Chew toy

Bringing home a puppy requires advance preparation; you’ll need to choose your veterinarian, find a puppy socialization class, and read up on training tips before your dog arrives. Equally important is ensuring you have all the products you will need to help keep your pet safe and healthy, and to help raise him into a well-mannered adult dog.

Here’s my recommended list of what you need before the puppy arrives. I’ve focused on the essentials, but have included a few extra products that are less necessary but extremely helpful.

The Basics

Food. It’s important for your puppy to be on a puppy diet, as he has different nutritional requirements than an adult dog. The breeder or rescue organization — or your vet — can recommend the best food for your puppy. A food storage bin with a secure lid is optional but helpful.

Bowls. Look for easy to clean food and water bowls, such as stainless steel or antimicrobial versions.

Crate. Your puppy’s first crate doesn’t need a luxury kennel pad or bed inside; use old blankets or towels until your pet is house-trained and has become accident-free. If possible, choose a crate that will grow with your puppy. Dog fences and baby gates are another way to contain your dog when you cannot supervise him, and are a nice — but not necessary — addition to a crate. (Watch our video to learn about crate training your puppy.)

Collar and ID tag. The collar and ID tag is a safeguard to bring your puppy home to you even if he gets lost. Think about adding a microchip, too, for added safety.

Leash. A 6-foot nylon or leather leash will work well for most dogs. While a collar is a must, a front-clip harness is optional. A long line is another option, to be used for training; it is essentially a 15- to 30-foot leash used for distance training your pet.

Puppy toys and chews. Your puppy investigates the world with his mouth. It’s important that you provide him with ample toys as appropriate outlets for his chewing and investigation.

Grooming and Cleanup

Nail trimmers and styptic powder. Unless you are going to take your dog in regularly to get his nails trimmed, it’s important that you get him used to having his nails clipped at a young age. Have your vet show you how to trim your pet’s nails, so you can safely clip them without getting the quick. Styptic powder can be applied to the nail to stop bleeding if a nail is ever clipped too short. If you are grooming at home, a brush or grooming wipes are nice to have around as well. (Read our article on trimming nails to learn more.)

Pet shampoo. Pets should never be bathed with human shampoo, as their coat has a different pH level than humans. Start giving your dog baths as a puppy, and he will be more likely to tolerate them as an adult. For the same reason, a toothbrush is a nice option for your puppy, as it gets him used to having his teeth brushed.

Enzymatic cleaner. Accidents happen. An odor neutralizer helps your home to stay fresh by eliminating smells. Enzymatic cleaners also help break up the smell of urine and discourage your puppy from having another accident in the same area. 

Pooper-scooper and portable cleanup kit. Dog poop should be cleaned up while it’s still fresh, ideally every day, to help prevent infectious diseases from spreading. Keeping your yard clean helps protect your pet and your human family from zoonotic diseases. Portable cleanup bags should also be taken on any outings with your pet, for the same reasons.