Bringing home a new family member? With all the fun and excitement a new dog brings, it is easy to fall short in being fully prepared. Here is a list of basic items that will help make your dog’s transition period go as smoothly as possible.

Food and Water Dish: 
In general, stainless steel dishes are the best option. Stainless steel bowls are easy to clean and cannot be chewed up by a teething pup. Ceramic bowls with a lead-free glaze coating are another option. Avoid plastic bowls, as they are porous and can hold germs.

In the beginning, we recommend to feed your new companion the food they have been eating before they came to you. If you wish to feed your dog another kind of food, you can begin to transition to the new food by slowly introducing it to your dog. Without a transition period, your dog is more likely to suffer from digestive upset.  

When it comes to choosing your dog’s food, it is important to make a thoughtful and careful decision. Lower quality dog foods do not contain the necessary amount of nutrients for your dog and therefore cause pet owners to spend more money at the vet. Higher quality dog foods can generally be found at pet stores rather than big box stores. Pet stores also carry a wider selection of dog food, allowing you to tailor your dog’s food to his or her specific needs.

Chew Toys:
To keep your new companion from chewing on things they shouldn’t, try keeping a variety of chew toys such as Nylabones and Kongs available for chewing. Not only will these toys satisfy your dog’s chewing needs, but they’re also a safe and hygienic option. 

Hard and Soft Toys:
Toys varying in size, shape, texture, and sound will be very stimulating to your pet and help keep him or her entertained. When buying these toys, durability is key. It’s important to make sure that the toy can withstand the wrath of your dog without falling apart. Also, make sure the toy is not stuffed with beans or Styrofoam. Puppies especially love soft plush toys they can cuddle up with. Tennis balls and rope toys are also good to have around. Rather than having all the toys out at once, try having a few out and then switching it up. This will ensure your dog will not lose interest in the toys.  

The best time to start crate training your dog is right from the get-go. Crate training should always be a positive experience and it is important to buy a crate that is the proper size for your new dog. As far as sizing goes, a dog should be able to comfortably and easily stand up, sit down, lay down, and turn around in the crate. Crates come in three types: wire which folds flat and has better ventilation, plastic which is cozy and approved for airline shipping, and cloth which is lightweight but can be shredded by dogs who want to get out. We suggest you try a plastic or a wire crate before buying a cloth crate. For more information about how to properly crate train your new dog, visit our crate training page.

Grooming Supplies:
Maintaining your dog’s grooming is a good way to develop a lifelong bond. Along with keeping your dog looking as dapper as ever, regular grooming promotes healthy blood circulation. Common grooming supplies you should have include shampoo, a brush, and a nail trimmer. Some breeds of dog will require regular grooming with a professional. 

Leash and collar (or harness):
Your dog should be on a leash at all times when outside the home. It is important to have a sturdy leash that allows you to control your pet. A good size leash ranges anywhere from four to six feet in length. Having an appropriately-sized collar or a harness for your dog is also important. Along with having a clip for the leash to connect to, a collar displays necessary tags such as ID, rabies, and licensing. There be enough space to slip two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck. For more information on collars, harnesses, and leashes, see our page on loose leash walking.

Enzyme Cleaner:
This is for when your dog has an accident in the house. Even house-trained dogs make mistakes sometimes, so it’s best to be prepared. Enzyme cleaners differ from regular household spray in its ability to eliminate organic matter and odors that only your dog can smell, therefore helping prevent that “oops, I did it again” chance. For more house-training tips, read our house-training article.

Training Treats:
Along with regular treats, you should have a separate stash of training treats on hand. These treats are especially yummy and are used as positive reinforcement when training your new friend. It’s important that these treats are used for training and not as a snack to ensure that they don’t lose their specialness to your dog.

Poop Bags:
It’s the law to pick up your dog’s waste. Not only is it good manners, but dog waste can also transmit parasites and other infectious diseases. To go the extra mile, try purchasing eco-friendly poop bags that are capable of breaking down in landfills.

Flea and Tick Preventative:
Flea and tick season can bring about many risks for you and your dog. Fleas carry tapeworm and ticks can carry Lyme disease. It’s important to have the necessary supplies to prevent your dog from getting these parasites. Talk to your vet about which flea and tick preventative is best to use with your new dog. For more information on how to prevent fleas and ticks, please see our Flea and Tick Prevention article.

If you would like information from an Anti-Cruelty Behavior Specialist regarding this behavior topic, please call 312-645-8253 or email

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