Hey Mighty Paw fam, Barbara here to wish you all a mighty, happy and healthy new year and share our Checklist For New Dog Owners with you!
As the name suggests, it'll come in super handy if you recently brought a new furry friend home with you.
But it can also give you lots of food for thought if you're thinking about what all you'll need for the future pup in your life.
And maybe one of your friends, family members or coworkers could use some tips for their new furry friend as well...in that case, please feel free to share this blog post with them :)
Now, you may already have a few pass-me-downs from beloved previous pups or perhaps you already received a few dog related gifts from friends and family for Christmas.
But even if you don't and you're starting completely fresh on your new pup(py) journey, you obviously won't need to get every single item on this list.
Consider it more of an idea guide of what's available in our wonderful doggie gear world, then pick and chose what makes sense for you!
New Dog Checklist: Essentials You'll Need + Tips
Everyday Dog Gear
Let's start with the items you're likely going to need for your pup's daily activities first!
Start with a well fitting collar and a sturdy leash that's comfy on your hands. It's up to your personal preference as far as which type of material you'll want to get (nylon, leather, rope etc).
Even if you prefer to walk your dog on a harness, an everyday collar that holds your dog's ID tag(s) is a good investment.
Tip: In order to avoid poor fitting collars and harnesses as well as the hassle of returning products, make sure to measure your pup's neck and chest area BEFORE placing your order.
To do this, measure the widest point around their neck as well as the area around their chest right behind your dog's front legs.
You can either use a soft measuring tape or a piece of string and a ruler.
You'll also want to (or at least should!) pick up after your pup, so it's easiest to invest in a poop bag dispenser that attaches to your dog's leash or harness.
The Mighty Paw Poop Bag Holder has a zippered dispenser that's large enough to hold a poop bag roll and a key or chapstick. It either clips to the D-ring on a leash or harness or attaches to your dog's leash with its velcro straps.
Moving on to a cozy spot!
All dogs appreciate a soft area where they can relax, lounge and nap during the day and sleep at night.
Again, it's up to your and your dog's personal preference whether you'll want to invest in a crate that's lined with blankets or a bed.
You may also want to get both!
Crates are a great tool to help with potty training and also offer anxious pups a dedicated space where they'll feel safe - if it's used properly!
For more information on crate training, please check out our blog post:
Eating | drinking | chewing
Next up, let's talk nutrition and related accessories.
- Dog food (dry, canned, homemade or raw)
- Food & water bowls
- Slow feeder if your pup's a gulper
- Floor protector
- Healthy snacks/chews
The most obvious need in this section is your dog's food.
Again, it's your decision as far as what you'll want to feed your pup.
There's a variety of different dog food choices out there, such as:
- Dry kibble
- Wet canned food
- Homemade dog food
- Raw dog food
If you brought your new friend home from a breeder, you may also want to stick with the food they fed, at least for the first couple weeks. That'll make it easier for your pup to adjust to their new home.
Here at Mighty Paw, our team members feed the 4 different types of food listed above, and there's nothing right or wrong with any of them.
I suggest you do some research on all of them and then decide what feels right for you and your dog.
Next, let's talk about the wonderful world of feeding accessories... I personally love it!
You'll need at least one bowl for your pup's food and one bowl for their water.
Bowls come in a variety of different materials such as plastic, ceramic, stainless steel and silicone.
Here at Mighty Paw, we carry stainless steel and silicone bowls since they're the most durable and easiest to clean!
Our Stainless Steel Bowls come in a set of 2, and so do our Collapsible Silicone Bowls. However, the latter are more suitable for road trips or camping adventures, but technically you could use them on a daily basis as well.
We also have a Slow Feed Dog Bowl Insert that's made of silicone. It can either be inserted into our medium size stainless steel bowls or it can be used on its own.
This type of dog bowl is a great option for gulpers because it slows their eating down up to 10x. That's because it features built-in obstacles that dogs need to eat around.
It's also a great choice for picky eaters who are easily bored with their food - our slow feeder bowl turns mealtime into entertainment and stimulates them mentally, so it's a win-win!
If you're not into cleaning up your pup's messes every time they drink and eat out of their bowls, you can line their eating area with a floor protector. For example, with our Dog Food Splash Mat.
It's made of BPA-free, food grade silicone and measures 19” x 12” x ⅝”. Thanks to its non-slip texture, it stays in place while the slip resistant topside keeps your pup's bowls from moving around.
Good to know: All of our bowls (stainless steel & silicone) are dishwasher safe, and so is our Dog Food Splash Mat!
Moving on to healthy chews and snacks in-between meals!
Chewing is a natural dog behavior that exercises their jaws, massages their gums, and keeps tartar from building up.
It's also a great way of decreasing doggie anxiety and helping them through stressful situations such as:
- Construction noise
- Loud visitors
- A new environment after a move etc.
- A new human addition to the family (baby)
All that said, there's tons of different doggie chews and snacks out there, but some of them are downright harmful to your pups' health. The worst ones are certainly bleached rawhides because they're made with all sorts of chemicals and even glues!
Generally speaking, the more ingredients and the harder to pronounce they are, the worse the quality of the chew, snack or treat.
Because of this, we only carry single-ingredient and limited-ingredient chews and snacks in our Mighty Paw Naturals line:
- Bully Sticks (single-ingredient)
- Pig Ears (single-ingredient)
- Yak Cheese Chews (limited, 3-ingredient)
OK, let's talk training gear next!
- Edible food rewards and/or squeaky toy
- Dog treat pouch
- Long/short/hands-free leash
- Training collar if needed
- Potty bells if needed
It's easiest to teach your dog new tricks and practice existing obedience commands when you offer your dog a reward for a job well done, i.e. when they do what you ask of them.
Many dogs respond well to food rewards.
However, I will say that you may have to up the ante and only offer really high-value treats as opposed to just kibble.
Food rewards that get the vast majority of dogs interested in working for are the ones that smell a little. For instance, plain cheese, cut up hot dog, fishy treats or (and this is the ultimate motivator) freeze-dried green tripe. The latter IS smelly though, so consider this a warning, ha!
In order to easily access those treats, it's best to keep them on you in a dog treat pouch. That way, you don't have to fumble through your pockets and won't have to deal with treat residue that's left behind.
Our Dog Treat Pouch 2.0 holds 2 cups of treats in its main compartment and features 3 additional storage areas that hold your phone, keys, money and poop bags.
You can either clip it to your pants, wear it around your waist or across your body or over your shoulder, kind of like a purse. It's really convenient to take along on walks as well to reward polite leash behavior!
Tip: Dogs who are truly not interested in food rewards may do well with a favorite toy instead. That said, you can also fit a ball or similar size toy in the main compartment of our dog treat pouch.
Different size leashes are really helpful to train certain commands, especially in the beginning stages.
For example, you can clip a long leash such as our 30' check cord to your dog's collar or harness when you're practicing the off-leash recall with them. This helps you teach your dog make the right decision (coming back when called) because you're able to redirect them if needed, using the leash.
Tip: Practice inside first because there's a lot less distractions than outside!
You can also use a really short leash such as our 12" leash tab to practice heeling. That's when you're asking your dog to walk right next to you. This command comes in handy in situations with oncoming people/dog traffic on narrow hiking trails, busy downtown areas or during vet visits.
You can also use any of our dual handle leashes to teach this behavior because they all feature a so-called traffic handle. That's an additional handle that's built into your leash and really close to your dog's head.
That way, you can quickly grab the handle and keep your dog close to you as needed:
If your pup's a bit of a puller...
...you can manage this by either clipping your leash to the chest leash attachment point on our harnesses, for example on our padded Sport Dog Harness 2.0.
It features a padded handle on the back, two leash attachment points on the chest and on the back, and it can go around the neck instead of over the head thanks to a neck buckle.
You can also use a so-called Martingale collar. That's a training collar that consists of two loops. You attach your leash to one of the loops and as your dog pulls, it automatically tightens. That causes an uncomfortable sensation on your dog's neck and lets them know not to pull.
Our Martingale collars come in a variety of different styles, materials and colors:
- All Nylon Martingale Collar
- Nylon & Chain Martingale Collar
- Bright Colored Nylon & Chain Martingale Collar 2.0
- Leather & Chain Martingale Collar
If your new dog still needs to be potty trained...
...you can use our potty bells to help them get off on the right paw.
The way it works is you install the potty bells on or near the door you take your dog out to go potty. This can either be your front door, patio door or backdoor. Or all of them, ha!
Next, you'll teach your dog to let you know that they need to go potty by ringing the bell. They can either do this with their nose or their paw.
Here at Mighty Paw, we carry 3 different types of potty bells:
- Our Smart Bell 2.0, which is a wireless dog door bell that plugs into any standard US power outlet.
- Our Tinkle Bells, which hang from a door handle.
- Our All-Metal Tinkle Bell, which is installed on the wall.
Car Dog Gear
Dog car safety is SO important and really shouldn't be overlooked!
If you're driving with a loose dog in your car you're guaranteed to be distracted sooner or later. And that can literally be fatal...as a matter of fact, distracted driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence or sleepy!
That's why we made it a huge priority to carry the following car safety dog gear:
- Vehicle Safety Harness
- Dog Car Seat Belts
Our Vehicle Safety Harness also doubles as a walking harness which comes in real handy when you're on a longer road trip with frequent stops!
As far as our dog car seat belts are concerned, we designed 4 different ones:
- Regular nylon seat belt for the buckle
- Nylon seat belt for the latch bar
- Nylon seat belt for the headrest
- Chew-proof cable seat belt for the latch bar
The latch bar seat belts connect to your vehicle's latch bar the same way a child car seat does.
The headrest seat belt does exactly what its name suggests - it goes around any headrest (we recommend using a backseat headrest for ultimate safety), but it also doubles as a leash!
That comes in handy when you're pulling over for a quick potty break because it's super fast and easy to take off and re-attach.
For much more in-depth information about this topic, please refer to our blog post How to Make (Holiday) Road Trips with Your Dog Safe & Fun for Everyone!
Let's talk some grooming!
All dogs benefit from regular grooming sessions for shiny and healthy coats, not just the ones with really thick undercoats and/or long hair.
That's because wash 'n go pups with thin, short coats like Boxers, Weimaraners, German Shorthaired Pointers or Beagles need their naturally occurring oils to be distributed as much as thick coated breeds such as German Shepherds or Newfoundlands.
Speaking of washing, dogs don't need weekly baths, not even necessarily monthly ones - unless they had some mudding fun of course! Otherwise, a bath every other month or so should be sufficient.
If you decide to give your pup a bath yourself at home, you'll need to get specific dog shampoo. Human shampoo is too harsh for dogs.
There's also the option of taking your pup to a doggie self wash place. They provide everything you'll need for a doggie bath such as the tub, shampoo, towels and hair dryers for dogs.
However, you'll be the one giving your dog the bath which is why it's not terribly expensive. If you're opting to outsource the entire bathing session to a professional groomer, it'll obviously cost more.
But back to at-home grooming.
Most dogs really enjoy a good brushing massage because it improves the circulation in their skin and physically makes them feel better. It's also an excellent opportunity for bonding because you're spending quality time together!
Our Grooming Glove is the perfect tool for that. It's made with BPA-free silicone and has almost 400 soft grooming tips of different heights that really penetrate deeply into any type of coat.
Dogs also need their nails trimmed on a regular basis, so you'll definitely want to have some solid ones such as the Mighty Paw Dog Nail Clippers.
They make nail trimming easy and feature a safety guard that prevents cutting your dog's nails too short and causing injuries. The clippers also come with a bonus nail file that's conveniently stored in one of the handles!
Essentials for all dogs:
You'll also appreciate our Electric Grooming Clippers to cut your pup's coat! They're cordless which makes your grooming sessions a lot easier, and their strong ceramic cutting blades help make your cuts super precise.
Optional items for thicker coats:
A New Routine
Did you know that dogs aren't so different from us as far as routines are concerned? They like to know what to expect and will be more relaxed and at ease as a consequence.
So once you welcomed your new furry friend into your home, you should be working on setting up a daily routine that works for both of you!
- Early morning potty break and walk followed by breakfast.
- Napping, lunch time potty break/playtime.
- Afternoon potty break followed by more napping and a chew/snack.
- Pre-dinner walk followed by dinner.
- One last potty break before going to sleep.
Of course your dog's specific routine is going to depend on your work schedule and family life, but you can expect to incorporate at least 2 daily walks and 2 potty breaks.
You may have to rise a little earlier and stay up a little later than you're used to in order to give your pup the opportunity for a first and last potty break.
But again, it depends on your particular lifestyle and your dog's age, energy levels as well as overall physical and mental needs.
Building A Support System
Which brings me to another topic, your support system!
In a perfect doggie world, you would probably work from home and have enough time for an extended morning, lunch and dinner walk. Oh, and let's not forget about playtime either!
However, life happens and we don't all have the luxury of a home office or being able to come home from work during lunch.
Since we still need to do right by our pups though and give them the outside time they need/crave on a daily basis, it's a good idea to build your very own doggie support system.
This can be a variety of different people you trust, for instance:
- Family members
- Professional dog walkers/pet sitters
- Doggie daycare
These people can help you walk your dog, let them out to potty, play with them. and spoil them with some TLC.
You may not need them on a daily basis, but it's good to have someone to reach out to on those crazy busy days!
Did you know? We’re offering free U.S. shipping on ALL orders!
Barbara Rivers writes regularly for Mighty Paw. She is a blogger, raw feeder, former dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.
If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also like:
- The Ultimate Puppy Guide: Essential Checklists, Proven Hacks and Puppy Training Tips
- How to Make Holiday Road Trips with Your Dog Safe & Fun for Everyone!