8 Must-Haves for Bringing a New Dog Home

Bringing home a new four-legged member of your family is exciting — and a lot of work. So it helps to be prepared before the big day arrives.

We’ve pulled together a helpful cheat sheet of a few of the items you’ll want to have on hand when you welcome your new dog, whether he’s a puppy, a senior or any age in between. Take a look through the photo gallery below to make sure you’re ready.

What You Need for Your Dog

dog food and water bowls


Food, Treats and Bowls

The fastest way to a dog’s heart? Through his stomach, of course! Before he comes home, be sure you have plenty of food on hand, as well as bowls for kibble and fresh water. Ask your veterinarian about the best healthy diet for your dog. And don’t forget the treats! You don’t want to give your dog too many, but you’ll want to spoil him a little — and they can help you with training.

puppy in crate



If you have a crate ready, you can help ensure your dog has a place where he can feel safe and comfortable, and where he can stay out of trouble. Many dogs like the calm and familiar feeling they have when they’re in their crates. Trainer Mikkel Becker has a handy step-by-step video guide to crate-training your dog and expert tips on finding the right type of crate for your pooch. While you're at it, it’s also a good idea to have some baby gates to keep your dog contained in a certain part of your home.

dog walking on leash


Collar and Leash

We know you’ll want to get outside and go for walks with your new friend. So you’ll need a collar and a leash. There are more collar choices and styles available than you may be expecting. In this video, Mikkel Becker walks you through how to fit a collar around your pup's neck, as well the different options that are available. As for leashes, Becker recommends using a six-foot nylon or leather leash for walks, and a 15-to-30-foot long line for teaching distance commands like come when called. While retractable leashes are popular with many dog owners, they are often not a great idea and can be dangerous, particularly for an untrained dog.

ID tag dog wearing collar and ID tag


ID Tag and Microchip

Your new dog needs proper identification so he can be found quickly if he somehow gets lost. That includes an ID tag on his collar with his name and your contact information, and a microchip. A microchip is a tiny electronic device that’s implanted under the dog’s skin and has a unique identification number. Be sure the microchip company always has your updated contact information.

black lab puppy with chew toy ball


Safe Toys

Toys, toys, toys! If your pup is busy with toys he loves, he’s less likely to get into mischief — and he’ll have fun, too. It’s important to consider safety when you’re picking out dog toys. Make sure they’re large enough that they can’t be swallowed and they’re not stuffed with beans or beads, among other safety hazards. You may also want to give him some food puzzles, which can help your pet stay entertained and active, and help keep his weight under control.

puppy lying on white carpet


Cleaning Supplies

With new dogs comes lots of joy... and the potential for lots of accidents. Luckily, we have plenty of tips for fighting carpet stains. You’ll want to have supplies on hand to clean up after your pet quickly, before stains can set. One of our readers suggests having a kit on each floor of your home with a cleaning solution and rags or paper towels and a trash bag. An enzymatic cleaner is your best bet for getting rid of smells and discouraging him from going to the bathroom on the spot again.

owner brushing dog's teeth


Toothbrush and Toothpaste

You can protect your dog’s dental health by getting into the habit of brushing his teeth regularly from the get-go. You’ll need a baby or pet toothbrush that’s the right size for your dog, pet toothpaste (not human toothpaste) and a reward for training your dog, so he’ll learn to be willing to let you to do this. While you’re thinking of brushes, you may also want to pick up grooming supplies like a hairbrush and some dog shampoo.

chocolate Labrador Retriever wearing bandage


First-Aid Kit

Accidents can happen, and as a responsible dog owner, it helps to have a pet first-aid kit on hand. For some accidents, your pet will need to see a veterinarian. But there may be times when your vet can give you guidance regarding your dog’s treatment. Your kit should include an instant cold compress, a self-adhesive bandage and antiseptic skin ointment, along with several other items you can find in our handy list.

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