Pre-Adventure Puppy Gear Guide: The Young Pup Essentials!


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When we knew we were bringing home Kepler, an energetic Border Collie puppy and adventure dog in the making, we needed to make sure we had prepared our home and ourselves for his arrival by buying the right gear in anticipation of him joining our family. It is surprisingly difficult to find good advice online about what specifically to buy for a puppy to make sure you have the right toys, food and other puppy essentials to look after, entertain and raise a well-rounded and happy adventure dog.

I spent HOURS researching online (Google, reviews, books, youtube videos) and speaking to our breeder and vet, as well as other dog owners, to make sure everything we buy for him is good quality and will stand up to some hard-wearing, rather than just getting the cheapest or most heavily-advertised products – but also not spending a fortune on things that are likely to need replacing pretty quickly.

Here are the specific puppy essentials we bought for our energetic and active adventure dog before bringing him home. Many of these are available at Amazon and I’ve included links to buy the products in the descriptions below.

I also mention the sizes as they are appropriate for our puppy, who was 8 weeks old and around 11lb when we brought him home, and I went through a bit of trial-and-error in getting the sizing right, so hopefully, this is helpful if you are adopting a similar-sized dog, otherwise please do a little of your own research pertaining to your dog’s size.

Table of Content

Puppy Home Essentials – Building an Adventure Dog’s Basecamp

Midwest Double Door Folding Metal Crate

Midwest Dog Crate Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

The Midwest Metal Dog Crate is our adventure dog’s den, aka his ‘basecamp’. Our puppy eats his meals and sleeps in his crate. He hangs out in there during the day, when he also has access to his playpen. We bought the 42 inch long crate, which comes with a divider so he only has access to around half of it, and we can keep making his space bigger until he is toilet-trained and can occupy the full crate. It also has two doors so we have more versatility when it comes to using and cleaning the crate.

Midwest Foldable Metal Exercise Pen with Door

Midwest Foldable Metal Exercise Pen with Door Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

We also have the matching Midwest Foldable Metal Exercise Pen. The size we bought is 30 inches tall and the same height as the crate, and it is attached to the crate so that he can play and run around in there during the day when not tethered to one of us elsewhere in the house. One day he may be able to scramble over it, but by then we plan for him to be trained and can be trusted to spend time outside the playpen even when not directly supervised. We can step over into the exercise playpen, and it also has a door for getting Kepler and ourselves in and out. The door makes for easier cleaning too.

URPOWER Stainless Steel Dog Bowls with Silicone Mat

URPOWER Stainless Steel Dog Bowls with Silicone Mat Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

These URPOWER water and food bowls are big enough for when Kepler is a full-size adventure dog, and come in a sturdy silicone stand that stops him knocking them over or the bowls skidding all over the crate floor.

EZWhelp Washable Whelping Mat and Puppy Pad x2 (and a Tarpaulin)

EZWhelp Washable Whelping Mat and Puppy Pad Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

Kepler’s playpen is in the middle of our living room, which is carpeted, so we needed to protect the floor from bathroom accidents and wanted to use something that was washable, rather than disposable. First, we placed a heavy-duty tarpaulin under the playpen area, and this is covered with one of these washable whelping mats that are designed for use with dogs. We bought two so that if he has an accident on the mat that is being used, we wash it and switch it with the other fresh one. This keeps the area clean and the floors safe from soiling, and allows him to roam around the middle of our living room without getting up to mischief. I also like to think that using a tarpaulin is helping prepare him for days of camping and fastpacking in the future 🙂

Whelping Mat (41×41 inch)

Heavy Duty Tarpaulin

Ruffwear Restcycle Dog Bed

Ruffwear Restcycle Bed Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

As it’s pretty hot at the moment, our adventure puppy is more interested in lying on the crate tray or tarpaulin, and although we invested in this Ruffwear Restcycle bed, he actually pulls it out of the crate so that there’s space for him to do so. I like that he’s happy to ‘ruff-it’, this bodes well for future fastpacking trips and other trail adventures. But still, every dog needs a bed, and Kepler’s bed goes in the crate with him at night.

Quality, Chew-Friendly Puppy Toys

A puppy needs to chew and play, and if you don’t provide enough toys or things he can safely chew on, then he’ll get destructive and chew other things – even in his crate he could start to chew on the metal bars, the tarp, or his food bowls. These toys are important and also get him thinking and problem-solving, so they work his mind, too.

Chewable Puppy Kong and Puppy Kong Tire

Puppy Kong Tire Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

Kepler eats all his meals in his crate, this helps him to love being in there, and we actually feed him most of his kibble in one of his Puppy Kong Toys, either the original Puppy Kong or the Puppy Kong Tire. He just prefers the mental challenge of extracting the biscuits rather than just gobbling from a bowl and getting bored once he’s done.

Puppy Kong Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

These Kong puppy chew toys are a must-have, because they’re so versatile and robust for chewing. The puppy version is made out of softer rubber than the adult dog version, and both can be stuffed with kibble or treats, and sealed in, if needed, with a paste safe for dogs to eat, such as pure peanut butter or cream cheese. Normally, though, I just stuff his kibble into the rim of the tire, put it into his crate, and he has fun rolling it around and chewing it to get the food to drop out. We have the medium Puppy Kong and the medium/large Puppy Kong Tire.

 Squishy Face Studio Braided Fleece Tug Rope Toy

Squishy Face Studio Fleece Dog Tug Toy Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

The best soft toys I could find are these Squishy Face Studio Braided Fleece Tug toys, which are made of twisted/braided fleece material. Our puppy loves to chew and tug on these, and they’re good for playing fetch with, too. One is attached to his crate, the other is loose in his playpen. You have to watch that he doesn’t rip bits of felt off, but they’re surprisingly strong and it’s important for him to have something soft to chew on.

JW Hol-ee Roller Original Treat-Dispensing Dog Ball

jw hol ee treat dispensing dog ball

This JW Hol-ee Roller Original Treat-Dispensing Ball is good for problem-solving as you can stuff it with dog biscuits and the puppy has to work to get them out. Kepler also likes to chew on it and throw it around his playpen – it’s made out of soft but durable rubber and we have the ball in the medium size.

Ruffwear Gnawt-A-RockRuffwear Gnawt a Rock Kibble dispenser

The Ruffwear Gnawt-A-Rock can be filled with kibble or treats and it’s up to your dog to roll and throw it around to get it to dispense the treats. Making him work for his food!

Natural and Healthy Puppy Treats

Zukes Naturals Mini Dog Training Treats

Zukes Mini Naturals Dog Treats Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

We tried other puppy training treats but I think those brands must have something in them that makes the dog go a bit too hyper with huge energy spikes, the dog equivalent of candy, whereas Zukes Natural Mini Dog Training Treats do not seem to drive him crazy, but he enjoys working for them. These are the best puppy-appropriate training treats we have come across for training and rewarding: our puppy likes eating them, they don’t take long to chew (although longer than softer treats) and he doesn’t have an overactive episode after eating them.

Get Naked Grain Free Puppy Dental Chew Sticks

Get Naked Puppy Dental Chews Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

We like the natural ingredients in the Get Naked Grain Free Puppy Chews, and that they give the little nibbler something to chew on, as an alternative to the stuffed Kongs and something that is good for his teeth and breath.

Other New Adventure Puppy Essentials

Paws & Pals Dog Stroller

Paw and Pals dog stroller Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

Yes, you read that right! We bought this Paws & Pals Dog Stroller as we were strongly advised to protect our new puppy against viruses in his first weeks at home, which means not letting him walk on the ground outside where other dogs have visited. Once he is fully vaccinated he can go and walk outside, but until then, we want to make sure that he can get out, meet lots of people and experience the world during the key 8-12 week development stage, to reduce the chance of fear when he could get out and walk for himself, while not putting him at risk of a deadly virus.

It may look a bit silly pushing a dog around in this, but Kepler LOVES his stroller. He sits in it and enjoys the air on his face, seeing and smelling all the different people/stores/restaurants/vehicles and other things we encountered on our stroller walks. Just because he’s not allowed to walk around outside, it doesn’t mean an adventure dog has to miss out on little adventures! For the low price and peace of mind, it was worth getting the stroller, and we’ll pass it on to someone else who needs it once we no longer need it ourselves.

Petsafe Nylon Leash

Petsafe Nylon Leash Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

We needed a lightweight leash we can use for our puppy to go outside for bathroom breaks, and walks in the house and on our balcony, and this simple 6ft Petsafe nylon leash does the job. We also have a Ruffwear Roamer Leash for him when he’s a little bigger and can go on proper walks – it’s great quality and a little heavier than the Petsafe leash so while he’s very small we’ll use the lightweight Petsafe leash and transition to the Ruffwear Roamer when he’s grown a little. Learn more about leashes and harnesses HERE.

Petsafe Deluxe Easy Walk Harness

Petsafe Deluxe Easy Walk Harness Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

Our adventure puppy goes naked when in the house (it’s safest as he doesn’t have anything on him that can get caught and potentially hurt him), but when we take him out, even in his stroller we use this Petsafe Deluxe Easy Walk Harness, which is pretty minimal so he stays as cool as possible in the hot weather when wearing it, and has the leash attachment on the front, which can help with pulling.  Once adjusted, it’s easy to put on and he is pretty happy to wear it as it means he gets to go outside on adventures! The Small size fitted him at 8 weeks (when on its smallest sizing), and has room for a couple of months’ growth. We aren’t using collars with Kepler until he is trained and less likely to hurt his neck by pulling on his leash, which is possible if the puppy is running at the time and jolts when at the end of the tether.

Dog Training Clickers

Dog Training Clickers Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

We knew we wanted to clicker-train our adventure puppy and that we would start this journey from his first week with us, so we have a few clickers around the house for impromptu and planned training sessions.

Silicone Collapsible Water Bowl

Silicone Dog Water Bowl Adventure Pup Essentials Trail and Kale

Puppies, especially black dogs in California, get hot quickly! We take one of these silicone collapsible travel water bowls everywhere in case Kepler needs a drink when we’re out.

Earth Rated Dog Wipes

Because sometimes an adventure pup gets mucky and needs a quick clean-up! These Earth Rated Dog Wipes are unscented and hypoallergenic, and help clean his paws/butt/fur when needed, like the time he stood on his own poop 🙂

Ruffwear Hydro Plane floating toy

So there you have it, our list of essentials to buy for a puppy and adventure dog in the making! I’m sure we’ll be buying a lot more essentials for Kepler once he can walk around outside the house, and have my eye on many Ruffwear items in particular, such as this Floating Hydro Plane soft frisbee toy! Who knew someone so small could need so much gear!

One of Trail & Kale's co-founders, a mom, and guardian of our resident trail dog, Kepler, Helen can be found trail running with Kepler and enjoying road runs with her mini in a jogging stroller, all while testing out the latest running gear for our readers.


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When we knew we were bringing home Kepler, an energetic Border Collie puppy and adventure dog in the making, we needed to make sure we had prepared our home and ourselves for his arrival by buying the right gear in anticipation of him joining...Pre-Adventure Puppy Gear Guide: The Young Pup Essentials!