Top 10 Puppy Essentials Checklist
So you’re bringing home a new puppy, and your mind is prancing rampant with thoughts like: “What the heck do I need?!” or “I’m not prepared!” or “Am I ready for this?”
Well, let me quell your concerns. I was in your predicament about a year ago, preparing for my Karelian Bear Dog, Kintla, and scouring every internet article I could find on “Puppy Essentials.” But I found NOTHING useful (for me, at least). So I decided to gift you my puppy checklist on “Puppy Essentials.” You know… those things you definitely need for your new puppy, along with some items that are a plus but not necessary.
This is often overlooked, but it makes a world of a difference for your puppy! Ask your breeder or puppy provider if you can bring a towel or blanket on pick-up day to rub down the mom, the other puppies, and/or their kennel. If you are having your puppy delivered, ask them to include a scented towel or blanket. The familiar scent helps them adjust to a new world of smells and gives them comfort.
Kintla’s breeder included a blanket rubbed with Kintla’s mom. It was a stinker, but it provided comfort to Kintla during the uncomfortable transition, and that’s all that mattered to me. She often cuddled up in this blanket, and she still has it to this day. Of course, I have since washed it as the scent of my house is her new comforting scent.
If you don’t have the ability to get a blanket from the mom, HERE is another option that will definitely fill the void.
These are essential as you won’t be feeding your dog from the floor or from the local watering hole (maybe!). I’d recommended a slow feeder dish LIKE THIS ONE – Puppies tend to demolish their food and can sometimes inhale it on the way, and this can be dangerous as it can upset their bellies, or they might regurgitate their food back onto your floor. Kintla was guilty of inhaling her food and one day she ate so fast, it all came back up on the carpet. I found a solution with the “Outward Hound” bowl! These feeding dishes function like a puzzle, forcing your pup to slow down while eating. Kintla also slurped water so quickly that I’d often find her coughing, while standing in a puddle of water she created on the floor, so I took to the internet, where I found a solution: a slow-water feeder. Here is the slow-water feeder I use – Also check out the traditional stainless steel bowls with an anti-slip mat, a traditional classic, but not equipped with slow-feeding technology.
Dogs have sensitive stomachs, and puppies even more so! Find out what your puppy has been eating, and purchase a small bag of the same food from the pet store. If you plan to transition them to a new diet, do it slowly over the course of a few days to a week, weaning them from the old diet onto the new. Start with a tiny bit of the new food, mixed in with the old, and gradually increase the proportion of the new food to the old. Kintla started her dog food journey with Fromm, a higher quality kibble. You can check it out HERE.
You need a reliable collar and leash your puppy can grow into. After extensive research, I purchased Kintla a Martingale Heavy Duty Nylon collar. You can check those out HERE. Pick a collar they cannot slip out from and be on the run! After all, puppies have little or no recall, and the last thing you need is a lost puppy! This collar has no plastic latches like so many other collars. Those latches can break, and boom, there goes the puppy! The only way this collar comes off is me! I also recommend a reliable and durable leash like THIS ONE. I still have Kintla’s pink rope leash I got for a “puppy essential” and use it to this day! These leashes are dependable and difficult to chew through!
If you are crate training, get a crate before your puppy comes home, so you can start training right away! If you are not crate training, read my blog outlining crate benefits: INSERT link to CRATE Blog – I also created an in-depth Vlog with crate training tips. Watch it here: INSERT link to CRATE Vlog – Plus, I include tips on how to get your puppy to love their crate! I USE THIS CRATE with incredible success. You can decide if you want one or two doors. I’d recommend a two-door crate since the additional door allows greater flexibility with crate location.
Everyone’s favorite dog activity—cleaning poop! I’ll admit, I was totally grossed out by dog waste; who wouldn’t be? I found a great solution: The Dog Buddy Pooper Scooper. No need to put the bag over your hand and feel up a steaming, squishy pile like most people do – NOPE! Simply put the bag inside the Dog Buddy and clamp it open. Let it handle the poopy pick-up process while you watch from a distance, well sort of. Might as well have a robot arm at your beck and call! Seriously, the Dog Buddy is a MUST. Check it out HERE. To go along with a pooper scooper, consider scented poop bags to mask the odor, haha. I USE THESE.
Your puppy will chew like a maniac; it’s what they do! Prepare by purchasing a variety of chews BEFORE you bring them home! I say before because they’ll surely chew on something else if you don’t. My favorite chews consist of Kongs stuffed with treats to create a fun interactive thinking game for your pup—they figure out how to get treats from the Kong. Plus, Kongs are durable. I still have Kintla’s from a year ago. Check them out HERE.
I also made antlers available, and she still enjoys chewing on them to this day. Antlers are good for teeth and a time consuming chew item, at least in Kintla’s case. I regularly purchase these. Get the “split antlers,” meaning the marrow is open for your puppy to get into. Kintla loves to scrape the marrow out and this usually takes her several days.
As an alternative to chew toys, buy bully sticks. These long lasting chews are edible and good for your puppy’s teeth. Kintla LOVES them! Remember to monitor them while they chew because as they shrink in size, they become a choking hazard. I always check in on Kintla while she’s chowing down. I researched different brands, and Sancho & Lola’s is incredible! Made in the USA using one ingredient: beef pizzle. Check out these bully sticks HERE.
Every pup has a different personality, so yours will prefer certain toys. Kintla goes for plush toys over rope toys. I discovered this by experimenting. I purchased this pack of toys for Kintla before I brought her home. It includes ropes, a plush, a ball, and various chew items. Kintla loved the plush (destroyed it within the week), and we still have the blue boned rubber chew. She didn’t care for the ropes of the ball, but maybe your dog will! You won’t know what they love until you let them try out various toys.
Your puppy will also prefer certain treats, maybe duck treats but not beef treats. Kintla loves her beef treats, but she didn’t care for duck treats. As with toys, I had to experiment. Dogs are like humans when it comes to treat preference! Focus on Made-in-USA treats, as other countries have lower standards for pet food. Pay attention to ingredients labels; if something sounds suspicious, it likely is. I like simple ingredient treats, so I know my puppy gets the BEST. I recommend Stewart Freeze Dried Beef Liver Treats, which has a single-ingredient treat: beef liver. They are made and sourced in the USA! Another brand I’d recommend is Bocce’s Bakery. They are a simple ingredient dog treat company, and Kintla loves their treats. You can find Kintla’s latest Bocce’s Bakery baked dog treats HERE. They also offer fun holiday flavored treats, and I’m all about festivities for my pup, haha!
Have you thought about where your dog will roam in your household? Kintla is not allowed in the kitchen or the bedrooms; I trained her not to venture to those locations. My floor plan is open, without a doorway to the kitchen, so I strung a pen across the entrance. This is the pen I purchased. It works inside or outside, for training, and if you need to leave for a few minutes, it provides a larger play area than a crate. Kintla’s pen blocked the kitchen entrance for a few months before she knew her boundaries. I took it down, and will keep it for my next puppy! I also purchased a baby gate like this one and placed it at the entrance to my stairs, so she can’t go prancing around upstairs. It works well. I could take it down now but I’ve just grown accustomed to it. Make sure to establish such limits before you bring your puppy home, and evaluate how puppy-proof the house is, and how safe it will be for them.
Well that wraps it up. These top 10 puppy essentials have made all the difference for me, and I’d recommend this list to anyone preparing for a puppy! I wish I had this list before I brought Kintla home. I’m happy to share this wealth of knowledge with you all!
Make sure to tweet me and tell me about your adventure through puppyhood and how things are going. Let me know which puppy products worked for you and which haven’t. I want to hear from you!