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First-Time Dog Owner Checklist: 18 Things Every Pet Parent Needs

We've compiled a list of must-have products for every dog parent to make your dog's life (and your life) easier.

First-Time Dog Owner Checklist: 18 Things Every Pet Parent Needs

We've compiled a list of must-have products for every dog parent to make your dog's life (and your life) easier.

They say dogs are the new kids, and the pet industry has grown to reflect that sentiment. Gone are the days when dog owners were satisfied with just any old puppy bed, food bowl, or dog toy – now, we want the best of the best products because our dogs deserve it.

We've compiled a list of must-have products for every dog parent to make your dog's life (and your life) easier.

Woman hugs her terrier dog smiling

Stainless Steel Food and Water Bowls

You may think all water bowls are created equal. However, stainless steel bowls are basically the Beyoncé of water bowls: it doesn't get much better. These bowls are durable and easy to clean; they're also non-porous, which means they don't retain food particles, bacteria, or odors like other materials such as plastic or ceramic. They also don't contain harmful chemicals such as BPA or phthalates, which can potentially transfer to your dog's food and water. Stainless steel water bowls are the best way to make sure your pup gets as much water as they need without you having to spend endless hours doing dishes.

Slow-Feeder Food Bowl

Slow-feeder bowls are a must for all pet parents for so many reasons. Because it requires your dog to eat slower, slow feeder bowls aid their digestion, provide mental stimulation, and prevent overeating. Some food-obsessed dogs can be at risk for bloating if they eat too fast, but these food bowls ensure they slow down and reduce their air intake while eating.

Lick Mats

Like slow-feeder bowls, lick mats provide a ton of enrichment for dogs. Having your dog "work" for their food requires mental energy on their part, so it helps stimulate and tire them out while they get extra nutrients. Lick mats are also proven to reduce anxiety in some dogs. The repetitive licking motion releases endorphins, which can help to soothe an anxious dog. Many lick mats can also help with oral health since the tiny grooves can get hard-to-reach places in your dog's gums.

Slip Leash

A slip leash has many benefits. They can be a great training tool when teaching your dog how to walk correctly on a leashThey're also beneficial when quickly attaching your dog to a leash because getting it on and off is super simple. This can be great for scenarios where you need to quickly control your dog, such as during emergencies or when transitioning in and out of a vehicle.

Elevated Dog Bed

An elevated dog bed is a fantastic option especially for large dog breeds or other types of dogs prone to joint pain. The elevation provides excellent comfort and support because the mesh conforms to your dog's body, evenly distributes their weight, and reduces pressure points. In the long term, an elevated dog bed can also help with an older dog's joints – it can be hard to get up and down off the floor, so a high surface helps reduce that strain. Because they are raised off the ground, they are also great as a training tool for teaching your dog the "place" command. 

Dog Crate or Kennel

You might be debating whether or not to crate-train your new dog, and we're here to tell you to do it! A crate may seem like a "cage" to you, but it provides our dogs a safe space to eat, sleep, and relax. Crate training also helps with many other aspects of dog parenthood, like potty training, separation anxiety, and general safety. You can even grab a furniture-style crate to go along with the decor of your home.

Chew Toys

Everyone knows dogs love toys, but being specific about which toys makes all the difference. It's easy to buy cheap toys that your dog will destroy in five minutes, but investing in high-quality, long-lasting toys can be your dog’s go-to playtime companions for years. If your dog is a super chewer, looking for durable chew toys that will survive the chomping is essential. 

Durable Chew Holder

If you give your dog a chew and it's gone in approximately 30 seconds, you need a chew holder. Chew holders help increase the mental stimulation your dog gets from nibbling on a chew while ensuring the chew lasts much longer than it would otherwise. We love putting these yak chews into a holder to get the most bang for our buck and keep our dogs busier for longer.

Nail Filer

A Dremel nail clipper doesn't clip so much as grind the nail, making trimming your dog's nails easier. Filing the nails is much easier than clipping because there's no risk of cutting the nail too short and potentially hurting your dog. It also makes the process much less stressful for your dog because they don't feel the pressure and squeezing sensation caused by standard nail clippers. This is a must-have item to keep in your grooming supplies kit. This item also has the added bonus of saving you time and money on trips to the groomer.

Compostable Poop Bags

Compostable poop bags are made from renewable and plant-based materials, such as cornstarch or biodegradable polymers, which reduces reliance on non-renewable resources and helps decrease the overall carbon footprint. They're designed to break down through natural processes, meaning there will be less waste piling up in landfills worldwide.

Baby Gate or Exercise Pen

You may not want to keep your dog crated at all times but still want to keep your dog confined to a smaller space – this is where baby gates or exercise pens come in. These products can be helpful when you want to start giving your dog more freedom but still want to ensure they stay within a specific area. Many people like to confine their dog to the kitchen with absorbent potty pads on the floor so there's no risk to carpeted areas during the first year and especially during potty-training days.

Dog-Safe Cleaning Supplies

This one is a no-brainer. Messes are guaranteed to happen, especially when you’re bringing a new puppy into your home. Even adult dogs may need some house-training help as they acclimate to their new environment. There are some fantastic cleaning products out there, but our favorite is Nature's Miracle. Most of their products act as both a stain remover and an odor eliminator that deters pets from having an accident in the same place twice. If your dog continuously has accidents, you can also consider adding a probiotic to their food to help regulate poops. 

Puppy-Proof Air-Tight Containers

We've all heard a story about a dog who broke into their food bag and ate a week's worth of puppy food. We're here to make sure that doesn't happen to you! Not only will this help keep your dog from stealing extra food, but it'll also help keep odors at bay and keep the food fresh. This particular container is also designed for easy stacking if you have dogs that happen to eat different kinds of kibble.

Dog Monitor

Experienced pet owners - and even some new dog owners - know there is no greater joy than spying on your dog while you're out to dinner. Dog cameras are not just fun for stalking your pup; they also help with safety and give you the peace of mind that your dog is safe and content without having to pay for doggy daycare. Plus, some cameras have additional features that let you talk to your dog and even give them treats when they're at home alone!

Dog Seat Belt (a.k.a. Car Harness)

Many people don't know they're supposed to have seat belts for their dogs! It makes sense – we always wear a seat belt in the car, so why wouldn't our dogs? This car harness has been crash-tested to make sure your dog is always safe in case of an accident.

Staple Supplements

Choosing which supplements to give your dog can be overwhelming, but once you find a good one, you'll never turn back. A probiotic and omega supplement are an excellent place to start: probiotics help your dog's digestion, while an omega supplement supports a healthy coat and skin. 

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Dental health isn't discussed nearly enough in the dog community, and surgery to extract a tooth later can be expensive and traumatic for your dog. Learn how to care for your dog's teeth early so you never have to deal with the worst-case scenario – a simple toothbrush and dog toothpaste once a week should do the trick. 

Treat Pouch

Many people think that training your dog stops once your dog grows up, but that couldn't be further from the truth. If done correctly, proper dog training will last a dog's entire life, so it's essential to always be equipped with rewards. Using positive reinforcement for good behavior at all times will speed up the training process immensely, and a silicone treat pouch helps with those extra stinky, high-value treats.

Puppy sitting with its owner

Once you’ve brought your dog home from the breeder or adoption center, scheduled their vaccines and vet check-ups, registered their microchip, and updated their ID tags with your address and phone number, you’re ready to start getting all the fun stuff for your new furry family member. And just as dog trainers are always telling us to be patient with our new pups, remember to be patient with yourself as you begin this new adventure of dog ownership with your new best friend.

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