Congratulations on your new puppy! Getting a puppy is exciting and a big responsibility. To set you up for success with your new pal, here is a new puppy checklist so you can buy the right toys, treats and supplies for your furry friend!
1. Puppy crate
First things first, you need to buy a crate. Crate training is the key to puppy potty training and to staying sane. I recommend a wire crate with an adjustable wall inside that allows you to change the space available to your puppy as it grows. A properly sized crate is just big enough for your puppy to stand up, sit down and turn around in.
Be sure to put your crate in a low-traffic area, such as a spare bedroom or laundry room, cover it up to eliminate visual distractions, and use white noise like a fan to help your puppy sleep well. If your puppy does not chew it, you may want to place a large old towel in the crate with your puppy in case of accidents.
2. Food for puppy
What food to buy your puppy is a big decision. I recommend feeding balanced fresh raw-based diet, but because you’ll be using food as a training treat for your puppy’s training sessions, you’ll also need a quality kibble. Farmina dog food is pricey, but it’s a great option for your puppy. Depending on the size of your puppy – if your puppy is tiny get the puppy kibble; and if your puppy is bigger, get the medium & maxi kibble. There is nothing worse than teeny tiny kibble that is always falling out of your hand. It’s impossible to train with. Read our Tips for Feeding Raw article.
3. Treats for puppy
I believe in using dog food as a training “treat.” For this reason, I almost never actually purchase dog treats. I teach dogs to be food-motivated, if they aren’t already, so their regular kibble is enough to teach them everything they need to know. On the rare occasion that I do buy treats, I am a big fan of BilJacs. It’s a liver-based treat that’s easy to break in half and stinky- just the way dogs like it!
4. Best chews for puppy
Puppies have soft teeth so gentle chew bones like bully sticks are perfect. I feed raw, so my puppies get the bulk of their chews via mealtime (turkey necks, chicken paws etc). This saves me from going through dozens of bully sticks each week. Avoid plastic chew bones like Nylabones as they can be harmful if swallowed or your puppy may choke on it or ingest pieces of it. Pig ears aren’t a super healthy option, and can lead to diarrhea, but puppies love them! If you feed a pig ear, I recommend cutting it in half with a pair of garden cutters.
5. Toys for puppy
Toys are something I don’t buy very often. I use a handful of toys for the purpose of teaching my dogs to play. I am a big fan of buying tug toys that have handles on both ends, balls on a string, and Jolly Balls. The flirt pole is also a must! Dogs love them, and they are a ton of fun! I also like interactive toys to use occasionally as a way for puppies to “work” for their food. My dog Zoey loves this interactive toy! And this one: interactive toy.
6. Leash and harness
For small puppies (under 20 pounds), I like to use a lightweight harness that the leash clips onto from the back. For this type of harness, I also prefer a lightweight 5-6 foot leash so it’s not dragging the puppy down or getting in the way. Avoid front clip and no-pull harnesses at all costs- and if you have one, burn it. They’re a structural nightmare for dogs and extremely ineffective. For older or bigger puppies, I use a regular six foot slip lead like biothane or Mendota brand. Don’t let your puppy chew your leash. For tips on puppy chewing, watch our video!
7. Treat pouch
This one’s for you. Invest the $15-20 it costs to buy a nice treat pouch. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re training 10-15 times a day and have easy-access to your dog’s food. Here’s my favorite treat pouch (standard size).
That’s it. For now at least. Buying stuff for your puppy doesn’t need to be a super expensive endeavor. Get the basics, sign up for training with a professional dog trainer, and then buy the other items your puppy needs as it matures.