Yay! You’ve made the decision to adopt a puppy, and a long-standing dream has come true. Now what?

First of all, congratulate yourself! A dog is a rewarding pet, and choosing one carefully should ensure years of happiness for your family.

Next, think well about how you will care for your newcomer. He will have very practical daily needs: food, safety, exercise, and grooming. Your thoughtful preparation will help him adapt quickly to your home, and minimize any frustrations with adjustments and training.

Here are seven basic supplies I recommend with any small dog.

1. Crate

Your puppy most likely comes from a place of living in close contact with other dogs: his mother and siblings. He will want a small place that he knows is always safe and cozy. A crate is perfect – for use as a nighttime bed (making sure your new friend does not wander or harm himself), a carrier (nice for vet checks, park dates, and all sorts of travel), and a starting place for bathroom training.

Crate training is among the easiest ways to housetrain a new doggie. Dogs rarely soil their own beds. While I didn’t keep my puppy enclosed for long periods of time, developing a routine of taking her to do her business after each nighttime and nap made training much more simple.

Don’t ever use the crate for discipline. You want your puppy to LOVE her bed and enjoy time spent there. She will likely seek it out for comfort and snuggle times, if you keep its door open for her during the day.

My preference is a sturdy two-door crate, but you can also get soft-sided versions or crates on wheels. There are a lot of options out there!

2. Bed pad

With the crate, of course, I recommend a snuggly pad – easy to throw in the washing machine anytime it gets soiled or smelly. This one has lasted us for two years, still in decent condition!

3. Retractable leash

You’ll want a tiny leash for a tiny dog. When our puppy Skye was eight weeks old, she could hardly hold her weight against this extra-small retractable leash, and we had to set it in place for her. ???? So adorable. But retractable leashes are awesome, avoiding lots of tangles and wrappings. As Skye grew to adulthood, the same leash remained our first choice, durable and perfect for a small dog.

Add a harness if desired, to protect your tiny dog’s neck and head by shifting the weight of the leash toward his shoulders and body. No, you will not pull on the leash – but he probably will!

4. Water and food dishes

I like stainless steel – not prone to holding bacteria, easy to clean, unscathed by those sharp puppy teeth. A rubber bottom will keep the dishes from scooting around on the floor. This set of two can be purchased in any size, for different sizes of dog.

5. Quality food

Puppies may need soft food to supplement their diets at first, but all dogs benefit from kibble to keep their teeth in good shape. I’m not a high-end dog food shopper, but I choose food based on real meats, grains, and vegetables, instead of fillers that make a dog eat (and poop) a lot more. Quality dog food also improves overall health and coat condition.

We’ve used Pedigree for years, because that’s what our dog’s breeder recommended, and we’ve been happy with its ingredients and value. But as I was doing my research for this post, I found conflicting information: either that Pedigree is not a highly recommended brand because it uses bone meal and grains etc, OR that it compares nicely with more expensive brands, for a far more affordable price.

So I went looking for better brands, and guess what? People love and hate EVERY BRAND of dog food out there – even top-of-the-line brands. I found one-star reviews by people who talked about lead poisoning and lawsuits and diarrhea, right next to five-star reviews by people who claimed the brand healed everything that was wrong with their doggie. Go figure. Basically, do your own research and go with what you feel good about.

6. Simple grooming supplies

I use a wire brush for home grooming. This professional grade, self-cleaning brush comes with a metal comb, good for dogs with curls or long hair. I keep flea-resistant shampoo in stock around here, as well as a soft towel for after baths. The less baths the better for your puppy’s skin – only wash him when he smells unpleasant. Otherwise, gentle brushing or face washing is sufficient.

(You may want doggie deodorant and a good carpet cleaner on hand, just in case.)

7. Toys

All puppies like to chew, and it doesn’t take them that long to figure out which toys are THEIRS and which are no-no. You will likely have a few no-no’s chewed up before this training is over, but it helps to have a few good, exciting toys on hand. Our dog likes a ball to chase, a fetch toy for playtime, and a hard bone to really gnaw on.

There you have it! Our basic recommendations for start-up supplies to go with your new puppy.

Hope you enjoy this puppy-prep process as much as we do!

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