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Gear Up Your New Dog: The Essentials

So, you have a new member of the family: one with floppy ears and a wet-nose. You’ve thought about this moment over and over – your new dog bounding into your arms. But for some, this exhilaration comes with a dose of overwhelm. We’re here to help. 

We’ve rounded up our top 7 picks for the essential gear you’ll need – think of it as your starter kit. One of our Pack Support experts, Kerry, shares how this gear will start you off on the right paw. 

1) Top Collars

Front Range™ Collar

A yellow lab wears a Ruffwear Front Range™ collar.

  • Easy to start with – it goes with the matching Front Range set 
  • Has a friendly price point
  • Great for everyday wear
  • If you want to pick one collar for multiple uses, go with the Front Range!

Crag™ Reflective Collar

Check out Ruffwear's Crag™ Reflective Dog Collar.

  • Popular in the low-light conditions of wintertime
  • Reflective material for high visibility
  • Can add The Beacon™ Safety Light for extra visibility
  • It comes in a wide variety of fun colors and prints!

2) Top Leashes

Front Range™ Leash

Check out Ruffwear's Front Range™ Dog Leash.

  • It matches with the Front Range set
  • Is simple to use
  • Has a friendly price point

Crag™ Reflective Leash

 A man wears a Ruffwear Crag™ Reflective Leash around his waist.

  •  Great visibility for low-light outings
  • Can wear it around your waist for a hands-free experience

Knot-a-Leash™ Rope Dog Leash

 A picture of a red Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash™ rope dog leash.

  • Kerry shares, "I love it for its sturdy locking carabiner. My rescue dog was a bolter when I first got him, and I wanted something with a locking feature to keep it secure."
  • The strong carabiner comes in handy for larger dogs
  • Has reflective properties for low-light conditions

3) Top Harnesses

One of the most common questions Kerry gets from new dog owners: “Is a harness necessary?”

Kerry explains, “Many people know to grab a collar and leash, but they tend to shy away from a harness – especially when their dogs are puppies who will grow out of it. However, a dog can get out of a collar and leash so much more easily than a harness. Harnesses keep dogs secure and reduce pulling on the neck. The sooner you adjust your dog to a harness, the better. Lastly, for those who eventually want their dogs to wear packs, adjusting a dog to a harness is a good first step.” 

Web Master Harness

Best for staying secure & preventing escape. 

A picture of the Ruffwear Web Master™ Dog Harness in the blue dusk color.


    Kerry says, "The Web Master Harness is my top pick for new dog owners. We often recommend our Web Master Harness for 'Houdini' dogs who manage to wriggle out of a regular harness. It features five points of adjustment, including a second belly strap, for a secure fit."

    Front Range® Harness

    Best for everyday use & pullers.

    A woman sits near a lake and smiles at her dog who wears a Front Range® Dog Harness.

    Kerry shares, “Its front leash attachment point is a tool to help leash train or redirect a dog from pulling. While the front attachment is not a complete fix-it for pullers, it is a great training tool.”

    Flagline™ Harness with Handle

    Best for wilderness adventures. 

    A man hikes through a meadow with his dog who is wearing a Ruffwear Flagline Harness.

    • Has a handle to help lift and assist dogs over obstacles
    • Has the front leash attachment point for leash-training or redirecting pullers

    To learn more about our harnesses, check out our article: Choosing The Right Dog Harness

    4) Top Dog Bed

    Basecamp™ Dog Bed

    A photo of the Ruffwear Basecamp™ Dog Bed in the Orange Reef color.

    • This bed fits most crates for those new dog owners who are crate-training
    • Kerry shares, “I typically do not recommend our more expensive beds for new dog owners, because puppies and nervous new dogs tend to chew a lot!”
    • Has extra padding for comfort

    5) Car Seat Cover

    Dirtbag™ Seat Cover

    A dog sits in the car on top of the Ruffwear Dirtbag™ Seat Cover.

    • Kerry says, This is a must for me! People may be taking their puppies to various places, such as vet checkups, puppy training classes, and activities to socialize their dogs. It’s a good idea to get your dog used to a car early on, especially if you plan to go on longer adventures eventually.” 
    • This seat cover keeps your dog comfortable and your car clean.

    6) Top Treat Carrying Gear

    Treat Trader™

    A dog sits with its tongue out while a woman reaches into her Treat Trader™ Bag for dog treats.

    • Great to have when training your dog
    • Simple and lightweight
    • Can attach to an adjustable belt (included) or clip directly to your waist or personal backpack
    • Pairs wonderfully when leash training with the Front Range Harness

    Home Trail™ Hip Pack

    A woman wears the Ruffwear Home Trail™ Hip Pack around her waist and puts her keys in it.
    • Has room for your keys, cell phone, dog bags, treats, etc.
    • You only have to carry one item to hold everything – instead of carrying the Treat Trader bag with your own backpack or purse. 
    • Kerry adds, I use this product as a training tool because it can carry dog treats as well as things like your car keys and cell phone.”

    7) Gear for Visibility 

    The Beacon™ Safety Light

    A dog wears The Beacon™ Safety Light while running with a toy in his mouth.

    • Kerry says, “This is a must for me! I have one on all my pups' collars!
    • For low-light conditions – especially in the winter
    • In the summer, you can use it if you’re camping overnight. When your dog gets the zoomies at camp, use The Beacon to keep them visible.
    • When Kerry goes camping with her dogs, she puts one on their collars and another one on the backs of their harnesses. 

    Ready for the Next Step?

    All set with your essential dog gear and ready to take it to the next level? Check out these Ruffwear stories for adventure inspiration to kick off outdoor excursions with your canine companion.