When you adopt a pet dog, you’re adding a new member to your family. And those family members have their own set of needs.
It’s not as simple as coming home and playing fetch. Dogs need specialized gear – and care – to keep them healthy and happy, and you will probably need to rearrange your home and your routine to accommodate them.
Top 5 Essential Items for Your Pet Dog
- X Pen – to create a special space for the dog
- Chew toys – because you don’t want them to chew on anything else
- Leash – because you don’t want to walk them without it
- Collar with a Tag – that has both their name and yours
- Microchip – in case they get lost
MomsLA spoke with experts from the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace to create this resource guide. Both Dr. J.J. Rawlinson, Senior Manager, Community Partnerships and Welfare Initiatives, and Katie McGuire, CPDT-KA, Animal Behavior & Training Coordinator contributed their expertise. See below for their bios.
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Dog Gear Breakdown
Dogs are like kids (except when they’re not). If you’re a parent, you know all the gear you needed to have when you had a baby: strollers, car seats, cribs, high chairs – the list is long. Well, if you’re adopting a dog, you’re going to need gear, too, just slightly different gear.
X Pens for Dogs
An X Pen is a terrific way to help dogs have their own space, and especially for puppies, to learn about boundaries. The X Pen is set apart from the rest of the family, and it’s helpful for both the dog’s sanity and yours.
If you’ve brought home a puppy, their sleeping and feeding are should be inside the X Pen, as well as some of their toys. This will become their happy place, and it should probably remain off-limits to kids, at least at first.
Running is not enough for a dog. They need to chew, just like babies need to put things in their mouths at first. It helps them learn about the world, and it pacifies them – again, just like babies use their pacifiers.
Chew toys also provide mental stimulation, also known as enrichment, for dogs, which is just as important as physical play. In fact, there are fun games you can create for your dog by putting treats inside their toys and letting them try to get them out by licking and chewing.
Some dog toys even have enough room inside to freeze a treat, using water or chicken broth, and letting a dog solve the problem of getting to the treat while melting the frozen liquid is a terrific way to help them learn and enjoy. Check out the Kong Toy in our Amazon shop for this idea.
Leash, Collar and Tags
It’s against the law to walk your dog without a leash on them, but more importantly than what’s legal, it’s important to use a leash because you don’t want your dog to run away or get lost.
Dogs are most likely to run away soon after they are adopted, because they are not familiar with their new surroundings, so always use a leash when taking them outside. Another tip is to think about potential “escape routes” in your home and do what you can to eliminate them, like fixing wobbly fences, or securing window screens.
A collar is very important to have on your dog at all times, and you need to have a collar with a tag on it with your name and phone number, as well as your dog’s name, in case someone finds your dog. They can’t help reunite you with your best friend if they can’t get in touch with you.
Certainly there’s room for fashion and style when it comes to collars as well, and there are even some cool woven collars you can find in our Amazon shop that have names and numbers stitched right in.
Because dogs can get lost, and because Los Angeles is a big city, it’s imperative that your dog have a microchip embedded, and the best time to do it is right when you adopt them.
When you adopt a pet from the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, they make sure your dog has had all their shots and has a microchip implanted before you even get home. Check with the shelter or breeder where you’re getting your dog and see if they offer a similar service. If they don’t, your Veterinarian should.
Pro Tip: you must register your dog’s microchip with your name and address or else they won’t be able to return the dog to you – and don’t forget to update the registration when you move.
More Gear if you Want it
Of course there’s no end to the gear you can have for your pet dog. We didn’t even mention food, dog dishes, dog beds, or even dog clothes. But once you adopt your pet dog, we know you’ll find all the right gear.
About the Experts
Dr. J.J. Rawlinson, Senior Manager, Community Partnerships and Welfare Initiatives Wallis Annenberg PetSpace
Dr. J.J. Rawlinson is originally from Canada where, as a student-athlete playing varsity basketball, she pursued a B.S. in biology from the University of Guelph in Ontario and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. During veterinary school, Dr. Rawlinson focused on caring for the stray and unwanted animals in underserved communities of Los Angeles County and participated in many spay and neuter programs.
Upon completing her doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, she completed an intensive Small Animal Surgery and Medicine Internship at VCA West Los Angeles. She continues to treat a wide variety of emergency and non-emergency cases as a general practitioner, focusing primarily on the care of dogs and cats.
In 2016, she helped launch a new state-of-the-art animal adoption and education facility, Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, in Playa Vista. As the Veterinarian and Animal Care Manager, she oversees medical procedures, behavioral training, and the adoption process of pets looking for their forever homes.
She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two young children. In her spare time, she enjoys ocean swimming and triathlon training.
Katie McGuire, CPDT-KA, Animal Behavior & Training Coordinator Wallis Annenberg PetSpace
Katie McGuire is an accomplished professional dog trainer, with more than 13 years of experience, but her training career and education began long before that. Her childhood consisted of as many animal activities as she could find, including care, training, and competing with horses, as well as volunteering for a local animal rescue. She also spent time training her own dogs in multiple activities such as tricks, agility, and obedience.
Katie receive her BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her studies she worked part time as an On Set Safety Representative with American Humane Association, ensuring that animals were being treated humanely during film and television productions. While at UCSB, she also completed an internship training dogs for the entertainment industry.
Additional professional endeavors of Katie’s included a role as professional dog trainer for a pet supply store, overseeing trainers at additional locations, and advising on the well-received publication, “The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever.” Her previous video and in-person demonstrations include ACCESS Live, The Pet Collective, and The California Science Center.
She eventually launched her own training business, giving her the ability to grow and develop her skills, as well as focus on dogs with problem behaviors, and training for competition dogs in different venues. In 2020, Katie officially became the Animal Behavior & Training Coordinator at Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, after serving as the exclusive group class trainer since 2018.
Katie is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), AKC Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog Evaluator, a member of The Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the Dog Trainers Alliance of Southern California, the Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America, and the Valley Hills Obedience Club. With her own dogs, she trains and competes in agility, conformation, Rally Obedience, and competition Obedience, garnering many wins, and competing at the national level. She continues her education by reading, attending seminars, and consulting with other trainers as often as possible.
Sarah Auerswald is the co-Founder and Managing Editor of MomsLA.com.