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Plus, some treats to spoil your new best friend down the road
Bringing a dog home is exciting and overwhelming in the best way, but it’s important to stock your home with quality dog supplies to set you and your pup up for success. Don’t make the mistake of buying out the whole pet store on day one. (We have several first time dog owners on our team, and we’ve all been there.)
Regardless of your dog’s breed, there are a few things you’ll want to have squared away before bringing your pup home. “As soon as your dog comes into your home, they are learning about their environment,” applied animal behaviorist Lillian Ciardelli, ACAAB, tells PEOPLE. She says it can help the transition to have some dog treats handy to reward good behavior as well as a barrier (whether a crate, pen, leash, gate, or just closing doors) as a tool “so your dog can safely explore and get comfortable.” Ciardelli also suggests a collar, flat leash, and enzymatic cleaner to address possible (and likely) accidents.
Of course, it’s not just about having the right supplies nearby, but also ensuring their quality. We’ve tested over 300 dog products, including dog crates, orthopedic dog beds, harnesses, brushes, and toys for tough chewers to find out which products are worth the money and which ones should be left out of your cart. Our team’s dogs span different ages, breeds, sizes, and energy levels, so we’re proud to say that the products we’re recommending are ones that work for every dog.
Read on for the best dog supplies, according to pet owners and their dogs.
Best Dog Bed: Furhaven Memory Foam Plush and Suede Sofa
This dog bed has a versatile design with sizes for every dog.
The cover can be removed for easy laundering.
It's spacious enough to let a dog stretch out but provides head support with the bolsters.
The material is soft and could potentially tear if you have a teething puppy who chews on the bed.
Finding a comfortable place for your dog to sleep is one of the best ways to ensure they feel safe upon arrival (even if they end up sharing your bed with you). To find the best dog beds, our dogs tested over 60 beds, and our absolute favorite is the Furhaven Memory Foam Plush and Suede Sofa. After all, there’s no reason not to spoil your dog with a memory foam mattress, especially when it’s only $60.
A teammate’s 75-pound Golden Retriever George made himself right at home on this plush bed. The soft bolsters provide some head support while the surface area allows a dog to stretch out, giving lots of options no matter your dog’s sleeping position. It’s available in all standard sizes and even has a cooling foam option if your dog might run hot (think thick-haired breeds like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Great Pyrenees). The zippered cover can be easily removed to wash it, and while the material might suffer a few scars if puppy teeth are involved, this is a bed that should hold up well to the daily hazards of dog life.
Price at time of publish: $63.99
Sizes: Small to Jumbo Plus | Material: Polyester, memory foam | Colors: 15 | Machine Washable: Yes (removable cover)
Best Dog Harness: Gooby Comfort X Step-In Harness
This harness has a user-friendly step-in design that you can clasp with one fastener.
The nylon material proved water-resistant, durable, and easy to clean (just rinse off in the sink when dirty and allow to dry).
This harness has adjustable, well-fitted sizing and seems comfortable on the dog.
It helped improve the dog’s walking behavior by slowing down the pace and reducing pulling.
It’s not reflective for night walks, but many good harnesses aren’t, so it’s not a dealbreaker.
A harness provides more security than a dog collar, since it’s harder for a dog to slip out of — a reassuring quality if you live in an urban environment and have to walk your dog on busy streets. We tested 23 dog harnesses on our dogs, taking them on extra walks to test the products (much to their delight!) and the Gooby Comfort X Step-In Harness came out on top.
The design is sturdy, functional, and comfortable for your dog. It takes no time to put on, especially with the step-in design and single fastener. The nylon material is water-resistant: Just as perfect for rainy day walks as on sunny days. It’s not a fabric that dirties easily, but if it does, you can wash it in the sink and let it dry. It has double D-rings to clip the leash on, which creates more security and peace of mind when walking your dog, and the way it sits around the dog’s chest actually slows them down a little, which can help for dogs that tend to pull. Given the quality and functionality of this dog harness, it was an easy decision to rate it as our best pick.
Price at time of publish: $20.13–$26.52
Material: Nylon, faux suede | Sizes: S–XL | Colors: 9 | Fasteners: 1 | Type: Step-in harness, back attachment for leash
Best Dog Brush: FURminator Undercoat deShedding Tool
This dog brush is simple to hold and maneuver around your dog’s body to catch all loose fur.
It doesn’t catch on tangles and gets a significant amount of loose undercoat fur.
It has a release button to easily clean the brush of all the fur it’s collected.
The larger size is a little more expensive than other brushes we tested (but worth it).
A dog brush is a basic grooming essential you’ll want to have when your new dog arrives. Whether on bath day, or any time your dog is shedding, a good brush can help remove excess fur, keep your dog’s coat healthy, and reduce the amount of dog-hair dust bunnies around your home. As we tested more than 20 dog brushes on our furry friends, the Furminator easily stood out for its performance.
This brush is comfortable to hold with its cushioned ergonomic handle, and it’s easy to maneuver around legs, neck fur, and other tough-to-brush parts of your dog. During our test, the brush moved efficiently through fur without catching on tangles or causing any discomfort. “I use it to help remove mats from my Golden Retriever and it doesn’t seem to bother her at all,” says PEOPLE senior commerce writer Madison Yauger. It brushes away a significant amount of loose undercoat hair, and you can clean it by pressing the button to release all the hair from the brush.
Price at time of publish: $28–$42.97
Sizes: S, M, L | Hair Lengths: Short, long | Bristle Material: Stainless steel
Best Dog Food Storage Container: IRIS Airtight Food Storage Container & Scoop Combo
This design offers versatility with two chambers and wheels to move it around.
It’s made with a durable material that’s easy to wipe down.
The container held up to impacts used to simulate hungry dogs knocking it over.
It wasn’t the most airtight container of all the ones we tested.
Dog food is one of the more obvious supplies you’ll need upfront, but it can also be helpful to buy an actual food storage container to keep the food fresh longer. We tested an assortment of the most popular dog food storage containers, and the Iris Airtight Food Storage Container was the clear winner. The design is user-friendly with a simple latch, but the dual containers offer plenty of space if you have two dogs with different foods.
The wheels make it easy to move in and out of a pantry, and it comes with a scoop for added convenience. To simulate a hungry dog trying to get into the container, we kicked and tried to knock the container over and it held up against each impact. Plus, you can clean it by simply wiping it down with a damp paper towel.
Price at time of publish: $36.99
Airtight: Mostly, with some water exposure | Colors: 4 | Extra Features: wheels, double compartment and an added scoop | Capacity: 45 quarts | Dimensions: 16.5 x 10.8 x 18.6 inches
Best Dog Crate: MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate
Setup was simple, and you can fold it back in on itself if you need it to travel.
The bottom pan pulls out for easy cleaning in case of accidents.
It comes in a good range of sizes to fit any dog.
During our impact test, the door warped slightly.
The larger sizes are expensive.
Not all dogs need or even like a crate, but it can be a solid purchase for puppies or newly adopted pets. We tested 20 dog crates by looking at assembly, design, portability, and durability.
We actually rated the Petmate Pet Kennel the highest, but it’s designed for small dogs, so for the sake of providing the best recommendations for any dog you might bring home, we think the MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate is a great starter crate. It’s easy to set up, has two doors for dual-entry and a pull-out pan for easy cleaning should your dog have an accident, and it folds up for portability. We tested the impacts by throwing sandbags against it and yanking on the door, and though there was minor damage, it wasn’t enough to cause concern, so we think it could stand up to regular puppy behavior.
Price at time of publish: $25.99–$100.99 (depending on size)
Sizes: 7 available, 28–48 inches | Weight: 8-43 pounds | Material: Metal | Closure: Side-bolt latches
Best Cooling Dog Bed: Amazon Basics Cooling Elevated Pet Bed
Durable mesh material is easy to hose down and durable against claw marks and teeth.
Ideal for dogs that run hot and need a cooling option
Provides good support and a comfortable place for your dog to rest
It’s very firm, so if your dog needs a softer bed for any reason, look for another option.
The legs are screwed in, so it’s not easy to dismantle if you wanted to travel with it.
One reason you might consider a cooling dog bed like the Amazon Basics Cooling Elevated Pet Bed is because some dogs are actually more used to them (Yauger has volunteered at animal shelters in every city she’s lived in and all have primarily used these types of beds). In addition to literally being cooler to the touch than a soft plush bed — which tends to warm up with body heat faster — dog cooling beds are quite comfortable for dogs (almost like a more supportive version of a hammock).
We’d especially recommend these beds if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors with your dog (Let’s say you’re gardening, and your dog likes to “supervise.") You should always be on the lookout for signs your dog is overheating, but a cooling bed is a great way to keep your pup comfy if they prefer to accompany you outdoors. The bed offers a breathable mesh material that keeps them cool in warmer seasons, and you can easily hose it off if it gets dirty. During our cooling beds test, the Amazon Basics option proved highly durable with the same dog (good ole George) testing its limits. George frequently digs into his beds before lying down and this bed took the claw marks in stride showing no tears, rips, or other damage. The only con, if we have to choose one, is that the bed isn’t portable; you have to unscrew the legs to remove them and pack it up.
Price at time of publish: $29.56–$45.55 (depending on size)
Sizes: XS–XL | Assembly: Yes | Material: Mesh
Best Dog Pen: Frisco Wire Dog & Small Pet Exercise Pen with Step-Through Door
Versatile setup options; can create multiple shapes depending on preference
Made with a durable metal that will hold up against puppy teeth
Comes in a range of heights to accommodate different dog breeds and stages of life
The larger sizes are somewhat heavy which makes them a little more challenging to fold up and move.
Coated metal could potentially rust or have the paint chipped if left outside for extended periods of time.
Most people think of using dog pens when you get a puppy, and honestly, it’s a sound choice. Puppies can be quite tough on floors, furniture, and anything they can get their teeth on when in the chewing phase. (Back in the day, one of our editor’s puppies even chewed through drywall in a moment of boredom.) So, a dog pen can keep their playtime contained to a safe space (both for them and your home). But a pen can also be beneficial to have for dogs of all ages, especially when they’re getting used to a new space.
For instance, senior dogs or rescue dogs might not be housebroken, and you can use a pen to block off certain areas that you want to protect from accidents (most, including this dog pen, can be shaped around a dog or expanded to act like a wall). “I even used a pen to cordon off the area around my bed when my dog was spayed because she kept trying to jump up, which was a no-no for her recovery,” says Yauger.
When we tested dog pens, we looked at ease of setup and use, versatility, and portability. The Frisco Wire Dog & Small Pet Exercise Pen checked every box. It comes in five sizes to accommodate various dog breeds (and ages), and can be set up in various shapes like a rectangle, square, hexagon, or as mentioned, spread out like a wall (you connect it with included clips to hold the shape). It’s sturdy, and though the larger sizes are heavier and therefore not the easiest to move, it’s still feasible to fold up if you need to take it on a trip or move it for any reason.
Price at time of publish: $38.24–$61.19 (depending on size)
Sizes: 24 to 48 inches tall | Individual panel width: 24 inches | Security feature: Two side-bolt latches | Weight: 18 to 32 lbs. | Setup shapes: Rectangle, square, hexagon, or straight like a wall (but would need to be secured if using that way) | Material: Coated metal
Best Dog Toy for Tough Chewers: Chew King Fetch Balls Extremely Durable Dog Toy Balls
These fetch balls immediately became a favorite toy for our tester’s dogs.
Comes in a range of sizes for multiple dogs or pets of different sizes
The durable rubber is easy to clean and hard to damage by sharp teeth, claws or other means.
The material makes the balls a little heavy, so they could potentially cause damage if thrown or played with indoors.
The treats didn’t stay inside the ball very well, so you might have to use a larger treat to utilize that feature.
While it’s not a survival need per say, providing your dog with a little toy upon arrival is a nice way to welcome them home. Plus, it can give them something to play with or carry around as a security item while they settle in. We conducted a toy test for tough chewers, but there are many great dog toy options depending on the type of pup you get. There are specific toys designed for teething puppies as well as softer plush toys for older dogs.
However, our best overall toy is a universal favorite — it’s a ball, well actually, a set of them. This particular set comes with a range of sizes so your dog can play with different versions as they grow, or it can even serve multiple dogs if you have pets of varying sizes. Our tester dogs loved playing fetch with this toy and chased it around the yard with glee. The dogs frequently carried around the balls and chewed on them, but no rubber fragments ever broke off. And if they get a little grimey after so much attention, you can wash them off easily. Plus, they come with a hole inside to store treats for an added level of fun for your dog.
Price at time of publish: $36.20
Type: Treat-holding ball | Material: Rubber | Sizes: Comes with three sizes for different sized dogs | Suitable For: Dogs of all ages
Best Orthopedic Dog Bed: FurHaven Ultra Plush Luxe Lounger Orthopedic Dog Bed
Thoughtful design that provides supportive cushioning for dogs with orthopedic issues
Lightweight and easy to move indoors, outdoors, or to another room, if needed
The cover is completely washable and can be thrown in the laundry machine for easy cleaning.
This bed also is susceptible to chewing due to the soft covering material.
If you’re adding a senior dog to your family, or any dog with mobility issues, you should consider starting off with an orthopedic dog bed. The classic design works for dogs of all sizes with plenty of space whether your dog sleeps curled up in a ball or on their backs with their paws in the air like a zombie (absolutely speaking from personal experience). We tested orthopedic dog beds with the help of our trusted canines, and the FurHaven Ultra Plush Luxe Lounger Orthopedic Bed was a clear winner in this category.
The bed hits all the marks: It’s comfortable, easy to wash, and lightweight enough to move around your house where needed. The orthopedic foam core is designed to support your dog while they sleep, helping to cushion stiff joints while still providing a soft place to rest. Our dog parents had no issues moving the bed inside or outside to accommodate their dogs throughout the day. Plus, the covering is completely washable (though it may not fully resist puppy teeth or dogs who like to chew on their beds).
Price at time of publish: $66.99
Size: Small to Jumbo Plus | Colors: 18 | Weight: 4.8 pounds | Material: Faux fur, solid Orthopedic foam core | Machine Washable: Yes
More Dog Supplies to Consider
While you might not need the following items the first day you bring your new pup home, these pet supplies can absolutely come in handy down the road. And we've tested all of them, so we can confidently tell you that they are the best.
If you need to leave your dog for extended time during the day, a pet camera like the Eufy Dog Camera can help give you peace of mind. We tested 17 top-rated pet cameras and this one stood out for its usability, performance, and special features, in addition to a handy app.
Price at time of publish: $139.99
If you have a dog, but especially a long-haired dog, you’re going to want to invest in a pet hair vacuum. You might be thinking, “They can’t shed that much can they?” Let us assure you, they can and they will. The Samsung Jet 75 vacuum does it all — its versatility extends to three modes, working on any floor type, navigating corners and furniture, and picking up an impressive amount of fur. Plus, it’s quiet, so it’s less likely to scare your new pup.
Price at time of publish: $319
Though admittedly expensive, the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Test is worth it if you have questions about your dog’s ancestry — especially if you’re adopting and the rescue doesn’t have information on the dog’s history. Yauger used this dog DNA test to assess her dog’s background after adoption and the whole process was seamless. It also can provide some health information and predisposition to certain conditions, and it can even tell you if your dog has other genetic relations in your area, given other owners who have submitted created profiles via the dog DNA test.
Price at time of publish: $84.99
If you live in a cold climate, you might consider adding a dog jacket to your cart. Remember, your furry friends can get cold too, and the Little Beast Super Duper Reversible Parka Vest proved the best dog outerwear during our test. (It was well-received by a dog who normally hates clothing.) The material proved durable even on the rainiest walks, and the silhouette sizing was spot on and seemed comfortable on our tester’s pet.
Price at time of publish: $88
While this tracker is expensive (since you have to pay a subscription fee on top of the product price), when we tested GPS dog trackers, the Jiobit proved its worth. It works via an app you can control from your phone, and it lets you set up a virtual geofence, so you’ll get notified if your dog leaves that area.
Price at time of publish: $129.99 (with yearly subscription)
This won’t apply to owners of large dogs, but if you have a small dog and find yourself needing a backpack carrier to tote them through an airport or in the subway, the Jespet & Goopaws carrier was a favorite during testing. It can accommodate dogs up to 16 pounds and has two ventilated openings so you can wear it on your back or turn it on its side like a regular carrier. The backpack has adjustable and comfortable straps, a machine-washable mat cover, and extra pockets to store treats and other supplies.
Price at time of publish: $49.99
If you live with a dog, you will discover the joys and woes of pet hair everywhere: on your clothes, on your furniture, truly, everywhere. But it’s super manageable if you have a good pet hair remover like the Analan Mini Pet Hair Remover Brush, which ranked highest during our test. It works on armrests, car seats, pillows, and everything in between. Plus, it is easy to use and reasonably-priced considering the quality.
Price at time of publish: $15.99
How We Tested Dog Supplies
We’re rounding out this list from 16 different tests (and counting) so rather than regale you with the intricacies of each, here’s a general overview of how we test dog supplies:
Each product is thoroughly vetted through a series of tests that measure different qualities — for instance, durability. With crates, that test involved our team launching sandbags at the sides of the crate and yanking on the door when it was latched to see how sturdy each dog crate really was. With dog harnesses, our test took on a more daily use angle, such as exposure to rain, gnawing teeth, and checking for wear like fraying or loose strings.
In many cases, we also looked at ease of cleaning because dogs are (laughably and sometimes, regrettably) messy. A dog bed would receive a higher rating if the cover was machine washable, and our team favored toys that can be regularly rinsed or washed to extend their lifespan. (It’s always devastating to have to throw away your pet’s preferred toys.)
The main criterion is always performance: Does the thing do what it’s supposed to? Does it do it well? We’re tough critics, but our dogs are tougher. We were delighted when a dog jacket was accepted by one tester’s dog who loathes clothing. We were also super impressed with how much information our best DNA Test supplied on the newest canine member of our team.
We look at all of these qualities, and then we look at them again, with long-term testing in place to see how the quality holds up over time. Plus, we’re always adding new tests to the docket, so while there are some basics like leashes and collars that we don’t have insights for yet, we have more testing insights on the way. So keep checking in with this story to see our latest favorites as we continue to add to this supply list for first-time dog owners.
Things to Consider Before Buying Dog Supplies
A dog’s age can affect what items you decide to buy. “If [you’re getting] a puppy, they are likely to grow out of and destroy things (by chewing, ripping, having accidents),” says Ciardelli. “In the beginning you'll want to buy inexpensive and/or washable things. Or just be prepared to replace it!” For those getting large breed puppies, she suggests items “that can grow with your dog” such as an adjustable harness or a crate with a moveable divider. (We love the MidWest Homes for Pets iCrate.)
“Measure your dog to get the appropriate sized harnesses and leashes,” says Ciardelli. “You will also want to make sure you get toys or balls that are appropriately sized for your dog so they aren't choking hazards.” Additionally, certain breeds’ size also plays into strength — ”If you have a breed with a strong jaw, look for a tough chewer line of toys,” she adds, suggesting brands like Kong or Bullymake. Our tester dogs’ personal favorite is the Chew King Fetch Balls Extremely Durable 8-Pack.
This won’t apply as much to puppies (though it does in some cases!), but if you are rescuing a dog, you should consider its history when making purchase decisions. “If you are rescuing a pup who has a history of biting or fear of people or animals, barriers will be especially important to make sure they have a safe zone to be in when you have visitors or just to take breaks,” says Ciardelli. In that case, a pen like the Frisco Wire Dog & Small Pet Exercise Pen would come in handy.
And keep in mind, a dog’s behavior may change the longer you have them, so don’t take the first few days or even the first few months as law. “If you have a shy or adult dog, start with a few items but don't overwhelm them,” she adds. “It can take three months for a dog to adjust to their new home, and they might not be willing to play right away. Give them time to show you their play preferences and habits before you invest in too many fancy toys or dog beds.” Our editors can confirm this, as one of their rescue dogs showed no interest in toys for months, and then one day started playing with one. Now there are toys littered all over her apartment. So, echoing Ciardelli, sometimes you just have to give rescue dogs time and space to figure out that play can be a part of their new life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I buy dog supplies before coming home?
There are a few basic dog supplies you’ll want on hand immediately when you bring a dog home. The most important supplies you should buy before you physically go get the dog are dog food, a bed, dog bowls, and some dog treats (never hurts!). Ciardelli recommends having a “six to eight-foot flat leash that can be used on walks and in the house to prevent jumping on guests.” She also suggests putting your contact information on your dog’s collar tag in case they get loose.
And an added expert tip: “Look into pet insurance! Some pet insurances cover behavior modification, so even if you're lucky enough not to have any major ER bills during the pet's lifetime (which would be very unusual), pet insurance can cover behavioral support.”
Does a dog’s breed affect what supplies you get?
Generally no, all dogs need basic supplies like bowls, beds, leashes, and dog food, but in some cases, a dog’s breed can inform the size of some of these items. For instance, you’re going to have a different shopping list for a Chihuahua than you will for a Great Dane.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Madison Yauger is a senior commerce writer for PEOPLE who’s tested hundreds of lifestyle products across all categories. With a background in news and lifestyle journalism, she has a wide network of expert sources and a penchant for accuracy. For this story, she interviewed applied animal behaviorist Lillian Ciardelli of Behave Atlanta LLC. Yauger also used testing insights from 16 different tests we held in our lab and in various testers’ homes. She reflected on her own experience as a first time pet owner and what supplies came in handy immediately with her rescue pup versus those that were a nice splurge later on. Using all of this information, she compiled the absolute best supplies that first time pet owners need when bringing home a dog.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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Read the original article on People.