7 basic essentials every new dog owner needs

Like many Americans, I’ve become a new dog owner in 2020.

Brian Bennett/HDOT

American pet ownership is on the rise during the pandemic. In fact, the number of households with pets is expected to increase by 4% this year. That’s up to a total of nearly 71 million homes. 

My own home is no exception. Last month we adopted a pair of 5-year-old doggies who needed a new home, and on short notice. Since then, I’ve had a crash course in basic dog gear to help keep my pooches happy. If you’ve just welcomed a furry new friend (or two) into your life like I have, or you’re planning to, this guide is for you. Here, I’ll lay out the items I recently bought, plus list a few that I’m seriously tempted to get. I’ll keep this list updated.

My dogs, especially this one, love their Furhaven memory foam dog beds. 

Brian Bennett/HDOT

Furhaven Pet dog bed

My dogs sleep a lot. And since I don’t want to encourage them crashing on human beds, dog beds are a must. These beds from Furhaven use memory foam for extra support, come in multiple colors, and have an L-shaped headrest. Both of my guys love them and take advantage of the comfortable surfaces whenever they’re nearby.

The beds come in multiple sizes, ranging from $24 for small to $126 for jumbo plus.



PupProtector Waterproof Throw Blanket

I admit this product may look a bit frivolous. Spending over $100 on a dog-friendly furniture blanket feels extravagant. That said, one of my dogs absolutely loves to sleep (and snore) on the couch. She also sheds hair like a champ. While I haven’t tried the $119 PupProtector Throw Blanket personally, from the thousands of glowing customer reviews, it sounds like a tempting way to pamper a pet. It’s also more visually interesting than the beat-up, old comforter currently on my couch.

The PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar discourages bad behavior on walks.

Brian Bennett/HDOT

PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar

For a comfortable and safe way to walk my dogs, I went with the Gentle Leader Headcollar from PetSafe. It’s highly rated by thousands of Amazon shoppers, and available in multiple colors and sizes for $16. It’s designed to discourage lunging, jumping and pulling during walks, all without choking your pet.

Frisco Refill Dog Poop Bags

Dealing with poop is part and parcel of owning a dog. While it’s not a fun chore, there are ways to mitigate the yuck factor. One is to use special bags like these from Frisco. Billed as leakproof and able to mask odors, I can confirm they get the job done with less ickiness. They beat flimsy plastic grocery bags any day of the week. The $20 kit comes with two leash dispensers as well as a box of 900 bags.

Wesen No Spill Dog Bowls

To set up feeding areas I used the Wesen No Spill Dog Bowls. Starting at $22, each kit comes with three bowls. Two are stainless steel, a 53-ounce food bowl and a 27-ounce water bowl. The third is a collapsible travel bowl designed to pack easily for trips. The last part of the package is a silicone floor mat with fitted bowl receptacles. All of it is dishwasher safe.

Brian Bennett/HDOT

Iris Airtight Food Storage Container

Kibble is intensely pungent. To keep that dog food smell from penetrating every nook and cranny of your home you’ll need to store it properly. As such, I strongly suggest the Iris Airtight Food Storage Container, available now for less than $25. The package includes a 33-quart (25-pound) dry food container along with a 12-quart (10-pound) container for treats. The units are stackable and the main container sits on rotating casters for easy movement and positioning.

Chewy Dogwood

My dogs really go to town on their Chewy Dogwood chew toys.

Brian Bennett/HDOT

Chewy Dogwood

The urge to chew objects is normal for dogs. Instead of using your furniture, socks or shoes to satisfy this need, give your pooch a chew toy to gnaw. You’ve got lots of options, but my dogs love the Chewy Dogwood, which costs $10. It’s safer and more durable than a real wood stick, and it doubles as a great fetch toy too. 

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