Bringing home a puppy is such an exciting time and certainly puppy shopping is one of my favourite parts of puppy preparation; although my bank manager would disagree!
The problem is you can get carried away and the pet shops take full advantage of this with aisle upon aisle of puppy items, so to make this process easier for you I have placed a * next to the items below to indicate item/s which are essential buys.
Food and drink time items
*Food and water bowls are a must. Never allow your puppy feeding from your plate to become a habit you may live to regret later. Metal bowls are my favourite because they don’t break if you drop them and clean up like new with a brillo pad. I’ve had some of my dogs’ bowls for years. You may need to consider whether you will feed your puppy from a raised dog stand. I do use these for my dogs purely because it makes their feeding time more pleasurable.
*Puppy food. Discuss this with your pups breeder. Most breeders will provide you with a small amount of the puppy food that they have weaned them on as part of your puppy pack when you collect him/her, but I like to find out in advance what food that will be so that I can buy some in. You may want to change your puppys’ diet from that of the breeders choice to one that you prefer but this should be done very gradually over a period of 1-2 weeks.
Treats are not an essential buy. I personally like to use chopped up cooked chicken breast for my puppies. It’s less likely to upset puppys’ tummy as well. If buying treats make sure they are suitable for puppies as some adult dog treats will upset puppys’ tummy.
Crates, pens and gates
*Metal crate. This, to me, is an essential piece of kit for any new puppy parent. You do not need to spend huge sums of money on them either. I often buy mine second hand on Facebook Market or other similar sites. I always have a small one in my bedroom for when puppy comes home up to around 6-8 months of age depending on how well puppy settles into his new home and how well toilet training goes. I also have another larger crate downstairs in which puppy has his meals, can take a nap or play quietly by himself if I can not supervise him. I then have a third crate in my vehicle for puppy to travel in.
Puppy pen. Because I use crates I seldom need a puppy pen but if you prefer to use a pen to a crate then that is your preference. Depending on the size of your puppy I have found a second hand baby pen just as good and often cheaper and more attractive than a puppy pen.
Gates. Baby or specially made dog gates are handy to have if you want to contain puppy in a specific room such as a utility area or prevent puppy from attempting to climb your stairs (if you have them).
*Water pale. Whoever came up with this idea was a genius! I first saw these on a visit to Canada and bought several home for my dogs’ indoor and travelling crates. I now usually buy them from Crufts and they are available in a number of sizes. Your puppy, or any dog for that matter, should always have access to water and water pales are excellent for attaching to the side of the crate so puppy can not accidentally knock it over or develop the habit of digging their water all over the place. Great fun by the way for puppy but a bit soggy for you :-)
Puppy training pads. These are supposed to attract your puppy to toilet where you want them to. I personally have never used them and I doubt I ever will purely because I want to teach my puppy to toilet outside in the garden from day one. I usually divide my puppy’s crate into half with his bed on one side with a snuggle bear to keep him company and on the other half I line the flooring with newspaper should puppy need the toilet unexpectedly. I have to say I rarely have a problem with toilet training a puppy so buying expensive puppy training pads seems unnecessary. For a guide to puppy toilet training see my post at ????
*Toys. You definitely need toys for your puppy and lots of them if you don’t want your furniture or other personal items demolished. But expensive puppy toys are not necessary; offer puppy an empty plastic bottle or kitchen roll tube and he/she will be more than happy for many hours. If you buy any type of ball for your dog make sure they are not so small that your puppy or any other dog in your household may swallow/choke on them. Soft toys are ok but if made for children make sure there are no glass beaded eyes or noses that your puppy can chew off and swallow.
I like to find a nice, soft toy for my puppies to snuggle up with in their crates. It acts as a replacement for times when they would have snuggled down to sleep with their litter mates and a lot of good breeders will send you home with a soft toy or blanket that has their mums scent on to be placed in their pen or crate to help them settle into their new home.
*Bed/bedding. There is a whole host of bedding for dogs on the market but my personal favourite is vet bedding for my puppies. It is soft, comfortable and easily washed and dried. Whatever you choose try to avoid any types with fibre fillings because these are easily chewed and shredded by puppy and you are left with filling all over your home, not to mention increasing the possibility of puppy swallowing the filling as well.
As for beds themselves, I have found puppies actually prefer cardboard boxes. They are snug and warm chews it up and you can just pop them into the recycling bin and replace it with another larger one as puppy grows, just make sure you never use boxes with metal staples as these can be dangerous if puppy swallows them. If you prefer to actually buy a proper dog bed for puppy then be prepared for it to be chewed, even the hard plastic ones can be damaged in this way which is why I prefer to wait until puppy has completely teethed and grown out of the chewing phase.
Personal Puppy Wear.
*Collar and ID tag. This is a legal requirement in the UK. Some puppy collars are very narrow and flimsy so I like to buy a collar for a small dog not usually found in the puppy sale section of the pet store. Never use a cat collar on a puppy because the fastening on a cat collar is designed to break open when pressure is placed upon the collar. ID tags should be light and size appropriate to your puppy but always have your name, full address and telephone number. I use identitag whose tags are long lasting and a very reasonable price. Go to www.identitag.co.uk
Harnesses. The only time I use a harness on a dog is for medical reasons or when my dogs are tracking and then the harness is made to measure and fit my dogs. There are so many harnesses on the market these days and I understand that pet parents may want to use them to avoid their pups hurting their necks when they pull on their leads. My answer to that is that most harnesses are no-pull which means they cause your puppy pain or discomfort inorder to try to stop your pup from pulling and I prefer to teach my puppy not to pull on their lead. Look in the index page for my video on teaching puppy loose lead walking :-)
*Lead. PLEASE, please, please buy a normal fabric or rope lead to train your puppy loose lead walking with. NEVER use a retractable lead at this phase of your puppys’ life; I see far too many people use retractable leads whilst walking their puppy or dog along a road. This is dangerous on so many levels that I am amazed more dogs have not been killed or injured using these devices in these locations. Please see my post on the safe use of a retractable leash post at
*Poo bags and holder. Most pet parents attach their dogs poo bags in a holder to their dogs lead so that they never get caught out and forget to take them with them on walks.
Winter, waterproof jacket. Depending on the time of year you obtain your puppy will depend on whether you need to buy one now with the full knowledge that puppy will quickly grow out of it or wait until puppy is fully grown.
*Brushes and combs. The only brush I tend to use is a slicker brush. It is suitable for all types of coats (long and short). I rarely use combs but some dog parents ike to use them to make sure they have thoroughly eliminated and tangles and matts.
Shampoo. It is always good to have a bottle of puppy shampoo in the cupboard for those days when puppy has decided to roll in fox poo or dive in every muddy puddle on your walk.
*Towel. It is good to have a designated towel for your dog. You can purchase these in most good pet shops or just use an old one that you no longer use. Even if you don't intend to bath your dog you might want to towel dry your pup after a rainy day walk.
Health and Liability Insurance
Health insurance. Most good breeders sign their puppies up for 8 weeks free health insurance upon date of purchase, or the day you bring puppy home. You can then choose whether or not to continue with your puppys’ health cover, switch to another provider or not continue at all. Any dog or puppy can become ill at anytime in their lives which can lead to costly veterinary bills. Think carefully what will you do if your puppy develops a long term illness such as epilepsy or diabetes? Your new family member depends on you to provide him/her with the best care possible so I recommend that you either open a savings account for your pet where you can deposit regularly sums towards any unexpected veterinary bills or take out health insurance. If you choose the latter do your homework. I have just spent an entire evening researching the best deal in health insurance for my dogs; it meant hours reading the small print, comparing prices and making sure I would receive the cover I required. So take your time but make sure the job gets done. If you are still not convinced watch any series of the tv programme Super Vet; only this week I watched in horror as a puppy was bought into Noel Fitzpatrick after being attacked by another dog in the park and needing its jaw repaired. That treatment was not cheap but obviously the owners had it covered. Be covered too!
*Liability insurance. This covers you against any damage to person or property by your pet/s. Most health insurance includes some liability cover and so do most home insurances as well but not under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The only liability insurance cover I have found that covers your dog under this Act is when you become a member of the Dogs Trust. It costs just £25 a year and covers all of your dogs in your home, as well as supporting the magnificent work the Dogs Trusts does, so well worth every penny. For more information go to www.dogstrust.org.uk