Complete Buying Guide for New Dog Owners

When it comes to preparing everything for a new furry friend, it can be easy to overlook some of the more important things. With this complete guide for new dog owners, we take all the stress out of searching for important items you need and have compiled everything into an easy-to-follow guide. 

Getting a new dog is exciting, but also stressful – especially if it’s a new energetic little puppy that’s eager to explore and cause all kinds of trouble. It’s important to be prepared! 

The first one to two weeks are critical, and it helps tenfold if you have everything ready to go well before your pup comes home. There are some things that stick out as clear necessities when you get a dog, or any pet, such as the food and water dishes, food, toys, etc. These must-haves are imperative to have, ideally before you bring your new best friend home. You can easily forget staple items such as dog food in the excitement. Don’t forget their dog tags and local registrations as well! 

1. Dog food, bowls and water dish

There are some things that stick out as clear necessities when you get a dog, or any pet, such as the food and water dishes, food, toys, etc. These items are imperative to have, ideally before you bring your new best friend home. You can easily forget staple items such as dog food in the excitement. Don’t forget their dog tags and local registrations as well! 

This one should be obvious, but you would be surprised what you forget in the excitement of bringing home a new pet. For puppies and dogs of any size, it’s good to get heavier-set bowls that have grip on the bottom so that they don’t go flying around the house while they eat. There are also slow feeders designed to help your dog eat slower if they tend to scarf their food too quickly, and food bowls that come with stands for further stability. Experiment and find what works best for you and your dog!  


Freefa Slow-feeder bowl

This slow-feeder bowl is good for a dog that eats too fast and then subsequently throws up afterwards. It’s a good design, sturdy, anti-grip bottom, and easy to wash when needed. 

Pros
  • Great design. Easy to wash. 
  • Not too difficult for dogs to reach food. 
Cons
  • Not all dogs will use slow-feed bowls. 

DogBuddy Dog Bowls & Non-Slip Mat

This two-bowl set and included non-slip mat is perfect for puppies or a new dog and you want to just get it all at once. One can be used as a water dish, and the other for food. The non-slip mat makes it ideal for energetic pups or bigger dogs that push their bowls.

Pros
  • Great price and deal.
  • Decently sized dishes.
  • Good anti-slip mat size.
Cons
  • Bowls may not be large enough for certain big breeds. 

2. Puppy-proofing

It may not be something you initially think of, but puppy-proofing your home is an important aspect to not overlook. Keep your sanity and the well-being of your new best friend in mind with these products. 


Midwest 39″ high walkthrough puppy gate

A walkthrough puppy gate can be expensive but they’re worth the cost if it’s in an area that gets a lot of traffic and you’re keeping your pup in one area or out of a hallway/room. It’s well built, looks great, and will last for years. 

Pros
  • Wonderful design.
  • Great reviews. 
Cons
  • Might not fit all hallways, be sure to measure beforehand. 

Amazon Basic’s Playpen

A playpen is a great starting point for new puppies, especially if you don’t want them roaming around the entire house yet and causing mischief. It’s a good cost and sturdy enough that even the most energetic of puppies can’t knock it over accidentally. 

Pros
  • Good amount of space. 
  • Sturdy construction
  • Space between bars isn’t big enough for puppies to get through. 
Cons
  • Extra small puppies such as chihuahua’s or Pomeranians might be too small for this playpen. 

3. Treats and Toys

Of course, treats and toys are a necessity when it comes to enriching your dog’s life and can help deter them from destroying other things in your home such as the couch, bed, or other furniture. 


Multi-pack chew toys

A multi-pack grab bag of squeaky toys, rope, balls, and other basic dog toys is a perfect place to start and see what your dog likes best, all at a great price point.

Pros
  • Includes many different types of toys.
  • Great price.
  • Good reviews. 
Cons
  • Small toys may not be big enough for larger breeds. 

KONG Classic Dog Toy

KONGS are somewhere between dog food container and chew toy, giving your dog long periods of chew time and mental stimulation. The idea of each KONG is that you stuff the hollow rubber toy full of treats and kibble, and your dog will chew on the KONG and get the treats inside. Great for distracting your dog while you are watching a movie or playing games, the KONG is a huge relief for may dog owners.

Pros
  • Multiple sizes great for different dog sizes and breeds
  • Very resistant to long periods of chew.
  • Great for soothing dogs and giving them mental stimulation
Cons
  • Use should probably be supervised.

KONG Dog Bone

KONG is a well-known brand for pet toys, and for good reason. Their toys are durable, long-lasting, they have amazing customer service, and they’re reasonably priced. Top-reviews for dog toys almost always goes straight for KONG, and pets (even cats) – seem to love them. 

 

Pros
  • Wonderful design and top reviews.
  • Long-lasting and durable.
  • Great prices. 
Cons
  • Some dogs can destroy even the KONG Extreme toys – watch your dog to see how much they chew and tear, and adjust accordingly. 

Vitalife Duck Treats

Vitalife treats are a single ingredient treat that just has solely what it says on the packaging. Duck, chicken, and liver are a few of the flavours they carry. Most dogs love these freeze-dried morsels. 

Pros
  • Single-ingredient treat with no additives.
  • Good cost. 
Cons
  • Some dogs may not like freeze-dried treats. 

Pedigree Dentabites

Pedigree treats are a staple in a lot of dogs owners homes as they’re easily accessible, good price points, and dogs tend to absolutely love them. There are multiple flavours and they come in an array of sizes to try. 

Pros
  • Easily available.
  • Good price.
  • Multiple flavours and package sizes. 
Cons
  • Some dogs may not like them.

4. Grooming Supplies

It’s important to take care of your new friend by brushing them and making sure that they’re healthy! You might not notice any skin issues or otherwise if you don’t regularly brush them, and unless your dog has very short fur – matting and other issues can be major problems and cause terrible infections and pain. Be sure to brush and clean your dogs, and if you don’t have the time – take them to a professional groomer for a spa day every month or so! It isn’t frivolous, it’s for their health. 


Hartz combo brush

This combo brush does all the work for you, with a thick brush on one side and a thinner one on the other for getting all the fur away. 

Pros
  • Great price.
  • Two-in-one brush design. 
Cons
  • Might not work for all dog coat types. 

Furminator Brush

The Furminator is a pet grooming workhorse as it makes quick and easy work of the most stubborn fur, especially while shedding. It’s worth grabbing one if you have a dog that sheds often. It shouldn’t be used on dogs that have sensitive skin or do not shed though, as you can irritate their skin. 

Pros
  • Amazing design and durability. 
  • Works beautifully. 
Cons
  • Not for any dogs with sensitive skin or ones that don’t shed. 

Burt’s Bees 2-1 Shampoo

Burt’s Bee’s 2-in-1 is a top-rated dog shampoo that seems to have glowing reviews, whether they have short fur or longer fur that shed such as a husky or malamute. Great for sensitive skin and makes coats glossy and fresh. 

Pros
  • Great price.
  • Keeps dogs fresh and clean. 
Cons
  • It’s for sensitive skin, but some dogs may still have a reaction. 

Furminator De-Shedding Shampoo

Furminator also has their own deshedding shampoo to go along with their Furminator brush. If you really want to get all of that hair off and cleaned up, or you’re constantly drowning in dog fur – this shampoo will be for you. 

Pros
  • Fantastic for shedding dogs such as huskies.
  • Good price and size. 
Cons
  • Not advised for dogs that don’t shed or have very sensitive skin.  

Nail clippers

Dogs need their nails clipped just as we do, and even though taking them for walks does help grind down the nail, it usually isn’t enough. They can become painful and even curl in on themselves and cause your dog a lot of pain and issues with walking. Be careful not to cut too far in, but a quick trim saves a lot of hassle later. 

Pros
  • Included mat for peanut butter, etc. as a distraction.
  • Sharp cutters and strong grip.
  • Good quality.
Cons
  • Some dogs may not like this kind of clipper, there are grinders available as well. 

5. Leashes & harnesses

When you’re going out for walks every day, you want something that’s stable, comfortable, and gives you more control while you go about your day. If they get distracted, you don’t want to be choking your dog with their collar or having them accidentally get hurt. A harness and leash combo are fantastic for safe and cozy walks. An adjustable collar is especially important if you have a puppy – they grow fast and it’s helpful not having to buy a new one every few weeks! 


Rabbitgoo no-pull harness and leash

Rabbitgoo is a household top-rated name for pet owners, and their harness and leash combination are no exception. Sturdy, lightweight, durable, and easy on both you and your dog – it’s a good place to start for a new leash and harness for walks.

Pros
  • Harness and leash are adjustable.
  • Good price. 
  • Comfortable for both dogs to wear and owners hands to hold. 
Cons
  •  More powerful dogs can still chew through the straps. 

Ucelice adjustable reflective dog harness and leash

An adjustable reflective harness and leash is a great addition, especially if you go for a lot of walks where it’s busy or at nighttime.

Pros
  •  Reflective orange colouring on both harness and leash.
  • Adjustable.
Cons
  • May not fit large breeds of dogs.

6. Potty Training Pads and Pick-up Bags

It is inevitable that your new dog will have accidents in the home and will use the bathroom outside while on walks, that’s just the facts of owning a pet. Don’t forget to include potty training pads and poop bags before you bring your new dog home! 


Rabbitgoo reusable training pads

Rabbitgoo has their own line of reusable training pads that can just simply be tossed into the washing machine and left to dry. Reviews have stated to be careful if putting it the dryer on anything higher than air dry or light, as it can shrink the underside material. 

Pros
  • Reusable saves money and garbage waste.
  • Great price.
  • Works well. 
Cons
  • Depending on the dog, can sometimes smell or not fully wash some scents out. 

American Kennel Club 50-count puppy pads

Regular puppy pads that are just simply tossed away are still a good purchase, especially if you’re travelling or out somewhere where a reusable pad isn’t going to cut it. 

Pros
  • Easy to use and throw away.
  • Large size.
  • Great absorbency. 
Cons
  •  Not as eco-friendly. 

Earth Rated Unscented Bags

Earth Rated unscented bags are a great choice for eco-friendly poop pick-up while out on walks with your dog, and they do come in other scents if you’d prefer such as lavender. They’re sturdy and decently sized. 

Pros
  • Unscented.
  • Good size and durability. 
  • Cost is fair for the amount you get. 
Cons
  • Some users did receive thinner bags, but that seems to be dependent on batch. 

Earth Rated Certified Compostable Dog Poo Bags

Compostable bags are perfect for any eco-friendly dog owner that also composts, as you can just bring these home and toss them in with the rest of the pile. They’re unscented and biodegradable.

 

Pros
  • Biodegradable.
  • Compost-friendly.
  • Good cost.
Cons
  • May not be as durable as other bags. 

7. Toothbrushes and dental treats

It might seem like you don’t need to take care of your pets’ teeth and gums, but just like us, they can have costly issues and painful problems with their teeth if they aren’t taken care of and looked after. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and even just using dental treats can make a fantastic difference in their health. These are some easy ways to start: 


Bluestem Toothbrush and toothpaste

A combination pack is the perfect place to start for dental hygiene for your new dog. Whether they’re old or puppies, it’s never too late to get them used to good teeth care. 

Pros
  • Top-rated toothpaste that dogs seem to enjoy.
  • Good price. 
  • Toothbrush included. 
Cons
  • The toothbrush type may not work for you; be sure to check other types as well. 

Dentalife dental dog treats

Dentalife and dental treats are great for pets when you can’t or don’t have time to brush their teeth. Chewing on these great-tasting snacks will help clean their teeth as they go, helping curb plaque and other terrible dental issues.

 

Pros
  • Most dogs love the taste.
  • Good cost for quantity. 
  • Healthy ingredients. 
Cons
  • Some dogs dislike the dental treats, but there are other brands/flavours. 

8. Training clickers, treats, and training leashes

Training your new dog can be as simple or complex as you like, and of course the basics such as stay, sit, and how to recall your pup should be top of the list to make your life easier and to make theirs safer, especially if you live in a city or are around other animals often – teaching them some proper training while safely on a lead can make a huge difference. 


Eyeleaf nylon long training leash

Nylon is the preferred and main material that dog leads are made from. Training leads are durable and much longer than regular leashes you’d bring for walks. They allow you to determine how far you want your dog to go, great for recall training and exploring without letting your dog off leash. 

Pros
  • Strong and durable.
  • Swivel clasp means no tangles.
  • Comfortable grip for owners. 
Cons
  • Stronger dogs can still chew through the material, be sure to test and check. 

Diyife dog training clicker

Training clickers may not be necessary, but they do help your pooch learn when they’re doing something right such as sitting or laying down. 

Pros
  • Two-for-one pack.
  • Great price.
  • Works well. 
Cons
  •  Not all dogs or owners like clicker noises. 

Mini PureBites treats

Mini PureBites treats are perfect for giving your dog a quick treat that is small enough to eat in an instant but high reward enough that they want more and will be able to focus while training, without taking too long to eat and losing track. 

Pros
  • One ingredient list.
  • Great choice of flavours.
  • Top-rated. 
Cons
  • Not all pups like freeze-dried treats. 

9. Dog beds and blankets

You want your new best friend to be comfortable and have spaces and things that are their own, not just yours, such as the couch or your bed. Having their own comfortable dog beds and blankets will help them feel safe, secure, and like they belong. 


Bedsure waterproof dog bed

A waterproof dog bed is ideal for multiple reasons, especially if they like to be outside for any amounts of time. Weather, general mess, etc. it’s a great purchase to try for any dog owners. 

Pros
  • Waterproof but comfortable material.
  • Durable.
  • Plush. 
Cons
  • May not be big enough for larger breeds.

Bedsure calming dog bed

A calming plush and warm bed is something you can never go wrong with. Some pets may take some time to adjust to a squishy, plush bed but once they’re into it, they might not ever leave.

Pros
  • Top-rated for all pets.
  • Multiple sizes and colours available.
Cons
  • Not all dogs like them.

Petsure self-warming pet bed

A classic style dog bed that is self-heating by your dogs own body heat as they lay down. It has edges so that they can rest their heads and any dog that has old joints or arthritis can get some rest in this warm, plush bed. 

Pros
  • Great for arthritis or any dog that has joint issues.
  • Self-warming, no electricity needed.
  • Great quality.
Cons
  • Not many size options available. 

PAWZ road dog blanket

A dog blanket is a necessity for any car, couch, or bed. Multiples are great to have and help keep your dog cozy and warm – and keeps your furniture and car upholstery looking and smelling a bit fresh and longer lasting as well. 

Pros
  • Comfortable.
  • Comes in multiple sizes from XS to XL.
  • Durable.
  • Easy to machine wash. 
Cons
  • Can be torn up by destructive pups. 

10. Cleaners, wipes & anti-chew sprays

It’s inevitable that your new dog will accidentally cause a mess around the house, that’s just part of owning an amazing pet. Don’t forget these essentials before you need them – better to have and not need, than need them and must try to find them later. 


Nature’s Miracle enzyme cleaner

A top-rated cleaner for dog owners, Nature’s Miracle will help clean up any accidents on your carpets, floors, cars, blankets, etc. without any fuss or terrible odours. 

Pros
  • Works great.
  • Top-rated.
  • Large amount in bottle.
  • Good price.
Cons
  • User mileage may vary, some messes might take multiple uses. 

Angry orange odour eliminator

Odours can become prominent very quickly, especially if you’re taking your dog out for walks in the rain, or they’ve found a puddle, or just decided that they must dig a giant hole in your backyard. 

Pros
  • Works against tough odours.
  • Great value.
  • Easy on the environment. 
Cons
  • Might struggle against certain odours.

Earth Rated dog wipes

Earth Rated dog wipes are good for the environment and great for your dog. Whether it’s wiping their fur and face because they got into the garbage, or they’re having issues cleaning themselves – these wipes can save the day. 

Pros
  • Good for the environment.
  • Works well.
Cons
  • Some users may not like the scent. 

Arm & Hammer pet wipes

Arm & Hammer is synonymous with cleaning tough messes and controlling odours, and these refreshing wipes are no exception. They come in large quantities at a great cost and are durable. 

Pros
  • Works against tough messes. 
  • Large amounts for a good price.
  • Durable. 
Cons
  • May not work against all types of accidents or messes.

11. Pet carriers, crates & kennels

It’s important to have a safe place to let your dog rest and recharge, sleep, and to be put in in case there’s an emergency or you must take them to the vet. Carriers are essential and crates/kennels are a perfect place for dogs to have their own ‘room’ inside your house. Crate training your dog is a great way to get them to learn that they’re okay when you’re not around and it gives them a safe place to go. 


Soft-sided dog carrier

A soft-sided dog carrier is great for smaller dogs and breeds that can’t be left out on their own when going to the vet or for puppies who should be safely in their carrier in the car when going to and from the vet or travelling. 

Pros
  • Airline approved size.
  • Comfortable.
  • Easy to clean. 
Cons
  • Not suitable for large breeds. 

Petmate hard shell carrier

A hard-shelled pet carrier is good for vet visits or travelling as well, and of course offers more protection and durability. There is little chance that your dog or puppy can chew its way out of this carrier. 

Pros
  • Sturdy.
  • Comes in multiple sizes and colours
  • Top-reviewed. 
Cons
  • May not work for all dog breeds. 

Large dog crate

A large metal dog crate is a good place to start for crate training as they’re easy to set up and can generally be folded down when not in use.

 

Pros
  • Large space for most dog sizes/breeds.
  • Quality material.
  • Durable.
Cons
  • Some dogs don’t like metal cage style crates/kennels. 

Portable dog kennel

Another option for a crate is a portable kennel that can be used at home as well as while travelling. They’re already covered which can help dogs with anxiety, and the easy open sides make it great for leaving it open to allow your dog to come and go as it pleases.

Pros
  • Comfortable. 
  • Sturdy design.
  • Should fit most breeds of dog. 
Cons
  • Can be torn if your dog chews certain materials. 

12. Vets & Pet Insurance

If you don’t already have a veterinarian lined up before your dog comes home, be sure to do research in your area and find one that is taking new patients/new pets. You don’t want to have an emergency and not have a vet or pet emergency number on hand, causing extra stress or time wasted. 

Vet Strategy is a good place to start, along with simply using Google to look up vets in your location. 

 Pet insurance is another topic that is important to have, especially in the long run when something happens, and it can save on check-up bills as well depending on which insurance you’re purchasing through, or which plan you have. It might not seem important upfront, but if something does happen and you end up needing thousands of dollars – pet insurance is worth the costs every month or year. 

TruPanion is a top-rated pet insurance since that is available for all Canadians for their pets, dogs and cats. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new owner? 

How long it takes for a dog to adjust will depend on their personality, past, and how you welcome them into their new home! For some dogs it’s right away, others take more time, patience, and love.  

What are some signs your new dog is adjusting?  

Signs that your new dog is adjusting can vary, but overall fit into the same scheme. 

  • Relaxed and calm posture / attitude. Your dog/puppy isn’t hiding, acting out, or otherwise showing signs of stress or fear. 
  • Healthy appetitive and are eating and drinking water normally. 
  • Expressive and make eye contact with you, like being around you, and sleep near you such as in the living room or your bedroom. 
  • Puppies can be destructive in general, but if they’re otherwise behaving and not causing any intense problems, they’re most likely adjusting to you and their new home. 

How to make a dog feel comfortable in a new home?  

Making a dog feel comfortable in a new home is a top priority since it’s where they’ll be spending most of their time. Ensuring that they have a safe and cozy place to go and lay down such as a crate or kennel is perfect and most dogs love having their own little space. 

Toys, blankets, and dog beds are another perfect thing to get to make your new best friend feel right at home. It’s important that they have their own toys and things so that they don’t destroy yours – especially if they’re puppies. 

What are the most common first-time dog owner mistakes? 

The most common first-time dog owner mistakes vary from small, easy to make mistakes to large ones that can affect your dog in the long-run, and these are best avoided. 

  • Being inconsistent with rules is a major first-time owner mistake, as it can lead to your dog not listening to orders or behaving in the future. An example of such would be telling your dog they aren’t allowed on the couch, scolding them when they do, and then another time letting them on – and repeating this cycle. They don’t know whether they’re allowed or not. You need to stick to your own rules and be consistent with training. 
  • Letting your dog ‘lead the pack’ or always call the shots with roaming around, causing trouble, etc. Dogs are pack animals and must learn that you’re their pack leader – we know how hard it is not to coddle your new furry friend, especially if they’re a cute puppy. You can still give them tons of affection and spoil them – but they need to know who’s in charge, and that’s you. When it comes to training and teaching them, you need to be consistent. 
  • Obedience classes are a great prevention tool, especially for puppies. They can learn how to behave with other dogs, people, and how to behave correctly which will help them (and you) in the future – and can keep them safe when situations arise, such as needing to recall them in a busy area if they ever escape their leash, etc. or are around other dogs that may be less trained. 
  • Skipping proper crate training is a first-time owners mistake, and there are many misconceptions about what crate training means. It isn’t putting your dog into a kennel and leaving it there – it’s about giving your pup a safe and comfortable place to sleep and learn to be okay by themselves when you’re not around. 

It’s best to start small, leaving them alone for short periods of time to start and working up from there. Some dogs may have anxiety with confined spaces and need extra love, time, and patience. 

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Updated date

April 7th, 2022

About the author

Nikki Lyka

Nikki Lyka is a reviewer and writer at Rank-It.ca that’s written about a variety of subjects from the best fantasy novels to travel guides and blogs. When she isn’t researching and typing up a storm, she’s generally found winding down with tea, video games, practicing aerial hoop, photography, and reading good horror novels.
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