Getting a new dog will be one of the most exciting — and rewarding — decisions you’ll ever make. I can remember the first day I brought my new pup home as if it were yesterday — those adorable ears, the sloppy kisses! All of a sudden, my quiet household felt so much livelier, happier, and well...smellier.
While getting a new dog brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined, there were also a lot of things that I wish I had known about and prepared for beforehand — things like mysterious stains on the floor, tufts of fur in weird places, chewed-up shoes and computer cords. (My dog even nibbled off the corner of our coffee table!)
It took a lot of trial and error to figure out the things that I absolutely needed as a new dog parent. After all, there are tons and tons of pet products out there to choose from.
To save you from going through the same hassle, I’ve listed all the tried-and-true products that helped me out with my fur baby, along with the items that are the most highly reviewed on the internet. Hopefully, these products will not only make your life easier, but they’ll also help your new furry friend feel right at home.
My dog loves his shag donut bed, and I love how great it looks in my living room. Win, win. It’s super deep, so it’s easy for your four-legged friend to burrow into, making them feel cozy and protected. (And needless to say, it’s absolutely perfect for photo ops.)
Older dogs will love how soft and supportive it is — it’s extra easy on aching doggie joints and muscles. And anxious dogs will feel more comforted and secure, thanks to its enveloping donut shape. The only problem is that it’s so cozy, my kitty often tries to stake her claim and steal it from my pooch.
Always remember: A tired dog is a good dog. While you should make sure that your pup is getting regular daily exercise — such as walks or playing fetch — you can also tire your dog out mentally with an enrichment toy.
There are tons of toys out there that can stimulate your dog’s brain by requiring them to “solve a problem,” from puzzles to treat dispensing toys. My favorite is the Kong, which is a stuffable toy. I’ve also found it to be crucial for crate training. Stuff the Kong with peanut butter or chunks of mozzarella, and it will keep your pooch occupied if you need to leave her in the crate while you run an errand.
Another way to tire your dog out is with tuggy toys. This is a great indoor activity for those rainy days when your pup doesn’t want to be out and about getting her poor little paws soaked. This is usually a more interactive game than an enrichment toy. While some dogs are content to simply chew on it, most prefer to play tug-of-war with their hooman.
I prefer a long and simple rope tuggy like this one. A tuggy that’s too short can result in an accidental chomp on the hand. And a tuggy that’s too cute with stuffing and other distractions tends to get destroyed rather quickly.
I love to take my dog everywhere — especially on hikes and long walks, which he adores. That means my pooch inevitably gets thirsty and needs water. But there’s no way I’d want to share my water bottle with my dog. Blech! I’ve seen what goes into his mouth, and it’s not pretty.
A collapsible bowl is the perfect answer to that dilemma. I keep it stowed away in the back of my car so that I have it on hand wherever we go — whether that’s on a hike, to a dog-friendly restaurant, or just out on the town on a hot day.
Your new dog will need her daily walk, and we all know what that means. You’ll need to be prepared. If you want to be a good pet owner and neighbor, you’ll have to be on poop patrol. Make sure you have a decent stash of doggie waste bags on hand. And a poop bag dispenser that attaches to their leash is useful, too.
I prefer compostable bags — since we all know that plastic bags are bad for our planet. However, a lot of biodegradable bags tend to leak or tear. I’ve tried a lot of brands over the years, and unlike most of them, these waste pick-up bags from BioDOGradable seem to hold up amazingly well.
Whether your new dog is old or young, she’ll need to learn the rules of the house. Some parts of your home should be off-limits until your pooch learns those rules. And the easiest way to do that is with a dog gate. For instance, if your dog has a tendency to snatch food off the counters when no one is looking, you might want to install a gate at your kitchen doorway. Or if she gets overly excited with guests, you may want to install one in front of your entryway.
I’m a fan of freestanding gates since you don't have to worry about rubber pressure mounts or hardware installation — both of which can scratch up the paint on a door frame. Plus, you can move them from room to room depending on your needs.
Training your dog the right way is all about rewards — never punishment! To that end, it’s essential that you have a large bag of small treats on hand. Every time your dog does something correctly, deliver a treat and say a “marker word” such as “Good” or “Yes.” By delivering a treat at the same time as the marker word, your dog will start to understand which training cues belong to certain behaviors.
While it’s good to have a variety of treats on hand, Charlee Bears are my top pick — and my dog’s favorite — for easy training. They’re small, so you can give plenty of treats during one training session. And I’ve never met a dog who doesn’t go crazy for them!
No matter how diligent you are about house training your dog, accidents can — and will — happen. Even if you adopt an older pet, they may have been trained to relieve themselves on different surfaces. And if your pup gets sick, vomiting and diarrhea are possible side effects. That’s why it’s essential to have a good stain and odor remover on hand. I’ve tried many different brands, and the best one, hands-down, is Rocco & Roxie’s Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator. It’s enzyme activated, which means that it will get rid of even the deepest scents, so that your dog won’t be inclined to eliminate in the same spot again.
The best way to house train your pup is to keep an eye on him at all times and give him plenty of opportunities throughout the day to relieve himself outside. But, of course, that’s not always possible. And while crate training can help with potty-training at night, it’s not a good option for house training during the day.
Pee pads are a useful tool if you’re not able to keep an eye on your dog every minute of the day. They’re usually specially scented, like these, so that your pup will be naturally encouraged to relieve himself on them. Gradually move them closer to the door and eventually outdoors. Once your pooch starts to pee outside and gets the idea, you can get rid of them.
Crate training is a great way to potty-train your new dog and help you manage other behaviors. A crate is essentially an indoor doghouse that provides dogs with a comfortable and calming environment. It should be large enough for your dog to sit up, lie down, and turn around in. And it should be made of a sturdy material, such as hard plastic or heavy-duty aluminum so that you pup isn’t able to chew through it.
If your dog hasn’t warmed up to the idea of a crate, start off by putting “high value” treats inside, such as cheese or ham. Let the dog go in voluntarily, and once he’s in, reward him with more delicious treats. Your new dog should start to think of it as his “safe space.” And remember: A crate should never be used as a punishment.
A leash helps keep both your dog and other people’s pets safe, and they’re often legally required in a lot of neighborhoods. A walking leash should be four to six feet long — just enough length to give your dog freedom to sniff but close enough to maintain control of your dog.
While retractable leashes have been growing in popularity, I prefer a standard nylon or rope leash, such as this one. Retractable leashes have a sliding switch that allows the leash to extend. While some people believe that gives the dog more freedom, it can actually teach your pup that he’s in charge and can do whatever he wants (a big no-no). An extending leash can also become easily entangled when your pooch encounters another dog, which can be dangerous to both animals.
Even the most mindful pet owners can lose track of their dogs, which can be incredibly scary. A determined canine can find clever ways to escape a fenced yard. Or your well-trained pooch might be calmly walking off-leash but suddenly bolt away when she sees a squirrel. Collars and ID tags are a must-have for such situations, and they should be worn at all times. Even if your dog has a microchip, a collar and ID tag can provide easy identification, along with your contact information, so that if someone happens to find your pet, they can call you immediately.
A harness will give you more control over a dog that’s pulling on its leash, but in a way that won’t hurt your pup. Some people prefer martingale collars, which are also effective for some canines. But my Lab is a puller and quite heavy, so I find that a front clip harness, like this one, works best. Otherwise, my doggo tends to keep pulling on the leash until he chokes. A front clip harness sits low on the dog’s collarbone, so there’s no pressure on the trachea. And it puts gentle pressure on their chest to give them cues and reminders on walking behavior.
If you’re going to be gone for long periods of time, you of course want to know that your pet is happy and safe. And what better way to check on your dog than a camera that lets you watch, talk, and listen to your pooch? It even dispenses dog treats to your fur baby.
Unlike the Furbo pet cam, you can mount the Petcube on your wall — which is a neat perk since the device will toss treats at varying distances. With a fun game of “catch the treat,” you’ll be able to keep your dog totally preoccupied instead of frantically worried about your whereabouts.
If you haven’t yet heard of Grannick’s Bitter Apple spray, you are going to thank me later for this recommendation. Most dogs are chewers at some point in their lives, especially puppies. And for some dogs, that bad habit never goes away. But never fear: You won’t actually have to keep your most treasured items and furniture in hiding forever.
Spritz this Bitter Apple spray on shoes, carpet, furniture — anything that your four-legged friend likes to nibble on. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it works. It’s also non-toxic, so if your pooch has itchy “hot spots” and nibbles on himself, this will help take care of the problem.
I’ve learned the hard way that you should never place a dog’s food and water dishes directly on the floor. My dog is a drooler, and I nearly ended up with a concussion due to a slippery pool he left on my kitchen floor. Beyond that, constantly cleaning up water and little bits of food off the ground was annoying.
This mat will save you from that hassle. It’s silicone, which means it won’t slip around, it’s easy to wipe off, and it’s dishwasher safe. And, bonus points: It has a nice lip around the sides to trap wayward crumbs and spills.
Whether your pooch is big or small, short haired or long haired, grooming them is essential. Not only does it help your dog’s coat look clean and shiny, but it also lets you look for fleas and ticks, lumps and bumps, and minor cuts and wounds. Plus, daily grooming will help you and your dog form a close bond.
The Furminator is hands-down the best grooming tool I’ve found. Sure, it’s pricier than a cheap, standard bristle brush, but it’s well worth it. It reaches through the topcoat to remove loose hair from the undercoat. You’ll be amazed at how much fur you can accumulate with one brushing. Your dog will love you for it — and so will your rug and couch!
Not only does your dog need to be groomed, but regular bathing is necessary, too. Unfortunately, you can’t just use any old shampoo to bathe them. Human shampoos are bad for your dog’s skin since our Ph balance is different than that of a dog’s. You’ll need a special dog shampoo, preferably formulated for sensitive canine skin.
I prefer shampoos with oatmeal and aloe, like this one. The botanical extracts are gentle on a dog’s skin, so your pup won’t feel itchy afterwards. And it will leave your pooch’s coat soft, shiny, and stink-free.
How often you bathe your dog depends on its breed and type of coat. Dogtime offers some general guidelines on how much bathing is adequate for your particular dog.
A treat pouch, or “bait bag,” will help you efficiently manage and retrieve treats. I like to hook one my belt or waistband when I take my pup to the dog park or out on a walk. Having plenty of treats on hand when I walk my dog ensures that I have his attention at all times. Granted, sometimes even the best of treats is no match for an exciting squirrel. But it helps my dog keep a reasonable pace, not yank on the leash, and practice better manners when meeting other canine friends.
After your dog nibbles on all those delicious treats, you’ll need to make sure it’s getting adequate oral hygiene. Brushing your dog’s teeth is important. Not only does it help eliminate stinky breath, but it also prevents plaque buildup and gum disease — just like humans. And, also like humans, it’s better to prevent tooth decay before it happens. Taking your dog to the vet for an oral problem can be extremely costly. It typically requires X-rays and anesthesia, which can add up quickly.
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