I struggled through the first few days so you don’t have to. Here’s what to buy for a new puppy – what you really, absolutely need!
What to Buy for a New Puppy
It had been over 25 years since I last had a puppy, so when I found our fluffy boy, Ringo, and needed to get ready to bring him home, I had no idea where to start.
My memory was a bit rusty on necessary puppy supplies. Not to mention the fact that I was in middle school at the time of my previous puppy and didn’t do any of the actual supply shopping.
I didn’t want to miss anything I really needed, but I also didn’t want to break the bank buying stuff that wasn’t necessary. Other online puppy shopping lists were downright bewildering and often didn’t agree with one another.
Through trial and error, I settled on a set of supplies that actually worked well for those first days and weeks. If you have these, you should be in good shape.
Let’s do this!
Plastic Car Carrier
The breeder was refreshingly straightforward with this piece of advice: You want a plastic one because puppy may pee, poop, or get carsick. If you buy a fabric one, that stuff will soak right through. Buy one that’s large enough for puppy to stand on all fours and turn around in, but no bigger. If you get the size right, you can use the carrier as a crate for crate training until puppy outgrows it.
This ingenious stuffed animal with a battery-operated heartbeat will help puppy settle down to sleep. Rub it on his littermates if possible, to get that familiar smell. Remove the Snuggle Puppy when he wakes up, so he doesn’t turn it into a chew toy.
This is a tough one. Resist buying expensive crate beds or dog beds, because in all likelihood your puppy will start ripping them up in seconds. Then you’ll have to throw them away—loose thread and stuffing are a bowel obstruction hazard. I used old t-shirts and removed them from puppy’s access whenever he wasn’t sleeping (otherwise he tried to use them as chew toys).
Towels should be avoided due to the terrycloth fabric being especially prone to getting ingested and causing problems.
Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray
Your new best friend. Spray on leashes and any other things puppy likes to bite that you don’t want him to.
Collar and 48-inch Leash
48 inches is much easier to control than a six-foot leash. Spray it down with Grannick’s before using. Re-spray as needed.
Puppy Kongs and Chew Toys
Kongs are virtually indestructible chew toys and puzzle feeders. They are great for keeping puppy entertained by feeding kibble in the toys so he has to play with it to get the food.
Add in a variety of other chew toys with different textures and sounds: toys with rope knots, toys with crinkly sounds, toys with squeakers, toys that roll.
I also recommend getting good-quality bully sticks for chewing (you’ll know if it’s better quality if it doesn’t have a stinky smell when puppy chews).
Get what the breeder or rescue was using, if possible. If you want to transition to something different, do it slowly over a period of days. Dog Food Advisor was helpful in finding a good kibble for our puppy.
Food and Water Bowls
Anything cheap, dishwasher safe, unbreakable, and hard to tip over or slide.
Bags for Outdoor Waste
You can buy purpose-made bags for this, but I just put on gloves, turn a Ziploc inside out, then pick up dog poop with the reversed Ziploc and let it fall in right side out, allowing the poop to be sealed inside. Then I throw it in the outside trash along with the gloves. A Ziploc alone would probably be fine, but I like the extra layer of gloves, personally.
Enzymatic Cleaner and Tons of Paper Towels
Enzymatic cleaners, like Nature’s Miracle, remove the scent of accidents so puppy won’t return to the same spot. It helps to have a plain enzymatic cleaner (for urine) and an antibacterial one (for poop).
You will use more paper towels during puppy’s first week than you have ever used in your life.
An exercise pen gives puppy a place to hang out that’s safe. If you put it on a tile floor, and put the crate inside, you create three levels of containment: crate, pen, and safe room to hang out in, like the kitchen (usually the easiest to puppy-proof). And, of course, being on tile means accidents are much easier to clean up.
Most of the time, our puppy was free to roam the kitchen. If I left the house for a quick errand, I put him in the playpen. He slept happily overnight in the crate.
It’s also helpful for the exercise pen to be light enough to move in case you want to set up somewhere else temporarily, like another room—or even outside.
Baby or Pet Gate
Use a gate to block off the room where it’s safe for puppy to hang out.
You never know when puppy will get into something messy, so you’ll want to have this on hand. Any puppy shampoo will do.
Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar
If you get only one puppy book, get Before and After Getting Your Puppy. This book sets up your training to help your puppy develop the best possible behavior and temperament. I also recommend getting Puppies for Dummies for additional information on all puppy-related topics.
Between the two books, you’ll have an answer to any question you may have, and those answers will be from the most modern, up-to-date knowledge about dogs. (I read many puppy books, and a lot of them were hopelessly out-of-date, with poor advice about dog training and sometimes even poor advice about dog health.)
Not Immediately Necessary But You’ll Want Them Soon
A tooth-brushing kit, brushes for grooming, high-quality treats like freeze-dried liver or chicken, and a treat pouch for carrying with you on walks and around the house.
And that’s what to buy for a new puppy!
Got puppy questions? Ask me anything in the comments.