If you’re here, I’m willing to guess your pack is adding a new member very soon. And whether you’re adopting an adult dog or getting a pup, you’re in the right place. This list of must-haves for your puppy starter kit will have you covered with everything you need for your new dog.
Bringing home a puppy is a big deal, and it’s important to get things started on the right foot with consistency and routine. I’m so glad you’re researching puppy starter kits, because having your home prepared before bringing your newest furry friend home will make the transition easier.
So, what should your puppy starter kit include? At the bare minimum you’ll need a crate, a collar with tags, a training leash, food and water bowls, puppy food, and a few toys.
Read on to learn more details about these items, and get a few more recommendations to make life with a dog-o a little more manageable.
If this is your first puppy and you’ve been on the fence about getting a crate—get one! I seriously cannot recommend crate training enough. It’s the fastest way to house train your puppy and get them sleeping through the night.
Their crate will be a place for them to get downtime during the day and create predictability and routine with little effort. You’ll quickly learn that your puppy will benefit from being ‘put down for naps’ so to speak in the early weeks and months.
Puppies, not unlike human babies and children, can get overstimulated and overtired. In these moments, pups turn crazy and start doing a lot of damage to the home. Having a crate can nip that behavior in the bud by forcing them into some downtime which they desperately need!
When choosing a crate, be sure to pick one that is only big enough for your dog to turn around and lie down. If it’s too big, house training won’t go as well. Luckily, there are crates available with dividers/partitions that you can move as your dog grows. This is an especially good pick for large breed dogs that grow up fast.
2. Feeding supplies
No puppy starter kit is complete without feeding supplies! I highly recommend stainless steel bowls with rubber rings on the bottom to prevent slipping and sliding. Stainless steel is the best option because they are easy to keep clean, they won’t absorb food odors and stains, and they won’t leach potential toxins into your dog’s food and water like plastic.
In addition to the actual food and water bowls, you’ll need dog food! Experts recommend getting a formula that specifically matches your dog’s age and weight to ensure proper nutrition. So, if you’re bringing a puppy home that will be a puppy formula.
A note about puppy food
One thing to note, puppy formula dog foods have a higher fat content than adult formulas that are designed to fuel their growing bodies. But if you have a dog that will be 50+ pounds in adulthood it’s important not to give generic puppy formulas beyond 6-8 months.
This is because the puppy formulas can cause dogs to gain weight and grow too rapidly which can cause long-term development issues in your pup’s bones, joints, and organs. Dog foods that are specifically formulated for large breed puppies are okay to give longer.
Read more about selecting the right food in my article, Choosing the Right Dog Food for Your Dog
What about treats?
I actually don’t recommend treats for your puppy. Instead, use their food as an incentive! If you can really commit, expert trainers recommend feeding them ½ or ¾ of their food via bowl and making them work for the remaining amount. A fanny-pack style treat pouch makes it easy to remember to reward them for expected behavior throughout the day.
3. Collar with tags
Identification for your puppy is so important in the event that they wander off or escape. Having a collar with tags on it ready to go right when you pick up your puppy or new dog is the way to go. It will help your pup get used to the feeling of a collar right off the bat.
Because puppies grow so quickly, an adjustable, nylon collar is a good pick for the beginning. Once your dog reaches their full size you can opt for something different such as leather or an embroidered collar.
In your puppy starter kit, I think it’s smart to have two types of leashes. You’ll want a typical, 5 ft clip-on leash for quick trips out to the bathroom and walks around the block. But I also recommend what’s known as a slip leash for training purposes.
Slip leashes are popular and effective for training. My favorite puppy training advice is from Stonnie Dennis over on YouTube (and it’s free!). We used his method with our black lab and used a slip leash per his advice with excellent results.
Slip leashes can also be fashioned onto your puppy’s nose much like a halter-style training collar to help with loose leash walking. This means it’s one less item you need to buy.
5. A few good toys
Your new dog needs to play of course! Puppies and adult dogs alike need to play to burn off energy and meet their stimulation needs. With puppies, you're also up against puppy chewing, which means chew toys are a necessity.
In short, you want to pick toys that are durable and made from natural materials instead of plastic which can contain toxins and carcinogens. Rubber, rope, and antlers are all good choices for dog toys. From Monster K9, I highly recommend the Indestructible Dog Frisbee for puppies and all of our toys for older dogs.
Check out my Complete Guide to Rubber Dog Toys and Toys for Pitbulls (and other tough chewers!)
6. Puppy-proofing supplies
Okay, so we’ve made it through the puppy starter kit mainstays, but the remaining items are still important to have on hand for life with a puppy. First up: puppy-proofing supplies. In addition to a crate, you’re are probably going to need to get a few baby-gates.
It can be tough to keep your entire home puppy-proofed, especially if you have young kids around who have a tendency to leave all the things everywhere. Baby gates let you better control where your pup can and cannot go.
Even with three well-trained, adult dogs, we keep a baby gate on the doorway to our kids’ playroom because there’s just too much for the dogs to get into when they’re looking for trouble.
7. Grooming supplies
As your puppy grows and they get their adult coat, the shedding begins! Get the right brush for your dog’s coat type and nail clipping tools to keep their paws neatly trimmed and groomed, too.
You’ll also want to have some dog shampoo around rather than scrambling if your puppy rolls in something they shouldn’t.
While your puppy is learning the ins and outs of house training, accidents are bound to happen. Get a good carpet cleaner and stain remover for your puppy starter kit now, so you won’t sweat it when the inevitable happens.
9. Chewing deterrents
I’ve never personally used chewing deterrent sprays, but I have some friends who swear by Grannick’s Bitter Apple Taste Deterrent Spray. Hey, it can’t hurt!
10. Don’t forget consistency, time and patience in your puppy starter kit!
While all of the items listed above are essential when you’re bringing home a puppy, consistency, time and patience are just as important. Getting a puppy or dog is one of the most exciting and rewarding decisions you can make.
I’m seriously SO excited for you. But the experience won’t come without challenges and frustrations.
Don’t stop your puppy research here!
Check out some of our other articles related to your new pup: