9 New Dog Essentials
When we adopted our first dog, Buffy, we had no idea what new dog essentials meant. We figured a bed, a dish and some food was all we needed when we rescued our first dog.
Well, guess what. When you get a new dog, there are definitely some essentials you’ll need. Some of these new dog essentials are items you might not know even exist–especially if you’re adopting your first dog or cat ever.
We learned our lesson about new dog essentials years later, after Buffy, our original family dog, had died. After his death we adopted two dogs. The two dogs we adopted were puppies–four and five months old when we got them.
Having never housetrained a dog or prepared a house for the arrival of two puppies, I was easily overwhelmed. I mean, new dog essentials are completely different when you have puppies versus an adult dog–Buffy was four when he joined our family. We found ourselves asking, “What do I need to buy for a new puppy?” Turns out, a lot!
Thankfully, life got easier with two dogs. Why? Because I finally figured out the must haves for when you adopt a dog or more likely when you adopt a puppy. Or two puppies like we did. (What were we thinking?)
New dog essentials in time for National Pet Month
May is National Pet Month. Perhaps you have plans to adopt a puppy or you’ve just adopted a dog. Either way, you’ll want to take note of these new dog essentials. Also, to make your shopping easier, I’ve created a new dog essentials shopping list that you can access on Amazon.
1. Indoor gates are definitely new dog essentials
When my daughters were little and first becoming mobile, we had baby gates all over the house. This kept my girls contained in childproof rooms and helped us keep tabs on their whereabouts. By the time the girls went to nursery school, the gates were gone. It’s too bad we hadn’t held onto them, because we really could have used them with the puppies.
I turned to friends for advice on gates to use, and the ones that were most recommended were these walk-through bronze gates from Amazon. They weren’t cheap, to be sure, but they had good reviews and, frankly, they looked nice. Plus, they had a walk through option.
What I love about these walk-through gates was that they fit securely in doorways and were tall enough that our small puppies couldn’t scale them. We used the gates to keep the puppies out of carpeted rooms so as they were learning house training, their accidents occurred on smooth floors where clean up was easy.
2. Bitter Apply Spray is tops for stopping chewing
Once the dogs were allowed to enter rooms with rugs–especially those with area rugs–they took to chewing the corners of those rugs. Our first dog never chewed anything, except one of my husband’s sneakers. But seriously this dog never did any damage to our home furnishings.
These puppies? They clearly didn’t know whose paw prints they were following in. Again, my friends helped when I asked how to get dogs to stop chewing on the corner of carpets. Many suggested Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray.
At first I wasn’t sure it would work. I mean, it was odorless to me so how would it repel the pups? Well, it may not smell bad but clearly it tastes bad to a puppy palette. As soon as we sprayed the corners of carpet with the Bitter Apple Spray, the chewing stopped immediately. Better yet it didn’t stain the carper or the hardwood floors underneath, and it wasn’t sticky. This stuff was a miracle if you wanted to get dogs to stop chewing. Period.
3. Get a good garbage can when you get a new dog
If you and your family aren’t very good about cleaning up after yourself, then you’ll quickly learn to change your messy ways once you adopt a dog. Whereas our first dog Buffy wasn’t interested in any garbage or trash left sitting in uncovered trashcans, with our new puppies, nothing was safe–the trash, tissues, tampons, you name it.
Luckily, the kitchen had an integrated trash can in the lower cabinets. However, the rest of the garbage cans in our house fell victim to the puppies.We ended up having to invest in all-new trashcans, with a cover you could only open by stepping on a lever. This was one of those new dog essentials we never realized you needed–until you really needed it.
We ended up going with the simplehuman Semi-Round Step Trash Can. We bought the can in smaller and larger sizes for around the house. I can tell you that this simplehuman trash can turned out to be the ultimate pet-proof and dog-proof garbage can, in that it can outsmart even the smartest, strongest, most determined dogs.
4. A no-pull harness is a must-have new dog essential
When we adopted Buffy, our first dog, he came to us already trained to walk on a leash. So we kept the harness that the rescue gave to us, and never gave it another thought. When we adopted two puppies that we need to teach to walk on a leash, we quickly learned that we needed to invest in a no pull harness.
We asked family and friends what the best dog harness to stop pulling was. They all answered the PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness. It quickly reduced pulling to almost nothing on our walks.
What makes this harness different is that it hooks onto your leash on the front of the dog’s chest. So it is a front attach dog harness. If the dog pulls too hard, it turns itself around. Very quickly any dog will realize that pulling doesn’t get it very far in your walk. So they slow down and walk better.
Years later we continue to use these easy walk dog harnesses, albeit in a bigger size than when we adopted the puppies. It truly is the best dog harness to stop pulling.
You can buy these front lead dog harnesses at your local hardware or pet stores, or on Amazon, where you can find them in different colors and sizes. Here is a bulleted list of those colors and sizes:
- Apple Green/Gray
- Deep Purple/Black
- Royal Blue/Navy Blue
FYI, my dogs are now fully grown and weigh 30 and 40 pounds. They both use the large size in the no-pull harness. And the name easy walk really does capture the beauty of this no-pull harness. When your dogs are wearing it, it really is easier to walk them.
5. Hands-free leash is a game changer in the new dog essentials’ category
Dogs need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, and multiple walks throughout the day can accomplish this. (They can also help you get in shape yourself.) I have found that the best leashes are those with a clasp that opens and closes on the same axis as the button you have to depress to open it. That is, there are some clasps on leashes that open at a 45-degree angle, and if your dog pulls hard enough, he can get out of the leash–learned this one the hard way when Buffy took off after a deer.
When we decided to adopt two puppies, our must haves soon became a leash that would allow us to walk two dogs at once at ease. Along with the no-pull dog harness, we invested in this European-style leather leash on Amazon.com. It allows me to “wear” the leashes and walk hands free if I’d like. The leashes are worn across your body like a cross-body bag. Truly, this hands-free dog leash is awesome and one of the best no pull dog leashes you can buy.
6. My dogs can’t get enough of Nylabone chew toys
We’ve already established that puppies like to chew. Well, so do adult dogs. From the first day we owned Buffy right up until the present with our two pups, we always have a large stock of Nylabone chew toys in the house. My dogs chew their Nylabone every night before bed. I believe it’s how they wind down from the day and prepare to go to sleep.
By the way there are Nylabone chew toys for all sizes of dogs and all kinds of chewers. You can buy a Nylabone chew toy that is flavored or not. I prefer the “not” because I don’t like the smell. But that’s just me.
Another great device for scratching that chewing itch are antlers, which you can buy at any dog, puppy or pet supply store, or even on Amazon. Nylabone even offers an antler alternative.
7. The Dremel dog nail trimming kit is essential
Whenever I would take my dogs to the groomer, I would always ask them to Dremel the dogs’ nails after clipping. You’ll understand this request, if you’ve ever had your dogs come back from a grooming with nails that feel like a velociraptor’s eviscerating talon.
My old groom would tack on $25 to sand down the dogs nails. I decided that I’d rather do it myself and save money over the long run. So I a Dremel pet grooming kit sent to me. It’s a Dremel handheld sander with a guard on it so you can’t grind your dog’s nails too short. At about $40 it might seem expensive. But if your groomer is like my old one, you’ll save money on the purchase after your next two grooms–when you don’t have to pay extra for them to use a Dremel.
Here’s an added bonus of owning the Dremel dog grooming kit: I can use it in between grooming appointments to keep my dogs’ nails shorter. This is an additional money saver, in that the dogs don’t have to go to the groomer as often to get their nails cut.
8. KONGs are great for keeping dogs entertained
Whenever we leave the house, the dogs each get a KONG filled with peanut butter. It is the only time they get a KONG, so they see it as a treat. This has made leaving the dogs in their crates or locked in the guest bedroom less stressful. That is, rather than freaking out that we’re leaving them alone, they get working on their KONGs.
When we get home, the dogs usually run around the house with their KONG in their mouths like a toy. Eventually, they lose interest and I can grab the KONG and put it in the dishwasher. Yes, KONGs are dishwasher safe. KONGs come in different sizes and different colors.
People use KONGs differently. As I mentioned I fill mine with peanut butter. Others use them as dog toys to put treats in. They see it as one of those intellectual dog toys that will keep their dog busy as they try to figure out how to get the treats inside out. I guess my dogs aren’t that intellectual. Every time I’ve tried to put treats in their KONGs, they simply abandon them. Yeah, we’ll stick with peanut butter in the KONGs, thank you very much.
9. Treat yourself to a FitBit or another kind of activity tracker
You may be wondering why I’ve ended this roundup of new dog essentials with the suggestion to get yourself a FitBit or another kind of activity tracker. That’s because once you own a dog, I promise you’ll become more active. Don’t believe me? One study showed that dog owners, on average, walked 22 minutes more per day than people who don’t own a dog.
My dogs Oscar and Sadie (shown, right) have become accustomed to getting two to three, sometimes four, walks a day. This has allowed me to easily get 10,000 steps each day. I’m confident it has improved my health. I know it’s helping get the required daily steps on the Noom weight loss program. In fact, getting a dog might just save you from having to join a gym.
Either way I’m confident you’ll want to be able to track your activity once you start walking your dog a lot. What better way to do that than with a FitBit or activity tracker.
Finally, even Amazon has created its own list of new dog essentials, which goes a little deeper than my nine recommendations above. My recommendations are based on products I’ve actually used with our rescue dogs. Either way I’m confident you’ll get what you need whenever you decide to bring home a new pup.
If you have additional suggestions for new dog essentials, I’d love to hear them. Please post a comment to share your advice.