There are few things more exciting than Gotcha Day - that special day when you welcome a newly adopted dog into your home. Bringing home that new furry friend can be thrilling, and it can all happen so quickly. When adopting, it’s important to make sure your new dog is coming into an environment where they will feel safe and comfortable, so they can get easily acclimated to their new home.

Puppy laying on a rug in its new home

As exciting as the process is, it can be overwhelming for your dog as they get used to their new home and family. Having these 10 items at home, ready for your new family member can go a long way in making that process easier for everyone involved, and will have your dog’s tail wagging in no time.

1. Food & Water Bowls

A golden retriever eating breakfast

Two of the main items that you will need to have will of course be bowls for your dog’s food and water. Experts recommend getting bowls that are shallow enough to ensure that your dog’s tongue will be able to reach the bottom of the bowl to get those last scraps of food and drops of water. Some dog owners like to use slow feeders as a way to slow down their eating, which can help digestion.

2. Collar & ID Tags

While many places will offer a free collar at adoption, it can be beneficial to get your own collar that you know will be high-quality. You can either have fun with choosing a collar, and get one that matches your dog’s name or color, or there are other options that allow you to have a reflective collar, or even one that has your dog’s information embroidered on it. You will also then want to make sure you get ID tags with all of the vital information on it, (Your dog’s name, along with your name and contact info) for any emergency situations.

3. Leash & Harness

You will want to take your dog on a lot of walks, so you will definitely need a leash and harness. Although you are able to attach a leash to a collar, it’s generally best not to. The collar can pull on your dog’s throat and cause choking or pain while walking. It’s best for your dog to use a harness, and attach the leash to that when going on a walk. Dogs can get excited and energetic while on a walk, so wearing a harness ensures they won’t be in pain while doing one of their favorite activities.

4. Crate

A good dog crate can be a great way to give your dog their own personal space, making them feel safe and comfortable as they adjust to their new home. They can also be used as a great tool to keep them from making a big mess when you aren’t home. You’ll want to look for a sturdy crate that won’t risk collapsing or tipping over. Another helpful tip: It’s a good practice to remove your dog’s collar if they’ll be kept in a crate for a longer period of time to ensure they won’t get tangled within the crate.

5. Dog Bed

A dog taking a nap in its new dog bed

There’s nothing like looking over at your dog’s bed and seeing them cuddled up and sleeping so comfortably. A dog’s bed is not only a place for them to sleep, but it’s a place they’ll go to relax and get away, and it’s also a great “home base” for training them. Dogs generally love a good padded bed, with a nice outer cushion to imitate being cuddled and supported.

6. Puppy Pads & Disposable Bags

Puppy pads, or potty pads, are absorbent pads that you can keep in your house while acclimating your dog to their new home. These pads will absorb any accidents that your new dog might make in the house without the mess and clean up.

You’ll also want to make sure you keep some disposable bags handy for when you take your dog for a walk. This will make waste clean up easy to do on the go, and allow you to get back to that exciting walk!

7. Shampoo & Brush

A good boy (dog) getting a bath

Depending on the breed of your dog, you’ll either be doing a lot of grooming, or at least weekly grooming. Giving your dog a good brush is something that will help them stay clean, and keep their coat nice and orderly. Brushing is also a great way for you to spend some quality time and bond with your dog.

Getting a nice, gentle shampoo and bathing your dog once every few months will keep their fur and skin healthy and strong. If your dog is outside and a lot more active, more frequent baths would be a good practice.

8. Nail Clippers & Toothbrush

Another big aspect of grooming your dog will be keeping their nails and teeth clean and maintained. Although walking on pavement during a walk can act as a nail file, it’s still good to keep up with trimming your dog’s nails with nail clippers when they get to be a bit long. 

Dental hygiene is also very important for dogs, much like it is for humans. Brushing your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush at least three times a week is the usual recommendation to ensure you avoid any plaque or tartar build up.

9. Toys

A black lab fetching a frisbee

Who doesn’t love a classic game of fetch with their dog? It’s great exercise for them, and it makes for a great way to bond with them and further establish your relationship with your dog. A toy like a Kong can also make for a really good mental stimulant for your dog. You can fill a Kong with peanut butter, or mix food and water and put the Kong in the freezer, and give it to your dog to give them something to focus on and work towards their treat.

10. Treats

Speaking of treats, your dog will of course be the best and deserve lots of treats! Giving treats to your dog while training, or simply rewarding them for following commands is another great way to establish that relationship between you and your dog, and get them to catch on to tricks and/or commands.

Final Wrap Up

While every single one of these aren’t absolutely required to have, having these key items will make things a lot easier for everyone involved when it comes to welcoming your new four-legged friend into your home. The getting-to-know-you process doesn’t happen overnight, and it will take lots of time for your dog to feel fully comfortable. Practice patience, and do your best to provide lots of love and respect to your newest member of your family!

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A puppy playing tug of war