Are you adopting a puppy, or an adult or senior dog? Congrats! In all the excitement of welcoming a new pet into your life, it’s easy to overlook a few details. What are the essentials? What do you need to protect your home and keep your dog healthy and happy? That depends on your pet’s age. Like humans, dogs have different needs based on where they are in their lifespan. An item that may be perfect for a pup may be a no-go for a senior (geriatric) dog. So, to prepare your home for your new pet, we’ve put together this checklist based on three stages of a dog’s life.

Items You Need for Adopted Dogs of All Ages

  • Crate or kennel – Dogs are den animals, and as such, they need to feel protected and secure when they’re confined. The crate doesn’t have to be extravagant, just roomy enough for your pet to move around easily. The crate or kennel should be large enough so your dog can stand up and turn around easily.
  • Baby or pet gate – Use a baby or pet gate to block off areas you don’t want your new dog exploring. He’ll learn where he can go and where is a no-no. 
  • House-training pads – Just in case! Dogs are creatures of habit. So, when they move from one living space to another, it takes a bit of adjustment. It doesn’t matter if your adopted pet has been house trained, the stress of new surroundings can cause “accidents.” Buy enzymatic cleaner or white vinegar to spray on soiled areas. This will clean the area and deter your dog from urinating in the same spot.
  • Grooming tools – All dogs require some degree of grooming, whether it’s brushing their coat, bathing, cleaning their ears and teeth, or trimming their nails. For details on how to groom your pet, check out BarxBuddy grooming tips.
  • Leash – Start with a basic leash to get a feel for how your dog will behave. If you’ve got one that pulls, you might look for a second leash that absorbs shocks or one you can use to correct the pulling behavior — without hurting your dog. Or, if you have a dog that chews, look for a leash that withstands those chewing teeth. For those of you who walk at night, look for a leash and collar that reflect; additionally, you should wear colors that naturally reflect, rather than absorb light (whites, yellows, and other bright colors that reflect vehicle lights). 
  • Collar – A collar should display your pet’s name and your contact information in case he gets lost. Depending on your local ordinances, you might also need to include health tags. You can also opt to have your dog microchipped if he goes missing and is without his collar. This allows any shelter to track down who he belongs to. 
  • Poop bags – Whether you use a plastic bag from your last grocery store visit or a scented poop bag, cleaning up after your dog is the right thing to do.
  • Dog food – You can’t merely switch a dog’s food to a different brand or texture without risking intestinal distress. The best way to change your pet’s food is to feed him his current diet and slowly transition him to another type based on your vet’s advice. Dogs require unique nutrients based on their age, so what might be ideal for the puppy stage isn’t suitable for older dogs and vice versa. Speak with your vet about their recommendations based on your pet’s health and age.
  • Food and water bowls – Keeping a dog’s food and water in appropriate sized containers can minimize messes unless they are sloppy eaters and drinkers. A pet mat under your dog’s eating/drinking area can protect your floor from any water damage. Be sure to offer clean water every day and regularly wash out bowls to prevent any bacterial growth. 
  • Dog treats – Nothing says love like heaps of praise and yummy dog treats. They can be useful in positive reinforcement training, or any time you want to show your pet he’s special.
  • Dog bed – All dogs deserve a comfy, cozy place to catch some zzz’s. Look for dog beds that are machine washable and dryer-safe.
  • Toys – The Humane Society offers tips for choosing the right dog toys:
    • Never offer a toy that can easily fit into the back of your dog’s mouth.
    • Do not offer a toy with small parts, like strings and plastic eyes that can be chewed off and swallowed.
    • Don’t give your pet a toy stuffed with polystyrene beads or nutshell.
    • Use squeaker toys with caution. They can pose choking hazards.

New Puppy Shopping Checklist

  • Chew toys  – Puppies chew on pretty much everything; it’s instinctive. Chewing on objects helps them explore their environment, provides them entertainment, and helps relieve pain during teething. Chew toys offer a safe material your puppy can chew on without destroying your home.
  • Puzzle and treat-dispensing toys – Mentally stimulating toys can keep your puppy amused and out of trouble. Puzzle toys occupy dogs that need to work — you hide treats inside, and they have to work to free the treat.
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste – Early dental care is essential for your dog’s overall health and well-being. A toothbrush and toothpaste made for puppies will help get them accustomed to having their teeth cleaned.
  • Puppy shampoo. It’s never a good thing to use human shampoo on a dog. Their skin, especially as a puppy, is sensitive and can be harmed by chemicals, dyes, and perfumes. Instead, look for a puppy shampoo that is mild and tearless. Talk to your veterinarian or groomer for recommendations.
  • Calming aids. Whether you choose apparel that applies constant pressure, a pheromone-infused dog collar or spray, or supplements, calming aids can prove beneficial during stressful times like storms and transitioning into a new home.

Items You Need for Adult Dogs

  • Chew toy – They may be older, but adult dogs still like to enjoy pull and chew toys.
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste – Depending on your dog’s breed, the time to upgrade his toothbrush and toothpaste can vary. Typically it’s between 8-24 months. Speak with your vet about when you should switch over to adult dog dental products. And remember, your dental products are not intended for your pets.
  • Dog shampoo – Once your dog has matured, you can also upgrade his shampoo to an adult dog formula. Look for natural ingredients such as honey and vitamin E, or whatever your veterinarian or groomer recommend.
  • Dog cleaning wipes – To help between baths, dog cleaning wipes help remove dirt from your dog’s coat.
  • Training tools – Dog training tools can help reduce or eliminate negative behaviors, such as barking, in adult dogs.

Items You Need for Senior (Geriatric) Dogs

  • Pet steps or ramps – Pet steps or ramps can help senior dogs get up into your car or onto your couch and bed. 
  • Orthopedic dog bed – Arthritis is a common issue for aging dogs. An orthopedic dog bed can comfort and support your senior dog’s joints.
  • Lift harness – If your senior dog is a large breed, a lift harness can help you pick up your pet when needed.
  • Pet stroller – As your dog ages, going for long walks may be a thing of the past, unless you have a stroller.
  • Doggy diapers – If your senior dog suffers from incontinence, doggy diapers can help prevent messes. 
  • Dog sweaters – Similar to humans, as we age, it’s harder to regulate body temperature. A dog sweater can make it easier to stay warm during chilly days.
  • Dog blankets – A few dog blankets can ensure your dog stays warm.
  • Dog brush – If your pet suffers from discomfort due to age or illness, seek the help of a grooming professional or advice from your veterinarian for the best dog brush for older dogs.
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste – Dental disease is common in older dogs, so you must continue to brush your dog’s teeth regularly. 

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