. It truly is the best dog harness to stop pulling.

You can buy these front lead dog harnesses at your local hardware or pet stores, or on Amazon, where you can find them in different colors and sizes.

Here is a bulleted list of those colors and sizes:

No-pull dog harness color options

  • Apple Green/Gray
  • Black/Silver
  • Deep Purple/Black
  • Fawn/Brown
  • Raspberry/Gray
  • Red/Black
  • Royal Blue/Navy Blue

No-pull dog harness size options

  • Petite
  • Petite/Small
  • Small
  • Small/Medium
  • Medium
  • Medium/Large
  • Large
  • X-Large

FYI, my dogs are now fully grown and weigh 30 and 40 pounds. They both use the large size in the no-pull harness.

And the name easy walk really does capture the beauty of this no-pull harness. When your dogs are wearing it, it really is easier to walk them.

Hands-free leash is a game changer

Dogs need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, and multiple walks throughout the day can accomplish this. (They can also help you get in shape yourself.)

I have found that the best leashes are those with a clasp that opens and closes on the same axis as the button you have to depress to open it. That is, there are some clasps on leashes that open at a 45-degree angle, and if your dog pulls hard enough, he can get out of the leash–learned this one the hard way when Buffy took off after a deer.

When we decided to adopt two puppies, our must haves soon became a leash that would allow us to walk two dogs at once at ease. Along with the no-pull dog harness, we invested in this European-style leather leash on

It allows me to “wear” the leashes and walk hands free if I’d like. The leashes are worn across your body like a cross-body bag. Truly, this hands-free dog leash is awesome and one of the best no pull dog leashes you can buy.

Here are tips on finding the best dog leash.

Walking two dogs is so much easier with a hands-free leash, plus the no-pull dog harness. You can get a hands-free leash that you, the human, wear in leather or cotton webbing. 

Here I am walking my dogs while “wearing” a leash.

My dogs can’t get enough of Nylabone chew toys

We’ve already established that puppies like to chew. Well, so do adult dogs.

From the first day we owned Buffy right up until the present with our two pups, we always have a large stock of Nylabone chew toys in the house. My dogs chew their Nylabone every night before bed. I believe it’s how they wind down from the day and prepare to go to sleep.

By the way there are Nylabone chew toys for all sizes of dogs and all kinds of chewers. You can buy a Nylabone chew toy that is flavored or not. I prefer the “not” because I don’t like the smell. But that’s just me.

Never give your dog a real bone to chew. Here is my blog post on human food you should never give to a dog. 

Another great device for scratching that chewing itch are antlers, which you can buy at any dog, puppy or pet supply store, or even on Amazon. Nylabone even offers an antler alternative.

So, while you don’t want your new dog chewing on your furniture or rugs–thus the bitter spray recommended above–you do want them to be getting their chews out appropriately. Enter the Nylabone and the antlers.

The Dremel dog nail trimming kit is essential

Whenever I would take my dogs to the groomer, I would always ask them to Dremel the dogs’ nails after clipping. You’ll understand this request, if you’ve ever had your dogs come back from a grooming with nails that feel like a velociraptor’s eviscerating talon.

My old groom would tack on $25 to sand down the dogs nails. I decided that I’d rather do it myself and save money over the long run.

So I had a Dremel pet grooming kit sent to me. It’s a Dremel handheld sander with a guard on it so you can’t grind your dog’s nails too short.

At about $40 it might seem expensive. But if your groomer is like my old one, you’ll save money on the purchase after your next two grooms–when you don’t have to pay extra for them to use a Dremel.

Here’s an added bonus of owning the Dremel dog grooming kit: I can use it in between grooming appointments to keep my dogs’ nails shorter. This is an additional money saver, in that the dogs don’t have to go to the groomer as often to get their nails cut.

KONGs are great for keeping dogs entertained

Whenever we leave the house, the dogs each get a KONG filled with peanut butter. It is the only time they get a KONG, so they see it as a treat.

This has made leaving the dogs in their crates or locked in the guest bedroom less stressful. That is, rather than freaking out that we’re leaving them alone, they get working on their KONGs.

When we get home, the dogs usually run around the house with their KONG in their mouths like a toy. Eventually, they lose interest and I can grab the KONG and put it in the dishwasher. Yes, KONGs are dishwasher safe.

My dog Sadie and her KONG.

People use KONGs differently. As I mentioned I fill mine with peanut butter.

Others use them as dog toys to put treats in. They see it as one of those intellectual dog toys that will keep their dog busy as they try to figure out how to get the treats inside out.

I guess my dogs aren’t that intellectual. Every time I’ve tried to put treats in their KONGs, they simply abandon them. Yeah, we’ll stick with peanut butter in the KONGs, thank you very much.

Finally, keep in mind that KONGs come in different sizes and different colors. Choose a size that’s appropriate for your dog’s breed.

Sign up for Chewy Autoship

When you get a dog, you’re going to need to feed him or her. We’ve fallen in love with getting our food through Chewy’s Autoship program.

Here is my blog review of Chewy autoship that I think all pet parents should read. 

Either way, you’ll want to sign up for Autoship. On the Chewy homepage you should see a banner or a tab for Autoship.

You may even see an offer to save money on your first Autoship order. I remember saving 30% on mine.

Here are the top big dog breeds that don’t shed.

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