5 Essentials for Bringing Home Your Puppy

From time to time, The Good Stuff Unlimited will highlight a guest writer to help us share different perspectives on their, well, Good Stuff!  We can't thank these key members of the Good Stuff Unlimited Community enough and we hope you'll enjoy their contribution.  As we did for our first Dogs! post, we've asked Cassie V. to share more about her journey as a newbie dog owner but this time focused more on what you may want to consider buying before your puppy arrives.  

By Cassie V., Guest Writer

Decided to get a puppy? That’s awesome! You’re in for years of fun, love and loyalty. You are also in for a TON of “must have” products. It’s overwhelming to say the least, especially if this is your first puppy, like it was for my family.  We had no real idea what we needed and just started buying stuff.  Not all of it was good, but we learned from our mistakes and there are a lot of great items out there to make your life easier and your puppy’s transition smoother.  So, the Good Stuff has developed this Good Stuff Guide detailing, in our view, the five essentials you need to have before you bring your puppy home.  Because we have a larger breed of dog, some of the items are geared towards medium or large dogs so if you have a smaller breed you may need to look at some of the other options our recommended manufacturers offer.  

1.  A Good Crate 

Let’s start with the most obvious - CRATES!  Your lovable pup needs a place to sleep, but even more importantly, a little den to make him or her feel safe. My recommendation is to borrow a crate for the first few months if possible, to get a sense of your dog’s growth and how they like to sleep. Our dog started off in a crate that we purchased based on his projected weight of 35 lbs. What we didn’t know was that he would have very long legs and prefer to sleep “superman” style most of the time.  We moved him up to a huge crate at 6 months so he’d have room to stretch out when he wants to.  Two friends have since borrowed all of Hamilton’s small crate items, including bedding. If you can’t borrow a crate, consider what you think your pups weight will be, and then consider going a little larger.  Don’t worry, crates come with adjustable middle “dividers” so you can make it small and then move the bar as needed until it’s time to simply remove it.  There are a lot of crate options, all of which different sizes available.  Some of the more popular options include:

Product Product Brief Product Image
MidWest Homes for Pets - Single Door & Double Door Folding Metal Dog Crates - 2 doors with side bolt latches for easy access and security
- Roller feet which allows you to move the crate easily
- Folds flat for easy storage/carry
- Leak-proof pan with pan stop
- For 41 to 70 pound dogs; size: 36 x 23 x 25 inches
MidWest Homes for Pets - iCrate Starter Kit - Includes everything a new dog owner needs - A 2-door iCrate, a dog bed, a crate cover & two quart pet bowls that affix to the dog crate
- Size: 36 x 23 x 25 inches when assembled
AmazonBasics Folding Metal Dog Crate - Comes in single or double door designs
- Two slide-bolt door latches
- Folds flat for easy storage/carry
- Size: 36 x 23 x 25 inches
- For 25 to 90 pound dogs
Carlson Pet Products Secure and Foldable Single Door Metal Dog Crate - Single door design with latch system
- Size: 30 x 19 x 21 inches
- Removable leak pan
- Foldable system for portability, storage and car travel
- For up to 45 pound dogs
2.  Cozy Nooks

There are a lot of ways to make the crate go from a ‘cold’ metal cage  to a cozy nook.  To start with, we put a cover on our crate so that Hamilton would feel safe. Then we purchased a cushy crate pad and, initially, covered it with piddle pads and then old towels on top.  Once we felt we were past any accidents, we removed the towels and piddle pads and he had a cozy place to snooze.  We also had a “mama blanket” and Snuggle Puppy, which are still in his crate.  When crate training, we had several soft toys to make his crate an even better experience for him (Read more about some of our soft toy suggestions here).  You can even put a dog bed in your crate if that’s what your dog prefers. There are a lot of dog bed options out there and most people like to have a couple around the house or apartment. We started with a small bed and then moved up as he grew. Check out some highly rated crate covers, crate pads, and beds below:

Crate Covers
MidWest Dog Crate Cover Image
X-ZONE PET Indoor/Outdoor Dog Crate Cover Image
AmazonBasics Dog Metal Crate Cover Image

Crate Pads
PETSGO Super Soft Crate Mat Image
Barkbox Memory Foam Platform Dog Bed Image
Hero Dog Dog Bed Mat Crate Pad Anti Slip Mattress Image


Furhaven Pet - Plush Orthopedic Sofa Image
MidWest Homes for Pets Deluxe Super Plush Pet Beds Image
MFOX Calming Dog Bed for Medium and Large Dogs Image


3: Puppy Zones

You will want to consider your space and where you want your puppy to be able to go at first when you have to leave the house or just need a break. And don’t feel bad when you need a break - puppies are a ton of work!  We created a puppy zone and filled it with toys and his extra bed.  Some people baby gate certain rooms which gives your lovable pooch more freedom to roam. Another idea is to use a long leash tied to a table leg to give your dog some freedom without worrying about flip-flops being eaten (this has happened to us. Hamilton also shredded our daughter’s school work into confetti, but that’s another story….) You can also use a long leash for training purposes. Within your zone, you will want to create a fun space with access to toys and cuddly animals.  Some great options include to help prevent boredom.  Chew toys are a “must” for you pup as well - try rotating several to keep it more interesting for him. You can put a special chew toy in your crate to make your sweet friend even happier (read more about some of our chew toys and cuddly animals here)!  Some of our favorites include playpens, gates and long leashes include: 

AmazonBasics Foldable Metal Pet Exercise and Playpen Image
New World Pet Products Foldable Metal Exercise Pen & Pet Playpen Image
Midwest Homes for Pets Folding Metal Exercise Pen Image


Carlson Extra Wide Walk Through Pet Gate with Small Pet Door Image
Freestanding Pet Gate Panel Image
Magic Dog Gate Image


Long Leashes
AmaGood Dog/Puppy Obedience Leash 15ft-50ft Image
Hi Kiss Dog/Puppy Obedience Leash 15-100 ft Image
lynxking Check Cord Dog Lead Long Dog Training Leash Image

4. Treats for training

Want to have a great dog that can sit & stay on command and is comfortable around people and other dogs? And a dog that doesn’t bark like crazy? Don’t we all. That takes effort my friends, and as our breeder said, “people don’t work for free and neither do dogs!” Truer words were never spoken. Hamilton will do almost anything for a Zuke’s Peanut Butter & Oat treat! It’s really fun of course to teach your puppy things like ‘roll over’, ‘shake’ and ‘hug’, but there is so much more to it than fun “tricks.” You can work with your furry family member on commands that help keep him safe, such as ‘leave it,’ ‘drop it,’ ‘sit,’ and ‘stay,’ as well as getting along nicely with other dogs. There are so many treats on the market but for training the key is SOFT treats. Your dog needs to be able associate the command with the treat and hard biscuits and little bones take too long to eat. Save the harder treats for their crate or as a distraction when you leave the house.  Some great options are:

Soft treats

Hard Treats and Biscuits

With the addition of our pool this summer, Hamilton has regressed a bit (okay, a lot) with ‘leave it’ and ‘drop it’ and if he’s in a wild, “look at me” mood, he will merrily run off with flip-flops, goggles, shirts and even towels. Very frustrating!  He’s such a smart, sweet dog and I know we can work on it with the right training. It will be a combination of treats, noises to startle him and a favorite bone to distract him. But it’s hard to carry all of that, SO enter the 3 pocket apron! (LINK: Fame 3 Pocket Waist Apron) My vanity prevented me from ordering such an apron for training when he was a puppy, but I recently ordered one and have already used it several days in a row. My husband says it’s hysterical watching me from the upstairs window, but I am so happy with it!  And, I was able to startle Hamilton away from this flip-flop I planted.  He did take off with the old hat I put out, but I got it back fairly quickly.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes, but I will take the small victories. Hooray!

5. Gear

First up - a collar. At first we had a small snap collar with his tags attached. I still remember how excited the kids were to engrave his name and number on it. The problem was that Hamilton somehow got the tags off on a regular basis when he was little which was a bit stressful. Pretty quickly we upgraded to an personalized collar which has been terrific. There are several options of course and it all depends on the style you prefer:


Once your collar has been selected, you will need to attach it to something, right? Right! We started Hamilton on little walks as soon as we brought him home so that he would not only get used to a harness and leash, but also so that we could work on little 5 minute training exercises. Once again, there are so many options out there.  If you are training your puppy or even older dog, consider a light harness or Martingale-style collar that allows your dog to feel your pulls. If your dog is good on a leash, and doesn’t pull you, you might be able to just use a regular collar and leash.  We started with an easy-harness as we wanted him to feel all our little tugs and pulls. We now have a padded harness and as soon as he sees it, he knows it’s walk time! There are regular leashes and retractable leashes. If you don’t have a fenced yard, consider a stake to keep your dog safe and for playing. There are a number of leash lengths so your dog will have lots of space to move around.  When we first brought Hamilton home, we only had part of our yard fenced in. We didn’t think that as a puppy he could get away from us, but he flew by my son like a streak of brown cotton and nearly escaped. He was crazy fast! We fast-tracked finishing our fence but as a precaution used a stake too.

Harnesses & Leashes

Enjoy your puppy! I’ve got my apron tied and I’m off to work on training...😉

You can also learn more about each of the products above by clicking here.

If you have additional ideas on what we should add to this guide or suggestions for other post ideas in the spirit of The Good Stuff Unlimited, please let us know.  Until next time, here's to finding time for your Good Stuff!

The TGSU Team!




Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published