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Your new puppy checklist should include all the essentials to keep your dog safe, happy, and fed. Before you adopt a dog, make sure you buy these priority items:
Bringing Home a New Puppy or Rescue Dog
When you adopt a puppy, or rescue dog, make sure to welcome them with the best your family can offer. You might be asking yourself “What do I need to buy for a new puppy or dog?”.
Having a solid new puppy checklist before bringing home your dog is an important step in preparation for their arrival.
Pets can get expensive. As a new dog owner, it’s overwhelming when you learn the number of available products and the price tags. Before adopting a dog, set a budget for how much money you can dedicate to the adoption fee and all other start-up dog supplies.
This post will help you define a reasonable budget to develop your supply checklist for your new puppy or rescue dog.
Where Can I Purchase Pet Supplies?
In the U.S., you can purchase supplies at the nation’s largest pet retailers: PetCo and PetsMart. Other stores like Walmart, Target, and grocery chains also carry pet items. However, prices at these stores will be at a premium.
You can also find high quality puppy and dog supplies at local pet stores. Some local chains, like he two Mid-Atlantic regional stores I shop at, have several locations- PetValu and Loyal Companion. You can find a complete listing of regional pet stores across the U.S. here.
Luckily, if you are looking to save money and have advanced notice you will be adopting a dog, you can order the essentials online via Amazon Prime Pets.
You can use the information below to find the best quality puppy and dog supplies for your new companion.
25 Essential Items to Buy Before You Adopt a Dog
If you are on a budget here are affordable options for pet products that won’t break the bank. Many of these products are the ones that I use for my dog, Asha. She’s a 4-year old rescue lab-mix with lots of energy.
#1- Dog Bed
Find the right size and shape for your dog and house. Make sure the bed is big enough to be comfortable if you are adopting a large dog. There are plenty of dog beds for sale online for a reasonable price. You can also find dog beds at discount stores like TJMaxx, Target, and Costco.
#2- ID Tag
You can find basic ID tags at Petco and PetsMart for under $20 if you need to buy one in a hurry. If you have time to order online, Etsy is a great place to find unique and high quality pet ID tags. I ordered this tag for Asha two years ago and it still looks great.
Collars can be expensive depending on the quality and materials. You can find reflective collars and high-quality collars at most pet stores for around $15-$20. The best deal on good quality collars I’ve found is at the Pet Expo every year. Local vendors sell high quality collars made of unique materials and prints at Pet Expos across the country.
#4- Pee Pads
Whether you are adopting a puppy or adult dog, having pee pads handy is a good idea. Your dog may not be potty trained or may have accidents. If you need pee pads you can find them in bulk at Costco or in most pet stores.
A crate is a good idea for dogs who are crate trained and like to sleep inside their crate. You can also choose to crate train your puppy. Crates can make your dog feel like they have their own space or den in your home. Make sure to select a crate that has a little extra room for your dog to move around if necessary.
#6- Food & Snacks
Finding the right food for your dog depends on their nutritional needs. When you bring your dog home, ask what type of food they are already eating. You can purchase something with a similar composition or the same exact food if you can find it. Always consult a veterinarian for dietary recommendations.
Dog snacks are also important for training your dog. Petco has a snack bar that includes small training size treats. You can also use some human food for training and snacks. You can also find a good deal on bulk snacks online.
#7- Chew Toys
Many dogs chew when they are nervous, scared, or upset. Since your dog will be unfamiliar with their new surroundings, it is a good idea to get a few different types of toys to interest your new puppy or rescue dog. Buying a Kong toy early will save you lots of headaches and keep your dog busy. Try freezing peanut butter and bananas in your dog’s Kong toy for a long-lasting treat.
#8- Water & Food Bowls
Water and food bowls can be full of bacteria. For this reason, it’s important to purchase stainless steel bowls and clean them often. Make sure you buy a bowl deep enough for the size of your dog. If you have a larger dog you will need a large water bowl so they have access to water all the time.
A good leash is one of the most important items you can buy for your dog. Finding a leash you are comfortable with and that will last you a long time is important. The right material, length, and handle type are all important features. You will need to decide if you want the ability to change the leash’s functionality, or if you want to put it around your waist, or just a regular leash. You can find a review of my favorite leash, the Ultimate Leash, in this post.
#10- Shampoo & Conditioner
Having dog shampoo and conditioner handy at home is essential, even if you decide to get your dog groomed regularly. There will be times when your dog decides to get into mud or something sticky and you’ll need to give them a bath ASAP. Find shampoo and conditioner that matches your dog’s fur type. Asha has very soft fur for a labrador retriever due to her being mixed with other breeds. I look for shampoo and conditioner that makes her fur smell good and feel soft.
#11- Pet Wipes
To clean mud or paws, pet wipes are crucial to keeping your puppy or rescue dog clean every day. Sometimes you can find a good deal on pet wipes at stores like TJ Maxx or online.
#12- Ear Cleaner
Every dog needs debris cleaned from their ears to avoid yeast infections. There are a number of products that can be used to clean your dog’s ears. Your veterinarian will sell ear cleaner and can give you a prescription for ear infections. You can also find alternatives with all natural ingredients at a lower cost, however you will need to clean them weekly.
#13- Nail Clippers
A good set of nail clippers is will help you keep your dog’s nails neat. Well groomed nails helps avoid paw and nail injuries. There are several different kinds of nail trimmers including…
A high quality pet vacuum will help you pick up any pet hair left on your floor from your dog shedding. It is wise to invest money into a brand and model of vacuum that will be strong enough to pick up hair on any type of flooring. You could purchase a dyson, however, there are other more affordable brands that do the job. I personally have a Shark pet vacuum.
#15- Baby Gate
While your new puppy or rescue dog is getting to know your house, you should contain their roaming area and gradually allow them more freedom. You can do this by using baby gates to contain your dog in one zone of your house. This is important as they get acclimated to a new environment.
#16- Bitter Tasting Spray
If your puppy or dog is chewing on items that you would prefer they leave alone, you can spray them with bitter apple spray. This will deter your dog from licking or biting the object or they will get a foul taste in their mouths.
#17- Stain & Odor Remover
No matter how well trained your dog is, you will inevitably have a stain on your carpet or floor. You can purchase odor removing floor cleaner which will deter your dog from repeatedly going potty in the same place. Having a good stain remover will help you be prepared for any type of stain owning a dog will bring, especially mud.
#18- No-Pull Harness
A no-pull harness is a must-have dog accessory. While your dog is learning to walk on-leash, you can use a no-pull harness to train them to walk with you. The harness that I use for Asha is the Freedom harness.
#19- Seat Cover & Seat Belt
If your dog will be riding with you in the car, you will need a seat cover. Dog fur flies around the car every time you drive as your dog hangs their head out the window enjoying the air. Having a seat cover can make it easier to dispose of hair in your car and keep it clean. Make sure to purchase a doggy seat belt to keep your dog safe in their seat in case of an accident.
#20- Food Storage Container
A large sealed container for your pet’s food is important to make sure that the food does not get contaminated or attract pests. Try to find one that you can store easily in your home.
#21- Poop Bags & Holder
This is a dog owner’s most essential purchase! Since I use so many poop bags and I need them to be high quality, I buy the same ones online every time for a great deal. You can also buy poop bags at pet stores and sometimes at other places like Big Lots or Walmart for a discount. Always look for high quality and well-priced poop bags since you will use so many of them. Finding the right poop bag holder is difficult. You can use the hard plastic ones, or find other options. I like this cloth option because it has been durable and you can store a key or something else in it if needed.
#22- Dog Grooming Brush
Before your dog starts shedding, it’s important to have a brush. You should also brush your dog once a week for long haired dogs and once every few weeks for dogs with short coats. Possibly more when your dog is actively shedding. The right kind of brush depends on your dog’s fur. The furminator is a great tool for managing shedding. Be sure to purchase the correct one for your dog’s coat.
#23- Steam Carpet Cleaner
Carpet is hard to keep clean when you have a dog. If your apartment or home has a carpeted area, make sure to invest in a carpet steam cleaner in addition to spot treatment. Regularly steam cleaning your carpet will minimize the bacteria and germs tracked in by your dog’s paws.
#24- Tooth Brush & Tooth Paste
Tooth Brush & tooth paste- Keeping your dog’s teeth in good shape is a big task. You will need a dog tooth brush and dog tooth paste. You could also look for alternative products if your dog doesn’t like the brush such as a finger brush or dental wipes.
#25- Travel Water Bowl
There are so many types of travel water bowls, you can invest in one that will suit most of your needs or purchase several. Since I leave one in my car at all times, I also need a second one to carry on hikes. Truthfully, I have a lot of travel dog bowls for different uses like overnight trips, walks, and when I need to carry my phone in her bowl I use this neat bowl with storage from Durango Dog Company.
What Do I Need for a New Puppy?
Supplies for puppies are different from adult dogs. If you are adopting a puppy, look for items that match the size and breed of your puppy and the decor/space of your home.
You will also need to match your dog’s breed and size with the appropriate puppy food. As PetMD.com explains, puppies require more protein than adult dogs and grow at different rates depending on their breed. It is important to feed your puppy the right food for their size and breed.
The size of your dogs accessories, bed, toys, and bowls depends on the size of your puppy. If you know the approximate measurements for an adult of the breed pup you are bringing home, you can plan ahead for items they can grow into, like a dog bed.
What Do I Need for an Adult Dog?
Puppies can be switched to adult dog food when they are about 80% of their expected full-grown weight. If you are adopting a dog over 1-2 years old or your dog is over 80% of their adult weight, you can give them adult dog food.
Buy items that are appropriate for the size of the dog you are adopting. If you are adopting a large dog, buy items that are large enough for them to use. A small dog bed or small toys might not work for a dog over 50 lbs. It’s helpful to have your dog’s measurements saved on your phone.
If you are adopting an active dog breed, make sure you get them toys that will keep them stimulated mentally and physically. Always look for items that will keep your dog safe and will not be eaten and destroyed by your dog.
Additional Hidden Dog-Owner Costs:
How to Find a Local Veterinarian
Check your area to see what the average cost of veterinary care is. You will find that the fee scale varies across veterinary clinics within your immediate location.
You might want to bring your dog to a veterinary care with multiple locations, like Banfield located in Pets Mart or your local ASPCA. Or you may prefer a local veterinary clinic near you. When you choose a veterinarian, ask if they offer a preventative care discount program or animal boarding.
There are a lot of choices, visit any options you are considering and read all the reviews. Always be sure to keep your veterinarian’s information in your phone and give it to any pet sitters you hire.
Ask About Your Dog’s Food Preferences and Allergies
If your new dog has any known sensitivities to food or other allergens, you may see a variety of symptoms when you adopt them. Everything from sneezing to itching.
Asking the breeder, foster, or adoption organization if the dog has any known allergens. This will help you plan for the wellbeing of your new dog.
Also inquire about any food preferences and stock up on items that are safe for your pet and that they will enjoy eating.
Ask About the Dog’s Prior Vet Record and Shot history
If you are bringing home a puppy or rescue dog, always ask for their veterinarian records. This should include an updated shot record and spay/neuter information.
Inquire if the foster, rescue, or breeder knows anything about the health history of your dog. This can be helpful in the future as you look into pet insurance and follow-up veterinary care.
Your first veterinary visit might come with a hefty price tag due to the cost of preventative medications, additional shots, or antibiotics necessary to get support your pet’s health and well-being. Be prepared by saving money in advance to cover these costs.
Find Dog Training in Your Area
Every puppy or rescue dog will require training. Before you bring home your new best friend, research local training options.
Major chain pet stores offer training classes. Other local organizations and individuals also offer training at varied rates. Choose the one that fits the way you want to raise your dog and according to your budget.
If you only want positive training methods, look for organizations and individuals who focus on reward-based training, often with a clicker. You may want training with other dogs or alone with your dog. Chose the option that works best for your dog’s personality.
You will also find a variety of free videos on YouTube. Videos can help you reinforce what you are working on with your dog at home after training. The more you continue working with your dog the better they will be at following commands.
Dog Proof Your Home & Yard
Ensuring the safety of a new puppy or dog is a big job. Puppies like to keep themselves very busy, plan ahead.
If you have a puppy, small dog, or dog that likes to dig- your back home and yard may have dangers that you will want to fix before you allow your dog to go to roam freely.
Fill any holes below fences or spaces where puppies or small dogs can squeeze under to escape. Make sure to remove any pesticides or other harmful chemicals from the dog’s path by securing or disposing of them.
Safeguard your home by hiding any exposed electrical wires, limiting items they dog can chew on, and securing garbage cans. Preferably your trash cans should have lids to ensure your dog stays out of trouble.
Pet Licensing Near You
Your county or city likely requires you to get a pet license. Before you bring your new puppy or dog home, look into the requirements for your locality for information about licensing fees.
Pet licensing may be renewed annually or on another schedule. You will need to keep your pet’s license current if your jurisdiction requires your dog to be registered and wearing ID tags at all times.
Budgeting for Your New Puppy or Dog
Owning a dog is a huge responsibility. To make sure you are ready for it, try to get as many items as you can before you bring your new puppy or rescue dog home.
You don’t need to break the bank to own a dog. You can make reasonable choices with your pet care, dog walking, and pet supplies choices.
If you budget for your start-up costs when you bring your dog home, you will be well ready to ensure your relationship with your dog is off to a great start.
Now That You’ve Brought Home Your New Dog
Leaving your new dog can provoke major anxiety. Not to worry! If you have to take a trip unexpectedly, Rover.com has you covered. Simply use the app or the website to sign up for a dog sitter near you. Your Rover.com dog sitter will take good care of your dog and will send you photos and updates while you are gone.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of being a dog parent, you can make some extra cash being a Rover.com sitter. Having a side hustle that will help you make some extra cash can help you pay off debt and improve your financial wellness.
Shout Out to Your Dog!
Comment below with your recommended essential items for new dog owners! Share your favorites or a story about the products your dog loves!