As first-time dog owners, when we started looking to adopt a dog from a local shelter, I did a lot of research on what the absolute “essentials” were so I could create a shopping list. I didn’t want to get home and realize that we’d forgotten something basic for our new pup. So, for anyone looking for a similar list (or for product ideas for your own pooch), here are our essentials. All items on this list are Horrible Hound Approved. 🙂
– Kennel and kennel pad/blanket
– Dog bed
– Collar and leash, harness (optional)
– Dog tag with pet’s name and your contact information
– Dog food (both kibble and wet food)
– Food and water bowls
– Treats (a variety)
– Flea & tick and heartworm meds
– Doggie toothbrush and toothpaste
– Bath soap
– Grooming brush
– Poo bags
– Fleece dog jacket or rain slicker (optional)
For treats, we use Greenies (the medium size, so we don’t burn through them as fast), Blue Buffalo treats (they make a ton of different kinds, and so far they’re all good), a few Milkbones (again, medium size), rawhide bones, and Milo’s Kitchen jerky/sausage treats. Some of these treats are high-calorie, which is good for Abe because he’s naturally skinny and also gets tons of exercise, but they might not be ideal for other dogs (*ahem, Milkbones*).
We use Nutro Natural Choice dog food. It was recommended by literally everyone we talked to, and Abe loves it. The shelter fed the dogs Science Diet, so we bought the smallest bag of that possible and mixed it 1/2 and 1/2 with the Nutro until the Science Diet was gone, and then switched to only Nutro (if you switch their food abruptly it’ll be a big change for your dog’s system, and you won’t like the result when you’re walking them…) Abe was also reeeeeally skinny when we got him from the shelter, so we fed him puppy food for the first month or so, for the extra fat content. When he seemed to plateau in his weight gain, we moved him up to the adult Nutro food (again, 1/2 and 1/2 with the puppy food until the puppy food was gone). The wet food is an extra treat for Abe, we usually put about 1/3 of a can on top of his kibble and store the rest in the fridge until it’s gone. The wet food is his favorite and he licks his bowl to make sure he gets every last bit.
I’m a really big fan of the Greenbone* doggie bags – they’re made of cornstarch and are fully biodegradable. I found our first batch at Target (very convenient!) but the last time I checked, they were out, PetSmart didn’t have any, and there were NO other biodegradable bags available at either store (say what!?). We really needed bags, so we went to a local store, which had only 1 brand of biodegradable bags, and while they’re OK, I prefer the Greenbone bags. In the future I’ll order them online and keep a good-sized stash on hand.
*A warning, as the online reviews suggest, the Greenbone bags are really thin, so you’ll probably tear a few, but once you’ve had them for a week or two you get used to how they tear off the roll and you’ll stop tearing them. Personally, I think it’s worth it to tear a few bags while figuring them out rather than purchase plastic bags that will be sitting in a landfill for the next 50 years. Yuck. Oh, and even though they’re thin, they hold up perfectly well when full (and we have a large dog, so you know they get full).
We got Abe in November, and since he was so skinny, the cold wind made him shake all over when we had to go outside, so we also bought him a little fleece jacket, plus a second fleece with a waterproof top and reflective stripe, for when my hubby takes him running after work (when it’s starting to get dark). Once the weather warms up and the sun is out longer, I don’t think either one of these will be necessary. I always said I’d never put my dog in clothes, but I don’t think these really count 😉 A rain slicker would be a good option as well, since wet dogs can make a big mess.
Toys were difficult for a while, Abe didn’t really seem to be into anything we bought him (a Kong toy, a rubber bone, a rubber ball, a rope toy, and two stuffed animals with squeakers). Then, I saw a stuffing-less raccoon at Target, and I had to get it for him (after all, he is a coonhound). He loved how soft the plush fur was, and carried it everywhere. It also has crinkly paper in the tail, and he really enjoyed that. It took him a while to be interested in the squeaker, but now he’s decided he likes that too. Abe wasn’t really into balls or fetch for about the first two months either, but one day when we went to the dog park, it was just us, and he decided that he liked to chase after me, and he likes chasing tennis balls even more. Kong has tennis balls with squeakers in them, and Abe was officially in heaven when I brought those home. We bought a small Chuck-it to make the repetitive tennis-ball-throwing a bit easier.
Well, that’s our list. Fellow dog owners, did I forget anything? Feel free to leave a Q in the comments if you’re curious about the other items/brands we use!