First Time Dog Owner Starter-Pack

First Time Dog Owner Starter-Pack

There's little we love more than when we hear of someone bringing home a furry new family member! Today we write specifically with two of our very own team members (a husband and wife) in mind who are adopting their first dog ever! 

Practically speaking, you don't know what to expect aside from the fact that you have a new, warm-bodied furry soul in the house to love, feed and care for.

Stating the obvious, but we are sure it's happened before, you pick up your baby, and perhaps you have not yet shopped for the basics. In this share we will cover the basics you will want to have on hand for night #1 when you're bringing a furry family member home for the first time.

Let's get straight to a (very) short list of what you'll need for the first night:

  • Food. Usually whomever you take the dog on from will provide a small portion of the food they're already eating. If so, you can combine this food with whatever you're going to be giving them longer term. When dogs switch food without transitioning from one type to the next, diarrhea may or may not occur. Think: similar to a change in your diet (as a human) your diet changes, so does your poop (and the smell of it and sorry if that's a little TMI: too much information, but it's the truth). We are strong advocates of feeding raw for a number of reasons (read more in this blog post) and, we also believe in keeping some kibbel on hand for emergencies or to feed extra, depending on your babies needs and appetite. Reminder: puppies (dogs whose chronological age is under one year) require more calories than mature dogs, hence picking up puppy-specific kibbel (if feeding kibbel) and feeding according to caloric intake is important. If feeding raw or freeze-dried raw, the quantity to feed your dog will be listed on the package of food according to weight and age. Food and feeding is a topic unto unto itself of which we will continue to go into it further (in future blog posts) and, for the purpose of this post we will leave it at this. Put food on your "must pick up" list! Some of personal favorites for raw food include Tollden Farms and Spring Meadows. For freeze-dried raw we love Primal (freeze-dried nuggets). For kibbel we like Now fresh. Note: dogs have tastebuds! They may or may not love what you are giving them. Pay attention to what they devour vs what they aren't crazy about. It's also wise to rotate protein sources as well. Another side note: raw food equals less smelly poop, in some cases. 
  • Pee Pads (puppy training pads). Set your dog up to win and let them know they have a place to go pee in case they can't get outside (or need to go in the middle of the night). It is absolutely up to you on how you train your dog (also depending on size, etc) as to whether a pee pad makes sense. For smaller dogs, it's nice to have them on hand. We really like Essentials brand, though any will do. 
  • Poop bags. We love Earth Rated (compostable). You'll want to be able to pick up puppy poop and these are the best bags around to do so. Read this article for more on the topic; an important one!
  • Cozy blanket. No matter the size, breed, etc, type of dog - everyone (every dog) loves a blanket. We are sure you have one at home that you're willing to share, though a small blanket - especially one you can bring in the car or put in their carrier (if applicable) is a nice to have. 
  • Stuffy (stuffed toy). Just like us humans love to cuddle, so do our dogs. Your dog will no doubt love to cuddle you, and - they are like kids, they love stuffed toys Most dogs we know love Lambchop for some reason, though any stuffy will do. Most stuffed toys don't have choking hazards on them, though always something to be mindful of. 
  • Food and water bowls. Of course you can use soup bowls or dishes you already have on hand. That said, we are big fans of stainless steel bowls, especially if feeding raw. Think: bacteria, stainless steel doesn't chip or break. In any event, plastic is ideal to avoid and glass or ceramic (although sometimes pretty) isn't necessarily our first choice. For food storage (raw) we love Messy Mutt bowls. Reminder: refresh your dogs water once or twice daily and wash their water bowl (don't just keep topping it up). Think about you using the same water glass everyday; yuck! Clean bowls = healthier dogs. Another tip: filtered water if possible. Nobody said we weren't particular!
  • Dog bed. Although not necessary on day 1, it's a nice to have. It's their own spot, their domain, a comfort zone. When choosing a dog bed, bigger isn't always better. Go for a size proportionate to the size of your dog for a cozy feel for them. For a smaller baby, we love a bed that "hugs" back, i.e. one that's rounded sides. For a larger baby, a lot of them love to "flop" in which case, a rectangle shape without the "hug" sides is sometimes a more preferable choice. 
  • Treats. Treats make everyone feel loved and happy! Again, all dogs will have their own tastebuds and preferences, but a treat we find you almost can't go wrong with is freeze dried beef liver. Treats serve as great rewards for training (and in general), and we love including treats as part of our daily routine. 
  • Sweater or jacket. This isn't a MUST on night one in your home - and, if you do live somewhere cold, having a sweater or jacket that they can put on when they go outside goes A LONG WAY. I write this in December keeping in mind our team members who are bringing home their first dog, and they are bringing their dog home to snow and cold temperatures hence the mention of a jacket immediately pops to mind. We have been loyal to Barking Babies for all of our outerwear needs and much more! Never hesitate to call the shop and ask them for recommendations if you are an out of town shopper. For most things dog, they've got you covered. 
  • Dog shampoo. Okay - this isn't a need on the first night you bring your pet home BUT, you are going to want to give them a bath. A reminder that over-bathing a puppy isn't a good thing (you want them to build up immunity and not strip their natural barriers) and, they want to feel clean. Any of Groomer And George's shampoo and conditioners are safe for puppies! Choose according to skin and coat type. We have many articles on our site and social media that will help you choose and, we are always open to you asking questions! Never hesitate to email us: and comment below. We will always get back to you and are here to support. For exclusive discounts and flash sales do sign up to our newsletter. 
  • Sticks or bones. Again, not a necessary on the first night you bring your dog home, but they do love something to chew on. Read this article for more on choosing the right sticks and bones keeping in mind size-specific in proportion to your new furry family member. 
  • Harness or collar and leash (and eventually ad sooner than not, an engraved name tag). We love a harness for smaller dogs (choke hazard with a collar). Cinopelca is a longtime favorite of ours for dogs with medium to long hair as the rolled leather harness prevents matting. These are some of our favorite leashes. Puppia and Susan Lanci are two more harnesses we love for smaller dogs. For small to large dogs, we love Buddy Belt (especially on dogs with shorter coats). Reminder: leash thickness, weight and length matter, depending on the size of dog. A leash for a big dog is not one suited for a small dog (and vice versa). We love this adjustable leash that allows you to go hands-free; a great choice for summer. All time favorite leash, especially for winter, we love (longer length). 
  • Dog carrier for body. Some smaller dogs like getting fresh air....and not necessarily walking so much! Especially at winter. Some dogs, as time goes on, also need to be carried for health reasons. Not a need on day one of bringing your baby home, but we do want to mention The Snuggit Sac. It's a perfect carrier for one or two babies and our whole team (and our dogs) love them!
  • Travel accessories for home and in flight, we will get into this in another blog post but wanted to make note that we haven't forgotten about them. For now, keep a blanket in your vehicle they can lay or sit on in transport. 

This is a short list of what to have on hand when bringing your new furry family member home that covers the basics; food, care and comfort. The biggest thing to remember is that inclusion and LOVE are the key ingredients to this puzzle you're newly putting together. We will share more on bonding, routines, food, travel and so much more in future blog posts - and, the most important thing to remember above all is to seal it all in with inclusion and love. Just like humans, dogs want to be loved and included. Give them a chance. Set them up to win. They really do just want to do their best (as us humans do) and hence, we must support them the best we can, teach them, love them and give them chances. 

Comment below your first memories of your dog(s) when you brought them home! We would love to know. 

And if you've made it this far, this is a must read for new and longtime pet parents. 

Image Source: Top Dog Tips



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