As a first time, or soon to be new puppy owner, you will want to make sure you give your puppy the best. And of course you should. By providing it with the essentials like food, shelter and love. That in a nutshell is all your puppy will ever need. You will of course have to arm yourself with some puppy paraphernalia to make that happen, but try to bear this in mind and try not to get carried away when you first start shopping for fluffy.
In this article, we guide you through the essentials of what you will need over the first few weeks of life with your new puppy. (To keep this article at a reasonable length, we don’t discuss general feeding and only touch on training and basic grooming.) But before we start on the list, do bear in mind that every dog is different so even with the most through testing, some things will work for you and your puppy and others won’t. This could be due to your puppy’s breed, personality, environment or a whole manor of other things.
Remember that puppy is very new to this world and you! So when you introduce new things, go slowly and be prepared to have to do so over a few days, and where relevant, before you “need to”. But, don’t worry, we’ll explain why you need each item and go through what to think about when purchasing so you can make the best selection for you and your puppy.
Disclaimer: For your convenience, we have included affiliate links to items which we have found useful. We will receive a commissions from the seller if you purchase through these links.
Collar or harness
Although new pups need to wait till after their second vaccination before they are safe to go out for walks, it’s good to get your pup used to the concept of leash walking and having the sensation of something around their neck or body before their first outdoor venture.
You might choose a collar if you want to leave it on full time or if your dog has very long fur which might otherwise get tangled when wearing a harness. You might also prefer the simple look of a collar. Or you might prefer a harness because your puppy is a puller and you prefer the pressure to be spread over their shoulders and tummy rather than on their neck.
When choosing, go for an adjustable collar or harness which when on its smallest adjustment, is a good fit for the size of your puppy now. If your puppy is between sizes go for the larger size as they will quickly grow into it. Look for sturdy buckles and practical added features like inbuilt name tags and reflective or waterproof materials. When choosing harnesses go for one that can be easily worn.
Why we like it: Lovely vibrant design, with a strong quick release buckle that doubles up as a dog tag. Option of matching leash set and available in different patterns. Suitable for small/medium dogs.
Why we like it: Classic design, made from soft, durable leather, smart stitching and strong belt style copper buckle allows you to adjust the size as puppy grows. Available in 3 classic colours. Matching leash also available. Suitable for medium to large breeds.
Why we like it: This is a no pull harness that works by attaching the leash to the chest ring on the front, so that when puppy pulls, the leash moves to the side, obstructing your pup and guiding them round to face you/a different direction. It also has a loop on the back so you can use it like a normal harness or if you want to let your pup run whilst still being attached to a leash. This harness is padded for comfort and has reflective stitching to ensure your pet is visible on dark evenings. It also comes in a nice range of colours and sizes.
Why we like it: An award winning harness, this IDC model from Julius K9 is an updated model of the power harness. It’s very sturdy and particularly good for very “outdoorsy” dogs. Designed so that your puppy’s pulling force is spread over their shoulders. The front strap sits at an angle, in line with the leash to offer you more control than normal harnesses whilst puppy is pulling. Larger models have a handle on the back to provide further control, and can be used to aid lifting your dog, eg onto your car. The front velcro strap is easily adjusted to your dogs exact size. Then all you have to do is slip it over your dogs head and attach the body buckle each time you go for a walk. It also comes in a huge range of sizes and colours to suit almost all dogs. Reflective patches come as standard for night time visibility. Optional extras include personalised patches, torch lights and even saddle bags.
As for leashes, you have a choice of two main types, fixed length or retractable. If you are serious about training your dog to walk perfectly by your side and willing to put in the effort, stick to the basic fixed length type as your puppy needs to learn that pulling/tension on the leash is undesirable.
A retractable leash on retractable mode will always have a certain amount of tension on it so is likely to send confusing signals to puppy, especially during the training stage. They also tend to offer less control over your puppy. However, they are particularly good in open spaces where you want to keep a hold of your puppy on a leash whilst simultaneously giving them some freedom to run around. As your puppy moves closer or further from you, the leash will automatically wind in and out of the handle, minimising the leash from getting tangled around puppies feet or dragging in muddy puddles.
Why we like it: Made from the same ropes that are used in climbing, these leashes are constructed of multiple layers which can withstand a lot of chewing. The makers also claim them to be x2 stronger than similar types on the market (we haven’t verified this claim personally). The length of the leash is woven with a reflective thread, so you or anyone walking cross the path of your leash will be able to spot it easily in dim light. A wavy foam handle and swivel collar hook, provides comfortable handling and minimal tangling. At 200g, these rope leashes are heavier than the normal tape style leash, so they are more suited to puppies that are on the bigger end of the spectrum.
Why we like it: They comes in a range of colour ways and sizes to fit dogs up to 50kg. You can use it for normal walking in locked mode or in retractable mode for when you want to give your puppy freedom to explore. The retracting mechanism is smooth and reliable allowing the leash to be pulled out and slide back in continuously without ever getting twisted or tangled.
Tags, whilst not 100% necessary (as your pet should have a microchip with your up to date details registered on it), can be a good idea, especially if your puppy is the adventurous type, you haven’t perfected recall or something else that means he or she is likely to get easily lost. You are much more likely to be reunited quickly if someone can simply dial to contact you. Although it’s nice to include your puppy’s name on the tag, consider if it’s really necessary. Sadly puppy or dog theft is not uncommon, in such a situation, better not to make life easier for the thief.
Why we like it: Good solid brass ID tag, deeply engraved and infilled with black paint so you can be sure that your up to 6 lines of text on each side will not get rubbed off or fade.
Why we like it: Another quality brass ID tag, deeply engraved with simple but unique hoop design. Comes with lifetime of pet guarantee.
Potty training mat and holder
When it comes to training, top priority for every new puppy parents has got to be toilet training, and for obvious reasons you need to be armed and ready as soon as your puppy comes into your possession.
Most new dog owners aim to get their puppy trained to exclusively go potty outside, but sometimes it’s not always possible, for example if you live in an apartment without a garden. Also it’s unlikely that most pet owners will be able to read the signals that puppy wants to go to potty and make it all the way outside before puppy answers the call to nature. If however you are determined to try and train puppy to go only outdoors from day one, then I would suggest you only do so if you have flooring that is easily cleaned.
Puppies have a very small bladder and although they are supposedly able to hold their bladder for one hour for every month they are old, it doesn’t mean that they will – especially in the early days. Having puppy pads laid out close to where your puppy is spending their time means you are more likely to be able to get your puppy to do its business in an acceptable spot and it makes clean up much easier.
Why we like it: Absorbs moisture and locks in odour. Makes puppy house training so much more hygienic and convenient. Large sized pads give even large puppies plenty of space to carry out their business.
Nice to have and very useful is a potty mat holder. Without it your puppy may be tempted to play with or shred the mat – annoying and wasteful if the mat is clean, extremely unpleasant if the mat is soiled.
Why we like it: Suitable for smaller puppies and smaller homes, this space saving design also includes an optional pee tree for male dogs. A handy mesh is supplied to fit over the mat, further preventing puppy from playing with it and helps to keep puppy’s feet dry.
Why we like it: Sized to perfectly hold our favourite puppy training mats, holding them securely in place on all sides. Suitable for all size of puppies and folds for convenient travel or storage.
Even with the most vigilant it is unrealistic to expect a puppy to never go potty in the wrong place. It is also likely that for some months after your puppy is toilet trained, it will have the occasional accident. On these occasions after soaking away or clearing away most of the mess, you will need to use a specific enzyme cleaner to eliminate any last traces and to deter your puppy from soiling that same area again.
Why we like it: Professional strength formula specifically designed to clean messes. Contains Pro-Bacteria and enzymes which effectively eliminate odours and stains whilst discouraging puppy from repeat marking.
It goes without saying that to be a responsible dog owner, you should always pick up after your pooch. To help reduce the impact of single use plastics on the environment look into getting biodegrade bags. These are useful not only when you eventually take puppy out for walks but for wrapping away dirty potty mats too.
Why we like it: Large, strong and biodegradable bags, big enough for even large dogs. Larger boxes come with two free holders which help to prevent the roll from unravelling. They also have a handy clip enabling them to be clipped onto the leash or your bag, so that you never get caught short when out walking with your fur baby.
Water and food bowls
There are a few features to look out for when getting these. Select a size that is suitable for the dog that your puppy will become. If possible, choose ceramic or metal as they are easier to clean. To prevent the bowl from sliding around across the floor or puppy from flipping it over, choose a weighted bowl with rubber feet.
Why we like it: Comes in multiple sizes and a choice of colours suitable for all sizes of puppies. This smart feeding/drinking bowl consists of an inner stainless steel bowl meant for food/water and an outer weighty melamine holder to prevent slippage. Designed to be used as one single bowl or split as two separate bowls.
Puppies require a lot of sleep, and they will spend lots of time doing so. You’ll want puppy to be as comfy as possible with space to stretch but not too much as they like to feel secure. If you want to get one slightly oversized so that your puppy can grow into it, try putting in an old T-shirt of yours to make it more cozy.
To make life easier, make sure your soft dog bed can be washed in the washing machine. Consider where you will put the bed, if on a tiled floor get one with a non slip base, and don’t forget to check it fits. When it comes to comfort, what your puppy likes is anyone’s guess, but many dogs like to rest with their heads raised, so a bed with three soft raised sides is a safe bet.
Why we like it: The grey cable design gives this bed a modern look and would not be out of place in any stylish home. Generously filled, and lined with a fleecy material this bed is cosy and offers maximum comfort. Raised edges give pup a sense of security and somewhere to rest their head, whilst one side is lowered to provide easy access for little legs.
Basic grooming and daily care
It is very important to be extra patient when introducing the concept of grooming and daily care to your puppy. Make sure you get your puppy used to being touched all over by you and the kind of tools that you (or your groomer) will be using on them. For example, let puppy sniff at the hairbrush before you touch it to his fur, then gradually gently comb his fur for a few strokes and so on.
The time spent on this in the early days will pay dividends later, by massively helping to reduce anxiety in (you) and your puppy, reducing the time it takes to carry out these tasks in the future, and not to forget minimising the scratches or other injuries that can be caused by an objecting puppy. If you get this right, you might even find that grooming is a pleasant bonding experience for both pet and owner.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Like humans, dogs get two sets of teeth in their lifetime. They will start to loose their first set from around 4 months, so its important that you make brushing teeth part of their regular care routine. Pair brushing with a toothpaste formulated especially for dogs and introduce puppy to the concept slowly by letting them lick the toothpaste or chew on the brush for a few sessions before trying to do any brushing and you may find puppy will enjoy teeth brushing time.
Why we like it: A double headed brush of different sizes make this toothbrush suitable for a range of breeds, the soft grip handle and smaller head prevents slipping during usage and aids access to the back of a smaller puppy’s mouth.
Why we like it: Recommended by most vets. Especially formulated and flavoured for use on dogs and cats. Comes in five meaty flavours to choose from to encourage acceptance by your pet. Special enzymes reduce the build up of tartar when used regularly with tooth brushing. We use this on our own fur baby too.
You should only ever use a canine shampoo on your puppy. The market is flooded with them and they cater for everything from fur enhancement, odour reduction to all manner of skin conditions. Its easy to get blind-sighted by the options, that we can forget that their main purpose is to clean your puppy! So unless your puppy has a specific condition that needs fixing or you want to enhance a specific feature of your puppies fur, just go for a gentle formulation that you like the smell of and go from there.
Why we like it: With so many brands on the market, it’s hard to just choose one, but our current shampoo of choice for our own puppy is this hypoallergenic, tearless formulation that is PH balanced to be extra gentle on puppy’s skin. Free from harsh chemicals, it also contains Shea butter and safﬂower oils which have nourishing effects. Minimal foaming and a nice orange scent that’s not over powering leave puppy’s coat soft and fresh. Safe if licked or swallowed, the fact that the packaging looks cute is a bonus! Also available in a range of other formulations to suit puppy’s with different needs.
Different breeds will require a different amount of upkeep to maintain their skin and fur in good condition and all except maybe short hair breeds will require a haircut from time to time. Whilst you may decide to take your pooch to a professional for full grooming on a regular basis, you should still expect to brush your puppy’s coat in-between the sessions. Brushing is required for all puppies – even those with very short hair. It is an excellent opportunity to inspect your dog for parasites and skin conditions such as dandruff and get you more familiar with your dogs body condition. Regular brushing prevents fur from getting matted, distributes oils in the fur keeping it shiny and removes foreign debris like dirt and grass seeds reducing the need frequent baths (breed dependant, most dogs only require minimal bathing).
Why we like it: We like the Mikki brand for most of our own Westies needs, they are well made, sturdy brushes that do the job they are designed for. They make a whole range of combs and brushes to suit every dogs needs.
If your puppy’s nails get sufficiently worn down by regular walks on hard surfaces or you take your pet for regular nail clipping sessions, you may well be able to skip trimming your puppy’s nails altogether.
But for many owners it is not always possible to go as often as required so it’s a good idea to get a pair of clippers and learn how to use them. A puppy who is not used to being touched on the feet and nails by clippers can become very stressed at the sensation, especially if the first time they experience it, you go straight into clipping their nails. So familiarise your puppy as soon as possible not just for your puppy’s sake but to save you and/or your groomers the stress and potential injury from being scratched or bitten by a fearful puppy.
Letting your puppy’s nails grow long is not a good option, doing so causes discomfort and in some cases deformation of the foot. Familiarise yourself with the structure of a puppy’s nails before clipping, don’t go too deep thinking you’ll save yourself a job. There is a blood vessel and nerve inside each nail (easily seen in white nails but not so much in dark ones), cutting to deep will hurt your puppy and cause a lot of bleeding, and your puppy is unlikely to trust you again afterwards (especially if it was their first experience). If in doubt, ask your vet or groomer to show you the first time.
Why we like it: Available in two sizes this clipper is suitable for any size of dog. These quality made clippers, also include a range of features such as, micro serrated blades that provide a cleaner cut and longer life use, cutting guard to prevent from cutting too deeply, soft grip and spring loaded handles for ease of use, and finally a safety catch to lock clippers shut when not in use.
Puppies love toys, toys to lick and chew, to snuggle, and toys that help to exercise their brains and their bodies. But, as every puppy is different, it’s impossible to know which toys your puppy will enjoy the most. Get a small selection in different shapes, materials, sizes and functions for your pup to play with for at least a few weeks and see which ones they like before investing in anymore.
Be aware that toys quickly become boring to a puppy if they are left available for them all the time, especially if no one is there to play together with it and them. A toy that is introduced only at play time or training time is more likely to hold your puppies interest. When it comes to chew toys make sure you get ones that are suitable for their age and size and never leave them completely unattended with them.
Why we like it: When we first got our puppy we were given a set of toys very similar to this one. We found it to be a good starter set to explore with our puppy as the different shapes and knots offered lots of different ways to play while the rope itself had a nice amount of bite to satisfy a young puppy’s chewing level.
Why we like it: Made of 100% natural rubber, the puppy Kong is the perfect chew toy for your puppy’s first teeth. When thrown, it bounces in an unpredictable way due to its unusual shape, making playtimes more fun. To stimulate your puppy’s brain, occupy your puppy for longer periods of time or to give them a treat, the hole in the middle can be filled with a treat of your choice. Available in different chew strengths depending on your puppy’s age and chew drive/strength.
Never feed your own food to your puppy. All it takes is one or two slip ups, especially at this early age to teach your puppy that your food is an available option. Soon they will be giving you puppy eyes and you’ll be leading your puppy down the slippery slope of food related behavioural issues (Begging or stealing food for example), because let’s face it, who can resist puppy eyes?
This of course doesn’t mean your little one can’t have some yummy food treats of their own. You can of course make your own or if that’s not for you, there are lots on the market for you to choose from. Select a few different types in the regular sized bags to see which your puppy likes best before you get tempted by value savings. Variety is key at this stage when you are learning about your puppy’s preferences so look for food with different textures and sizes and go for higher protein content. Try to avoid fillers and additives such as salt or artificial enhancers such as colouring. Introduce one type at a time leaving a few days in between to check for allergies.
Why we like it: We love these because they are made from 100% chicken breast meat and our pup loves them. Also available in a range of other meats.
A puppy crate
If you plan to crate train your puppy, this is obviously an essential piece of kit.
The point of these is not to lock your puppy up or to punish them, but to offer them a safe and familiar space to go to whenever they or you need them to. Many dog owners also find it greatly helps with potty training (We chose not to do so with ours and were successful in training our dogs without one, but most dog trainers will swear by it). The theory is that puppies will not want to soil their own resting area, so will learn to “hold” when needing to go to the potty. The key thing to look out for when purchasing one is to get one that is big enough only for your puppy to stand, turn and lie down comfortably in, however puppies grow fast so look out for the type that has a divider in that you can adjust to the correct size for your puppy as they grow.
Don’t be tempted to get an oversized fixed crate as your puppy will only sleep in one end and use the other end to potty in.
Other features to look out for: Sturdy bottom tray, protects your floor in the event of an accident and useful if you want to also feed your puppy in the crate. Foldable, so you can easily pack it into the car or to take on holiday. Multiple doors, so that you can access your puppy from different sides of the crate depending on where it is placed.
Why we like it: Available in three sizes to fit the needs of different breeds, this sturdy crate comes with double doors, each with two slide locks for secure locking, a divider grill to adjust the crates size to your growing puppy and a slide out base tray for easy cleaning. It also folds away flat and comes with a handle for easy storage and transportation.
And that’s it, our tried and tested list of essentials for your new puppy. Arm yourself with this list and remember what we said at the beginning – to always keep in mind that food, shelter and love is all your puppy really needs from you and you wont go far wrong with finding the best of what you need for your puppy.
Let us know what you did or didn’t enjoy about this article and what if anything you found useful. We would love to know if you think we missed anything. Do send in photographs of you with your new puppy, we would love to see how you are getting on.