What Do You Need When You Get a Dog for the First Time?

Harnesses can be more comfortable than collars, particularly for small dogs.
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New additions, whether they’re human or animal, need plenty of stuff. You’ll want to obtain everything you need before your new family member arrives to avoid any last minute trips to the pet store. Make a checklist of basic dog needs to ensure that you don’t miss anything crucial.

Food and Water

Visit your local pet or grocery store for food and water bowls. Stay away from bowls that can break and injure your pet. Stainless steel bowls can’t be chewed and resist bacteria, unlike plastic bowls. Buy the food to fill the bowl while you’re at the store. Manufacturers offer special formulations for puppies, adult dogs, senior dogs and overweight dogs. Look for brands that list meat in the first several ingredients rather than fillers. Don’t forget to buy a few packages of treats. Give your dog treats in between meals and also offer them as positive reinforcement during training.


Playing with toys keeps your dog’s mind active and helps him channel his boundless energy. Look for toys that have smooth edges and no small parts that could detach and choke him if swallowed. Some dogs enjoy stuffed animals, but others rip them apart and eat the stuffing. If you buy your dog a stuffed toy, observe him as he plays and step in if he tries to eat any part of the toy. Rubber toys are a safe choice, as it’s almost impossible for dogs to destroy or eat them. By a selection of durable toys for outdoor play, such as balls or flexible discs.

Taking It Easy

Choose a comfortable bed for your new pet. Look for a bed that’s long enough for your pet to stretch out fully. Washable covers make it simple to keep your dog’s bed clean. While you’re shopping for the bed, check out the dog crates, which can serve as the dog's den in your home. Choose a crate that’s high enough for your dog to stand in without crouching. Your dog also should have enough room to turn in a circle and stretch out. Crates can be helpful in reinforcing housetraining, but the Petfinder website notes that it’s important to choose the right size. It notes that if the crate is too big, the dog will be able to eliminate at one end and still have room to rest at the other end.

Odds and Ends

Leashes are a must for leisurely walks through the neighborhood. Nylon or leather leashes are durable options, but make sure that your choice fits your hand comfortably. You’ll need to attach the leash to a collar. Keep comfort in mind when you choose the collar. The collar should be loose enough to allow one or two fingers to fit under it, but not so big that your dog can slip it off. An identification tag for the collar is invaluable if your dog is ever lost. Other important dog care items include nail clippers, shampoo, conditioner, grooming brushes and a pet toothbrush and toothpaste. If you plan to trim your dog’s hair yourself, buy clippers too.