The New Dog Owner’s Checklist: 15 Essential Items You Need When Bringing Home a Dog

Bringing a new dog into your home is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also comes with a responsibility to ensure their well-being and happiness. Having the right items is crucial to make this transition as smooth as possible. These items cater to their basic needs and foster a safe and successful environment for your new companion. In this Redfin article, we’ll outline the 15 essential items you should have when bringing a dog home for the first time. So whether you’re renting an apartment in Valparaiso, IN, or living in a house in Prescott, AZ, this list will help you prepare for the arrival of your new four-legged family member.

Le Dog Company | Leather dog bed

1. A dog bed 

Your dog will certainly need a place to sleep and having a dog bed provides a designated, comfortable space for the dog to rest and call their own.  It also helps insulate the dog from cold floors and provides much-needed joint support.

NaturoPet states, “A dog bed provides a dedicated space where your pup can relax, promotes better sleep, and supports their joints and muscles. It’s more than just a cozy spot, it’s a key ingredient for a happy and healthy life together.”

“The one thing that most people underestimate is the impact of a good big dog bed,” notes Pocket Puppy School. “Whether we are talking about a regular dog bed or bedding inside of a crate, it should be wide enough for your dog to be able to fully stretch out their body and comfortable enough for them to be able to spend the whole night there, with no problems.”

You can choose from many beds, but D For Dog recommends a high-sided waterproof dog bed. “High sides help your dog to feel safe and secure whilst a durable waterproof finish will safeguard against muddy paws and any little accidents.” 

Lastly, dog beds give your dog a space to call their own. “It is where they can go and feel safe, secure, and comfortable. It’s important they know this space is theirs and only theirs, so dog parents must respect that the dog’s bed is for the dog even if it is made with a super comfy human-grade mattress,” adds Le Dog Company.

2. A crate or kennel

A crate or kennel offers a safe and secure space for the dog to retreat to, providing comfort, especially during times of adjustment.

Lucky Dog Direct shares, “A crate acts as a house-training aid and a comforting sanctuary for your new companion, especially as they move into a new home. Look for a crate with sliding doors so your pet can easily go in and out when not contained. The slider doors also help because they won’t close on their own, allowing your pet to enter the safety of the crate when they need.”

3. Dog first aid kit

Having a dog first aid kit provides essential supplies like bandages, antiseptics, and wound dressings that can help if your dog gets injured.

“While most new dog owners hope they’ll never need it, having a dog-specific first aid kit is essential for emergencies,” suggests Pet Educate. “It should contain items like gauze, antiseptic wipes, a digital thermometer, and tweezers. Being prepared can make a significant difference in case of injuries or sudden health issues, especially when a vet is unavailable.”

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4. Toys

Toys provide mental stimulation and an outlet for physical energy, helping to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. 

“Whether it is a soft bed or a comfy dog kennel, fill their space with fun toys. Provide this space for them from the very start, and make sure to keep it clean and tidy so that it can always be somewhere for them to fall back on during their adjustment period and even in years to come,” recommends Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter

5. Fence

Installing a fence can create a designated, secure space for the dog to explore and exercise freely without the risk of wandering off or encountering potential dangers. 

“It provides a safe and secure outdoor space for your furry companion to play, exercise, and roam freely without the risk of running into traffic or encountering potential dangers. It also helps establish boundaries, preventing your dog from wandering off and getting lost. Additionally, a fence can provide privacy and peace of mind, ensuring that you, your dog, and your neighbors coexist harmoniously,” notes Rugged Fence.

There are also many different types of fences, like GPS fences, also known as a geofence, which is a virtual boundary defined by specific geographic coordinates.

“You can make your backyard safe for your dog even without a physical fence by using a GPS dog fence system, which is more cost-effective than traditional fencing. GPS fencing offers flexibility for large properties and is an ideal solution when homeowners’ associations prohibit physical fences. It also allows you to create multiple boundaries and can be especially useful during a move or travel, enabling your dog to explore your new property safely,” shares SpotOn GPS Fence.

6. Walk-through gate

A walk-through gate is crucial when bringing a dog home for the first time as it provides a secure boundary, ensuring the dog doesn’t access restricted areas or potential hazards in the home.

“The most essential items are ones that allow your dog to grow into their new home slowly, rather than being overwhelmed by the whole space all at once,” states Janet Dillon, Owner of ComfortaBULL DOG Care. “For example, a series of walkthrough gates (pressure mounted within doorways) will allow you to contain your pet to the kitchen first and then grow their space into the living room, or the entire downstairs. Pet gates allow your pet to smell, hear, and see the new home without the risk of them misbehaving or, worse, darting out an open door.”

Le Dog Company | Leather dog collars, leashes and accessories

7. A leash, collar, or harness

National Police Dog Foundation says, “You’re going to need a leash. Preferably a lightweight and a quality leash. You’re going to need a collar and/or a harness. It’s up to you whether you want to use a collar or harness with your puppy.”

A leash provides necessary control and safety during walks, preventing the dog from wandering into dangerous situations or traffic. 

8. A dog tracker

A dog tracker adds a layer of security, enabling owners to quickly locate their pet if they happen to stray or get lost. They can also do so much more, see what these experts have to say.

“One essential item to have when first bringing a dog into your home is a dog activity tracker,” notes Smart Pet House. “This device typically comes as a collar or tag with GPS and activity monitoring capabilities. It allows you to track your dog’s location in real-time and keep it healthy by monitoring its exercise levels.”

“Dogs need collars for their safety, identification, and training. A collar provides a convenient place to attach an ID tag, making it easier to identify your dog if they get lost. Additionally, collars can serve as training aids, with prong collars and remote training e-collars being popular options,” adds PetsTEK.

SEEWORLD notes that “If you’re starting obedience training or leash training right away, a GPS tracker can be useful for monitoring your dog’s movements and behavior during these early training sessions.”

“A smart pet tracker can help build healthy habits and remove any anxiety and stress starting from day one. Besides being able to track the location of your pet if they get loose, some smart pet trackers can also monitor your canine’s health – from eating, drinking, and overall well-being,” says Ambiq.

9. ID Tag

An ID tag serves as a direct link between the pet and its owner, providing contact information in case the dog becomes lost. 

“When bringing a new dog home, we highly recommend getting a customized dog ID collar (with their name and phone number engraved),” recommends Andrea Sickenger of Mimi Green custom dog collars. “During the first couple weeks of bringing them into a new home especially, they will still be getting comfortable with their space, and in the event they get out accidentally, it is important to have an easy way to be contacted. A collar is also a great way to indicate that your dog has a family to be returned to.” 

Le Dog Company Blog | Essentials or moving with your dog

10. Dog bowl 

Your dog needs a place to eat and drink. A dog bowl provides a designated space for regular feeding and hydration, promoting a structured routine that supports the dog’s health and well-being. 

“When it comes to feeding your pet, consider a custom bowl. Some bowls are designed for both home and on-the-go use, featuring a silicone grip on the base to prevent slipping. They are convenient for daily use and short trips, ensuring your pet is never thirsty or hungry. With multiple color options available, you can easily match these bowls with your crate or home decor. Plus, their compact size allows for easy storage in your bag or purse, eliminating the need for carrying food in ziplock bags” shares Amy Kim  Founder/CEO of KindTail which sells modern dog supplies.

11. A variety of treats

Having a variety of treats when bringing a dog home for the first time allows for diverse training opportunities, catering to different preferences and dietary needs. 

“Having a variety of treats which are easily accessible around the house can be a really simple way to reward good behaviors as they happen,” states Noelle Saladin of Supernova Dogs“Dogs have preferences just like people do, so try different types and flavors to determine what your dog likes best. Mixing it up with different snacks keeps it more interesting for your dog while consistent rewards will help to build a positive relationship.”

Le Dog Company | Grooming Blog

12. Grooming supplies

Grooming supplies play a crucial role in maintaining the physical and mental well-being of your new pet. Regular grooming not only keeps a dog’s coat clean and healthy but also promotes circulation and natural oil production in their skin, preventing issues like matting or skin infections. Additionally, grooming sessions provide an excellent opportunity for owners to inspect their dog’s body for any abnormalities, ticks, or signs of discomfort.

13. Comfort items

Comfort items like blankets, toys, or even a piece of clothing with the owner’s scent, offer a source of comfort and reassurance to a dog experiencing the stresses of relocation. They carry familiar scents and textures from their previous surroundings, helping to ease any anxiety or uncertainty. 

Le Dog Company | Cute Dog on Sofa Blog image

14. Poop bags

Let’s face it, all dogs poop. Cleaning up after a dog is not only a legal requirement in many places but also a basic courtesy to neighbors and fellow pet owners. It helps prevent the spread of diseases and maintains the cleanliness of public spaces. 

15. Identification records 

Identification records are a source of information about the dog’s health history, vaccinations, and any special needs or considerations. These records provide essential insights into your dog’s overall well-being but also serve as a crucial reference for veterinarians in case of emergencies or routine check-ups. 

Bonus: consider adding DAP plugins 

A Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) substance is a synthetic replica of a natural chemical secreted by mother dogs, which helps create a sense of comfort and security, particularly in anxious or stressed canines.

“Bringing a dog home for the first time can be exciting for you and your family, but potentially a little intimidating for your new fur baby. To make them as calm and comfortable as possible, consider adding a few DAP plugins around your home. Your new pup will feel safe and secure as she learns her new landscape and routines,” notes Pet Insurance Review.

Written by Kristin Postill

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