Puppies
A puppy wearing a harness.
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Finding the Right Puppy Gear

Welcoming a new puppy into your home? Congratulations! Puppies need lots of puppy gear. So, how do you choose the right collars, harnesses and clothing for puppies? Check out our advice.

Audrey Pavia  |  May 3rd 2018


Before I brought 9-week-old Mookie home, I went shopping for puppy stuff. Loading all the puppy gear into my shopping cart was almost as fun as signing Mookie’s adoption papers.

Puppies need lots of puppy gear — those things you put on them and over them so they can go places with you, like the park and training class. Knowing the best gear to buy for your puppy will help you pick out the right items. Collars, leashes, harnesses and even dog clothes to keep your pup warm should all be on the list.

Puppy Gear: Collars

A smiling couple holding up a puppy.

Your new puppy will need all sorts of gear, like a collar. Photography ©Chris Amaral | Thinkstock.

The first item to get for your puppy is a basic buckle collar. A collar is important because it will hold identification tags that will ensure your pup makes his way back to you if he gets lost.

A trip to your local pet store will reveal the vast array of buckle collars available. Nylon or cloth collars are most appropriate for puppies, who quickly outgrow them. Most have a plastic buckle clip and a way to lengthen and shorten the collar.

Dog collars come in several sizes, so start small and light when your pup is young. To determine the right size for your pup, use a cloth measuring tape to figure out the circumference in inches of his neck. Collars specify the length in inches in a range on the tag.

When you place the collar on your pup, allow two fingers’ width between the collar and his neck. Check the collar at least once a week to be certain it’s not getting tight as your puppy grows.

Puppy Gear: Harnesses

Dog harnesses come in a variety of colors and patterns and are usually made of nylon. They are for leash walking. Harnesses come with the leash attachment either on the front or back — or both. Check with your vet on the best collar or harness for your particular dog.

When fitting a harness to your puppy, take some measurements. Using a cloth tape measure, check the size of your puppy’s neck and chest. Next, find out how much he weighs; many harnesses are labeled for a dog’s weight. Once you’ve selected your harness, teach your puppy to enjoy putting it on. Have someone help you give your pup treats while you’re placing the harness on his body. Figure out how to put it on before you try to get it onto your dog. You want the first few times to be smooth and easy so he learns it’s no big deal.

Make the harness loose beforehand to make it easier to get on, then tighten it up afterward. If the harness is snug in places once you’ve put it on, lengthen whichever section is too tight. You want two fingers’ width between the harness and your dog’s body. You’ll know the harness is too tight if your dog refuses to walk in it. If it’s too loose, your pup will slip out of it.

Puppy Gear: Clothing

Dog clothing can be both fun and practical. Young puppies get cold easily, and a sweater or jacket can keep your pup warm — especially if he’s got a short coat. Or if you just want to dress your pup up in something cute, you’ll find many outfits to choose from online and at your local pet supply. When fitting your puppy for dog clothes, measure his body. Dog clothes come in sizes from extra small to extra large, and it can be hard to guess which size your dog might be. The best route is to measure around your dog’s neck and chest (just behind his rib cage) using a cloth tape measure, then check the clothing manufacturer’s size recommendations.

Be sure the clothes you pick are not too snug or prevent him from pottying. Tight clothes will restrict your dog’s movement and make him uncomfortable. You’ll know the clothes are too tight if your dog refuses to move or walks funny.

Of course, puppies grow quickly, and the clothes you buy him now won’t fit him in a month. Wait until he’s at least a year old before you invest in an entire wardrobe.

Tell us: What is some must-have puppy gear in your opinion?

Thumbnail: Photography by Holly Hildreth Photography.

An award-winning writer and editor, Audrey Pavia is a former managing editor at Dog Fancy magazine and former senior editor of The AKC Gazette. She is the author of The Labrador Retriever Handbook (Barrons) and has written extensively on horses as well as other pets. She shares her home in Norco, California, with two rescue dogs, Candy and Mookie.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!

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