First Time Dog Owners - To Do Buy List

First Time Dog Owners – To Do / Buy List

Table of Contents

Congratulations! Looks like you’ve made one of the best decisions of your life. You are bringing a dog home to join your family!

If you have never had a dog before it can be daunting trying to figure out exactly what you may need to take care of your dog. We’d like to help you get more prepared for their homecoming with all of our knowledge and experience as dog owners.

Most dogs have similar necessary items that will be needed, but some are breed-specific and we will make note if there is a breed-specific-item based on the way they grow or how their coat grows. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us!

Dog Beds

There are plenty of different options for dog beds out there. There’s no one bad decision necessarily, but it really depends on how your dog likes to lay down and sleep when you’re picking which option you’d like to purchase for them.

Types of Dog Beds:

Plush Circle “Donut” Beds

They are perfect for dogs who like to curl up like a donut. It provides a soft, fluffy support around your dog’s body.

Plush Circle Donut Beds

Mattress Beds

They are perfect for dogs who like to spread out and/or lay down flat. They are designed perfectly to give your dog space and comfort.

Mattress Beds for dogs

 (source: Furhaven Pet Bed)

L-Shaped Chaise Beds

L-Shaped Chaise Beds

They are perfect for dogs who may like to use one of the sides as a pillow and spread out some. They look similar to the mattress beds but they have 2 sides like couch arms that form an L.

Rectangle Beds

They are perfect for dogs who like to curl up or spread out some since they can put their body over the sides. 

Rectangle Beds

Elevated Beds

They are good to keep elderly dogs from the hard ground and help them since they aren’t getting up and down as high/low which can put more pressure on their joints. It is also great for temperature control; whether it’s because the floor is cold or the room is hot and it helps with air circulation under the bed to keep them cool. 

Any of these are great options to choose from. You will want to keep in mind based on the weather conditions where you live, the type of dog (may have a lot of fur or not), and any other factors that may make them more prone to being really hot or really cold and make sure to get fabric that will coincide with those factors.

When picking a bed for a dog that is going to grow to be very large (or is large) you want to make sure that it will support their weight and their joints. As a dog ages, they tend to lose flexibility due to achy joints and inflammation of joints with cartilage deterioration over time. To make sure to not add to this problem, many beds have memory foam or orthopedic memory foam to support the dog’s neck, back, hips, and joints to help ease discomfort and encourage better sleep.

Some Dog Bed Options:

Dog Food

Dog Food

There are so many options when it comes to dog food. Most of the products you find at your grocery stores are not the best options when it comes to the best ingredients for your dog. We have compiled a list of ingredients you should consider in a dog food, as well as a list of ingredients to avoid.

Ingredients to look for:

  • Meat – Is most important as the first ingredient on the list since it means the food is made up of mainly meat and protein should be 30% of your dogs diet.
  • Organ Meat – They provide very important vitamins and nutrients for your dog. The organs should be listed, such as, kidneys, heart, liver or gizzard are the best options.
  • Carbohydrates – They provide energy for your dog and they are found in a lot of fruits, vegetables and rice. Examples: pumpkin, kale, rice and berries.
  • Healthy Fats – Help improve cell functions that help improve your dog’s coat. Types of healthy fats: sunflower oil, coconut oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil and olive oil.
  • Fiber – Is great to help a dog’s digestive system work properly.
  • Vitamins – Types of Vitamins needed are A, B, D, E, K and choline.
  • Fatty Acids – Some need to come through your dog’s diet including Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids. You can find them in fish and flaxseed oil along with meat and poultry.
  • Electrolytes – These should be lower on your list but still in your dog’s food. Examples: sodium, chloride and potassium.
  • Antioxidant Superfoods – They are some of the best ingredients you could include because they protect your cells from damage. Examples: chia seeds, broccoli, pumpkin, blueberries, turmeric, kale and chia.
  • Minerals – Some are needed in small amounts which include zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate (iron), and manganese sulfate.

Ingredients to Avoid:

  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) – It is a chemical preservative that is added to fats and oils. The tiniest amount can really hurt your dog.
  • White Flour – Since it has gone through a bleaching process, it takes out most of the nutrients that it would have normally. It’s used as a binding agent and filler in some dog foods.
  • Artificial Food Coloring – Colors do nothing for dogs finding something more appetizing or not. Most common food dyes can cause allergic reactions or acid reflux.
  • Corn Syrup – It is a cheap ingredient that can be used to flavor treats and it is very addictive to your dog. It also causes issues with blood sugar spikes.

*Note that only giving “Grain-Free” food long term can cause life-threatening heart problems in your dog.

Puppy Food options:

Adult Dog Food Options:

Food Bowls for High Energy Puppies

Slow Feeding Food Bowls are regular food bowls that have puzzles on the inside to help slow your dog down while eating. These are great for puppies, growing dogs, and dogs who normally eat too fast that they make themselves sick. These bowls are great to give your dog mental stimulation every time they eat, so it tires them out while eating their daily meal. They love it just as much as you love the benefits!

  • Prevents Vomiting – Since it slows down eating it helps keep your dog from eating so fast that they vomit.
  • Prevents Bloating – Since it slows down eating, less air is taken in and it prevents bloating.
  • Mental Stimulation – It makes eating a meaningful thing to do and makes it a challenge which helps to prevent unwanted behaviors.

Here are some Slow Feeding Food Bowl options:

Water Bowls

If you have a very active dog, you will find yourself filling the water bowl OFTEN. Most dogs drink about an ounce per every pound they weigh. If your dog is very active, they’ll drink even more. If you’d like to make it more of a routine vs a 4-times-a day-chore – I would suggest getting a water dispenser from the get go.

Here are some Slow Feeding Food Bowl options:

Puzzles for Enrichment

Have you ever heard of a dog ripping up the couch? Your shoes? Everything they can get their paws on? Yeah, us too! One of the main reasons this happens is because the dog is either 1) not getting enough attention, exercise or mental stimulation, 2) they are bored, or 3) they are anxious/stressed and seeking attention. Most likely it’s the first two and with proper training (teaching to play with a toy instead of biting the couch) and some puzzles or other items for more mental stimulation, we can get your puppy started on the right track!

Types of enrichment toys:

Treat Dispensing toys

Treat Dispensing toys

This makes your dog work for their treat or food (depending on what you put inside) and it tires them out while positively enforcing that they are doing a good thing.

Types of Treat Dispensing toys:

Ripping Up Plush Toys

Ripping Up Plush Toys

 This again makes your dog work and tires them out while doing something that makes them happy. Yes,the clean up can be annoying – but it’s such a good mental workout for your dog.


Puzzles (all sorts of different ones)

There are many levels of difficulty when it comes to dog puzzles. You will want to start out easier and move to harder ones, but it takes time for your dog to understand. The more you do it, the easier it’ll become and then you’ll be ready to move to the next level.

Types of Puzzle toys:

Snuff Mats

Snuff Mats

Just like taking your dog on a long walk to sniff the grass; snuff mats help them get the same mental stimulation from sniffing out their food within the mat. It’s a type of foraging and they really enjoy it while working their minds.

Snuff Mat options:


Most dogs like a lot of different toys but the best way to find out which your dog likes is by purchasing a bundle of toys that have different types of toys in them so you save money and learn what your dog likes to purchase for them next time!

Types of toys:

  • Crinkle Toys
  • Rope Toys
  • Squeaker Plush Toys
  • Squeaker Plastic Balls
  • Tennis Balls
  • Enrichment Toys
  • Treat Dispensing Toys
  • Chew Toys
  • (if you are getting a puppy) Teething Toys
  • Teeth Cleaning Toys

Here are a few options we found that you may like:

Dog Shampoo

Dog Shampoo

Just like humans, a dog’s skin is their biggest organ and it can cause other problems within the body if not taken care of. Before just picking up a random shampoo you find at your local pet store, do some research on ingredients while checking the labels. It will help you and your puppy in the long run.

Ingredients to look for:

  • Coconut Oil – Adds moisture to the skin and prevents flaking like dandruff.
  • Sweet Almond Oil – Soothing to the skin because it has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to protect the skin from the sun.
  • Vitamin E – Helps to support the dog’s immune system and can improve the texture of the dog’s skin and coat.
  • Aloe Vera – Adds hydration and moisture to the skin and can be used for so many different conditions you may encounter throughout your dog’s life.
  • Shea Butter – Adds moisture to the skin and helps to soothe dry skin and dry patches.

These ingredients are safe for your dog’s skin, and are okay if your dog chooses to lick after their bath. Plus, if you look into these ingredients they are shown to soothe, moisturize and improve the overall appearance of your dog’s skin. *Most of these are not good in huge doses by themselves because they can clog the pores but within a shampoo mixture they do well to help with your dog’s skin and coat.

Ingredients to Avoid:

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES)
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Synthetic Fragrances
  • Dioxins
  • Diaminobenzene
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Diethanolamine
  • Methicone
  • Artificial colors
  • Benzalkonium Chloride
  • Benzethonium Chloride
  • Triethanolamine
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Petrolatum
  • Mineral Oil
  • Sodium Hydroxide

Shampoo we would suggest trying:

Brushes (depends on breed)

One of the most important things you can do for your dog’s skin and coat is choosing the correct brush for them. It’s a huge part of canine maintenance and will help keep their natural oils on their skin and keep them from shedding too much all over your house and furniture. If you pick the correct brush along with conditioning/training, your dog will enjoy brushing/grooming instead of being scared or anxious.

Dog Rake 1
Dog Rake


For dogs that have thick-hair to help remove tangles and the dead undercoat.

  • Breeds: Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, Malamutes, Chow Chows

Rake Options:

Slicker Brush for dog

Slicker Brush

For dogs that have medium-to-long-hair or curly-hair used to remove mats.

Slicker Brush Options:

Hertzko Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush for Dogs, Cats – The Ultimate Dog Brush for Shedding Hair, Fur – Comb for Grooming Long Haired & Short Haired Dogs, Cats, Rabbits & More, Deshedding Tool, Cat Brush

Gorilla Grip Self Cleaning Pet Slicker Brush, Dog Grooming Brushes for Shedding and Dematting, Gently Remove Mats, Detangle Pets Undercoat Fur, Comb for Long or Short Hair Dogs, Cats, and Puppy, Gray

Bristle Brush

Bristle Brush

For dogs that have short-hair and smooth coats that shed often.

  • Breeds: Jack Russell Terriers, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Greyhounds, Yorkshire Terriers

Bristle Brush Options:

Pin Brush

Pin Brush

Unfortunately, these are the most commonly used brush but don’t really do much for any breeds coat unless you are using it at the end of the grooming process. We do not recommend it.


Nail Clippers

Nail Clippers/Grinders

One of the many maintenance items you have to keep up on for a dog is cutting their nails. If you’d like to try doing it yourself, there are 2 options that are widely used and available to you; a nail clipper or nail grinder. You may want to do more research on how to cut them properly without cutting them too short but we have placed a few options below on what you can use to cut their nails. If you choose not to do it yourself, you can also get them cut at the vet or a local pet shop but it’ll be a weekly to monthly cost vs a one time cost. 

Nail Clipper Options:

Nail Grinder Options:

Collar and Leash

Collar and Leash

When you look for a collar and leash you are going to need to make sure you get your dog first so you can measure their neck to get the right sized collar. If you’d like to go with a bundle/matching set, then you can definitely find those too! The key to picking a collar that lasts is making sure that the material is thick and sturdy. You also want to make sure that it stays in place when you move the buckle to adjust the collar to fit properly. 

Collar and Leash Options:

Customized Dog Tag

Collar and Leash

To make sure your dog can be brought back to you if there is any possibility that it gets out of the house or off your leash, it’s really important to have a dog tag on your dog’s collar with your information on it. Most importantly, your phone number and dog’s name.

Collar and Leash Options:

Congrats, you made it to the end! Hopefully we were able to reduce some of your stress or worries. Don’t feel like you have to purchase specific products mentioned in this article, but if you don’t know which brand to purchase, we have purchased a lot of these personally or made sure the brands are pretty well rounded so they would be good options. Most importantly, you are bringing home a new dog! We are so excited for you and hope that if you ever need more advice, feel free to check out the rest of our blogs.

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