Step one for new pup parents: Be an awesome human being. Since you’re here I’m assuming we can check that one off the list—congrats on doing some research before you bring your new best friend, couch warmer, and fuzzy crumb vacuum home! We know you guys are gonna be crazy happy together, all the more so because you’re about to be SO prepared. Before you get your dog, you’ll want to be ready with all the essential dog products they need to stay healthy and happy. Don’t worry, this is the fun part.
From a sturdy collar to the coziest bed for your wallet, you’ll have everything to make your new family member feel like he’s just won the human lottery.
I’ve been obsessed with these collars for YEARS, and so have all the people I recommend them to. They’re available in 4 different sizes with innumerable colors and patterns to choose from; I’ve linked to just a handful of the options on Amazon above. Blueberry collars don’t sacrifice practicality for style, though. They’re made of high density polyester so they stay soft and won’t stretch, and you even have the option to add your dog’s name and your phone number in case they get lost.
Always make sure to measure your dog’s neck before buying (there are measurement guides for each size), and leave about 2 fingers’-worth of wiggle room—snug enough that it can move a bit, but not so loose that your dog’s lower jaw snags and they can potentially chew it off.
Hamilton collars & harnesses have been in my home for as long as I can remember, and for good reason. They’re inexpensive, great quality, and come in a ton of different colors so I can swap them out when I want without spending a fortune. These harnesses have 3 adjustment points to ensure a custom fit, and in my experience they never rub or cause irritation like some others tend to do. Whether you’re in a hot pink or mango orange mood, chances are you’ll find one that suits you and your pup’s style, and you’ll get where you’re going without any accidental escapes or breaks.
Protect your dog and your hands with this leash—it has a reflective strip on one side to keep you visible during early morning or evening walks, and comes equipped with neoprene padding on the handle. They’re available in a rainbow of colors and 2 width sizes (5/8″ or 1″), though both are 6ft long.
Simple yet functional is probably my favorite combo. Once you’ve chosen an appropriate dog food for your pup and your budget, you’ll need something to store it in and keep it fresh. The IRIS airtight storage container gets the job done at a fraction of the cost of similarly-performing products. The lid seals to keep moisture out, it’s made of BPA-free plastic, and comes in sizes to fit 6, 10, 25, or 50-pounds of grub.
These stainless steels bowls nested in a non-slip silicone mat are perfect for keeping the mess contained at mealtimes. Stainless steel is ideal for preventing bacterial growth—you want to avoid using plastic bowls, which can develop very tiny scratches that harbor pesky bacteria. This set comes in medium, large, and extra large sizes with 4 color options, and the entire thing is dishwasher-safe.
If you think you’ve got a heavy chewer on your hands, I double-dog-dare you to give this chew a try. It’s made of nylon and isn’t meant to be consumed, just gnawed on, making it especially long-lasting. Benebone chews come in bacon, peanut butter, and rotisserie chicken flavors and 3 sizes (mini, regular, and jumbo)—I’ve linked to the regular size on Amazon above.
Nary a single dog I’ve met has been able to turn down a soft, chewy treat. They’re typically a bit more fragrant than the crunchy variety, and a lot more flavorful (I assume. My dog told me.) These treats are the perfect size for training; small enough that your pup won’t overdo it on the calories, and tasty enough to keep them engaged. Fruitables come in a wide variety of delicious meaty and fruity flavors.
Peg the Prized Pig basically combines the best of every world. You get a single toy that rattles with a belly full of tummy-safe cornstarch beads and crinkly water bottle material (sans sharp edges), a curly tail perfect for thrashing, and a rotund body that’s just begging to play fetch. Peg is as versatile as she is fun.
Treat-dispensing toys like this one are also really great as an alternative way to feed a meal; it slows dogs down and simultaneously gives them a mental workout. Bored dogs sometimes use their energy for less-than-pleasant things (like shredding pillows or eating socks), so it’s always a smart idea to have a way for them to use their brains and stay occupied for a time. This toy easily unscrews so you can fill with treats or some of your dog’s kibble and watch them nose and roll their way to a yummy reward.
If you’re journeying to the vet or visiting the dog park, the opportunity for messes exists. Dog hair, dirty paw prints, and slobber are no fun to get out of your car seats, and even a basic seat cover helps make life easier. The Go Buddy car seat cover is waterproof and a breeze to clean; all you do is throw it in the wash and let it air dry. My favorite part about a hammock style cover (besides keeping my car clean) is that it keeps my dog from tumbling to the floor.
I highly recommend (in fact, I insist) that you purchase a harness and a seat belt tether like *this one* to protect your best friend in case of an accident. It connects directly to your car’s seat belt system and then to your dog’s harness (NEVER attach to a dog collar!).
Definitely a must-have for any pup parent. If you choose not to embroider your dog’s name and your contact info directly onto his collar, you’ll definitely want to attach a tag should he go missing. These tags have space for up to 8 lines of text and come in a variety of shapes and sizes; they’re made of aircraft-grade aluminum and include a steel split ring to attach to a collar or harness.
Nothing says comfort like a bolstered dog bed. The couch-like “arms” provide support for your dog’s head and neck, and the egg crate foam insert is just about the coziest spot in the house. The FurHaven bed comes in a vast array of colors and patterns to match any home decor, and is available in 4 sizes.
Once you get a dog, you lose any squeamishness you had about touching poop and other bodily fluids* (*that come out of your dog). A good poop bag gets the job done with minimal chances of ripping, a great poop bag is thick, leak-proof, and hides odor. Earth Rated bags are my all-time favorite, and these are lavender-scented (though they’re also available in an unscented version.)
Not once have they ripped during pick-up, and they’re large and durable enough to fit a few poops at a time when you’re cleaning up the yard. These bags also include the best poop bag holder I’ve ever used—it even has a SUPER convenient clip that holds the bag until you get to the nearest trash can.
Lots of new dog parents don’t realize it’s not ideal to use their own shampoo to bathe their pups. Human shampoos contain pretty strong chemicals meant to strip our hair of all the dirt and oils, but removing those natural oils from a dog’s skin will make them dry and itchy. Earthbath is gentle and soothes itchiness, not to mention it’s soap-free and smells amazing. I’ve used the oatmeal & aloe formula for years and can attest to the fact that they last ages.