New Dog Checklist

By kleo

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This guide will take you through everything a dog owner needs to buy and prepare before bringing a new dog home.

We’ve carefully selected the best quality items for you at the best price to save you some research time. It’s highly recommended to take a look at our detailed information pages so that you can become experts yourselves, but this page will give you all the basics for a standard setup for a healthy, happy dog.

Dog Food Bowl and Water Bowl

All dogs will need a water bowl to have constant access to fresh water to drink. Most dogs will also need a food bowl. It’s not 100% necessary to get your dog a food bowl, because you can feed your dog food through trick training or through a food dispensing toy. It’s actually highly recommended to feed your dog in one of these ways instead of using a food bowl, because it provides great mental exercise for your dog. However, most dog owners prefer having a food bowl for convenience sake.

A good food and water bowl will be made out of stainless steel or ceramic. They are both equally good choices, but many people prefer stainless steel because ceramic can crack or break. If you buy a high quality stainless steel bowl and take proper care of it with frequent cleanings, it should not rust and will last a long time. However, some poorer quality bowls may develop rust, especially if you are not cleaning it frequently. For this reason, some people prefer the ceramic bowls. It’s up to you and it will probably depend on your dog’s eating habits (like whether your dog likes to kick the bowl around!).

Plastic is not a good material for dog food and water bowls because it’s a porous material and bacteria can get into the material easily. The bacteria in the plastic will not wash out easily, even if you wash it thoroughly with soap and water. Some dogs can even have an allergic reaction to eating and drinking out of plastic bowls and can develop skin problems around their face and mouth. So be safe and stick to stainless steel or ceramic!

Stainless Steel Bowls

Here are some recommended stainless steel bowls. These are recommended because the shape makes it difficult for a dog to tip over, and they are non-skid so your dog won’t move it across the floor while eating. You will need to purchase a different size based on how big your dog is.


Ceramic Bowls

Ceramic dishes can be fun because they come in fun colors and patterns.

Dog Toys

Dogs need toys to burn off all of that energy and to help exercise both their minds and bodies. When you get a new dog, it’s a good idea to bring home a variety of toys so that you can discover what types of toys your dog really likes and enjoys. Here are some different types of toys that are good for different types of play and behavior in dogs.

Balls for Dogs

The classic toy for dogs because dogs absolutely love chasing after, retrieving, and chewing on balls. Regular tennis balls are great toys. My dog’s favorite toy of all time is one of these balls. She just loves the shape and texture and it provides her hours of entertainment. It’s also very durable:


Food Holding Toys for Dogs

The Kong toy is an amazing toy for dogs because it can keep them occupied for hours and it is great mental stimulation. Stuff food in this toy and your dog will chew on it to try to get the food out. Try out different types of food to keep your dog occupied longer. Frozen peanut butter works great! This toy is a great distraction for dogs who love chewing, or have separation anxiety because this toy will get them excited and will keep their attention for a long period of time.

Plushie Toys for Dogs

This is not a good toy for dogs that are heavy chewers and like to destroy things, because although the dog will enjoy tearing apart stuffed animals, it won’t last very long! However, some dogs just love plushies for tossing them around, playing fetch, making them squeak, light chewing, and for cuddling. Here’s a great plushie from Kong that comes with a squeaker and is durable:

Chew Toys for Dogs

For dogs that love chewing, you’ll need to get a few different chew toys to see what your dog likes. Here are a few recommendations:

Dog Food

Many people don’t realize how important it is to choose a high quality, healthy food for your dog. Choosing a good brand of food not only means a healthier dog and fewer trips to the vet, it also means your dog will have better breath, a smoother coat, and less behavioral issues. Although good quality food is more expensive, it’s more than worth it in the long run.

There’s a lot of options out there for dog food, and a lot of research. To learn more, click here for our page on Dog Food and Nutrition.

For a summary, it’s best to choose dog food that has meat listed as the first 5 ingredients. Grain-free brands are also typically better for dogs.

Dog Collar and Leash

A collar will be needed for your dog, along with an ID tag in case your dog gets lost. You’ll also need a leash to take your dog outside for walks. If your dog is a strong puller, you might also consider a harness so your dog doesn’t hurt her neck pulling.

Martingale collars are recommended, because it makes it difficult for your dog to slip out of them and escape:

For a leash, it’s highly recommended to get a 4-6 foot standard leash. Retractive leashes are not safe and are not recommended because you have very little control over your dog when using them. Here’s a recommended style of leash:

Dog Crate

When bringing a new dog home, it’s important to have a space designated for your dog. A new dog might not be fully house trained (even if the dog was house trained before) or might be destructive. You’ll need to keep a close eye on your dog the first few days and weeks she is home. When you leave the house, it’s best to keep the dog in an enclosed space so she doesn’t get into any trouble. A crate is a great way to do this, though you could also use a small room that has been dog-proofed. Baby gates are also a great way to section off the house, but when you leave it’s best to have a secure enclosed space like a crate.

Here’s a recommended style of crate (be sure to choose the right size for your dog!):

Dog Bed

Dog beds are not just for a comfortable place for your dog to sleep. They are important because it gives your dog her own space – a place she can relax or go to get away from the rest of the activities of the house. All of the other spaces in the house belong to humans and are subject to the rules of the people living there, but a dog bed provides a safe space where your dog doesn’t need to worry about being in the way.

Another great thing about dog beds is that it will help encourage your dog to stay off your comfortable furniture like couches and beds that you do not want to get fur/mud/dirt on or get scratched up.

Don’t forget that dog beds are much gentler on your dog’s body and bones than the floor is! Older dogs or dogs with arthritis will especially benefit from having a comfortable orthopedic bed to ease the stress on their bodies.

A basic dog bed will be fine for most dogs, but an orthopedic bed made out of memory foam will be more comfortable, especially for older dogs. You get what you pay for with dog beds, so the more expensive ones will tend to last much longer. Be sure to check out our guide to choosing a dog bed.


Dog Poop Bags

When you take your dog outside, you will need to be well-stocked with bags to pick up after your dog. One important consideration for buying poop bags is environmental. Plastic bags can take many, many years to decompose in a landfill (anywhere from 20-1000 years!). These bags are designed to decompose in 18-24 months:


More Information

For more information on each of these types of items you will need for your dog, you can see our detailed guides:

Dog Beds

Dog Collars

Dog Leashes

Dog Food

Dog Toys

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