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Buying guide for best puppy starter kits

Whether you’re bringing a puppy into your home for the first time or just haven’t had a dog in a while, introducing a new furry member to your family can be a great experience. But dogs — and puppies, in particular — take a lot of work, so the sooner you can get them settled and comfortable in your home the better. That’s where a puppy starter kit comes in.

A puppy starter kit is just what it sounds like: a kit that includes many of the items a new puppy or dog requires. Some kits focus on a particular aspect of a puppy’s care, such as nutrition, training, grooming, or playtime, while most kits feature a combination of essentials to get a new pet owner started. If you have a friend or family member who’s recently adopted or purchased a dog, a puppy starter kit makes an excellent gift, especially if you choose a kit that contains mainly toys.

Use our buying guide for all the tips you need to choose the best puppy starter kit for the new dog in your life.

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Some breeders include a starter kit when you pick up your puppy. If you adopt a puppy from a shelter, you’ll need to purchase the kit yourself.

Key considerations

Type of kit

Puppy starter kits are available in several different types, which contain different kinds of items. If you’re purchasing a kit as a gift, you’re probably better off choosing one that includes mostly toys, in case the pet owner already has the basics for their new four-legged friend. If you’re shopping for yourself, you’ll probably want a kit that contains different types of products.

The most common types of puppy starter kits include the following:

Essential: These puppy starter kits typically contain a variety of products, so you have all the basics for your new puppy. The kit may include a combination of training, grooming, feeding, and activity products.

Nutrition: These puppy starter kits focus on your dog’s eating routine, so they usually contain puppy food, treats, and bowls for food and water.

Training: These puppy starter kits focus on the tools you need to train your puppy and typically feature products like dog training pads, collar, leash, and teething aid.

Grooming: These puppy starter kits focus on the items you need to look after your puppy’s coat, nails, and teeth, such a brush, shampoo, nail clippers, toothpaste, and toothbrush.

Activity/toy: These puppy starter kits focus on products to keep your puppy entertained and expend some of its excess energy like chew toys, balls, stuffed toys, teething aids, interactive games, and treats.


Puppy starter kits vary in size, so it’s important to consider how many pieces you need. Some small kits contain as few as five items, while larger kits offer 25 or more. Essential kits tend to be the largest, while focused kits are often smaller. You’ll pay more for a larger kit, but you’ll usually get the best value per item.

If you need pretty much everything for your new puppy, a large kit is your best bet. However, if you’ve already purchased some basics separately, you can just supplement those items with a smaller kit.

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Expert Tip
Chewing is a natural dog behavior. If you want to discourage your pup from chewing on your favorite pair of shoes, make sure it has plenty of chew toys.


Food and treats

Puppies require the right nutrients to grow up healthy, so some puppy starter kits contain high-quality food meant specifically to help your dog build healthy bones and teeth, develop muscle, and maintain energy. A puppy’s nutrition requirements differ from those of adult dogs, so you want to be sure the kit includes a puppy food formula. The food should also contain real meat instead of animal by-products and be free of wheat, soy, and corn, since these ingredients don’t offer any real nutritional value. 

Many puppy starter kits don’t contain food but do offer treats and chews that your puppy may enjoy. Choosing treats that are the right size for your dog is key, though, because you don’t want to give your puppy something that may be a choking hazard. Puppy starter kits should feature small treats and chews that your puppy can handle easily.


Your puppy will need bowls for food and water, so many starter kits include two plastic or stainless steel bowls. Veterinarians usually recommend stainless steel because plastic is prone to scratches, which can trap bacteria and cause health issues for your puppy. The size of the bowls matters, too, because you don’t want them to be too large for a puppy.

Training pads

Potty training your puppy can be a real challenge, so many puppy starter kits include training pads, which are highly absorbent and keep any mess contained. You can place the pad in your home, so your dog has a designated “safe” space to relieve itself indoors. The pads protect your carpeting and flooring and help make it easier to transition your dog to going outdoors.

Collar and leash

When you start to take your puppy out into your neighborhood, you need a collar and leash to keep it under control. A collar must fit properly, so your puppy can’t slip out of it. Look for a starter kit with an adjustable collar that can grow along with your puppy. Some kits include a harness instead of a collar, which you might prefer if you’re concerned about possibly choking your puppy. A lightweight nylon leash is a good option for puppies who are just learning to walk on a leash.


Puppies can get bored pretty easily, and when they’re bored they’re much more likely to chew on your shoes or furniture. Toys help keep them entertained, so they’re not as likely to be destructive around the house.

Puppy starter kits typically contain a mix of toy types. Chew toys are especially important because they offer an outlet for your dog’s chewing. They can also provide some relief when your puppy is teething and keep its teeth and gums healthy. Plush toys not only serve as a source of entertainment for your pup, but the soft feel can also help comfort your dog. They’re often a better choice when you want to play with your dog, too. You can also find starter kits that come with tennis balls for a game of fetch.

Grooming tools

To keep your puppy healthy and happy, you need to take care of its coat, teeth, and nails. Puppy starter kits often contain items like nonirritating shampoo, dog toothpaste, toothbrush, nail clippers, and a brush or comb, so you can get your puppy used to these grooming tasks early and avoid issues as they get older.


You may be comfortable with your puppy sleeping in your bed or on your sofa, but it’s still a good idea to have a dedicated spot for your dog to rest. Some puppy starter kits include a bed, pillow, or blanket so your dog can sleep comfortably.

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Expert Tip
It’s a good idea to bathe your puppy monthly to get it used to the process, so it helps to choose a starter kit that includes dog shampoo.


Crate: MidWest Homes for Pets Life Stages Folding Metal Dog Crate
You can’t supervise your puppy all the time, so it helps to have a dog crate that can serve as a comfortable, safe space for it. This model from MidWest Homes for Pets is a good option because it’s easy to set up and it folds for storage.

ID tags: GoTags Personalized ID Tag
If your puppy or dog runs off, you’ll have a much better chance of finding it if it has an ID tag with your phone number and address on the collar. We like this one from GoTags because it’s made of polished stainless steel and features laser engraving for added durability.

Puppy starter kit prices

Puppy starter kits vary in price based on the type and number of pieces they contain. Most kits cost between $14 and $400.

Inexpensive: The most affordable starter kits are typically those that contain only toys or nutrition items. You can expect to spend between $14 and $35 for these.

Mid-range: These puppy starter kits are generally focused on grooming or are small essential starter kits. They usually cost between $19 and $75.

Expensive: The most expensive puppy starter kits are large essential kits with high-quality products. These can cost anywhere from $100 to $400.

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Expert Tip
Most experts recommend taking a new puppy to see a veterinarian within two or three days of bringing it home.


  • List all the items you need for your new puppy. You can usually find the best starter kit by making a list of all the items you want or need for your new family member. Compare that list to the contents of various starter kits to choose the best fit for your puppy.
  • Talk to your vet before using medications on your puppy. Some puppy starter kits may include flea and tick prevention products, but talk to your veterinarian before using them on your puppy.
  • Be careful about squeaky toys. If your puppy rips open a toy with a squeaker, the squeaker can become a choking hazard.
  • Get two dog beds. Even if you’ve purchased a dog bed separately, you may want a starter kit that includes one. That way, you’ll have a backup when you need to wash one.
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Some puppy starter kits contain enzymatic cleaners that can clean up urine on carpeting or other surfaces when your puppy has an accident.


Q. Are puppy starter kits only for puppies?
While they’re geared toward puppies, basic starter kits that contain essential items are perfect for any new dog you bring into your home, no matter its age. Puppy starter kits may feature items that are on the small side, though, so you might need to purchase some items separately if you have a large dog.

Q. When should I start training my puppy?
The sooner you start training your puppy the better. Start on basics like potty training and commands like sit and stay as soon as you bring it home. You should also work on discouraging your puppy from chewing on items like shoes and furniture right away. Keep the training sessions short when your dog is young, and always use positive reinforcement along with treats as rewards to encourage good behavior.

Q. How can I puppy-proof my home?
Puppies are a lot like babies — you want to keep your puppy away from anything that might harm it or you don’t want it to destroy. That means making sure food, particularly anything that can make a dog sick like chocolate and onions, is stored in locations the puppy can’t reach. Make sure that your trash can is secured, too, because your puppy will try to get into it if it smells food inside. Puppies need a lot of supervision to make sure they’re not swallowing anything they shouldn’t. If you can’t watch your puppy, you might want to put it in a crate or confine it to a room you know is safe.

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