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The Essential (and Affordable) Gear You’ll Need to Puppy-Proof Your Home

A stuffed dog toy for new puppies, as part of a list of gear needed for new dog owners — The Strategist reviews.
Including this toy, that has a pulsing “heartbeat.” Photo: Smart Pet Love

Getting a dog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Pippin is pure joy. But he also came with rug stains, knocked-over plants, chewed computer cables, and some awfully weird smells. It has taken me about a year of trial and lots of error to figure out what a home really needs when there’s a dog around. I had to learn the hard way, but other new pup-parents are in luck: I have at the ready a list of the supplies you’ll need before bringing a new dog into your house, and it should prove useful whether you’re bringing home an actual new puppy or an older rescue like Pip.

From $50

I’ve written about this crate before, but in essence: Whether or not your dog is prone to making escapes out the door, you’ll need a durable crate. Remember that the crate shouldn’t be a place for punishment; it should be a place where your dog can find refuge. So be sure to fill it with cozy items (for which I have recommendations later). If you have enough room at home, buy a crate that’s sized for the fully grown future version of your dog, and use a divider while the pup is still small. (One shopping tip: If you don’t see the correct size for your dog at one retailer, check the other.)

There are a lot of fancy beds out there, but I implore you to hold off on buying an expensive dog bed. If you spend over $100 on a Casper dog bed, there’s a strong chance your pup will chew it into pieces in a matter of days. Start with something cheaper, like this machine-washable bed, which is cozy, soft, affordable, and pee-proof.

You could also go with this completely indestructible mat (you can literally wash it off with a hose), beloved by a friend of mine with a messy, furry 90-pound lab mix. And if your pup doesn’t destroy either of these, then you can get something pricier later.

If you live in a warmer climate, these elevated “cots” help keep your dog cool because the mesh allows for more air circulation, and come highly recommended by The Canine Corner, where my dog goes to day care.

For a collar and a leash for a starter pup, as with beds, I suggest paying for function over style. There are about a million schools of thought on what kind of collar, leash, or harness combination to get, but in my experience, the Coastal Pet Training Collar, which was recommended to me by my trainer, is a great one to start because it’s slim, comfortable, and the adjustable chain will keep your pup from slipping out (which can happen with harnesses and more stylish collars). Some people are against “choke” collars but this one will keep your dog secure without digging into his neck.

For the leash, I keep it simple with this durable Coastal Pet Nylon Leash. Many people opt for retractable leashes, but I don’t think it’s necessary, especially if you’re training your dog to heel.

I don’t give my dog a ton of treats on a daily basis, but they were a necessity when we trained him. He was picky about which ones he’d eat, but was pretty motivated by softer (sigh, and smellier) treats like these from Wellness.

Also, no puppy will ever not sit for a low-moisture string cheese.

As for bones, I give Pippin these Himalayan Yak Chews. They come recommended from my cousin whose dog has all manner of stomach issues, so they’re gentle on his belly and taste great. You can even soak the ends in water, put them in the microwave, and they’ll puff into this a dog-friendly cheesy puff.

No matter what treats you go with, I highly recommend stashing them in this fanny pack so they’re easily accessible while you’re on a walk.

StarMark Clicker

In conjunction with treats, a clicker is a great way to show your dog that he or she is being good. (Every time your dog does something treat-worthy, click the clicker and give him a treat. Soon they’ll associate the sound with good behavior.)

For negative reinforcement, I have Bitter Apple Spray, a necessity to show your dog that the couch, table legs, your bed, and your phone charger are not chew toys.

I recently upgraded to chic ceramic bowls for Pippin because he seems to be a pretty clean eater. But if you have a dog that gets super excited around food and is a messy eater and sloppy drinker, (who might crack ceramic) go for these gripper bowls.

Place them on top of a rubber mat so nothing slips around.

A travel rubber bowl is also clutch in summer months. I have a hot pink one for Pippin so it never gets lost.


A lot of puppies might suffer from separation anxiety. This toy can help. With a heat pack and a “pulsing heartbeat,” it can make an anxious pup feel like it’s still with its mommy and pack. The cushy toy is also machine-washable, which I have found is imperative for everything puppy-related.

You might end up sending your dog to the groomer to get properly cleaned, but some in between at-home maintenance will save you money in the long run. First, the Furminator [editor’s note: we’ve written about the Furminator before, and are big fans] is essential for any shedding dog. It’ll brush through knots, wisp away shedding fuzzies, and as an added bonus, Pippin seems to like how it feels.

I like Burt’s Bees shampoo, since it’s all-natural and smells fresh and clean, removing all traces of the dog park from Pip’s fur.

Then there’s the toothbrush. I hate brushing my dog’s teeth, but it’s important. For my own teeth, I am extremely brand loyal to Arm & Hammer, so I also use it for Pippin. This little Arm & Hammer dental care set has toothpaste and two types of brushes: one that is long and skinny to get to back teeth, and another you can slip right over your finger if your dog is a bit timid of the brush. You’ll be happy when you don’t have insane vet bills later on for teeth-removal.

Your home is yours. It should look and smell like you — not animals — live there. For that, I have an awesome stain remover, which was necessary when Pip was learning to potty train.

I have an endless supply of lint rollers, and a fancy-ass Dyson vacuum that quickly zips up all of the fuzzies and dirt Pippin brings in from outside, and is a reasonable price for Dyson technology. You could get a full-on vacuum but for a small apartment, this handheld one is just what I need, and the long, thin attachment gets right between all my couch pillows.

I also stock a fair amount of candles, most recently from Otherland, an affordable (read: almost half the price of Diptyque) direct-to-consumer brand. I love the Chandelier scent, which helps get rid of dog odor and makes my apartment smell instead like warm, rich leather.

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Essential, Affordable Gear for Puppy-Proofing Your Home