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Newly adopted dog

Dog Adoption | New Dog Checklist

When you adopt a new dog, it can seem overwhelming. What food do you need? What types of toys?

Here, we give you a new dog checklist that covers everything from toys to mental enrichment to accessories.

Whether it’s your first dog or your fifth, getting a new dog is an exciting time.

You are about to bring home a furry friend who has the potential to be your best friend, your constant companion, or your fur-child (guilty here of that one!)

So before the visit to the shelter to foster the new family member we have prepared a list of the basic requirements.

Dog adoption checklist:

  • Dog food
  • Bowls for food & water
  • Collar 
  • Leash
  • Identification tags
  • Dog bed
  • Dog toys
  • Dog Treats
  • Harness
  • Brush/Comb
  • Dog-specific toothbrush and paste
  • Dog-specific shampoo & conditioner
  • Kennel
  • Microchip
  • Crate or carrier
  • Nail clippers, grinder, or file
  • Poop bags
new dog owner checklist

Important Dog Supplies

Let’s dig deeper into what must-have supplies you’ll need when adopting a new dog.


When you get your pup home, you’ll want to grab some food that is exactly the same as what was given to them at the rescue shelter. Then, you do a slow transition from the shelter’s food to your preferred brand.

Next, you need to do a little research. Look up which food brand is best for your dog’s age (puppy vs. transitional vs. adult vs. senior), as well as their breed.

Some dogs need specific diets tailored to their gastrointestinal needs, as well as their coat and skin health.

You want to slowly introduce the new food into your dog’s diet to avoid diarrhea and constipation.

Start with an 80/20 shelter food and new food and gradually over the next two weeks transition to the newer, better quality food.


When you’re ready to bring your new pet home, picking out a set of bowls that are specifically for them for food and water, might be one of the first things you think of.

Buy a bowl size that correlates to the size of your dog. The smaller the dog, the smaller the bowl, and vice versa.

You might even want to consider a smaller bowl for puppies, and then a larger bowl for when they grow into their full size.


You want a collar that is right for your pet.

Choosing the right type of training supplies for your adopted dog can make a big difference when creating those first rules and boundaries. Various types of collars include: 

  • Martingale
  • Classic
  • Slip
  • Limited-slip
  • Head halter
  • Prong
  • E-collar


A dog leash will be one of the essential dog supplies you will require. In many locations in the U.S. and around the world, it is required by law to have your dog on a leash if you are out in public.

The minimum recommendation is a four-foot leash, but as your fur-friend grows, you may wish to upgrade to a longer type.

Types of leashes include:

  • Standard
  • Stretch
  • Long-line
  • Retractable
  • Ultra-durable

ID Tag

If a disaster happens, and your four-legged friend gets lost, you want to be prepared.

The easiest way to do so is to make sure your dog wears an ID tag on their collar or harness.

The tag should be customized with current information, such as their name and your phone number in the event they somehow get lost.

A subcategory of this is your microchip, which you’ll want to make sure to register for your dog.

Losing your pet is very stressful, and microchips can help your pet find their way home.

Dog bed

Dog beds are a great way to ensure your dog feels safe and comfortable in your home. Make sure you consider your dog’s current size and age. 

It is a good idea to plan ahead when picking a bed, and make sure it will be big enough for when they are fully grown.

If you are adopting an older dog, you may need a softer bed that provides more support.

adopted dog with a ball


Toys are a great way to bond with your new dog as well as providing mental enrichment and preventing boredom.


Treats are more than just a way to spoil your dog: they are a valuable part of training .

Dog treats are a great way to help reinforce good behavior, train your pup, and reward them for activities you approve of.

Long-lasting chews are a great option and will help keep your pet entertained, and dental treats are a great way to maintain proper oral health.


Often times, a collar isn’t a good fit for your dog. If you need a harness due to pulling, getting a non-pull harness can aid in learning walking manners.

In addition, certain breeds will have body types that need a harness over a regular collar.

Greyhounds, for example, have heads that are smaller than their neck.  A martingale is a good harness for this body type, so they can’t slip their collars.

Harnesses can also be used as well as a collar.

Brush, Comb, or other de-shedder

Depending on the coat of your dog, you may need a simple brush or a more advanced shedding-specific brush.

Some dogs, like Huskies, have two types of coats and need a tool that can help to remove dead hair trapped beneath new hair.

Your vet will be able to answer any questions on the kind of grooming tool that best suits your dog’s breed.

Canine toothbrush and paste

Reduce vet dentist trips and brush your adopted dog’s teeth at home.

Dogs can’t use human toothpaste, it is toxic to them, so look for an enzymatic dog toothpaste instead.

Alternatively, a specifically formulated dog dental care treat can help maintain optimal oral health.

Doggy shampoo and conditioner

The need for regular washes will depend on your dog’s breed. Some are okay with once every four weeks, while others may need bi-weekly baths.

Depending on the season, shampoo and conditioner that is formulated for fleas and ticks may be helpful.

Check with your vet on the best timetable for your dog’s breed.


Kennels come in all types of styles, ranging from hard plastic to foldable metal crates.

Crates provide a safe place for dogs to decompress from the stress of a new environment.

If you get a soft dog crate, it helps when traveling, so that your dog has their “house” and safe space in new places.

Consider the eventual full size of your dog and the size of the crate they will need. 

Shelter life can be very stressful, so your new family member is going to appreciate having their own belongings instead of sharing with the other dogs in the shelter.

What other things adopted dogs may need

While some of these items might not be an immediate necessity, they are useful tools that can help even the most seasoned dog owner in their every day lives. 

Nail grinder, clippers, or file

Once you’ve earned their trust, you will need to clip their nails. Nail trimmers are a cheaper alternative to taking your pet to the groomer.

Some dogs will be okay with clippers, and some can be transitioned into grinders, while others will not allow anyone to touch their nails.

Introduce your preferred method slowly.

Filing dogs nails at home

Absorbent paper towels

Super-absorbent paper towels are a necessity, especially with a new puppy or a dog not used to being inside.

Accidents will happen, and it’s crucial to have towels on-hand to clean up any messes.

House-training pads

Especially with puppies, absorbent training pads are a great way to teach potty training.

Non-toxic cleaners

Pet-safe cleaners are essential for the health of your pet. Some products contain bleach or other chemicals that can poison and be harmful to your pets.

Enzymatic odor neutralizer

Dogs and humans alike excrete an odor. With an enzymatic odor neutralizer, you can help reduce the “dog smell” in your home.

Poop bags

Plastic or biodegradable poop bags are the perfect dog supply for when you’re outside your home.

Many of these can come in handy carrying containers that connect to your pet’s leash.

Portable Dog Fence

A portable dog fence is an excellent tool for introducing new cats or dogs to existing animals.

They are also a good way to keep your new fur-friend out of rooms in your house.

These are a great tool to introduce your dog to your home slowly or to create dog-specific areas that make your new dog feel safer.

Travel accessories

One travel accessory that many dog owners forget about is travel dog bowls.

Collapsible, portable water bowls are very convenient for long walks, hiking, and even when you go to the dog park.

Having a portable water bowl will provide you with safe and immediate access to a bowl specifically for your pet.

Foldable soft crates are a great way to travel with smaller pets out in public.

Adopted dog bonded with new owner

Whether your new furry family member is a rescue from a shelter or a dog in need of a new home, having all the adoption checklist items you will need ahead of time will make the whole process go a lot more smoothly.

It can be very rewarding to give an animal a second chance at a home, whether fostering or adopting. 

If you found this article helpful, or know someone who is considering  new addition to their household, plese shre this with your friends.