Essential equipment for your puppy or dog

Brown spaniel laying on blanket chewing its toy.
Vanessa Palmer-Vines © / The Kennel Club

You will need to buy a variety of different equipment and accessories before you are ready to bring your puppy home.

Below is a list of all the basic items you'll need to ensure the new addition to your family feels comfortable and welcome.

Bedding

Your puppy needs a comfortable bed, so be sure to buy one that's big enough for it to grow into and stretch out in.

There are many different types of bed for your puppy. Most puppies love snuggling into a piece of 'Vetbed' or similar. This is a synthetic simulated sheepskin, which is hygienic, machine washable, totally non-allergenic and relatively resistant to chewing. It can also help to prevent pressure sores on bigger dogs. Buy two pieces so you use one while washing and drying the other.

Bowls

You will need separate (non-slip) bowls for food and water. These should be raised up off the floor for tall dogs. Make sure fresh water is always available for your puppy.

Puppy crates, play pens and child gates

Some dogs love having their own 'four-poster beds'. Many dog owners find these useful for containing their puppy and keeping them safe and out of trouble when they are alone, rather like putting a baby in a cot or play pen.

When ordering a crate for your puppy, buy one big enough so that it can stretch out and stand up in when they are fully grown. Make sure that the mesh is not too big, as puppies may get their mouths caught. Put some bedding inside and tie some toys in the far end of the crate so the puppy has to go in there to play with them. Gently place your puppy in there whenever they fall asleep. 

You can gradually increase the time the puppy stays in the crate, and initially this should be while you are still in the room with them.

Make sure your puppy has recently emptied their bladder and bowels before they settle in their crate and do not leave your puppy in the crate for more than a couple of hours during the daytime. 

Never use the crate as a sin-bin or you will teach your puppy to resent it. Always remove the puppy's collar when in the crate in case it gets caught up on it.

A full range of crates including Crufts-branded crates can be ordered from Croft Online. You can also choose from a range of pens and crates in our online shop.

Clothing

Some short-coated or recently clipped dogs can really feel the cold, so they may benefit from wearing a fitted jumper or coat while out walking. Some long-haired dogs may benefit from protective clothing to keep them clean and dry in winter weather. Make sure it fits properly and is well-tolerated by your puppy. Never make your puppy wear clothes indoors.

Collars

Choose a comfortable collar that is suitable for the breed, size and age of your puppy. Puppies grow rapidly and collars should be checked almost daily for condition and fit. These should not be so loose that they can slip over your puppy's head nor so tight that you cannot slip two fingers underneath.

Car harness, travelling crate or dog guard

A dog should travel either behind a dog guard, secured with a car-seat harness or, ideally, in a crate or fixed car cage. A crate or cage gives a dog their own space and ensures both safety and comfort.

Help your puppy get accustomed to car travel by taking them out on short trips at first, ideally when they're tired enough to fall asleep. If the puppy is car sick, try fixing the crate on the back seat, as the car sways far more at the back which can cause travel sickness.

Identity tag

You are required by law (under The Control of Dogs Order 1992) to inscribe the name and address of the owner on your dog's collar tag. You must comply with this, even if it is microchipped, and you can be fined up to £5,000 if you do not. You may also want to put your telephone numbers on the tag, but you do not need to put your dog's name on it.

Leads

Choose a lead that is suitable for the size and breed of your puppy  not too long, too short or too heavy. A good rope lead is both strong and comfortable on your hands. Chain leads can be painful to hold onto, but may be useful if you have a puppy that likes to chew or carry their lead in their mouth. Nylon leads are strong, but can hurt your hands. Whichever type you choose, make sure you attach it to the 'D ring' of the collar and not onto the split ring that attaches the identity tag to the collar, as this is not strong enough to take the weight of your dog.

Toys

It is very important that your puppy has a range of appropriate and interesting toys to play with, otherwise they might chew on your things instead of their own. Chew toys also provide mental stimulation, help to keep your dog's teeth clean and allow them to exercise their jaws. Select toys for your puppy carefully some may be too small and might choke your puppy, while others may splinter.

Do not let your puppy play with sticks, golf or squash balls. All these things can easily get stuck in the throat and cause damage or even death.

Anti-pulling aids

There are lots of devices (mostly harnesses and head collars) that claim to help stop dogs from pulling on the lead. Some of these rub, squeeze or pinch the dog, and tend not to be tolerated well, so shop around and make sure that your puppy is comfortable wearing it. You should allow your puppy enough time to become accustomed to any aid you ultimately choose. However, if you ensure correct training from the start, your puppy should not pull on the lead.

Poo bags

You are required by law (under the Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005) to clear up after your dog in public areas and dispose of the bag in an appropriate bin. You will need a supply of poo bags, sandwich bags or nappy sacks to take with you whenever you are out with your puppy.

Grooming equipment

Short-coated dogs need to be groomed regularly, especially when they are moulting as their short hairs get can get stuck on everything! Use a rubber-toothed brush or a short-bristled brush, which massages the skin and works out the loose hair.

Breeds with medium to long coats or thick undercoats need gentle de-tangling every day to keep them knot free. The main problem areas that need the most attention tend to be behind the ears, between the toes, under the feet, in the armpits, the backs of the legs and around the tail. Some dogs will need to have their beards or hair around their eyes cleaned regularly.

If you intend to exhibit your puppy in the show ring, they may need to have their coat trimmed into a special shape, or need hand-stripping or clipping. Your breeder, groomer, ringcraft class or breed club can advise you on the best way to achieve this. Find contact details for your breed club.

Always brush your puppy slowly and gently. Gradually introduce the concept of grooming in very short sessions. If your puppy tries to bite the brush, put some taste deterrent on the brush so they learn not to bother.

Some dogs will need to have their nails trimmed if they get too long. If your dog has dew-claws (like little thumbs on the inside of its 'wrists') they should be checked frequently as these do not get worn down naturally and can grow in a circle and cut into the flesh. You can learn to trim the nails yourself or have a vet or groomer do it for you.

In particular, dogs with white or sparse coats can be susceptible to sunburn, so use a high-factor sun cream on their ears and other exposed areas in hot sunny weather.

Dog shampoo

Dogs only need to be bathed every few months, unless they have been swimming or have rolled in something smelly. Use a dog shampoo and put a non-slip mat down if using the bath. Towel-drying your puppy is important and will get them used to being dried when they come home wet from a walk.

Dog toothpaste and toothbrush

Gum disease is far too common in middle-aged dogs and can lead to all sorts of health problems, so it pays to brush your puppy's teeth. Use special canine toothpaste, which comes in tasty flavours and does not foam (unlike human toothpaste) with a special rubber thimble for dogs' teeth.

Next steps

Have you read all the information on buying a dog and the preparation needed before you buy a dog?

Next, learn more about how to care for your new puppy.

Also, make sure you understand how to change the registered ownership of your dog.