When it comes to choosing essential puppy supplies you can save time and money by making sure you buy quality products that will get the job done.
Lots of puppy products are cute and shout 'buy me, buy me!'' and if you're a first-time dog owner it can be difficult to figure out what your pup actually NEEDS as opposed to what he (or you) wants.
Years of raising and training puppies has taught me how to tell the difference, and on this page you'll find my personal Top 10 puppy must-haves.
There basics including a dog crate and a reliable odor remover, an appropriate teething toy, premium puppy food and healthy dog treats.
You'll also find a couple of extra items that make those early weeks much less stressful for everyone such as a play pen and pheromone diffuser (if budge allows).
Here's a look at my Top Ten list, I hope it's helpful!
#1 Dog crate
#2 Odor remover
Puppies grow FAST, so you will either need to buy two or three crates as he grows, or divide a larger crate into smaller sections while potty training (see this page for more on this). The Petmate Ultra Vari kennel I've featured below is a good, reasonably priced, choice for housebreaking, confinement and travel.
Housebreaking is 100% easier if you use a crate - really, it is! Crate training works with a pup's natural instincts and so is faster and more effective.
Plastic dog crates are the best for housebreaking because they're easiest to clean.
However, although wire dog crates aren't my first choice for potty training, they do have their advantages and some pups prefer them.
When you're potty training a puppy there WILL be accidents, it's just a fact of a puppy-owners life. How you clean up those accidents can help, or hinder, the housebreaking process. Nature's Miracle products are my #1 favorite and I always have a spray bottle handy in my home.
Regular household cleaners don't remove all traces of dog urine, and these then attract your puppy back to the same spot.
A puppy play pen might seem like an optional extra, but it's definitely on my list of essential puppy supplies because it's such a versatile and useful piece of equipment.
Puppies are small, they're quick, and they have weak bladders and sharp teeth.
It's easy for them to squat and pee on the carpet, or chew up your most expensive shoes before you realize what's happening.
A playpen makes a safe spot to sleep, or play.
If you're away for long periods of time before your pup is old enough to 'hold it' for long, you can even set the pen up with pee-pee pads for him to use as an interim potty spot.
Additional panels and/or mesh security roof can be purchased separately for most models.
Pheromones are natural chemicals that are produced by an animal, that cause behavioral changes in another member of the same species. Here, a momma dog's pheromones are used to calm anxious, stressed or fearful puppies (and dogs). Perfect for when you're bringing home a new puppy, and can also be used if you have a dog with noise anxiety or for separation anxiety.
This diffuser releases a pheromone that is released by a nursing momma dog, to calm and reassure her puppies.
Don't expect an instant or obvious reaction, it takes a little while (sometimes several days) for the effect of the pheromones to be noticeable. For some puppies and dogs the effect is almost instant.
Once it does happen, you'll find that your puppy is more relaxed and whines/cries less... and is generally less stressed.
Puppies love to chew, and will chew on anything, so providing appropriate toys is hugely important... for their safety and your belongings. Chewing is also a stress relieving activity for puppies and dogs of all ages.
When it comes to toys, safe, fun, sturdy playthings that can stand up to the wear and tear your puppy dishes out are essential.
My personal favorite brand is Kong.
One of the first things you should do is get your pup familiar with wearing a collar, and make sure that you have a dog ID tag firmly attached to that collar.
Puppies need to get used to wearing a collar right away.
Always choose light, soft collars (a nylon collar like the ones featured above is the best choice) for his comfort, and an easy to use clip (for yours).
To keep little Fido safe if he manages to escape from your arms, or your home, attach an ID tag with your current address/phone number/s so that anyone finding him can get him straight back home.
Food and water bowls are obviously essentials for your puppy, and there are loads of different options to choose from. I'd recommend you always check the size of any bowls if you're ordering online because images don't necessarily convey scale. Bowls that are non-tip and/or non-skid are great for puppies, and can be placed on a washable mat or rug for extra stability (and mess containment!). The bowls featured below have all of that covered in one design.
You need bowls to give your dog his food and water, so use is pretty much self-explanatory!
I personally recommend stainless steel bowls simply because they're hygienic and easy to clean, plus they can't be chewed up.
As mentioned above non-spill and/or non-skid designs are good for puppies (honestly I use them for my adult dogs too, saves mess).
A premium diet is essential because what you feed your puppy has a huge impact on his future growth, health and even how long he lives. There are LOTS of puppy foods on the market, some great, some good, and many that are not-so-good. Do your research and make sure you pick a premium food that's right for your puppy. Check out my Best Puppy Food Choices page to learn more about ingredients and see which brands I like.
There are loads of puppy food options to choose from, but they don't all have the nutrition and quality ingredients your pup needs.
Some of my favorite brands include Castor & Pollux (their puppy food is featured here), Wellness and Orijen.
Quality ingredients are the #1 priority and it's important to read the ingredients list on the packaging of any puppy food you're considering.
When you're training your new puppy it's important to use only positive, rewards-based techniques and the most coveted reward your puppy can get is usually a tasty treat. Praise or a favorite toy are also good rewards and some pups are not very food motivated, but they are in the minority.
You take care to feed your pup a high-quality nutritious food, so it makes sense to be careful about the treats you pick too.
Choose treats that have healthy, natural ingredients and that are free from all the chemical and synthetic nasties that are added to so many edible dog products.
Training treats should be small, and VERY tasty, that way your pup won't pack on the pounds while he's learning and he'll also be very motivated to earn one of those goodies.
Freeze dried liver is my dogs #1 pick! To see more great treat options you can also check out this page - Healthy Dog Treats
When you're a dog owner, loose hair flying around the house becomes a fact of life. But, there are things you can do to reduce dog shedding and using the right dog grooming aids can make a LOT of difference. The Furminator featured here is amazing, and it's a must-have in our family, it really does remove way more hair than you'd think possible. However there are also lots of other dog grooming tools to choose from including metal combs, slicker brushes, bristle brushes and more.
Grooming your dog regularly is the best way to keep your pup's coat and skin in tip-top condition and remove loose, dead hair before it redeposits itself all over your home.
For me, this is the best tool on the market and although I do have slicker brushes, pin brushes and other grooming supplies, I use this one the most.