8 things your new dog doesn’t need

Getting to know Brynn
Our former foster puppy, Trina.

Believe me, I’ve been there: You’re bringing a new dog or puppy home, and you want to go absolutely wild in PetsMart. It’s overwhelming; there’s so much STUFF out there these days for dogs. But here’s a secret tip: You don’t need even a third of the things that giant pet store chains sell.

Here are some things we learned that our dogs actually don’t need.

  1. An expensive dog bed. We threw away hundreds of dollars on dog beds, as our dogs and fosters taught us that dog beds are for shredding for fun or destroying with a variety of unpleasant bodily functions. We now just buy lots of old blankets, towels, and comforters from thrift stores to put in their crates. Recycle, reuse! If the blanket gets destroyed, no big loss. The dogs are comfortable and so is our wallet.
  2. Puppy pee pads. Unless you want your puppy to think peeing/pooping inside is fine, don’t try to house-train with these.
  3. Canned food. Unless you have a toothless dog or one with some serious nutritional issues, canned food is really expensive and generally unnecessary.
  4. A choke collar or a prong collar. Please don’t use these on your dog’s neck. They’re not useful training tools and often just teach a dog to have aggressive reactions. Use a front-clip harness instead.
  5. A head halter. Dogs despise these things, for one, and for another, dogs’ heads are very sensitive, and jerking on a head halter to keep them from pulling is risky and often counterproductive. Head halters make walks miserable for everyone, from my experience. Again, check out a good front-clipping harness.
  6. Rawhides. Dogs really like rawhides, but they’re not good for dogs on the whole and can quickly become choking hazards. They are also not fully digestible, but dogs don’t think of them that way. Benebones are a great digestible alternative.
  7. A Furminator. Just use a standard shedding rake. I dislike Furminators because they rip out the guard hairs of your dog’s coat. You can actually make your dog bald in patches if you go overboard with the Furminator. They’re very expensive and not worth it, in my opinion.
  8. A retractable (Flexi) leash. God, I hate retractable leashes. If you ever want me to start ranting on the street, ask me what I think about retractable leashes. You are not giving your dog more “freedom,” you just have no control over your dog whatsoever, you are not teaching them how to walk on a leash, and you will experience some serious leg burns at some point in your career of using these “leashes.” Just say no.
Look what I found
As Eden can attest, sometimes found wood is the best toy of all.

What would you add to the list? What’s a pet product you see that you don’t think is really necessary?


5 thoughts on “8 things your new dog doesn’t need

  1. We have one good orthopedic dog bed that we try to keep up. And then like you said a bunch of old reused comforters for their crates. 🐩

  2. Great information. You’re so right. People get caught up in bringing home a new pet they go way overboard and then the pup doesn’t even use half the things that you buy.

  3. Always a contrarian, I can at least start with the ones I agree with 100%, Puppy Pee Pads, Choke/Prong collars, Canned Dog Food, and a retractable dog lead. I would add to the list things like bows, cute t-shirts, any kind of expensive collar or harness, and excessive toys. The first two things are just a waste of money, collars, harnesses will be outgrown, and leashes might get chewed up depending on the dog.

    Also depending on the dog, a Furminator can be an excellent investment if you have a pug, or other constantly shedding dog. I have a terrier mix who could be brushed for the rest of her life and she still wouldn’t be rid of all the excess hair. My Furminator can get twice as much hair off in half the time. Definitely worth it!

    Head Halter – I can see where a German Shepherd would not be a good breed for one of these. They are powerful dogs and could seriously hurt themselves. It’s also not terribly hard to train them to walk nicely. But I have a hound, and there isn’t a trick in the book that we haven’t tried to stop his pulling. The Halti head halter works beautiful and my dog is sensible not to try to bolt after a squirrel if he has one on. I think we all need to use common sense when we’re using any training device, as even a flat collar or training harness can do harm if used incorrectly over a long period of time.

    Rawhides have been around for longer than I have, and I’m not young. If they’re such a problem now wouldn’t you think they’d have been banned long ago? Most dogs do fine with them, but like any toy meant to be chewed or consumed, you have to keep an eye on your dog while he’s chewing it, at least until you identify your dog’s “style” of chewing one. If he’s a snarfer, then I wouldn’t give them to him, but if he’s one of those who will slowly and with lots of sliminess savor the thing over a matter of days then I wouldn’t worry. My dogs have never been interested in chewing on rubber, so we skip that.

    At the end of the day, none of these tools are bad. Using them without a full understanding of what you’re getting into is bad. And on that note, the single most important thing I would never, ever buy is an e-collar. There is always a better way.

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