Dog and cat laying in grass


Whether this is your first pet or your fifth, it’s likely that bringing a new pet into the house will bring up some questions about what you need. So here is our list of the essentials, the sort-of-essentials, and the not-essential-but-could-make-your-life-easiers.

Dog Guide

Dog laying their hand on persons hand

Getting Started

Having a new dog is like hosting a famiily member, a toddler, and a nervous new roommate all at once. While joyous, it takes time to figure out the rules of the house. Your new dog will have many questions. When is dinner time? Where do I sleep? Can I go outside or do I just wait here? What can I play with?

Have some basics ready to go: the more prepared you are, the better able to handle any surprises that come your way.


Because pet food choices get made early in pet ownership, and often get locked down for a long time, it’s important to do a little research to find out what works for your pet. Pet nutrition differs for every animal, so there isn’t just one food that’s considered the best. Dry dog foods like Kasiks Free Range Lamb Meal Dry Food or Orijen Original Recipe Dry Food are simple to feed and come in many options. A freeze-dried dog food like Kiwi Kitchens Grass Fed Beef Dinner Raw Freeze-Dried Food or a raw frozen diet like Tucker’s Raw Frozen Beef-Pumpkin Recipe can make feeding a raw diet more approachable. It may take a few tries before finding the right food for your dog, or even a combination of foods.

Toppers & Sides

Toppers and sides can be mixed into existing diets to add moisture, protein, and flavor. Adding a wet food like NutriSource Chicken & Rice Canned Food increases a meal’s moisture content while Stella & Chewy’s Super Beef Freeze-Dried Raw Meal Mixer boosts protein intake. Incorporating toppers can diversify your pet’s diet and can be beneficial in situations when you might not have their go-to food on hand.


Bowls are an often overlooked element of feeding time. We strongly recommend dishwasher-safe, stainless steel bowls, especially if you feed raw, because stainless steel is easy to clean, won’t harbor bacteria, and won’t chip.

Leashes & Collars

Collars should fit snugly with room for two fingers between the collar and your dog. For leashes, start with a standard six foot leash. Got a dog who pulls? Pair a six-point leash with a dual clip harness, which gives you the option to attach the leash to the front of the harness for more control. Safe walks are always the goal and treats like Bixbi Pocket Trainers Bacon Flavor Training Treats can reinforce good behavior.

Dog in puppy training

Training & Sleep

You’re going to be doing some degree of training with your new dog. No matter what degree of training you decide to go for, it’s better to start sooner than later. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks…but it’s easier to break bad habits before they become routine.

Crates & Pens

Crates and pens are the doggy equivalent of cribs and playpens, offering a safe and contained space where your new pup can feel protected. Crates can also help with potty training for puppies. Make sure to find the right size and type for your dog: puppies should have just enough room to turn around and lie down, while soft sided crates should only be used with adult dogs and non-chewers. The MidWest Contour Double Door Dog Crate is especially good for growing puppies, since it comes with a divider that can be adjusted.

Training Tools & Harnesses

We are big believers in using the right harness and leash, as well as early training for behavior, potty training, crates, and walking etiquette. Positive reinforcement is a big part in establishing rules and boundaries that make your dog feel safe and secure. Clicker training in tandem with a treat can help reinforce good behaviors. Plus, the time you spend working together will establish a deeper bond.


Dog beds should be big enough to easily fit your dog, while also being comfortable, durable, and machine washable. Find the bed that suits your pet: some dogs need to burrow, while others sprawl. Senior dogs and dogs with extra health needs may need an orthopedic dog bed for additional support.

Dog in puppy training

Health & Wellness

We take it as a given that dogs depend on us to feed them, take them for walks, and make sure we keep them dry and warm at night - we cheerfully do these things every day. It can be less instinctive to take care of the other things they depend on us for: dental and nail care, flea maintenance, and health supplements. But regular maintenance should be on the radar to help avoid long-term issues.

Flea & Tick

Fleas and ticks are much easier to prevent than they are to eradicate. Preventative measures such as spot-on topicals or collars, which are available in both natural and traditional varieties, can stop pests from becoming a problem. But if your pet already has a flea problem, it’s best to take care of it quickly. Advantus Dog Soft Chew Flea Treatment is a chewable treatment that will kill fleas, starting within an hour, while Dr. Bob Goldstein’s Nature’s Protection Herbal Bug Spray for Dogs can provide an extra layer of protection during outdoor adventures.

Grooming & Dental

Routine pet grooming is a critical part of maintenance. Whether you wash your pet at home or visit our self-service pet wash, using the right brush and washing your dog will keep their skin and coat healthy. And establishing dental and nail routines early will save money and headaches down the road. If your pet resists tooth brushing, options such as ropes, bones, and dental chews for dogs like Whimzees Stix Dog Dental Chews can help scrape your pet’s teeth.


Pets can’t voice when they are having problems, but they tend to show us in other ways that they need our help. Loose stools, nervous barking, or a reluctance to go on walks may be symptoms of deeper problems that can be addressed with supplements. For example, glucosamine and chondroitin are frequently recommended for joint issues while supplements like JustFoodForDogs Omega Plus Liquid Supplement have been found to help with inflammation.

Dog sitting on pee pad


Cleaning up after poop, pee, and everything in between is an unavoidable part of being a pet parent. Dog poop bags, spades, pee pads, and cleaners and pet odor eliminating sprays are tools you might want to have and can make alleviating the mess much easier.


Clean up for an already potty-trained dog can be as simple as using a poop bag or a scooper. If you have a new puppy, a dog that is still learning the ropes, or a dog with some medical complications, then you may need a few more dog sanitation tools. Dog pee pads or pee grass may help with emergencies or establishing an indoor spot for pottying, and a dependable cleaner and odor spray might be your best friend for removing stains and odors.

Dog chewing on dog stick


Playtime. It’s basically the best part of your dog’s day. Spending time with you, doing fun stuff, and maybe even getting something delicious to eat. Keep your best friend in playtime heaven by stocking up on all the good things - like treats, chews, and toys - that keep boredom at bay.


Believe it or not, all treats are not created alike. Low calorie treats for dogs are good for training since you can dole out more in one session, while high meat treats can be extremely motivating – especially for food lovers. Functional treats like Nulo Functional Granola Digestion Slow-Baked with Pumpkin & Banana Treats work double-duty, assisting with digestive or dental issues. No matter what you choose, treats are a staple and give your dog added assurance that they are special and cherished.


Chews offer a delicious reward while also being a time-consuming, mentally stimulating activity, which can help ease pet anxiety. Choose the right chew for your dog, based on mouth size, dog size, chewing enthusiasm, and past chewing behaviors. Dog deli items like Redbarn Odor-Free Bully Sticks often come in multiple sizes, so double check that it’s the right fit. Always supervise your pet with chews until safe behavior has been established.


All dogs have their own toy preferences, but we recommend one plush, one interactive, and one outdoorsy fetch/pull toy to begin with. Interactive and stuffable toys are especially great for smart, bored dogs, while ropes, frisbees, and balls are a good bonding activity. A 3-in-1 toy like Chuckit! Rope Fetch Dog Toy is a good option since it can be thrown, tugged, and gnawed on.

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for a handy list of new pet essentials.