1. Bed: Establish a target sleeping place inside or out of a crate to give Fido a sense of security and consistency at night, and to save large breeds’ joints. For additional comfort and security, shoot for one with snuggly, raised sides.
2. Leash, leading trainers: Train puppies on-leash when out and about. Use engaging toys or treats to keep the puppy’s focus on you and establish a command such as “leave it” to call the puppy off of hazardous chewables or dogs. Consider a harness, Gentle Leader or a Weiss walkie for willful pullers.
3. Toys: Many pet owners don’t want their puppy chewing, but developing dogs require sensory stimulation as much as children. If you don’t have a grand to throw at a nylon/intestine removal surgery, spring for a variety of safe, interesting toys. Keep only a few out at a time, rotating regularly and tossing anything dismembered (aka choking hazards).
4. Crate: Even pet owners uncomfortable with crate training may need to travel with their pet, and crates keep pets safe. Establish an appropriately sized, clean crate as home to give your new puppy a sense of security, routine and direction. Upsize as Fido grows.
5. Collars/tags/microchip: Sounds like a no-brainer, but pet owners often wait too long. Get the vaccination, off-leash and identification tags a.s.a.p., and if you off-leash at all, spring for the microchip.
6. High-quality puppy food: Although dogs appear to digest anything, cheap foods full of additives and fillers, such as dehydrated milk and corn, can take healthy years from your beloved best friend. Dogs eat less of higher-quality foods and suffer fewer health problems when raised on a diet that lists meat as the first ingredient and includes good fats and grains.
7. Treats/training aids: Treats, toys and other training aids can make positive behaviors fun and lasting. As with food, go for high-quality treats and use them as incentive, in conjunction with praise and attention, to behave properly.
8. Grooming tools: A brush appropriate for the pup’s hair, which means bristles for short hair, pins for long hair, rubber or a curry comb for shedding, and a comb and scissors for mats, burrs and trimming around dirty areas such as paws, genitals and ears. Nail clippers and a Dremel-style file help as well.
9. Ear cleaner, saline solution: Small abrasions, seasonal allergies, ear mites and dirty buildup can cause permanent damage to dogs ears and eyes. Do a quick paw, eye and ear check after outdoor activities or windy car rides to prevent unnoticed injuries from festering.
10. Antimicrobial food/water dishes, plus to-go options: Although ceramics are prettier and plastics are cheaper, stainless steel bowls are pretty much indestructible, hypo-allergenic and easiest to keep clean. Consider elevated dishes for large breeds and collapsible dishes that can be carried in a dog-sized backpack for outdoorsy canines.