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Top Ten Puppy Checklist Must-Haves to Buy Before Your Puppy Comes Home
As many of you know, we’ll be bringing our new fur baby home in just a few days (check out the pupdate video on Zim’s training at the very bottom!). While he is a service dog candidate and many aspects will be different than they were raising our golden years ago, he’ll still be a puppy when he first comes home and a good portion of the products needed remain the same!
We’ve spent the last few months researching puppy products because it’s been quite a while since we’ve had a puppy in the house (our golden is 8). We’ve come across some great stuff and thought it might be helpful to share our pre-arrival puppy checklist with you guys in case any of you are in a similar position. We didn’t include food and treats because those are very personal choices based on your puppy’s needs, size, your dog food preferences, etc. We tend to prefer super natural, grain-free formulas and we’re happy to share what we use in a later post if people are curious.
These are the actual products we currently have waiting for Zim (our service dog candidate puppy) and I’m sure you’ll see some of them in other future posts and pics!
Don’t forget, you can follow us on our major road trip to bring Zim home on our instagram this weekend. You can also learn more about and support our service dog journey here. Thank you to everyone for your amazing and generous support thus far!
We will be picking up where Zim’s trainer left off with crate train (which is what we did with our golden), but even if you don’t plan to crate train, it’s important to have a safe place for your puppy to sleep at night and rest if you have to go out for a bit and can’t take him/her with you. We found this double-door crate (single-door can be a bit of a pain in our opinions) for under $30 on Amazon–an amazing price! When it arrived we checked the quality and it was just as solid as the super expensive one we purchased for our golden years ago. We chose to purchase it in the size needed for Zim based on an estimate of his adult weight because it came with a divider that allowed you to adjust the space your puppy can use as he/she grows. So much easier than having to purchase multiple crates as your puppy grows!
Note: Because we’re crate training we have never used puppy pads they aren’t included on our list, though we know someone people prefer to use them.
To make sure Zim’s crate was super comfy and cozy, we looked for a bed or mat for the inside of his crate. In the end, we went with this double-sided crate mat from Best Pet Supplies because it was double-sided with 2 cozy fabrics, was compact enough to travel and it was easily washable. We purchased a size that was priced below $20, which was fantastic! Beware of the ones with the rubber nubbies on the bottom in your washer and dryer. We’ve read so many reports of those coming off and destroying appliances! We purchased one that was a bit smaller than the full size of Zim’s crate because we have the barrier installed to make the useable space fit his current size. When he grows into the full size of the crate we’ll purchase a mat that fills out the entire crate.
If it’s been a while, you may have forgotten just how much a little pup can get into! It’s very important for puppies to be watched constantly. Since I homeschool the boys we spend the morning in the kitchen and while I’ll be available to Zim, I’ll also have to split my attention between him and the boys during school. As a result, we’ve installed gates in our kitchen doorways so that Zim can roam freely around us in the kitchen without us having to worry about him wandering off and getting into things since the kitchen has been totally puppy-proofed. The difficult thing for us was finding a baby gate that could go in an awkward, uneven entryway since one of our doorways is at an angle. While not the most attractive gates, these Evenflo Expension Swing Gates were by far the easiest to install at this price-point for a doorway of this type–we payed under $30 for each. Since we won’t need these gates forever, we didn’t want to invest hundreds, though there are more attractive options available at much higher prices.
When looking for a food and water bowl for Zim, we knew we wanted something that was dishwasher safe. I fell in love with these Winifred & Lily “Hungry” dog food bowls and loved the rubber guard on the bottom to prevent slipping. We use a foot mat under our dog bowls, but it’s still nice to prevent them from slipping around on the mat itself—especially if you have an enthusiastic eater! These are nice and heavy and super cute.
I wish I’d seen the “Thirsty” bowls when I shopped because I would have grabbed that, too! If you want one of each here’s the “Thirsty” bowl so you can get the full set.
Perhaps not everyone will feel this is necessary, but we’ve always used feeding mats or trays under our pet bowls because it keeps the mess confined and prevents slipper pools of water from getting everywhere if a bowl gets bumped. While Zim will inherit one of our golden’s (our golden has elevated bowls and now uses a different one), this is the newer version of what we use and we find works best! The lip around the edge is nice and wide and really does prevent messes from spreading all over the floor. We use the biggest size.
Finding the right collar may or may not be a priority for you. We personally invest a bit in collars and leashes because they get used every day and take so much wear and tear. Lupine is a brand we’ve used for our golden consistently because their products are well-constructed and they offer a lifetime replacement guarantee if their products break down or get chewed. We have had to replace our golden’s leash in the past and the process was simple. We found a store that carried the one we needed and simply went in and swapped it. I believe you can do it online as well through their site, though we haven’t personally gone about it this way.
We were recently introduced to Mighty Paw’s Sport Collar, which we actually really like! It has soft, squishy neoprene padding on the inside, a sturdy D-ring and another plastic ring that we’re assuming is for dog tags. It feels very well-constructed and we look forward to seeing how Zim feels about it!
7. Leash or Lead
We are not fans of retractable leashes for several reasons (the biggest one being that it often teaches dogs to always expect a taut leash), so we’ve only got traditional leads for Zim. Lupine, our tried and true brand, is one and Mighty Paw is the second! Lupine’s is very sturdy and our golden’s lasted us about 4 years before we had to replace it. His current one is 4 years old and still in great shape. Mighty Paw’s lead is actually fairly lightweight (great for a puppy), but the handle and clip are very sturdy feeling. We also love that the handle is padded with that same squishy neoprene. If you go on long walks or hikes, traditional handles can get scratchy, so that’s a nice touch!
Our golden has always been so large he’s been most comfortable in the very back of our SUV, but Zim will ride in the middle so we started exploring dog vehicle safety gear for the first time recently. Mighty Paw has an incredibly sturdy harness and vehicle tether that feels super well-constructed and we love that the tether uses the same latch system that baby car seats do (attaching to the latch bar anchor points) rather than plugging into a seatbelt buckle or looping around a buckled-in seatbelt. This feels much safer and we look forward to using it on our upcoming road trip up the east coast with Zim!
We are super picky about what we put in/on our pets, which is why we love brands like Earth Bath that use super natural ingredients. Their Ultra-Mild Puppy Shampoo is naturally tearless and pH-balanced for sensitive puppy skin. While I hope they eventually add new scents in this formula (oatmeal and honey would be fantastic or maybe blueberry?), the wild cherry isn’t bad even though I’m generally not a fan of cherry. If you like cherry then you’ll love this as it’s a very non-chemically cherry smell—our youngest’s favorite scent!
Earth Bath’s Fragrance-Free Oatmeal & Aloe Conditioner uses colloidal oatmeal and aloe to help hydrate dry, itchy skin. It is meant for dogs with super sensitive skin, which we find is the case with puppies. This formula is meant to leave skin and hair looking super healthy and since Zim is a goldendoodle, it’s very important we take care of his skin and coat (which is more like hair).
There are so many dog toys out there, but it’s important to make sure they’re well-constructed so that little pups don’t choke on tiny pieces. Kong has been one of our favorite brands of dog toys since we first got our golden. We find that their products last a super long time and that they come out with some really cute, really fun toys that keep pups busy!
We highly recommend getting a variety of Kongs (we use the classic style and one of the Stuff-a-Ball Treat dispensers for our golden). We have a brand new Classic Kong and some other Kong chew toys ready and waiting for Zim!
Kong also offers puzzle and slow-feeders that keep pups occupied and prevent them from eating too quickly. While we are going to wait and see if Zim needs a slow-feeder before getting one, we do have the Kong Tiltz as a food puzzle toy for him that we look forward to trying with him.
Kong also does stuffed toys, but I think one of their most unique is the Kong Wild Knots Bear. It’s a mix of a plush and a rope toy as the toy has a knotted-rope skeleton inside its plush body, so pups get the satisfaction of cuddling with a plush and chewing on the firmer bits inside. Our golden was never much of a chewer, but he absolutely loves his plush (he takes such good care of them), so we’re very interested to see what Zim does with this one!
Yes, I know, this is technically the 11th product, but it’s something we’re so excited about we wanted to mention it before doing a fully feature on it later on with Zim. Dremel released an updated version of their original Dremel for pet nail grinding and this one includes a really handy paw guide to ensure you hold your pup’s paw at the correct angle for grinding. We’ve given it a whirl with our golden and let’s just say … we’re impressed! We’ll go into detail on it later in a full feature, but this is definitely worth checking out if you have a dog or plan to bring a new puppy into your family. It is so much easier than using traditional dog nail clippers–especially if you have a dog with dark nails as both our golden and Zim do!
Of course there are plenty of other things you can and likely will get for your puppy, but these are the basic must-haves on our puppy product list for now. As Zim grows we’ll definitely continue to share what works and doesn’t work for him with you guys!
If you have any puppy product recommendations, please share them with us! We’d love to hear what your fur baby loves.
If you’re curious to see what Zim is up to while in training, here’s a video of one of his first big-store public training sessions! At only 11.5 weeks he and his sister did phenomenally! Normally a dog at their age would be petrified of such a large, loud environment, but they did beautifully and even managed to focus to boot.
Note: Some of the products in this post were provided by PR. All opinions are our own.