WE COVER THE ESSENTIAL ITEMS YOU NEED FOR A DOG, PUPPY & RESCUE DOG
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So you’re getting a dog, puppy or rescue! But now what? What do you need to buy in preparation for the new addition to the household?
Behold THE list! Or lists in this instance.
I’m going to try and separate these lists into the most useful manner.
First a list of general pet dog items that is applicable to anyone.
Then a list of items that are towards the assistance dog community.
General Dog Items – Essentials
- Dog Food – Obvious I’m sure, but make sure it’s appropriate for your dogs age, current health (if a rescue) and is of good quality. I recommend checking All About Dog Food website for reviews on dog food, their ingredient quality and prices. Some dogs are allergic to certain foods and some dog breeds struggle with certain diets. For example Dalmatians should be given a diet low in purine. There are loads of different types of dog food nowadays; wet, dry, raw, dehydrated, and freeze-dried. Choose the one which is best for your dog and you.
- Dog Bowls – You’ll need at least two bowls! One for water and one for food. You’ll want to think about if the dog will chew the bowl, pick the bowl up (which when filled with water is very annoying) and if it’ll be big enough for it’s head. Slow feeders may be a requirement as well. We recommend getting bowls with grips on the base/non-slips bowls to prevent agitation…and to prevent ending up with a bowl over the other side of the house!
- Dog Lead – Leads are easy right? Any one will do? Wrong. There are soooo many leads! Extending/flexi leads are an instant no from me (and many dog owners and trainers), they are devil traps (a danger to humans and dogs alike – especially if your dog decides to try to play on a flexi lead, you’ve suddenly got a wire at risk of getting caught round their neck). But then you have long lines (often fabric) which when used well are good alternatives to extending leads. Short leads, long leads, traffic leads, training leads, bungee leads, double leads, you name it. My personal recommendation is a training lead, it can be short, long, around your waist, used to tether. They’re awesome. Always have a spare lead! One gets soaking wet, breaks or misplaced and you’ll be walking your dog from a scarf or some string you found in the shed.
- Dog Collar – I personally prefer a martingale. Depending on your dogs head shape a flat collar may be fine. I started my pup off on a flat collar (at 8 weeks old) then we progressed to a martingale as his fur grew for SAFETY reasons! Dogs slip collars, they spook randomly and my dogs life isn’t worth someone calling me “abusive” because he walks on a loose lead on full slip collar (his fur has grown to the point a martingale will not fit him safely). When it comes to flat collars, you should be able to get two-finger’s width underneath it.
- ID Tag – The legal requirement is the name and address of the owner. I always recommend you to including at least one contact number as well. If you are short on space I recommend first line of the address and the postcode or just the house number/name and postcode.
Now there will be stuff other people say are essential but when it comes to the law the above items are the only essentials you need.
So below is a list of all the other items you will probably want and may need!
General Dog Items – Extras
- Dog SAFE Toys – when it comes to dogs – ESPECIALLY puppies – chewable objects are often a free for all. This includes clothes, furniture, electrics, carpet (they’ll pull it up nails too) and even walls. We’ve seen huge holes made in walls from boredom! Toys that are plastic or contain stuffing should always be supervised when used by dogs. Rope toys are okay as long as they’re in a tight braid, if they start to fray you should bin them. Fleece no-sew toys are my favourite toy to leave with dogs when unsupervised. Luckily my Po only pulls the stuffing from one toy (which is Eli’s favourite… the bully), also as a puppy he never destroyed any of his toys. All toy death has been due to intense tug of war in my house. However many dogs do pull out the stuffing, including squeakers (which are a choking hazard once exposed). Always make sure the toys aren’t small enough to be swallowed or get stuck in the dogs throat. Also that they are age appropriate.
- Car Safe Dog Harness – Law requires that dogs be secure in vehicles when travelling. This can be achieved via crates, dog guards, or harnesses attached to a seat. Having a dog harness that is suitable for car travel will be a requirement one day also you may need a harness for your dog, so two birds, one stone. Make sure to have an attachment that is suitable for either in the seat belt clip or through the seat belt.
- Dog Crate – seeing we touched on it above, now seemed like a good time to mention one. Training a dog to be comfortable in a dog crate is pretty much essential. If your dog has to go to the vets for surgery or anything over night they will be placed in a dog crate. If you have to leave the house for an hour or more then leaving your dog the roam of a room or house isn’t always an option, especially for the more destructive dogs. Crates are SAFE. My pup who is now 1 year old outgrew his crate veryyyy quickly. When I was housing and dog sitting a month or so ago he made himself at home in that dogs crate as he felt safe and comfortable in it. Crates are not a punishment tool, nor should they be used as one. They’re a safety tool and often a place of security for the dog to choose to go in for downtime.
- Dog Poo Bags – Self-explanatory really but here’s an explanation for ya! You can go cheapo and get the cheap nappy bags from a supermarket. You can get the loose or on a roll black bags from pet stores and online. You can also get biodegradable bags and compostable bags, the clue is in the name on these two.
- Dog Grooming Tools – Dogs should be introduced to grooming from an early age if possible to aid with desensitisation and minimise stress levels for them (and make it easier on you!) Depending on your dog’s coat type, the grooming tools needed will vary. Check out our Grooming and Hygiene page for more information on grooming tools.
- Dog Bed/Mat – Dog beds and mats are useful for many reasons. The obvious one being comfort – not all dogs like or find laying on the floor comfortable. By having a bed or mat you can also teach a dog to go to his bed which will then be his safe place (and keeps him out from under your feet!) Some people used raised platforms for this. It’s all personal choice.
- Dog Treats – If your dog had allergies or is intolerant then choosing an appropriate dog treat is even more important. Depending on your training and seeing as this is an assistance dog page I expect it’ll be important training, then you will need high value treats as well. Some dogs will work for kibble (fatty aka Eli), some won’t work for anything other than the best. You’ll want to be careful of sugar levels and additives in treats. For instance, I bought a tub of the Wilko Soft Training Treats to leave downstairs for my dad to give to the dogs occasionally (we’re not a massive treat feeding family). A certain lard arse – looking at you Eli – managed to get the container off the side whilst I was out with Po and inhaled the entire tub of treats. He then went on to poop a dark red colour for 2 days straight, the red was from the dye used in the treats. Cheap treats. The more natural the better and remember treats don’t have to be giant pieces to be effective, and nor should they be if you want to keep your dog’s weight under control (looking in no particular direction)! We advise chopping them up small in advice and treating more often with small pieces rather than occasionally with large treats. The power is in the giving of the treat, so the size rarely matters (in this case!)
- Dog Shampoo – Again allergies can come into play. Puppies should not be bathed too often (same with adults really) as it strips the natural oils from their coats and can cause irritation. Obviously they will need cleaning if they get in a mess but avoid bathing them “just because”. You can get shampoo which is specially designed for puppies (it washes out easier). You can also get flea shampoo, sensitive skin shampoo, white fur shampoo, fox poop shampoo for when your dog hates you and rolls in fox poop… doesn’t even have to be fresh. FREE EXTRA! Dog conditioner! Yes you heard it here first! I actually use dog conditioner on my dogs, I use it mostly on their butts, tail, and neck fur. Their coats tend to be wire and dense in these areas, by adding conditioner it makes it easier for me to brush their coats out for all parties involved. There are also conditioning/detangling sprays and wipes you can get to help with dogs coats, be careful not to over condition.
- Dog Towels – I say dog towels but I mean just designate towels specifically for dog use. I have two old large towels that are for regular dog use. One stays in my car, the other in the house, so I always have one to hand.
- Nail Trimming – I absolutely HATE clipping my dogs nails. Luckily both boys wear their nails down naturally. That said I do have a pair of nail clippers for doing their dewclaws if they overgrow (Eli self trims usually). I personally advise people to stay away from guillotine clippers, I find these difficult to position and trim the nail safely – this is especially the case if your dog has dark nails where you can’t see the quick. I have a standard clipper style version. You can also use a nail grinder (dremel) or a scratch board which you can make yourself. Finally there are my favourite options, get a dog groomers to trim them or done at the vets!
- Worm and Flea Treatment Plan – it’s a must and its important to be aware of what each flea treatment and wormer actually does. There are several different methods of flea and worm treatment. There is regular chemical scheduled treatments, such as frontline, advantage, drontal and more. Some of these will kill fleas and ticks, some will prevent. There are several types of worms a dog can get and wormers will only work against certain types as well, do research on treatments and make sure all worms are covered if you go this route. Some people prefer to do natural wormer and flea treatments. You can also do worm counts via the vets or online for your dogs.
- Poo Bag Holder/Dispenser – pretty self explanatory again…. it’s a bag… that holds the poop bags… so you always have poop bags on hand. You can get ones that attach to belts, leads or onto the dog. Some hold rolls only, some will hold loose bags and rolls.
- Treat Pouch – holds treats…you get the message. There are different closing mechanisms (magnet, zip, drawstring), depending on how easy you want access to be. But we recommend ones that do close in some way, otherwise you end up with treats all over the place, and nosey dog snouts in there!
- Car Dog Guard – Goes between the rear seats and the car boot (trunk for any Americans present) and prevents the dog from distracting the driver by either jumping around the seats climbing into the drivers lap. Dogs that are not secure in a car can invalidate your car insurance.
- Dog Coat – Stops dogs from getting wet… similar to a human coat. Fairly self-explanatory. Although you can different types (clear, full romper style, cape style, ones with hoods)
- Dog Boots – Coats are common on dogs, boots not so much. They work the exact same way human shoes do and are more commonly found on assistance dogs who are likely to frequently be on many different surfaces. They will stop them from standing in and on annoying and many a time dangerous objects such as; gum, beer, broken glass, spilt chemicals, cleaning products, road salts (for iced roads), melted tar (on hot roads and paths), and more. Secondly they can help with cold weather by keeping the doggos toes warm! But be warned, dogs feet are the only place they have any amount of sweat glands. Being in boots constantly can cause irritation and effect how they control their body temperature (dogs mostly control their body temperature via panting). Depending on your dog, it’s breed and size will depend on the type of dog boots you may wish to buy. A larger breed would benefit from Summer and Winter boots. A smaller dog may be able to manage with just one type of boot.
- Light Up Products – Perfect for night time walks, light up dog products can be a life saver, literally. Light up collars, tags, leads, coats, toys and more. These products can be life savers and just generally handy. A collar makes a excellent path light at night time and ensures other people and vehicles can see them. Especially if the dog gets away from the handler. Alternative options are hi-vis products (e.g. vest/coat).
- Eye and Ear Cleaner – Some dog breeds are prone to ear wax build up and eye gunk (and that is putting it nicely). So having ear and eye cleaner on hand is well handy. Spaniel and other long-eared breeds are prone to wax build up and in turn ear infections. You can get liquid versions or dedicated pads.
- Non-Toxic Clean Up Wipes – Ever had a dog suddenly get the surprise runs? Trust me it ain’t pretty… especially with fluffy breeds… says the fluffy breed owner. I use baby wipes for accidents including wee on tile or vinyl surfaces. They’re good for cleaning dirt off paws or around the dogs face and as stated to begin with… the ultimate disaster of explosive butts.
- Dog First Aid Kit – Something that is regularly missing from dog owners’ homes across the planet. In fact I bet you don’t even have a human first aid kit! Dog first aid kits vary from human ones in several ways. For instance plasters (band-aids) are completely useless on a dog. Sharp pointy needles are pretty stupid and useless in a dog first aid kit too. Human medication should NOT be given to dogs. Ibuprofen will kill a dog. Paracetamol can kill a dog. Aspirin can kill a dog. Many people will recommend human antihistamines for dogs… ALWAYS check with your vet before administrating any drugs to your dog.
For more information about dog first aid kits check out our other page.
- Travel Water Bowl & Bottle – Travel bowls are a must have for all dog owners in my opinion. I have a zip closure double pop up bowl in my car and a single pop up bowl next to my dog leads which goes with me every time I leave the village. I also have a small water bottle, which is a 200ml water one. Not to heavy for me to be carrying around with all my other stuff (including my own drinks) but more than enough for 2-3 drink stops for both dogs, several days worth of drinks for Eli alone, plus I can refill it wherever. There are lots of different travel bowls available some with built in water carriers.
- Clicker – This is something I don’t have. I don’t like clickers personally but I can see how they work for other people. A clicker in terms of a training tool is a reward cue. It makes a noise and is a cue to the dog that they did whatever you asked correctly and they will get a reward for it. Clicker = reward. I prefer to use to reward cue word, such as “nice”, “good”, “okay”. Single syllable words are better if you go for a word instead to keep the timing effective. Many clickers can be attached to a bracelet so they are easier to have to hand.
- Stair Gates – Awesome for separating rooms off, hallways in half, limiting upstairs or bedroom access, and outdoor access whilst still leaving doors open.
- Dog Goggles – Specially designed dog eye wear to allow full motion of dogs mouth and activity level and protect them from flying debris, shrapnel, wind, sand, small rocks, bugs and dust. Some also provide protection from sunlight damage.
- Dog Ear Protection – Dogs ears are far more sensitive to sound than humans. Some breeds are more prone to sound sensitivity than others. Going into loud environments can be painful for dogs and damaging to their ears. Concerts, festivals, cinemas, and other similar environments are examples of excessive noise.
- Dog Muzzle – A general misconception is that muzzles are only for aggressive dogs. Many dogs (especially assistance dogs) are muzzle trained for several reasons. One being that any dog has the potential to bite. They may feel threatened in a situation where people are only trying to help, such as grooming and vet appointments. Having them muzzle trained in advance before they become defensive can help stop the accidents before they happen. There are also several countries where muzzling a dog is a legal requirement when in public and as horrid as it sounds, if your dog has the potential to be classed as a dangerous dog breed type then it may be legally required (and very quickly) to be muzzled including for assessments which can happen less than 2 weeks from the original claim. Unfortunately, the reality is, people judge by appearance and this can be unfavourable if you have a dog that looks scary, even if they’re a complete softy. Another reason people might muzzle train a dog is if it’s a poop eater… luckily I haven’t had this happen but Dory has witnessed this first hand and it isn’t pretty!
- Dog Supplements – Sooo many supplements are available for dogs to have. Many supplement studies have shown to be of little to zero benefit (in humans and dogs), some can even have a negative impact especially if used incorrectly. If you are unsure then always consult with a vet. Glucosamine, fish oil, probiotics are the most popular ones available. Glucosamine is assumed to assist with joints, act as an anti-inflammatory and assist with gut health. There are three types of Glucosamine, with sulfate & n-acetyl being the better options and both having different effects. Fish oil is assumed to assist with inflammatory skin disorders by means of anti-inflammatory, joints, heart health and improve coat quality. There are three types of Fish Oil, with ethyl ester oil being the better option. Moral of the story? Do your research.
Assistance Dog Items
According to the UK law it is not a legal requirement to label a dog assisting a disabled individual as an assistance dog. Although an argument can be made that a reasonable adjustment would be to label a dog so. Again it would be down to a court to decide.
To help prevent access issues there are steps handlers can put into place. One of them being assistance dog gear. The most basic and mostly used assistance dog gear is vests and capes.
Assistance Dog Gear List
- Vest – Assistance dog vests come in a variety of styles and options. Some are basic, just a simple coat style with the words stating its an assistance dog or in training. Others are more complex, with areas to clip things on, pockets, patterns, reflective strips, mesh design to allow air to circulate the dogs coat, and more.
- Cape – Capes are designed to attach to a harness. Theses are often used with mobility harnesses. This is so the same harness can be used but a variety of capes are an option. There also come in a variety of designs and styles similar to the vests.
- Wording – So wording options are as follows; vinyl, embroidery, and patches. Vinyl wording is usually done directly onto vests & capes, but it can also be onto patches, leads, collars, lead slips etc. Embroidery can also be done directly onto vests & capes, but it is usually done onto patches, leads and collars. Patches are my preference as they can be transferred between different vests, sold, and reused. They can be vinyl or embroidery but are usually embroidery, they come as stitch on, iron on, and hook and loop Velcro backed.
- Harnesses – There are strap harnesses designed specifically towards the assistance dog community although they can often be used by anyone, synthetic and leather options are usually available. Some times they have wording on them, but more often they are fleece lined Y or straight fronts with areas to attach a cape. These are sometimes also orthopaedic approved.
- Mobility Harnesses – Any harness used for mobility work should be orthopaedic approved, the dog approved for mobility work by a vet, and the dog trained correctly to perform mobility tasks. Dogs younger than 18 months, preferably 24 months and sometimes older still depending on the breed. Young dogs should NOT be performing mobility work and tasks. Mobility harnesses come with a variety of tools to help with mobility; guide handles, rigid bracing handle and more.
- Leads – There are leads available with “in training” and “assistance dog” wording already on them.
- Collars – There are collars available with “in training” and “assistance dog” wording already on them.
- Bandanas – You can buy bandanas or get them custom made to say “assistance dog”, “in training”, and more.
- Lead Slips – A lead slip is a piece of material with a wording on that will slide onto any standard lead and sometimes go over the straps of a dogs vest or harness .They are particularly handy for hot weather, giving a second option of layering up a working dog in vests and harnesses. They’re also handy for learning and growing puppies, saving the expense of a vest or harness that a puppy will shortly grow out of.
- Settle Mats – Settle mats are basically a transportable pad, mat, bed on the floor for the dog to recognise as a place to settle in and stay in position. Many handlers don’t use settle mats, others use them religiously. Some have wording, are padded, waterproof, and more.
- Bringsel – It’s an alert device. It can be used for blood sugar, heart rate, allergy detection, medication reminders, as well as “my handler needs help” by bringing the device to a stranger or specific person. They are often used by medical detection dogs as well as search and rescue dogs, alerting to a found person in need of assistance.
- Traffic Lead – Although used by the general public they are often used by assistance dog handlers. Usually attached to a harness they allow the handler to ensure their dogs safety in dense vehicle or pedestrian traffic by keeping the dog closer than usual. It also allows the dog to do a more controlled guide work if required, navigating through crowds.
- Grounding Strap – A grounding strap is designed on the idea to present a means of connection between handler and dog. The strap doesn’t have to be weigh bearing (able to withstand a certain amount of force) but will usually have some level of tension in the connection. These are usually made from paracord, fleece, or webbing – other materials may be used as well.
- Guide/rigid Handle – A guide handle is a solid piece of equipment producing a solid connection between dog and handler constantly during motion. These handles need to be a certain size for handler and dog to provide comfort for both parties involved. Although primarily used for guide work they are used for other disabilities as well.
- Pull Strap – Similar to a grounding strap these can be solid/rigid similar to a guide handle, semi-rigid, or non-rigid similar to a grounding strap. The major difference between a grounding strap and a pull strap is the fitting/connectors used between the strap and the harness or vest. The connectors must be weight baring and be able to withstand a fair amount of force, similar to how lead fittings must withstand against a dog that pulls excessively.
Safe to say, owning a dog can get expensive and an assistance dog even more so! You probably don’t require all of these – in fact we don’t have all of these – but the list is there to show you what you can get and may need to get. There is a wide variety within most of these items and most of the time it’s a case of personal choice of what works for you and your dog. We just say: do your research when choosing items – read reviews from real customers and use common sense.