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Dog essentials list: 13 necessities for new dog owners

From blankets, beds and bowls to chew toys, harnesses and even books, here's the gear that'll help your new dog live happily in your home.

Like many Americans, I became a new dog owner in 2020.

Brian Bennett/CNET

American pet ownership is booming during the pandemic. In fact, the number of households with pets was predicted to have increased by 4% in 2020. That's no small change, bringing the total up to nearly 71 million homes. 

My own home is no exception. Last year we adopted a pair of 5-year-old doggies who needed a new home, and on short notice. Since then, I've had a crash course in basic dog gear to help keep my pooches happy. If you've just welcomed a furry new friend (or two) into your life like I have, or you're planning to, this guide is for you. Here, I'll lay out the items I recently bought along with the ones that I'm seriously tempted to get. I'll keep this list updated.

My dogs, especially this one, love their Furhaven memory foam dog beds. 

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Furhaven Pet dog bed

My dogs sleep a lot. And since I don't want to encourage them crashing on human beds, dog beds are a must. These beds from Furhaven use memory foam for extra support, come in multiple colors and have an L-shaped headrest. Both of my guys love them and take advantage of the comfortable surfaces whenever they're nearby.

The beds come in multiple sizes, ranging from $24 for small to $126 for jumbo plus.

pupprotector-throw-blanket

Keep your couch free of dog hair and your pal feeling pampered.

PupProtector

PupProtector Waterproof Throw Blanket

I admit this product may look a bit frivolous. Spending over $100 on a dog-friendly furniture blanket feels extravagant. That said, one of my dogs absolutely loves to sleep (and snore) on the couch. She also sheds hair like a champ. While I haven't tried the $119 PupProtector Throw Blanket personally, the thousands of glowing customer reviews make it sound like a tempting way to pamper a pet. It's also more visually interesting than the beat-up, old comforter currently on my couch.

Petmaker has a good affordable option.

Amazon

Petmaker Waterproof Pet Blankets

While not as luxurious as premium dog beds, this plush, reversible, stain-resistant pet blanket from Petmaker is much less expensive. And when accidents do happen, don't panic. The covering is also machine washable.

This collar discourages bad behavior on walks.

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PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar

For a comfortable and safe way to walk my dogs, I went with the Gentle Leader Headcollar from PetSafe. It's highly rated by thousands of Amazon shoppers, and available in multiple colors and sizes for $16. It's designed to discourage lunging, jumping and pulling during walks, all without choking your pet.

illumiseen-led-leash

Stay safe after dark with a light-up leash.

Amazon

Illumiseen LED Dog Leash

Make sure motorists see you and your pooch during nighttime walks with the help of this gadget. The LED Dog Leash by Illumiseen glows in either solid light or flashes for extra eye-grabbing attention. Illumiseen promises a battery life of five hours, and you can recharge it via USB. It comes in six color options as well. 

frisco-refill-dog-poop-bags

Poop bags are essential.

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Frisco Refill Dog Poop Bags

Dealing with poop is part and parcel of owning a dog. While it's not a fun chore, there are ways to mitigate the yuck factor. One is to use special bags like these from Frisco. Billed as leakproof and able to mask odors, I can confirm they get the job done with less ickiness, and beat flimsy plastic grocery bags any day of the week. The $20 kit comes with a box of 900 bags, plus two convenient leash dispensers so you'll never find yourself without them when the time comes.

This poop bag holder has an LED flashlight for late-night walkies.

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GABraden Dog Poop Pickup Holder with LED Flashlight

Here's an even snazzier dog poop bag holder. This one from GABraden provides storage for pick up bags and also sports an LED flashlight. It links to standard dog leashes too, so you won't lose sight of poop piles in the dark.

Train your dog to ring for a walk.

Amazon

Folksmate Dog Doorbells

Ever wish you could train your dog to let you know it wants to go outside? The Folksmate Dog Doorbells let you do just that. Forget about translating mysterious barks -- over time, and with proper training, your dog will tinkle these bells to tell you it needs to go out.

Minimize spills with these bowls.

Wesen

Wesen No Spill Dog Bowls

To set up feeding areas I used the Wesen No Spill Dog Bowls. Starting at $22, each kit comes with three bowls. Two are stainless steel, a 53-ounce food bowl and a 27-ounce water bowl. The third is a collapsible travel bowl designed to pack easily for trips. The last part of the package is a silicone floor mat with fitted bowl receptacles. All of it is dishwasher safe.

Keep their kibble fresh with these containers.

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Iris Airtight Food Storage Container

Kibble is intensely pungent. To keep that dog food smell from penetrating every nook and cranny of your home you'll need to store it properly. As such, I strongly suggest the Iris Airtight Food Storage Container, available now for less than $30. The package includes a 33-quart (25-pound) dry food container along with a 12-quart (10-pound) container for treats. The units are stackable and the main container sits on rotating casters for easy movement and positioning.

Chewy Dogwood

My dogs really go to town on their Chewy Dogwood chew toys.

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Chewy Dogwood

The urge to chew objects is normal for dogs. Instead of using your furniture, socks or shoes to satisfy this need, give your pooch a proper chew toy to gnaw. You've got lots of options, but my dogs love the Chewy Dogwood, which is currently just $8.49. It's safer and more durable than a real wood stick, and it doubles as a great fetch toy too. 

The FURminator brush helps reduce shedding.

FURminator

FURminator deShedding brush

Besides investing in a good vacuum, another method to control pet hair in your home is to invest in a good brush. The FURminator deShedding brush is a popular choice. It's designed to remove loose hair without harming your dog's overcoat and skin. Its designers also claim that with regular use you can reduce shedding by up to 90%.

For when your pooch is all tuckered out.

Brian Bennett/CNET

James Herriot's Dog Stories

Enjoy your free time with this endearing collection of dog-centered stories. Written by award-winning British writer James Herriot, who also penned the classic All Creatures Great and Small, Dog Stories is aptly titled. Within its pages are 50 tales of loving bonds between people and their dogs.