New Dog Owner Guide: 21 Items to Put on Your Shopping List

Shopping with dog

What's almost as much fun as welcoming a new dog into your home? Going on a shopping spree to make that welcome complete! Let's face it. Even though your new dog can thrive on love and attention, even dogs have a materialistic streak, and they won't turn down a plush bed, a fun toy or an entertaining chewy.

Consider the following items for your shopping spree:

Fence. If you plan to let your dog loose in your yard, you will need a fence. The fence should be dog proof from the start, so your dog is never encouraged by successful escapes. Make sure it also prevents marauding animals from getting in. Buried electric fences, while better than no fence, are not ideal because they don't prevent other animals from getting inside the boundary, and your dog can also run beyond the barrier even though he's getting a shock, and then not be able to get back inside.

Crate. All dogs should be crate trained, and the best time to start is now. Crates come in three types: wire, which folds flat and has better ventilation; plastic, which is cozy and is approved for airline shipping; and cloth, which is lightweight but can be shredded by dogs who want to get out. Wait until your dog behaves in a hard-sided crate before trying a cloth one.

Baby gates. Baby gates allow your dog freedom while still blocking off restricted areas in your house. Don’t use the old-fashioned accordion style, which can close on a puppy’s neck. Even a long, sturdy piece of cardboard can possibly do the job in a pinch.

Exercise pen. An exercise pen (X-pen) is a 4 foot-by-4 foot portable enclosure that functions as a doggy playpen. It’s safer than locking your puppy in a bathroom, and he’s less likely to object because it doesn’t have that closed-in feeling that a small room gives him. Set the pen in your kitchen or den, where he can be out from underfoot yet still be part of the family when you can’t watch him. They're also great for traveling to keep your dog from bolting out of motel rooms.

Dog bed

Bed. Beds can range from a cardboard box packed with comfy towels to a miniature bedroom suite that matches your own. But leave the fancy ones until your dog is over his chewing urges.

Anti-chew spray. Like an off-limits sign for your furniture legs, these sprays taste bitter so your puppy will be discouraged from chewing inappropriately.

Collar or harness. A collar or harness is a means of controlling and identifying your dog. A buckle collar is OK for most dogs. A slip ("choke") or, better, a martingale collar is a good choice for walking on leash because your dog can't let it slip over his head. However, it's dangerous to leave them on your dog unattended, as they can get caught on things and strangle your dog. In fact, don't leave any collar on a puppy unattended, as they have a penchant for getting their lower jaw stuck in it. Make sure any collar is loose enough for you to get a couple of fingers between it and your puppy’s neck, but not so loose that it could slide over his head when walking on leash — or that he can reach down and bite it!

Leash. Start with a sturdy lightweight leash, 4 to 6 feet long. Don’t get a chain leash, which is hard to hold on to.

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