There are a few things that are must-haves as a new dog owner. Food, bowls, a crate, toys and treats, a bed, and safety and care items are all listed below. For ease and efficiency, I have linked all of these items to my Amazon Affiliate account, but the commission is pennies and I’m just as delighted for you to use this list as a reference and shop where you like.


Dog Food

After researching the best diet for my dogs and trying a variety of brands, I choose to feed my dogs Life’s Abundance dog food. The food is formulated by a holistic veterinarian using high-quality ingredients in small batches. The food arrives to your door directly from their warehouse, which prevents any improper or long-term storage that can cause dangerous bacteria to grow in the bag. Just as with our own food, the fresher, more nutritious the food with the fewest preservatives, the better for your pet. You have invested in purchasing a very important new family member, so please consider investing in their continued health and well-being.

To order any of the Life’s Abundance products I list below, please visit their website here.

Puppy Food

As per our contract, you must buy your first bag of Life’s Abundance food in order to avoid any diarrhea from a sudden diet change. If you choose to change your puppy’s food at any time, make sure you do it extremely gradually over the course of several weeks to keep his or her system moving appropriately.

When your puppy comes home, he or she will be eating the Small & Medium Breed Puppy Food. An easy choice is to place this food order on auto-ship. A 17.6-pound bag shipped every 4 weeks will be the correct amount for your dog. You can adjust or cancel this schedule if needed at any time. In Darien, I typically receive my bag the very next business day with regular shipping as the local warehouse is so close, however, please allow 3-5 days for delivery to be safe. 

Starter Pack

Another great option is the starter pack that includes puppy food, dog treats, supplements, and bath products. Our puppies smell AMAZING, and the Life’s Abundance products are why. 

Bully Sticks

My dogs love Bully Sticks for chewing, and these are made from all-natural buffalo meat for great flavor. I would highly recommend adding these to your auto ship. Puppies like to chew a lot, so give them something safe and satisfying and they will stay away from items they shouldn’t.

Dog Treats

I believe in positive dog training with tons of praise and TREATS! Labradoodles are generally a pretty food-driven breed and will enthusiastically learn and perform for tasty treats. These treats are yummy and are a good size to break in half or smaller for training.



These items are must-haves for any new puppy owner! I list additional “nice-to-have” gear in the section below, but please make sure you have these items or similar ready for the day your puppy comes home.

Dog Crate

Your puppy will need a 36” crate with a divider. When your puppy first comes home, you will use the divider to keep your puppy’s area smaller. This will encourage your pup to keep their crate mess-free and aid in potty training. As he or she grows, you can expand the space they have, eventually removing the divider altogether.

Dog Bed

My dogs and puppies are obsessed with this bed. Australian Labradoodles prefer high-sided beds to flat mattress-type beds as they provide a sense of security and comfort. The texture of this bed also feels like mom and siblings, and I like it as I can easily throw it in the washing machine and dryer when it needs a freshening up.

Food and Water Bowls

Bowls are a matter of personal preference, but your dog will need his or her own set of water and food bowls, especially if there are other dogs in the house already to prevent any competition or resource guarding behavior. I recommend stainless steel bowls that flare out with rubber bottoms. Stainless steel bowls go into the dishwasher easily for cleaning. The flare will prevent your puppy from accidentally tipping over the bowl and the rubber bottom will keep the bowl from moving around while feeding or drinking.

Dog Brush

The gorgeous, non-shedding coat of your Australian Labradoodle puppy requires care and maintenance. Use a slicker-style brush frequently to prevent mats in your puppy’s coat. If your puppy’s coat does become matted, don’t be surprised if your groomer recommends shaving the coat as a result. This is not a tragedy, but a “naked” Australian Labradoodle is not the fluffy teddy bear you brought home. Prevention and upkeep is worth it!

Potty Bells

Australian Labradoodles are an intelligent breed. Our puppies are easy to train and eager to please. They have been working on potty training since there were four weeks old with litter pans in their living space. When they come home to you, they should be fully trained easily within weeks if you are diligent from the start. Potty bells make the process even easier. As you take your dog out every time, start by ringing the bells. The next step is to encourage your puppy to ring the bells before you go outside. Soon you will have a polite, well-trained dog that rings the bells on their own to indicate their need to go outside.

Hydrogen Peroxide

It happens to the best of us – your puppy will likely eat something he or she shouldn’t! Be prepared with hydrogen peroxide. If you have to call the ASPCA Poison Control hotline at (888) 426-4435  or your vet, they will ask if you have this on hand. It is used to induce vomiting and needs to be used as quickly as possible to be most effective.


Highly Recommended

The list below includes recommended items that you will want to consider for your pup that will help smooth his or her transition to your forever home and make your life easier, too. 

Snuggle Puppy

The Snuggle Puppy was designed to mimic mom and siblings’ heartbeats and warmth. The first few weeks away from the littermates can be lonely for a new pup. The heartbeat sound and warmth will help soothe and comfort your new family member and help them transition to sleeping alone. I recommend buying additional heat packs for at least the first few nights.

Puppy Books

I am grateful to know and have worked with Sarah Hodgson. She is an incredibly experienced, thoughtful, empathetic dog trainer living in Katonah, NY. She offers a wide variety of helpful (free!) resources on her website, Sarah Says Pets. If you prefer to learn from a book, she has several for sale on Amazon, including Puppies for Dummies. Sarah also offers sessions with pet owners both locally and over Zoom.

Dog Harness

Protect your puppy’s trachea in the car and on early leash walks when they have a tendency to pull. This harness gets top marks from the NY Times Wirecutter reviews and other sites for its comfort and ease of use. Harnesses are also great for hiking and running when your dog is older when used with a bungee leash around your waist. Our Australian Labradoodle puppies would wear a size small and this harness is adjustable with room to grow.

Seat Belt

I love to take my dogs with me when I can, whether to the park or a hike or to pick up kids from school. Keep your pet safe with this adjustable seat belt – but please be sure to use this with a harness, NOT a collar! I like these in particular for the bungee cord section to soften any stops, that you get two in a pack so you can leave one in each car, and it comes with a handy collapsible dog bowl for water on the go.

Dog Shampoo

This is why your puppy will smell so good on going home day! Fresh, clean, and gentle dog shampoo will take care of your puppy’s skin and coat. Use what you like, but do be sure to look for shampoo specifically for dogs, not people, and brush your dog before the bath to prevent making any tangles even worse.



An appropriately busy puppy is a happy puppy AND a happier home! These are a few of my favorite items to give the curious new power chewer in your family busy for a few extra minutes.  

Hard Chews

Yak Cheese Sticks

I learned these sticks about a year ago, and they are a total winner in my book – my dogs love them, and they last a long time, with lots of chew time for the money. 

Nyla Bones

My dogs love the smell and taste of these, and the smaller size is perfect for growing puppies. Like the Yak Chews above, these are a safe, healthy chew, and are made with no added salt, no artificial preservatives, and no artificial colors

Bully Sticks

Life's Abundance Bully Sticks Chew

This is a special treat in our house, as a focused chewer can get through one of these in a day. That said, if you want something extra special for those times when you really need to keep your pup buys, your dog will love chewing on these free-range, grass-fed water buffalo chews. They taste delicious (to them!) and are an all-natural way to help reduce tartar and contain no additives or preservatives. 

Kong Toys

Kong toys have been around forever with good reason. Durable, washable, fillable, these toys check all the boxes. We like to put canned pureed pumpkin (not pie filling) or greek yogurt or peanut butter inside and freeze them. When you need something to keep a puppy busy or happy in a crate, these are what we reach for over and over again.

Soft Chews


Classic types of soft chew toys include plush squeaky toys, and Lambchop is always a favorite. 

Rope Toys

Rope toys are a classic – great for games of tug and a satisfying chew. I have to give Amazon the win for a nice set of five rope toys for a very reasonable price.

Flat Foxes

Puppy tested and approved in my house! These also make a great tug toy, and their flat, unstuffed long bodies are great for shaking and squeaking for puppies with smaller mouths.

Crinkly Toys

These octopi are squeaky and crinkly – another texture and noise that puppies love to chase and chew. We use these in the puppy pens as well and are always a fan favorite.

Puzzle Feeders

Feeding Mat

I only recently started experimenting with feeding mats and puzzles, but I wish I had given them a try earlier. This mat, in particular, is so popular I had to buy a second to keep my big dogs busy while my puppy is working for food, too. I like that the mat has lots of hidden pockets and flaps for kibble and is also very well constructed with durable materials.

Treat Dispenser

Buy the large and the small pieces so that they fit together. I put a half cup of the Life’s Abundance food inside, and my puppy will spend a good ten minutes rolling this around to get his meal out. I recommend not using this outside on the lawn, though, or your pup will spend “potty time” searching for any missed treats!

Puzzle Toy

One more great way to serve a meal to your puppy and buy yourself 10-15 minutes of an independent, engaged puppy. Lots of different places to hide kibble with enough tiny holes for your pup to sniff the reward 

Animal Sounds Ball

Not a puzzle, but entertainment in another form. Rolling this ball causes it to make a variety of animal noises. It is also small enough for a puppy to chew, and the ridges make a satisfying surface in the mouth.