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cute puppy mutt photographed by Darlene Woodward

7 Essential Products Puppy Parents Will Love

Life with a new puppy is an adventure! I remember when I first brought my pup, Halo, home this past December. It had been almost 12 years since we had a puppy in the house and I completely forgot about teeth and chewing EVERYTHING! I was in for a new journey! Halo was just over a year old… but she still had a lot of puppy in her!

Darlene Woodward's rescued Siberian Husky
Halo’s Comes Home

After my experience with my previous puppy, Kota (we rescued at just 4 months old), along with my current pup, Halo, I wanted to share a list of 7 essential products that I believe any new puppy parent will need AND love to help get their home puppy-ready.

1. A Safe Dog Crate

When I picked up Halo at the MSPCA Nevins Farm in December to take her home, she immediately climbed into the driver’s seat of m vehicle. This wasn’t going to work! I forgot a crate and there was no way she was going to stay in the back of my Ford escape for the ride home. The volunteer went inside the shelter and grabbed a crate for us. Once Halo was in the crate, she curled up in a ball and slept the whole way home. The crate was a safe and comfortable place for her.

husky puppy crated in the car
Safe in the crate

Your new pooch can appreciate a cozy den of their own at every stage of their life. Crate training is important because it helps with potty training, provides peace of mind when leaving them at home, and is a safe spot for stressful events and when strangers and visitors come to your home.

Even if your grown dog’s crate can be tucked away because they choose a different safe-space, their early crate training will make visits to the groomer or overnight stay in a hotel on vacation so much less stressful. Look for a sturdy crate that – for larger breeds – has a divider so it can grow with your puppy. To make the den fun and comfy, I suggest adding  a soft bed with blanket, along with a durable toy for your canine companion.

2. Engaging Chew Toys

Puppies LOVE to chew! Halo loves a stuffed KONG. I stuff them with peanut butter and pumpkin and keep them in the freezer . Banana and yogurt are an option, but that doesn’t sit well in Halo’s belly. You can use your dog’s favorite treats or food – stuff them with what they love.

Besides the tons of positive mental stimulation, chew toys are essential because they keep teeth and gums healthy, give your puppy an appropriate place to exercise her chew-time (rather than your favorite shoes!) and can be safer than bones.

We also do a do a super chewer Barkbox subscription for Halo. Each box comes with 2 durable tough toys. I admit, they are hit or miss on whether she loves them, but that’s a trade off when looking for the super chew stuff that will last!

Sticks are NOT on the list haha!

Puppy chewing on a stick Maudslay State Park

3. Leashes for Training and Safety

Pick up a few leashes for both play and training with your new pup. I’d recommended at least 3: One to keep by the door, one to keep in the car, and you have those two just in case your dog chews right through that 3rd one!

Grab leashes that are 6 to 8 feet long. Make sure they are strong enough to stand up to shark teeth just in case. I recommend avoiding using chains because they can damage your puppies teeth and can also frighten them . We want to keep all experiences positive.

You should also avoid retractable leashes for training and walking. Your pooch can quickly zip out of control, get tangled in the legs and leashes of other dog walkers, or swerve unexpectedly into traffic. Retractable leashes take precious long seconds to reel in when your puppy is in danger, especially if you are in a panic, too! Take this from an a certified dog trainer – I saw too many accidents with retractables that could have easily been avoided.

Doberman Puppy on leash NH trail

A sturdier leash is great if you are doing longer adventurers or excursions with your pup. My favorite is the Nonstop Dogwear bungee leash paired with the line harness which is great for keeping escape artists safe.

4. A Collar and ID Tag

Bring a collar and identification tag when you pick up your pup to bring home. No one expects to lose their dog, especially a small puppy, but energetic puppies do chase exciting things, sneak out an open door, or bolt in sudden fright. (welcome to my life with an escape artist!) Searching for a lost pet is stressful. When we had our puppy, Kota, we learned quickly that a 4 foot fence wasn’t going to cut it. She jumped it! We got her… but that hour of looking and not knowing was heart wrenching.

If someone finds your wandering pup, you absolutely want them to know there’s a loving pet parent looking for them! A collar and ID tag is super important. There are a lot of additional options to the standard metal engraved tag, like smart tags that reveal your pet’s personal profile when scanned by a smartphone, GPS tracking tags, and microchips. At the least, I suggest a standard tag and a microchip to help get your pup home.

We’ve always microchipped and if you do, be sure to keep your info updated! We update through Home Again and also have a little pink heart tag.

One of my favorite collar companies for durability is Lupine Pet out of New Hampshire, and my go-to for beautiful tags is The Copper Poppy. Keep the tag simple with your dog’s name and either 1 or 2 contact numbers.

pretty dog tag copper poppy
Lupine Pet Collar and The Copper Poppy Tag

5. Poop Bags

Picking up dog poop is NO ONE’S favorite puppy chore. Once you build up the habit it becomes second nature and you might just find those little baggies in every coat pocket that you own. It’s a habit you’ll want to establish right away, since you’ll need to do it regularly while out and about, and you don’t want your yard filled with dog doo landmines. Besides, picking up after your pup is all part of being a responsible pet parent!

My husband is NOT a fan of picking up poo, but he knows, of course, it’s a necessity and is in charge of the baggies. (None of us are, I know, but I give him a hard time as he truly hates it!) We have the Hand Armor Bags on Board in our household and they are thicker than others AND have little handles to tie and carry them.

Great Pyrenees Puppy in wildflowers
Adorable Great Pyrenees Puppy

6. A Comfy Dog Bed

My dog, Kota, had many different beds over her life. When we first brought her home her first bed was from LL Bean and it had her name engraved on it. That bed lasted 11 and a half years! Now it lies in Halo’s crate and it has become Halo’s bed. We will get one for Halo with her name on it, too, I promise!

Every puppy needs a spot where they can comfortably relax, and giving your pup that space is a great way to enrich their lives!

Choose a dog bed that’s an appropriate size for your pup, and look for one with a removable, machine washable cover! Droop happens, and sometimes upset bellies do, too. A washable cover makes it a must.

There was a time I went through the house and counted how many beds and mats I had for Kota. It was 15! She was spoiled for sure!

Below, Kota on her “fox bed” from Homegoods. I think this was on clearance for $20 and it became one of her favorites!

Dog's bed
My favorite fox bed

7. Food and Water Bowls for Frustration-Free Meals

Don’t just grab a bowl you no longer use out of the kitchen cupboard. Puppies are developing their motor skills and need sturdy food and water bowls that stay put and won’t be mistaken for chew toys.

Use a heavier bowl or add a gripping mat under the bowls if your pup likes to shove their dinner around the room or enjoys sloshing water everywhere. Tall, lumbering pups like Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds might need elevated bowls to eat and drink more comfortably. There are so many fancy dinner-time bowl options out there.

My go-to bowls that last forever are by PawNosh. They are safe, made out of recycled glass, and made in the USA. As I am linking to this company, it looks like they no longer have their business, but since there site is still live, I’m going to share. If you find something similar to these, please let me know!

Chocolate Lab Puppy Trail Hike

I hope you are inspired to grab these essential puppy products. They will assist you and your pooch in getting off to a great start together!

Enjoy Preparing Your Life for a Puppy

The first year with Kota was a whirlwind but such a blast! We are still in our first year with Halo and it’s been so much fun . Even if the essentials on my list here turn out not to be your puppy’s favorite, they’ll make your first days and weeks together so much easier and set you up for a lifetime of love and fun.

Did I miss any essentials you think a new puppy parent needs for the first year? Let me know!

Around the Circle

This post is part of a pet photographer’s blog circle and this week’s topic is all things puppy! Click on the link at the end of each post and follow along. You won’t be able to resist the puppy cuteness! Next up Northern California pet photographer Kylee of Kylee Doyle Photography shares her top tips for getting your puppy camera-ready for their photography session. Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “7 Essential Products Puppy Parents Will Love”

  1. Great explanation on what you will need & do with a new puppy. Agree with Kim about the photos. Halo is really Photo Genetic!!!

  2. Great tips! I have to admit, I let View ride in my front seat sometimes. I know it’s terrible and he’s the first dog I’ve ever let do that, but… guilty.

  3. Every tip is important here. We always use special bowls with grips on the bottom for puppies. Sturdy, because our puppies have always carried their food bowls around and chewed them. LOL. I love the butterfly bandana in one of your photos!

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