Since Tuck Tuck Goose started in 2021, we have written "Top 20 Must-Haves for Bringing Home Your Puppy" and "New Puppy Checklist on a Budget: 13 Essential Dog Supplies Under $250" to help new moms and dads get their homes ready to bring home a new baby (pup).
However, times are different. Disposable income is harder to come by, prices for everyday groceries and consumables have skyrocketed (I'm sorry, $6-7 for a dozen eggs?), and the same overspending we may have been able to stomach three to five years ago is drastically different.
While I do not agree with getting a dog if you are strapped for cash, I'm not your mother and you won't listen anyway - so I did my ABSOLUTE BEST to create the most bare bones New Puppy Checklist so that you can welcome a new companion without having to eat breadcrumbs for the next ten years.
Let's get into it!
Let's talk about some DOG SUPPLIES you can POSSIBLY live without
Dogs do not need fluffy, squishy beds. We like them to have fluffy, squishy beds because that's what we would want if we had to sleep on the floor, but I wholeheartedly believe that most dogs don't care all that much. Most of the time those types of beds are too hot anyway.
Mara and Logan have both really loved this one from Chewy that I bought for Tucker when he had hip problems and the ground seemed a little too hard for his joints but most of the time they opt for sleeping on the cold ground (or in our bed because we are suckers).
If you plan to crate train your dog and are diligent about following a strict schedule, you may never need puppy pads. That's not to say your pup will never have an accident - he or she is a baby - but puppies are so smart and will quickly start understanding what you want from them if you are consistent. (i.e., wake up and immediately go from the crate to outside to potty).
Each person's living situation is completely different. If you have a yard and never plan to bring your dog on walks, you may never need poop baggies. You may just pick up the poo with a shovel. If you live in an apartment complex, the HOA may provide poo baggy stations with bags and a trash can to encourage people to keep the grounds clean. Each person's situation is different but at the end of the day it is your responsibility as a pet owner to clean up after them in public areas. If you foresee bringing your dog outside of your personal property, you need to have a plan for cleaning up after them.
Dog-specific treats are excellent and convenient for training but are not necessary. There are plenty of human-food alternatives for training such as pieces of carrots, or even cooking chicken breast and breaking it into high-value training bits, etc.
Side story: I went to the pet store today and saw a little baggy of 6 little pieces of dried chicken for $1.50. THAT IS ASTRONOMICAL. A whole bag was upwards of $30... I cannot rationalize paying that much money for treats when there are so many options for preparing human food for dogs.
Top 7 DOG SUPPLIES you cannot live without
While there are a lot of toys, treats, and ancillary items you can skip if you are on a strict budget, I would absolutely think twice before removing any of these items from your list:
1. Harness/Collar and Name Tag
I personally think that all dogs need some sort of collar or harness and identification when leaving the house. You could argue that with excellent training your dog would never leave your yard or would never run away so it shouldn't need a collar and ID, but I think that would be speaking to less than .5% of dog owners. A collar or harness and basic ID should be a non-negotiable to pet ownership - and you can get them all for very little money.
On that note, however, people have a propensity for going overboard when buying a collar and name tag because they want it to be fancy or personal to them, but you can get perfectly decent collars, harnesses, and name tags for very inexpensive - literally a collar (I like flat and rolled leather for doodles to minimize matting) and tag (we have these tags) for less than $20. ...And I even picked a more expensive collar than what was available.
For additional info on my collar and harness preferences, hop over to our "New Puppy Checklist on a Budget: 13 Essential Dog Supplies Under $250." I go into more detail about when I think collars are great and when I think harnesses take the lead. I also include my favorite training harness for puppies learning to walk on a leash and why it is a great tool for those first steps outside the house.
2. Nylon Leash With A Carbine Buckle
Do not buy a bungee leash or a retractable leash. *SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!* DO NOT BUY A BUNGEE LEASH OR A RETRACTABLE LEASH (for a puppy). I don't even love the adorable cotton ones because they also have "give." Just buy a normal nylon leash! Leashes are supposed to be sturdy so that you can control your dog and keep them in close proximity. If your leash has "give", you are not really in control of that distance.
Also, DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT buy a leash with a spring hook clasp (pictured below). Because puppies are jumpy and wiggly, the hook from the harness can get lodged in the opening and easily prop the clasp open.
NO - Spring Hook Clasp
When Mara was just learning to walk outside, I started introducing her to new sights and sounds, including busy streets. One day, Mara was startled by the noise of a motorcycle, jumped on my friend’s leg, and dislodged her harness from the leash… NEXT TO THE STREET WITH CARS WHIZZING BY.
Luckily my friend heard it unclasp right away and was able to grab her, but if she would have been startled again and bolted away, she absolutely could have been hit by a car and killed.
THIS HAPPENED TWICE before I said I am getting a new leash.
Again, I LOVE the Vivaglory Dog Leash that I have now. Is it the cutest? No. Heck no. But it is extremely convenient and inexpensive. The handles (a traffic handle for close maneuvering and a standard handle for normal functioning) are reinforced with soft neoprene and the leash material is very thick and sturdy. Most importantly, the clasp is a carbine buckle so the leash stays securely fastened to her harness.
YES - Carbine Buckle Clasp
I 10/10 recommend a leash with a traffic handle. A traffic handle is a short handle that pulls your dog close to your body when walking past people and dogs on the sidewalk, walking through crowds, and when training “heel” and other proximity commands.
3. Pet Insurance
Pet insurance is polarizing, but so is medical insurance for humans. You hate paying for it, but when you need it you are glad you have it.
I'm going to give two examples and at the end of the day the choice is yours.
Scenario #1: Logan recently went to the vet and they found several large masses - one under his wee wee (that makes him look like an expectant mother), one on his leg joint that is making him wobble (which we originally thought was hip dysplasia), and one that is impinging on his colon and may lead to him not being able to go to the bathroom. Of course, I asked the doctor how much something like this would cost to remedy and she said if they would even agree to do it it would be about $3k just to do a scan and biopsy of the rectal mass and about $5k for the surgery to remove it - just that one mass, not the others. If it is cancerous, it is very possible they could not remove it all and he would have to undergo chemo or radiation therapy, which would be a last resort option and is not guaranteed to be successful. We do not have insurance on Logan. All of that money ($8k+) would be an out-of-pocket expense - for an 8 yr old lab with several other health issues. That is a tough pill to swallow.
Scenario #2: On the flipside, it that was Mara, her insurance (Fetch FKA PetPlan) would not only have paid for that exam ($100+), but it would pay for 90% of the total cost of the treatments. So instead of paying $8k for those two treatments, we would pay $8k x 90% insurance coverage plus our $200 deductible for a total of $1k. That is a much easier decision.
Insurance is such a personal choice. People treat their dogs all sorts of ways - some are just disposable ranch dogs (as mean as that sounds) and some are regarded as children. I personally don't want the life or death decision of my dog's future to be a financial one.
Most insurance policies do not include spay/neuter, vaccinations, fecal exams, or any kind of preventative care, so be mindful of these things when shopping around. It is really for emergencies and when things are wrong. At the time of writing this, our policy with Pet Plan, now Fetch by Dodo, includes the exam fee if we are visiting the vet for a specific reason, which is why I have stayed with them for 3 years. A few other popular insurance companies are:
ASPCA (I think they include spay/neuter)
If you do decide to get pet insurance, be sure to account for the waiting period. Mara's was 14 days. I got insurance for her as soon as I was given the date to pick her up so that the policy would be active on the car ride home - heaven forbid you get into a car accident or he or she eats a bee at a rest stop. If you plan to get it anyway, plan to get it early.
4. First Exam, Vaccinations, and spay/neuter
When you get your new puppy, you should immediately schedule your puppy's first vet visit so that they can provide those first exam notes to your insurance to set a health history (if you have elected to get insurance), and because many breeders have stipulations in their Health Agreements or Purchase Agreements that such exams need to happen within a few days of the puppy being in your care. While reputable breeders will typically have administered your new pup's first round of distemper/parvo, and sometimes bordetella (kennel cough), vaccinations at 6-8 weeks, puppies can can still have illnesses like roundworms (a lot of time they get it from their mother's milk) and giardia (very contagious and also very common, causes excessive diarrhea and tummy problems) that need to be addressed.
If you are getting a new puppy from someone who has never bred puppies, breeds puppies without their best interest in mind, or a shelter where the dog's background is completely unknown, early vet visits are exceptionally important.
If you are not planning to breed your dog and you foresee having to board your dog or bring them to daycare at any point in the future, you should discuss spaying/neutering with your vet. They can provide you cost estimates and timelines so you can plan accordingly. Costs have drastically increased since our dogs were spayed and neutered but there are some insurance companies that cover spay/neuter and some vet facilities provide "New Puppy Packages" which include all their vaccinations, initial office visits, and a discount on spay/neuter. Call around insurance companies and vets in your area to find a situation that works best for you.
**You should note that most breeders have a spay/neuter clause in their Purchase Agreement and almost all daycares and boarding facilities require spay/neuter.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen missing and found dogs on our neighborhood Ring app that did not have a microchip or any form of identification.
Microchips are not GPS and can't tell you where your lost dog went, but they do provide basic contact information should your dog be found and taken to a vet or shelter. This being said, if you move or your information changes you need to be sure to update it; however, it will at least give people trying to locate you a name, number, and address.
Mara was microchipped when she was still with the breeder so I never had to discuss it with my vet (other than providing them the information); however, microchipping can be discussed at that first vet visit.
6. Basic Grooming Tools
Grooming, oh grooming. This section is specific to wavy and curly Goldendoodles.
There is really no way around the grooming tools you'll need as a doodle parent. To be completely honest, you probably don't need these right away because puppy hair doesn't mat like adult hair does but you should definitely have these tools on hand once their hair starts growing longer.
This list has really become "what top things keep your dog healthy, safe, and alive" and grooming tools for doodles fall into that category. As their adult hair grows in, it will not be as silky soft as their puppy hair. The courser hair growing in will start rubbing against the puppy hair and will start matting, especially in areas where a collar or harness rubs. Grooming tools are absolutely essential to keeping your doodle's coat healthy - and to ensuring your precious pooch will not have to be shaved at the groomers.
Check out our Top 3 Grooming Tools post for more information about hair care and the tools I cannot live without. Those three most important items are the following:
7. Quality Dog Food
I am not going to get into dog food in this post because most breeders make you feed a specific food in order to be in accordance with the terms of the Health Guarantee. I am not a vet, nor a dog nutritionist and do not feel comfortable telling you what food is best for YOUR dog and YOUR situation.
I entered pet parenthood with every intent to feed raw. I tried at least 5 separate brands of raw and dehydrated raw food and it never sat well with Mara's sensitive stomach. I moved to cooked food and fed lean ground beef, turkey, and chicken with carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. That was unsustainable.
I finally moved to feeding Mara kibble and as cringy as it is, it is the ONLY food that hasn't given her any problems. In fact, since she has eaten kibble she has grown an iron stomach and can now eat veggies, meats, and treats without any tummy issues.
Ask your vet what they recommend at your first puppy appointment or follow the guidelines from your breeder.
BONUS: Crate (Only if you choose to crate train)
Crate training helps your little one with potty training by encouraging him or her to wait for extended periods of time and to wait to go to the bathroom until released from the crate (dogs will naturally try NOT to potty in their sleeping area). It establishes healthy and uninterrupted sleep patterns (I kick Mara all night, poor soul) and develops a safe and personal place to go when he or she needs some space.
This also means they have a designated place to go during feeding, when the doorbell rings, when you have people over, etc. It is comparable to asking a child to go play in his or her room for a bit.
Little break for them, little for you, you’re welcome.
I purchased the 30″ Midwest iCrate Double Door Fold and Carry Dog Crate for a <20 pound full grown mini Goldendoodle. It is large, so if you have an apartment or a condo, get out a tape measure and make sure that you will have a decent place to put it before you buy it.
It is definitely an eye sore (that green sticker on the front door in the photo does not come off easily), but if attractiveness is a big issue for you, you can purchase a crate cover from Etsy (pretty expensive) or channel your inner DIYer and nerd out in the fabric department at Joann’s (less expensive and more fun). BUT THIS IS THE BUDGET POST - you want the bougie stuff, this post ain't for you.
The crate comes with a divider panel so that it can be made to feel smaller while your pup is teeny and can be adjusted as they grow. Mara was only 3.4 pounds when I got her, so the divider was helpful in creating a cozy environment despite her size. If the crate is too big, your new puppy may potty inside. It should be just big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and comfortably stretch.
It has a concave, hard plastic bottom so that any accidental leaks or spills will be collected before reaching your beloved floors, and comes with little rubber feet in the event you are worrying about the metal scratching them. It also folds flat and is simple to transport which was incredibly helpful when traveling back and forth to my parents’ house. You can fold a blanket and lay it in the bottom to make it more cozy for your little babe.
This particular crate has two access points (the front and side respectively) which is nice if you have a smaller home and need to be able to play with where it will fit.
EASY COST SAVING Tip
Get the single-door crate instead. It is about 40% cheaper; however, it may not fit in your space properly with the door location. Amazon Prime has quick delivery and easy returns - I'm assuming you already have Amazon Prime but if you don't, here is a link to a 30-day free trial. Buy all your puppy goodies within 30 days, cancel before the trial ends, and you save the $14/mo. on Prime.
Single-door: $41.99 Amazon (Cost savings of $29.94 from double-door crate)
All in all, this is a great choice for a durable, inexpensive crate that can be used at home or away, and from puppyhood through adulthood.
These are the very basics of responsible pet ownership. They don't discriminate what type of parent you choose to be, they simply support my opinions on the absolute bare necessities of bringing home a new dog. Everything else can be improvised.