puppy essentials, part i: sleep and eat

So, you’re getting a puppy. There’s endless things you can buy for dogs, and these accessories come in all price ranges. I’ve certainly fallen into the temptation of buying a few more things than strictly necessary. Hopefully my list of essentials can help you filter out what you actually need, and what’s worth paying a little bit extra for. At the end of the day, no two dogs are the same, and your dog will have different preferences than mine. This does mean that some purchases you make won’t be used, but that’s part and parcel of having a dog. I’ve tried to give away whatever I’ve had that didn’t work for my dog to friends, so that it doesn’t go to waste.

Because this post is already quite lengthy, I’m dividing it up into a set of posts. Here’s a list of all the things I’ll discuss throughout these posts:

  • a place to sleep
  • something to eat and drink out of
  • food
  • treats for training
  • a collar, harness and lead
  • a tag with your phone number to attach to the collar
  • a light to attach to their collar or harness, or a high-vis vest
  • poo bags
  • a pet carrier
  • toys and other things to chew on
  • fleece blanket
  • floor spray
  • grooming products

For this first post, I’m focusing on what you’ll need for your puppy to eat and sleep comfortably.

a place to sleep

Dogs, and people, have different preferences for where, and in what, their dogs sleep. The choice I made, and have stuck with right from the beginning, is that Cupar sleeps in a crate next to my bed. Luckily, Cupar loves being in his crate and went into it on his own when it was time to sleep on the first night. That first night, I left the crate door open because I didn’t want him to feel too constrained, but since then it’s been shut. He lets me know in the morning when he wants to come out, and also if he needs to be let out during the night. Crates are often cited as being great for house training, as dogs don’t usually ‘go’ where they sleep. This has proven to be the case for my dog, and has allowed me some warning before he has to go so I can take him outside.


Cupar made himself comfortable in his crate the first night he spent in his forever home.

The crate should be the appropriate size for when your dog is fully grown. I Googled and also enquired in the pet shop what size was right for my dog. The crate should be big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in. Don’t get a smaller size just because you think the appropriately sized crate is too big for your house. My friends who have a Dalmatian gave up their dining table in order to fit their dog’s crate – even though dogs prefer dens they do need some space! You want your dog to be comfortable in their crate, as it’s a safe place to keep your dog in when they’re on their own or you need to keep them away from something – say you’ve broken a glass on the floor, for example.

My dog sleeps in a wire crate, and I also have a dog bed for him to nap on in the living room. The ‘day’ bed I got him is stuffed, and I regret not getting him a plastic dog bed, as the mattress was ruined in a matter of weeks due to him chewing on it. I’m still debating if I should get him a plastic bed now, or if I should wait until he’s grown a bit more and get him another soft bed. I’m not sure he’ll avoid chewing even when he’s older!

Cupar’s got a fleece blanket and two cheap cushions from Ikea inside his crate. I got the cushions so that they would fill up some space in his crate when he was little – so he wouldn’t go to the bathroom in one end and sleep in the other. Even though he’s grown much bigger now, he loves his cushions so I’ve kept them in there.


get a similar crate to cupar’s via pets at home

the type of bed I wish I’d gotten him. via pets at home

the type of bed my dog would have in an ideal world where he didn’t chew! via mungo and maud

something to eat and drink out of

Two normal kitchen bowls or tupperware boxes will do too, but to keep your tableware to yourself and keep your floors (relatively) clean, you might want your dog to have their own food and water bowls. As these are always out, I wanted my dog’s bowls to be nice-looking, but that’s not a concern for everyone. The ones that I’ve got are ceramic, and are a lot less likely to be knocked over than metal or plastic bowls.

cupar’s got two of these by bruka – one for water and one for food. via bruka

mason cash dog bowls are great-looking, affordable, and the quality’s meant to be great too.       via amazon

A lot of dog owners also choose to have a placemat under the dog bowls to keep the floor clean. Cupar’s placemat is made from silicone, which is great because it stays put on the floor.


silicone placemat. via kg design

dog food

Some people feed their dogs leftovers and other foods meant for humans, but I had decided in advance of getting Cupar that I wasn’t going to do that. One reason is that I think it encourages begging, which is off-putting to guests, but most importantly it’s because I don’t want to take any chances with giving my dog something that might make him sick or even be dangerous for him, like a lot of human foods are. The one meant-for-humans food I do give my dog is plain probiotic yoghurt, because his first people recommended it for maintaining his digestion. The dog happens to love yoghurt, so I give him a little bit every day after his supper.

I’ve found that dog food is something that dog owners love talking about (clearly I’m one of those dog people now!), and I suppose the right nutrition can make a huge difference to the dog’s health and quality of life. Dog food also seems to be incredibly commercial, and some of it is very poor quality, apparently. I have been surprised by how much free dog food you’re given when you have a puppy – Royal Canin give out free bags of food to new dog owners along with Royal Canin merchandise. And, at the vet, you’re given free Hill’s food and merchandise. And of course, at dog shows, a massive bag of Royal Canin is given out as a prize along with the trophy.

Because changing from one brand (or type) of kibble to another often leads to an upset stomach in dogs, you’re meant to make this change only very gradually, ideally over the course of a week, I’ve found. So it’s best to continue giving your dog the exact same food they’ve had at their first home once they’ve joined you. Cupar’s first humans used Belcando Puppy Gravy on the puppies, so I used that for the first one and a half months and have since changed to Essential, because that’s the brand my dog’s mother eats and it was strongly recommended to me by Cupar’s ‘human dads’. These foods have, so far, worked great for him and he’s had very few digestive issues.

I’ve been told that breeders usually use very cheap food for their litters. Although I’m sure this isn’t true for everyone (and cheap doesn’t always mean low quality), it does make sense that if it’s your job to breed and sell multiple litters of puppies every year, you would want to keep costs down on the food, and maybe compromise a little on quality in the interest of making the highest possible profit. Whatever food they give your dog, your breeders should let you know what kind of food the dog has been given so that you can make sure you have the same type of food ready for your dog when they move in with you. The people I got my dog from gave me lots of dog food so Cupar was set for a few weeks, but I don’t know if that is the norm. Remember that everything will be brand new and scary to your dog when they first come to your home, so feeding them the same food that they’re used to, at least at the beginning, can help them feel more at ease.

dog food storage

Obviously, dog food comes in a bag, but people often choose to keep it in a box to maintain its quality and also to make sure it’s safely contained so the dog doesn’t start helping themselves to seconds!

I know some of the big-brand dog food companies will give you a container if you buy a large bag of their food, but I got a box from Ikea which looks much nicer and didn’t require me to buy 10+ kgs of dog food at once just to get a thin plastic box with “Eukanuba” spelled all over it! The Ikea box I got fits 5 kgs of dog food, maybe even a little more, looks nice, and keeps the smell of the dog food neatly inside the box, and not all over my flat.

tillsluta box with lid via ikea

In the next post in this series, I’ll write a short-ish essay on the following dog essentials:

  • treats for training
  • a collar, harness and lead
  • a tag with your phone number to attach to the collar
  • a light to attach to their collar or harness, or a high-vis vest


Thank you for reading and please add any remarks or questions you may have in the comment field below.


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