Starter Kit For New Dog Owners

If you’re planning on getting a dog, there are a couple of things you should look at: dogs diet, leashes, toys, beds, crates… We have you covered! Lets look at the most important topics for a new dog owner.


There are different types of collars for dogs, with different purposes. The best dog collar for training is not the same one that is best for everyday wear or for walks. And then there’s fashion.

Ensure that all of your dog’s collars have ID tags on them. The best dog tags are metal and have your contact information engraved in them. Change your tags if your contact information changes.

The first collar your new puppy or dog needs is an everyday collar.

Skydream Black Dog Collar and Its Buckle

Everyday Collar

You can express your dog’s personal style with a cool collar. Collars come in many colors and materials, such as leather or nylon webbing, and with metal buckles or quick release clasps.

Buckles are better than quick release clasps for stronger dogs. Rolled leather is the most durable and comfortable material and the least likely to cause hair loss.

Break-Away Collar

These are for everyday use also but they have a special safety feature – if the special loop on the collar is caught on something in the yard or the house, the collar will break away from your dog, preventing him from choking.

These collars can also be used for walking if the leash is hooked onto both loops.

Chain Slip Collar

These are for training only and you may know them as “choke chains.”

When a dog is being trained to walk on a leash or to heel, the trainer makes corrections with a quick tug on the leash and the collar closes a bit on the dog’s neck.

Many trainers are abandoning these collars. If you use one, you must be trained in how to use it.

A dog should never be left alone while wearing one of these.

Head Collar (Halter)

These look like muzzles but they are more like harnesses for the head.

They are for training a dog to walk on a leash and to heel. When your dog pulls on the leash, the halter will cause his head to turn. Used properly, these can discourage pulling.

Black Head Collar on a Retriever

Head collars should not be left on an unattended dog. Dogs may be able to back out of some types of head collars, so only use them with a short leash so you can grab your dog.

Martingale Collar

Martingale collars are used to prevent dogs from slipping out of collars while walking on a leash. The collar tightens when the dog tugs on the leash, but there is a stopping mechanism that makes it easier on your dog’s neck. These collars are especially suited for dogs with small heads, but can be used with most dog breeds.


A harness is placed around the dog’s abdomen and chest and crosses over the back. A leash is hooked to the top. These may be better for dogs who like to pull because they don’t put any pressure on the dog’s neck.

They are great for dogs with medical problems in the neck area.

The best dog harness for you depends on your dog:

  • A back clip harness is for dogs who are well-behaved while being walked
  • A front clip harness is for dogs who are more difficult to control. Be prepared for the leash to get tangled between their front legs if there is too much slack on the leash

Leather Dog Harness on a Pit Bull

A tightening harness is for dogs who are the most determined pullers. If you rely on it during training, though, you may have to rely on it for life. Caution: some of them can cause your dog pain


Leashes are used with collars for training and walking. The best dog leash for you depends on the breed of your dog and the exact purpose. Any decent dog training book or website can teach you how to do basic training with your puppy or dog – walking on a leash, heel, sit, and so on.

Terrier with a Leash in His Mouth

Do not let your dog out of your sight when she is attached to a leash, especially if the leash is long. The leash could become tangled in almost anything.

Standard Leash

Available in leather, nylon, and other materials, standard leashes are for everyday use and basic training. Some are made with chain for dogs who can chew through a leash made of other material. Typically they are 4-8 feet long and 6 feet is best for most dogs.

Retractable Leash

These leashes are made with a nylon cord or band of up to 26 feet that retracts into a plastic case with a handle. It can lock in place at any length like a measuring tape.

Walking the Dog with a Retractable Leash

They are great if you want to let your dog wander away from you without letting him off the lead and should only be used after your dog has been fully trained on a regular leash.

Adjustable Leash

Similar to a standard leash but it has several loops along its length that allow a clasp to lengthen or shorten it. These different sizes are useful during training. They also make it easy to tether your dog briefly.


A crate is for house training and for your dog to use as his own private retreat once he learns to be comfortable in it. It can be wire or plastic.

Decide where to put it and have it ready when your dog arrives. Where you ultimately locate it will depend on your puppy or dog. Most don’t like to be isolated away from the rest of the family. But some can’t settle down in their crates if there is activity around them.

Retriever in a Dog Crate

Crate Size

A puppy needs to be able to stretch out comfortable and not much more.

An adult dog should have enough room to stand up to eat and to stretch out somewhat when they lie down.

If you get your puppy a crate intended for his full-grown size, use dividers so he won’t think one end of it is supposed to be the bathroom.

Using The Crate

  • Using a crate incorrectly can make your dog feel frustrated and trapped.
  • Never use the crate as punishment.
  • Never leave your dog in the crate too long. They need human interaction and exercise to avoid depression.
  • Puppies or dogs that are being house trained should not stay in a crate for more than 3 or 4 hours. Puppies can’t hold it longer and untrained adults don’t know they are supposed to.
  • Crate your dog until you can trust him alone in the house. After that, it should be his sanctuary, his private place.
  • No attachments (collars, leashes, harnesses) should be worn while in the crate.

Border Collier in a Crate

Baby Gate

A baby gate or dog gate allows you to create barriers to keep your dog from areas of the house that are off-limits to the dog or to separate pets from small children.

There are many varieties – pressure-mounted, walk-through styles, extra tall, extra wide, auto-closing, and so on.

Bowls, Food, Water

The best dog bowls for food and water are tip-proof. Most dogs are rambunctious eaters and can make quite a mess. Bowls may be stainless steel, ceramic, or hard plastic, though plastic is harder to sanitize and may capture odors and bacteria.

Stock up on the best dog food you can afford. Look for a product that has an identifiable meat as its first listed ingredient.

Canned dog food tends to contain higher quality protein and more of it, as well as fewer preservatives and fillers. High quality dry foods can be just as nutritionally balanced.

Dog Shocked at Spilled Bucket of Food

Dry food is usually less expensive and easier to store, but canned food usually has fewer calories and carbohydrates.

A puppy should be fed three times a day until 6 months of age. After that they can have two meals a day.

Feed your puppy or dog on a set schedule and it will follow that the dog goes to the bathroom on a set schedule, which makes housetraining easier.

Give your puppy quite time after each meal.


Any easily washable, hard-to-destroy bedding material will do. Imitation sheepskin works well. Hopefully you will soon have your puppy or dog sleeping in his crate and there are very nice crate mats available.

Your puppy may like to sleep with a favorite toy in her bed. When your puppy is young she will not be able to sleep through the night without a bathroom break. Even an adult dog may have trouble with that at first, in a new home.

Don’t let your dog sleep too much in the evening. Play with him, run around with him in the yard – get him good and tired before bed time. Avoid giving your dog food or water for 3 hours before bedtime.

Standard Dog Bed

A standard dog bed just looks like a pillow or cushion and doesn’t have a rim or edge. They are usually square, rectangular, oval, or round.

Dog Laying in a Dog Bed

They can be covered in microfiber, faux suede, denim, flannel, fleece and usually contain foam padding or polyester filling. Some are filled with cedar chips to deter insects and fight odor.

One with a washable removable cover is best.

Great for all breeds but might not have enough support for dogs with orthopedic problems or senior dogs.

Nest Dog Bed

Similar to standard dog beds but with raised edges or bolsters which may surround the whole bed or just three sides. Some look like sofas. The raised edge is great for your dog to lean against.

Donut Dog Bed

Like a nest bed, these have a rim or edge. The edge is a soft bolster that your dog can really sink into. They are very plush and soft and cuddly and great for dogs who like to curl up and get cozy.

Puppy Laying in a Donut Shaped Dog Bed

They aren’t the best for old or weak dogs who may have trouble getting in and out of them.

Orthopedic Dog Bed

These are for dogs with orthopedic problems such as arthritis. They are made with high quality thick foam that provides extra support for your dog and lessens the stress on their joints.

They are comfortable for any dog but great for senior dogs and very thin dogs such as greyhounds and whippets.

Kennel Dog Bed

These beds are made to fit crates and kennels of various sizes and shapes. They are more practical than blankets and more comfortable than thin crate pads.

Some are water-resistant making them easier to keep clean. If your dog spends a lot of time in her crate, a kennel bed is essential.

Raised Dog Bed

This type of bed is raised off the floor on a frame. They can be standard, nest style, orthopedic, and the frames can be made of plastic, metal, wicker, or wood.

Labrador in a Raised Wooden Dog Bed

Some are even designed as dog-sized couches.

These beds keep some distance between your dog and a cold floor. They aren’t good for dogs with orthopedic problems or breeds that are prone to back problems.

Covered Dog Bed

These are great for snuggling. They look like small tents or houses. Some are made of plush bedding and others are a standard dog bed inside a house or basket.

Small dogs like them and they are great for shy dogs as well.


Your puppy or dog will need a collection of high quality safe chew toys. Some examples are Nylabones, Cressite rubber balls or bones, sturdy stuffed squeaky toys, and Kong interactive rubber toys.

Retriever Chewing on his Chew Toy

According to Cesar Milan’s website, dogs look at toys the way wolves look at prey. So the best dog toys either taste like food, can be torn apart, or make a noise.

They like soft toys that they can chew into and manipulate easily. They like new things, so they need a variety of toys. And, because they are social creatures, they are more interested whey you participate. A tug toy needs two to play with.

Beauty Supplies

Tools don’t need to be expensive but they should be good quality. Different breeds of dogs have different kinds of coats and require different tools.

  • Comb – a medium-toothed comb is a good all-around comb
  • Comb – fine-toothed or wide-toothed depending on your dog’s coat
  • Flea comb – for removing fleas and tangles
  • Brush – a soft slicker brush
  • Brush – curry brush if your dog has short hair
  • Brush – pin brush if your dog has a long coat
  • Shampoo – pH-balanced shampoo and conditioner made for dogs
  • Toothbrush – with dog toothpaste
  • Nail clippers for dogs
  • Ear drops (otic solution)
  • Ear and eye wipes
  • Small scissors
  • Electric clipper – if your dog’s coat requires clipping
  • Old towels for drying
  • Non-slip rubber mat

Chihuahua puppy is combed with a brush


Using positive reinforcement to train a dog would be pretty much impossible without treats. Not all treats are edible but they are one of the best tools for rewarding good behavior.

One reason that treats work so well for training is because dogs can smell them from over 20 yards away.

  • Use treats to reinforce a calm state
  • Never use them to reward an excited state
  • Let the dog smell the treat from a distance and wait
  • When he finally sits down calmly anticipating, then you can give him the treat
  • Using treats for training is more effective if it is not right before or after a meal
  • Save the best treats for the end of the training session to keep your dog’s interest up – remember he can smell it

Dog treats are a form of affection. If you are not consistent in how and when and why you give treats, you can confuse your dog. Make sure exercise and discipline come first and then affection.

greenies-dental-chew treat

The best dog treats contain high quality ingredients, not a long list of things you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce. And human treats are not necessarily safe for dogs. There are many things he would love to eat – such as chocolate – that would make him sick.

Things That Dogs Should Not Eat

  • Apple seeds – Dogs can eat apples without the seeds though
  • Avocado – Avocados contain persin, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and heart congestion
  • ​Cooked bones – Cooked bones can splinter – raw bones are fine
  • ​Candy – Contains sugar and often contains Xylitol, which can lead to the over-release of insulin and kidney failure
  • ​Cat food – Contains proteins and fats that are targeted for the nutritional needs of a cat, too high for a dog
  • ​Chips – May contain garlic and onion powder
  • ​Cookies – May contain raisins, chocolate or macadamia nuts, etc.
  • Chocolate – Causes panting, vomiting, diarrhea, and damage your dog’s heart and nervous system
  • ​Citrus oil extracts – Can cause vomiting
  • ​Coffee – Poison to your dog
  • ​Corn on the cob – Too much corn can upset his digestive system and the cob bits can get stuck in his small intestine and require surgery
  • ​Fat trimmings – Can cause pancreatitis
  • Fish – Raw salmon and raw trout may have a parasite that is fatal to dogs. Too much raw fish of any kind can cause a thiamine deficiency that could cause seizures and be fatal
  • ​Garlic – Healthy in the right dose, toxic if she has too much – hugely controversial so talk to your vet
  • Grapes and raisins – Can cause severe liver damage and kidney failure
  • Liver – Okay in small amounts but contains too much Vitamin A for a dog’s bones and muscles
  • Macadamia nuts – Toxic
  • Milk and dairy products – Okay in small doses but dogs are lactose-intolerant
  • ​Mushrooms – Just don’t
  • Onions and chives – Poisonous for dogs, and worse for cats – can cause anemia and damage red blood cells
  • ​Persimmons, peaches, and plums – The seeds and pits can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis
  • Rhubarb, and tomato leaves – Can adversely affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems
  • ​Salt – Too much can lead to an imbalance in electrolyte levels, dehydration, and diarrhea
  • ​String – A dog could steal a string that had wrapped a roast for the oven – this could get stuck in their digestive tract
  • Sugar – Any food containing sugar, glucose, corn syrup can lead to dental problems, obesity, diabetes
  • ​Xylitol – A sugar alcohol in gum, candies, baked goods, and sugar-substituted items, it is extremely toxic to dogs even in small amounts – can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, death
  • Yeast (such as in dough) – it will also expand and rise in your dog’s stomach and too much could cause a rupture
  • Old food – because of bacteria
  • Leftovers – if you feed him leftovers regularly he won’t have a balanced diet – if you do give him scraps remove all the bones and trim off the fat

About Chewing

Realize that one of a dog’s favorite ways to take in new information is through their mouths. For a puppy, chewing facilitates teething and makes sore gums feel better.

Adult dogs may chew because they were never taught not to, out of boredom, because of separation anxiety, to get attention.

Teach your dog what can be chewed and what can’t. Take responsibility for your own belongings – if you don’t want it in your dog’s mouth don’t let it be available to him.

Give your dog toys that are clearly distinguishable from items that are not dog toys – don’t expect him to know the difference between his shoe and your shoes.

Bitter Apple Sprayed on a Dogs Leg

Supervise your dog until she learns the rules. Give your dog a lot of people time. Give your dog a lot of mental and physical exercise so he doesn’t get bored and he does get tired.

If you catch him in the act, interrupt him with a loud noise and offer him one of his toys – praise him when he takes that toy.

For a teething puppy, freeze a wet facecloth for him to chew on (supervise this activity so he doesn’t swallow any of it). Offer your dog a treat in exchange for what he has in his mouth and add a command as he begins to catch on to this.

Don’t chase him – being chased is fun to a dog. Don’t punish or scold a dog after the fact – if the chewing didn’t happen in your presence, it’s too late.

Bitter Apple

A non-toxic spray to discourage your puppy or dog from chewing the furniture and other inappropriate things. It works best when freshly sprayed.

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