12 Essential Items For Your New Dog (Ultimate Dog Starter Pack)

a dog wearing sunglasses and going shopping for must have dog items

Welcoming a new dog into your home is an exciting and rewarding experience. But have you gotten all the must-have doggie essentials for your new family member?

This article provides a straightforward solution to the common challenge of preparing for a new dog, covering everything from cozy beds to essential grooming tools.

1. ID Tags

dog ID tag

ID tags are small, typically metal or plastic tags attached to your dog’s collar. They contain essential information about the dog and its owner.

The common information on an ID tag are:

  • Dog’s name
  • Owner’s contact details
  • Medical information
  • Proof of rabies vaccination

ID tags are a simple, yet essential accessory for your dog.

They serve as a basic safety net, ensuring that your dog can be easily identified and returned to you if lost.

Remember to keep the details on the ID tag up to date as well.

2. Dog Collar

dog holding dog collar

A dog collar is an essential item for any dog. It acts as a secure point for leash attachment, crucial for safe walks and training sessions.

The collar is also where you will attach the ID tags for easy identification of your dog.

Buying the right collar for your dog can take some trial and error.

Most dog owners will start out with a typical dog collar that is made from nylon or leather.

There are also Martingale collars or ‘no slip collars’ that prevent the collar from slipping off the dog’s head when it tugs and pulls.

Breakaway collars can be used to prevent choking or snagging hazards.

3. Microchip

Having a microchip allows your dog to be quickly identified once a shelter or vet clinic can scan the chip.

A microchip might not be the first thing that comes to mind but its importance cannot be overstated.

It is a tiny electronic chip that is painlessly implanted under your dog’s skin.

It is about the size of a grain of rice and it goes under the skin between your dog’s shoulder blade.

The information stored on the microchip is similar to that on an ID tag.

But unlike collars or ID tags that can break or become lost, a microchip is a permanent form of identification.

This simple procedure can be a game-changer and a life-saver in ensuring the safety and security of your pet.

Every year, close to 10 million pets are lost in the United States alone.

Having a microchip allows your dog to be quickly identified once a shelter or vet clinic can scan the chip.

Related Article: A Pet Owner’s Guide To Essential Dog Vaccinations

4. Dog Leash

dog on leash

A dog leash provides control during walks and ensures the safety of the dog and those around it.

It can even be illegal to walk your dog without a leash unless it is in a permitted area.

When choosing a leash, it is important to get one that is durable and comfortable for your dog.

Retractable leashes are very popular these days as they allow the dog owner to control how much freedom the dog has to move about.

But if you have a very powerful dog or one that is yet to be properly trained, a fixed-length leash would be better.

5. Dog Food

Buying good quality canned food or a raw diet are good diet options for your dog.

The type of food that you feed your dog can have the most profound impact on its quality of life as it gets older.

If you have a puppy, feeding your dog a diet that is formulated for puppies is ideal.

But once your dog is old enough to eat solid food, protein should be the major component in its diet.

There’s no doubt that dogs can handle carbohydrates a lot better than cats but it should only constitute a small part of the diet.

Dogs have no problem having a 100% protein diet too.

Good quality canned food or a raw diet are good diet options for your dog.

Kibbles or dry dog food remain a popular choice with close to 94% of dog owners in the US using kibbles in their dog’s diet.

However, there are concerns regarding their overall nutritional adequacy.

High in Carbohydrates

Many kibble formulas contain a high level of carbohydrates, which can lead to obesity and other health issues in dogs such as pancreatitis.

Low Moisture Content

Kibbles are dry which makes them last longer in the open. However, this lack of moisture puts your dog in a constant state of dehydration.

Imagine just eating dry biscuits all day long.


One reason kibbles are so dry is due to how they are processed. The kibble pellets are baked under high heat.

Not only does this remove the moisture but the heat destroys many of the natural vitamins and minerals.

Quality Of Ingredients

Many kibble manufacturers may use low-quality meat by-products, grain fillers and artificial additives which are not optimal for a dog’s health.

Dental Myths

Contrary to popular belief, kibbles do not clean a dog’s teeth.

They may even contribute to dental issues due to the high carbohydrate content which leads to tartar buildup.

Related Article: Guide For New Dog Owners

6. Food And Water Bowl

dog eating raw food

Choosing the right bowls for your new dog is not just a matter of convenience.

The wrong bowl can significantly impact your dog’s eating and drinking habits.

Here are some points to consider.


Stainless steel bowls are the only types that I use at home for my pets. They are robust, resistant to rust, easy to clean and do not hold odors.

Stainless steel bowls are also chew-proof, making them an ideal choice for dogs who might gnaw on their feeding dishes.

The only downside is the lack of variety in designs and colors but their durability more than compensate for this.

Plastic bowls are lightweight and inexpensive. However, plastic can harbor bacteria over time, especially if the surface becomes scratched.

You should only choose high-quality, BPA-free plastic to ensure safety.

Some dogs may also have allergies to certain plastics which can make their face itch.

Plastic bowls are not the best choice for dogs who like to chew on their feeding dishes.

Glass and ceramic bowls are commonly used as food and water bowls for dogs.

The non-porous nature of glass makes it easy to clean and hygienic.

When using ceramic bowls, make sure the glaze is food-safe and doesn’t contain any traces of lead.

One downside about such bowls is that they can crack and chip very easily, posing a risk to your dog.

Stability And Comfort

Stability is important for ensuring a mess-free and comfortable eating experience for your dog.

Bowls that are prone to sliding, tipping over or flipping can cause food and water spillage. Many bowls feature a weighted base, making them less likely to be moved or tipped.

Non-slip bottoms help prevent the bowls from sliding and flipping.

Selecting the right size and depth for your dog’s bowls can make a world of difference.

Larger breeds require bigger bowls to accommodate their bigger faces. While smaller breeds can make do with a smaller bowl.

The depth of the bowl is also important.

Deeper bowls suit dogs with long snouts, allowing them to eat comfortably. Whereas flat-faced breeds benefit from shallower dishes for easier access to food.

7. Dog Crate

dog in a crate

A dog crate can be a carrier or cage that your dog can comfortably fit inside.

The crate is a key tool for your dog’s well-being and helps in managing its behavior.

Safe Haven

A crate mimics a dog’s natural instinct for a den-like space, offering a safe and secure area where the dog can relax and retreat.

The crate is a great place for your dog to find comfort when it is feeling afraid or stressed out. Especially if the dog is scared of loud noises such as fireworks or thunder.

House Training

Crates are useful when it comes to house-training dogs.

Many dogs are not fans of soling their sleeping or resting areas. So they will learn to hold their bladders or bowels until it’s potty time.

This saves you the big headache of your dog using your home as its toilet.

For Emergencies And Travel

There might be times when you need to evacuate your dog quickly out of your house.

Having a dog that can quickly get into its crate without issues can be a lifesaver.

A crate makes it easier to move your dog when you’re traveling by car or plane.

Choosing The Right Crate

Getting the correct size crate is the most important factor.

It should be spacious enough for your dog to sit, turn around and lie down comfortably.

Material choice is also crucial.

Metal wire crates are durable and offer good ventilation while plastic crates offer more security for anxious dogs.

8. Dog Bed

The key factors to consider are size, material and ease of maintenance.

You wouldn’t move into your new home without first buying a bed.

A bed for your dog is more than just a luxury item. I was never much of a dog bed believer until I bought one for my dog.

A bed can also help protect your dog’s joints and keep them warm.

Choosing the right bed is essential for your dog’s comfort and well-being.

The key factors to consider are size, material and ease of maintenance.

The Right Size

The bed should be large enough for your dog to stretch out comfortably in any position.

If you have a puppy, get a bed that it can use as it gets bigger but not too big as that will make the dog feel insecure.

Larger breeds require sturdier beds that maintain their shape over time. You don’t want to get a bed that becomes as flat as a taco after a few months.

Smaller dog breeds often enjoy beds with raised edges that provide a sense of enclosure.

Material And Comfort

Good cushioning, such as memory foam, is vital for providing orthopedic support.

This can be very helpful for older dogs or for dogs with joint issues.

The fabric of the bed should be gentle on your dog’s skin and fur or your dog will avoid using it.

Some dog beds come equipped with heating features which are especially advantageous in winter or colder climates.

When buying a dog bed with a heating element, please stick to known brands for your dog’s safety.

Washable And Durable

It is more convenient to look for beds with removable covers so that they can be easily washed.

Water-resistant or waterproof features are particularly beneficial for puppies or older dogs.

The bed should be able to endure regular use and withstand frequent washing.

9. Dog Poop Bags

picking up dog poop with a poop bag

One thing that your dog will do a lot of is pooping.

And as a responsible dog owner, you should clean up after your dog by disposing of your dog’s waste in a poop bag.

However, not all poop bags are made equal.

Did you know that close to 1.12 million tons of dog poop bags are disposed of every year globally.

That makes up 0.6% of total plastic waste.

Plastic can take hundreds of years to decompose, contributing significantly to long-term pollution.

You can now find biodegradable or compostable poop bags which are more environmentally friendly.

Some bags are even made from recycled plastic.

10. Grooming Equipment

dog at spa

Your dog should feel good inside and look great outside too.

Proper grooming is essential for maintaining a dog’s health and appearance.

Although more dog owners are opting to send their dogs to the groomers it is essential to keep a set of grooming equipment at home.

The right tools ensure it’s a comfortable experience for your dog.

Brushes And Nail Clippers

The type of brush or comb that you buy should suit the type of coat that your dog has.

A gentle bristle brush would work if your dog has a short coat. Too hard a brush can irritate your dog’s skin.

For dogs with longer fur, a pin brush can help untangle the knotted fur which can happen often.

Regular brushing helps to:

  • Removes dirt
  • Evenly distribute skin oil
  • Prevents matting
  • Removes loose fur

There are several types of nail clippers to choose including guillotine-style and scissor-type. It largely depends on your dog’s size and the thickness of its nails.

Regular nail trimming helps prevent discomfort while walking, potential joint issues and the risk of nail breakage.

Shampoo And Conditioners

You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a shampoo and conditioner for your dog.

There are numerous brands and fragrances for sale at the pet store.

I tend to prefer those that are fragrance-free or lightly scented.

Just make sure to only use products meant for dogs and not humans.

Canine skin is more alkaline than a human’s with a pH range of 5.5 – 7.2. Human skin pH level ranges from 5.4-5.9.

This can cause some skin irritation for the dog.

Ear Care

Ear cleaning solutions are formulated specifically for dogs to:

  • Cleanse the ear canal
  • Dissolve wax buildup
  • Minimize odor
  • Prevent ear mite infestation

You can get a ear cleaner from the pet store or your vet.

The best way to clean your dog’s ear is to apply some of the cleaning solution on a cotton ball and wipe the inside of your dog’s ear.

Dental Care

One important part of grooming that dog owners tend to ignore is their dog’s teeth.

Failure to do so can lead to dental issues such as:

  • Gingivitis
  • Plague and tatar
  • Bad doggie breath
  • Tooth decay

The best way to clean your dog’s teeth is to use a toothbrush and a pet-friendly toothpoaste.

Never use human toothpaste as it contains Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, which is very toxic to dogs.

11. Dog Toys

squeaky toys bad for dogs

Dog toys are more than just playthings.

They are essential for your dog’s mental stimulation and physical exercise.

It’s important to choose the right ones for your dog’s age, size, and temperament.

The most common types of dog toys are:

  • Chew toys
  • Interactive toys
  • Fetch toys
  • Rope toys

I’m not a fan of giving dogs a squeaky toy. I find that squeaky toys can be dangerous for dogs as they can tear the toy open and swallow the squeaker.

A big dog can probably pass out the squeaker, but it can become a choking hazard for puppies or small dogs.

12. Stain And Odor Removal

Dogs are generally messy pets given their active lifestyles. They tend to bring in dirt into the house rather often.

Puppies or older dogs are also more prone to having toilet incidents.

Effective stain and odor removers can help keep your home hygienic and pleasant-smelling.

When it comes to removing dog pee and poo stain at home, I will use an enzymatic cleaner which works at a molecular level.

White vinegar diluted with some water is also a great way of neutralizing bad odors.

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