Considering Getting a Dog? Here’s a Handy New Dog Owner Checklist

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If you’re considering getting a dog, you probably already know that you’ll need to buy things like a leash and bowls for food and water. But aside from the basic supplies, you’ll need to prepare a few more things, both at your home and away. Check out our handy checklist of things you’ll need to purchase as well as lineup in order to make sure bringing a pet home goes as smoothly as possible.

The Basics

Everyday life with a dog requires a lot of equipment, even if it may not seem that way. Starting from the moment your pooch gets up, you’ll need some supplies. He’ll need food—research whether you want to feed your dog kibble, canned food, a mixture of both, or something else entirely. If you’re unsure, it’s helpful to know that you can always change your mind if it doesn’t work out or if your dog doesn’t like the food you get—just make sure to transition slowly to the new food to avoid stomach upset. Of course, along with the food itself, you’ll need food and water bowls, and perhaps a mat or towel for underneath to protect your floors.

After breakfast, you’ll need to walk the dog. This will require a few things such as  a leash, a collar or harness (harnesses may be a better choice if your dog pulls or is small, as they offer a bit more control), ID tags and pick-up bags.

If your dog is like most dogs, he’ll want to take a nap after that strenuous walk.  Pick up a dog bed so he’ll have somewhere comfortable to sleep. Of course, know that no matter what, your pup will probably want to sleep on your bed or the couch instead of his own bed. Whether you let him is up to you.

Food & Treats

In addition to regular food, you might want to pick up things like treats or dog bones, as well as training treats. These can be used for housetraining, teaching your dog tricks, or rewarding him on walks. Choose ones that are made with healthy ingredients, and watch your dog’s intake—a fat dog might be cute in pictures, but an overweight pup can have a lot of problems, especially if it’s predisposed to certain health issues such as hip problems.  You may want to pick up a bin to keep food in, as well, which can be easier than scooping food from the bag it comes in, not to mention it keeps the food fresh.

Grooming

Depending on the type of dog you have, and its general temperament, you’ll need to figure out what its grooming needs are. Look into purchasing dog shampoo (different than the stuff they sell for people), a brush or comb (Furminators are absolutely great if your pup sheds a lot), nail clippers and a toothbrush with toothpaste (yes, we’re serious). Flea and tick protection should also be on your list, but talking to your vet (we’ll get to that in a minute) should be the first step for that. If your dog doesn’t let you brush his teeth or clip his nails, you’ll want to find a reputable groomer (again, more on that in a minute).

Toys

Of course, you’ll need to keep that dog entertained. While some dogs are content snuggling up to you while you watch TV and doing little else, every dog will, at some point, want to play. Keeping a variety of toys on hand is key for keeping your dog happy. Be sure to have some plush toys, tennis balls, squeaky toys and a rope for tug of war on hand. After you get to know your dog, you’ll be able to nail down his preferences. If your dog is a chewer, consider tough, KONG-like toys. Be sure to avoid toys that may cause damage to your pooch if ingested, like rubber bones that are flavored like chicken—your dog will want to eat them, but they’re not safe if ingested. With stuffed toys, if they tear or rip, make sure to take them away immediately, as eating the stuffing can also be harmful to your dog.

Training, Vet Care, Grooming and Dog Walking

Chances are, you’ll need a bit of help with training if this is your first dog. Even the basics like “sit” and “stay” can be difficult to teach if you have no experience doing so. You can find personal dog trainers, as well as classes, in your area by doing a quick Internet search and researching what’s in line with your needs. The same can be said for vet care and grooming. Ask around about vet care—not every place will treat you and your pet the same. Some may want to upsell you with care that you don’t necessarily need, while others may simply overcharge. Keep phone numbers on hand for emergency vet care, as well, just in case something happens when your primary vet’s office is closed. Grooming can take on the form of many different things, from a simple wash and dry to a full-body workup, which might include de-matting, deshedding (using a Furminator brush to remove loose hair/fur), a haircut, a nail trim, brushing teeth and more. If you’re going to be away for long periods of time during the day, you may also want to look into a dog walking service.

Extras

Depending on your lifestyle, you might consider some other accessories. For instance, if you are getting a small dog and use public transportation, you’ll need a carrier. If you want to give your dog the chance to come and go into your yard as he pleases, a doggy door will be helpful. For potty-training, it’s helpful to have puppy pads on hand to avoid frustration of repeated messes on your floor. If you plan on crate training, you’ll obviously need a crate. Another helpful thing to have is a dog-gate (similar to a baby gate) which can keep your dog contained to one room or area in your home.

Getting a dog can be an extremely rewarding, happy time. It’s helpful to be prepared, though, since you don’t want to get caught without!

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