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This was one of the most requested guides on this site. Apparently, there are a lot of new Doberman puppy owners out there who are a little lost on what basics they need to get for their new puppy. If that’s you, then this is probably the easiest Doberman-specific guide you’ll find for making sure you’re prepared for your new pup.
The items here are just the essentials, and most of these products are the exact same ones I used for my Dobbie puppy Cooper when I brought him home. If you start off with these, then you’ll be at a great starting point. You’ll find other things later on that you’ll need of course. But for now, let’s not break the bank and just worry about the essentials.
Doberman Puppy Must-Haves
These are the best of each type of item that I’ve discovered so far. My goal here is to make sure you have each category covered with something that’s high quality and reasonably priced.
1. DNA Test Kit – Embark DNA Test Kit – I’m extremely passionate about Doberman health and the first thing I believe that anyone with a new puppy needs to do is DNA health test their dog. You’ll learn what genetic disorders they may have, what they’re susceptible to, and so much more insight. Having these results is the absolute best foundation for your dog’s future health. Modern DNA tests can even give you a glimpse into their potential lifespan! I wrote a guide all about how to do this and what results to look out for here: Doberman DNA Health Testing: The Complete Guide.
2. Puppy Food – Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy Food – This is, in my opinion, the best and most trusted puppy food by Doberman owners. Ask around on Doberman forums about what food you should use and you’ll quickly realize that most experienced owners use this brand for their own puppies. See my “Best Food and Treats for Doberman” page under the recommended products heading in the toolbar for an in-depth explanation as to why this is my pick for the best Doberman puppy food.
ALTERNATIVE FOOD OPTION – Ollie Human-Grade Fresh Food Delivery – If you want to stick to fresh human-grade foods only (very popular in the Doberman world) my recommendation would be Ollie food. Ollie is highly trusted in the Doberman world and they customize their meals using human-grade fresh foods based on your dog’s specific age, activity level, and even to the Doberman breed specifically! They deliver fresh food weekly to your door and it’s so nice having fresh cooked dog food without having to worry about messing up the balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, etc. Works great for puppies and adults. This is how you really spoil your dog.
4. Collar – Something Basic but Secure – Don’t spend a lot of money here on a fancy collar, especially for a puppy. Dobies grow incredibly fast and they will soon outgrow their collar. It’ll be nothing more than a cute keepsake in a few months to remember how small your monster once was. Just get something small, durable, and inexpensive. The one below from Amazon fits the bill quite well and has a dual safety ring design that won’t allow your dog to get the collar off even if the buckle breaks.
5. Leash – Something Basic but Secure – You need some way to keep control of your puppy and to assist with training. You really don’t need to get anything fancy here either. Your puppy should have a small/light leash when they’re young so it’s not too cumbersome, but a thicker and more durable leash when they’re older. So your pup will outgrow this “puppy leash” soon also, so don’t spend a lot. Here’s a good basic one I like for puppies.
6. Toys – A Wide Variety – This is my guide for the best toys for Dobermans. Toys are very important for growing Dobermans and you should never have a lack of toys at your pup’s disposal or you might find them chewing on your furniture instead!
7. Food & Water Bowls– These Stainless Machine-Washable Bowls – I like something simple, that’s also not likely to cause a reaction on the bottom of your dog’s chin, since chin ache is a common issue for Dobies (they rub the bottom of their chin on their food bowls while eating). Stainless steel seems to be best for this. I like these bowls because they’re easily machine washable, just remove that rubber ring on the bottom of the bowl first and toss them in your dishwasher. If you want to use a slow feeder bowl to help prevent bloat, you can use something like this stainless slow feeder bowl (Amazon link). Yes, I purposely recommend large dog bowls so you don’t have to buy another bowl when your puppy grows up. There’s no reason stainless shouldn’t last you forever.
8. Crate – This Midwest Brand Crate with Partition – It’s important you get a crate that can grow with your dog. It shouldn’t be too big when they’re young, or cramped when they’re an adult. That’s why I really like this Midwest crate. This is a large crate with a partition you can move back to provide more room inside as your puppy grows—very important for potty training. It also has two doors for easy access to your pup if need be. Also, you can cover three of the four sides with blankets to make it feel more like a den to keep your dog’s crying to a minimum, or just get this optional crate cover (Amazon link) which is made for this specific crate and works really well!
Hint: The 48-inch crate is big, but it can work with the provided divider when they’re a puppy and be big enough to accommodate your pup when he’s a full-sized adult Doberman also! Buy one and be done!
9. Bed – This Midwest Brand Bed (Fits Crate Above Perfectly) – Here’s my philosophy on a bed for a Doberman puppy: get something very cheap (but safe) for your dog! They will destroy at least a few beds during the teething stage. So there’s nothing wrong with going to your local pet store and seeing what’s on-sale and dirt cheap. The big exception to this in my mind is if you want to spend a little bit more and get something that fits perfectly inside their dog crate. I think that is worth it since you need something soft inside the crate anyway. The bed below is great for this, it’s soft, relatively cheap, AND it also fits inside the dog crate I listed above perfectly! I’d get this bed, especially if you are getting the crate I recommended on this page.
Hint: Make sure you get a bed the same size as the crate you ordered! If you got the full-sized 48-inch crate, get the 48-inch bed!
10. Puppy Pen – This Portable and Foldable Wire Puppy Pen – This will be a small get-away for your puppy in the common area of the house. Puppy’s sleep a lot, and when your pup falls asleep during the day, they will be happiest if they are with the family but also contained so they don’t wake up and pee somewhere or get into something dangerous. That’s why it’s nice to have a safe, comfortable, penned-off area for them near the common areas of the home. It’s also great so there’s a safe place to put them in an emergency if you need to do something else quickly or leave the house. Scroll down to see more on this in the section below titled “The Ideal Puppy Pen Setup”.
11. Pee Pads – One Cheap Option and One Very Absorbent Option – Your Dobie pup very well may need pee pads if they are left alone for any length of time. With some practice, your pup can be trained to seek out his or her pads when it’s time to go. I used to only recommend the Amazon Basics ones (black button below) but the reality is, the Frisco brand pads from Chewy are only a touch more expensive but far more absorbent (blue button below) so you have both options you can pick from below.
12. Shampoo – This VERY Gentle Shampoo – You’ll probably need to bathe your puppy pretty soon after getting him home. Dobermans in general have sensitive skin and Dobie puppies are even worse. It’s very easy to cause dry and itchy skin on a Doberman pup. I found this shampoo to be great at not drying out the skin and it’s very gentle on young Dobie puppies. It also won’t irritate their eyes. This stuff will work great on an older Dobie with sensitive skin too!
13. Accident Clean-Up Spray – Nature’s Miracle Enzymatic Spray – I wouldn’t own any puppy without having some of this on hand. The problem with Dobie puppies is that they’re easily triggered to pee when they smell anywhere they have peed in the past. This cleaner is safe on just about any flooring and has enzymes that actually break down the pee scent so your puppy won’t smell old pee spots and be triggered to go again. If there was a “must-must have” list for Dobie puppies, I’d have this on it!
14. Potty Training Dog Doorbells – You’re going to want to potty train your puppy starting on day one. And if you’re relying on your puppy notifying you when they need to go out, then having something like these hanging bells from the door on the VERY first day they get to your home can make a big difference. If you have a dog door your dog will have access to at all times then this may not be necessary, but if not then these are pretty high on the must-have list.
Note: The version at Chewy.com has different colors available.
15. Leash & Other Walking Gear – For a great leash suggestion along with other great products for walking your puppy, see the suggestions I made in the guide listed below!
Once you have these categories covered, you should have the basics handled for your new Doberman puppy!
The Ideal Dog Crate Setup
Your puppy’s dog crate is their holy ground. You want your puppy to see their crate as their den. A dog’s den is their safe space and their happy place all in one. If you keep your Doberman pup’s crate feeling like this, then you and your puppy will have many more restful nights.
There are a few important ways that you can make their crate feel more like their den. This is how I set up my Doberman’s crate when he was just a puppy and I found it worked amazingly well. In fact, I was never woken the first few nights with crying from my new puppy. Everyone warned me that it would happen for the first few nights, but luckily I never had to deal with that.
Here’s how to set up your dog’s crate:
- Make it the right size. A dog crate that is too big doesn’t feel cozy to a new puppy and it could even make your puppy go to the bathroom inside of it. If it’s too small, it’s uncomfortable. So use the partition in the crate I suggested (above) to make the crate just big enough for him to comfortably turn around, and not much bigger.
- Cover three sides with a blanket. Dobermans love to watch the front door of their den for security reasons. So make an obvious front door! Cover a blanket over three of the sides of the crate, leaving the front door uncovered at night so they can see out.
- Soft bedding that fits correctly. In the list above, besides suggesting a crate, I also suggested a bed that fits perfectly inside that crate. This is because a soft bed that isn’t too big or too small is incredibly important for a puppy to feel comfortable.
- No water or food inside the crate. The crate is where you’re puppy will sleep at night and that should be all. So get your pup plenty of water, food, and bathroom breaks before bedtime in the new crate. There should be no food or water to mess the crate up with during the night.
- One toy inside the crate is ok. If your pup has a favorite toy, it’s good to have it inside the crate with them during the night. Just make sure it’s a very tough toy that won’t break apart and be a choking hazard during the night.
- Never punish your dog by sending them to the crate. This is the most important tip I can give you. If you punish your dog by locking them in the crate when they do something bad, they’ll always fight you going in it at night and they’ll never feel comfortable sleeping in the crate.
Remember that the crate should be a happy and relaxing place for your new Doberman pup. The last thing you want is a fight on your hands every night when you try to put your dog in the crate. This setup worked great for my Dobie when I brought him home from the breeder for the first few nights.
Never punish your puppy by sending him to his crate. Keep the crate a happy and relaxing place.
The Ideal Puppy Pen Setup
In addition to the crate, you’ll probably want to have some sort of small puppy pen where you can leave your dog for a short time while you’re at work or away from the house. When a Doberman puppy is young, it’s often too dangerous to leave them in the backyard or loose in the house.
This pen should also be a happy place for your dog just like their nighttime crate is. But this should contain everything they need to make it through a few hours of you being gone. Here’s my setup I had for my Doberman puppy when I would go to work. This worked very well for me.
- Pick a spot on an easy to clean surface. You’ll want to pick a spot for your puppy pen that’s on a surface that’s easy to clean in case there’s an accident. That means carpet won’t work. I used the tile floor in my kitchen.
- Use a completely enclosed puppy fence. I used this puppy fence (Amazon link) for my puppy pen. It’s sturdy, folds up easily for transport, and provides a good-sized area (about 16 square feet) for my puppy pen.
- Cover the entire floor area with puppy pee pads. I suggested some good pee pads above that are not too expensive. Really, guys, they’re cheap. So just place them across the floor of the entire puppy’s pen.
- Put a comfortable bed inside. Your dog will need a soft place to lay down and hopefully sleep plenty while you’re gone.
- A few good chew toys. Have a few good chew toys in the pen so your puppy can work out the anxiety of you being gone. Like with the crate, make sure they are trusted toys that won’t come apart and be a choking hazard. Have a look at my guide for great Doberman dog toys for some ideas.
- Have one designated pee spot. However you need to do it, get your puppy used to one certain spot in the pen as the place to go to the bathroom (if they need to). It can be a spot of a few extra layers of pee pads or you can do like I did and use a puppy potty pee turf setup like this one (Amazon link). These have the added benefit of getting your puppy used to peeing on grass which really helps with potty training.
This setup worked great for me. I did have a little struggle convincing my puppy to pee on the fake grass but once he got that part down, it really did make potty training so much easier. The most important thing is that your puppy’s pen is a safe place for them to be unsupervised in while you’re gone. Also, try to minimize the time your puppy is in their pen since Dobie puppies really just want to be with you anyway.
Finding a Veterinarian for Your New Puppy
Probably one of the most important things to do after bringing home a new Doberman puppy is to find a good veterinarian and to have your puppy’s first check-up.
To find a good veterinarian for your puppy, ask others in your area who they use. You can even spend some time searching online on places like Yelp or Google for a veterinarian near you. Pay specific attention to the reviews. When you finally find one you think might be good, call them first and ask about their services. Also, ask them if they have any specific experience with Dobermans.
(Click picture above to see the kit)
Before picking any veterinarian, you really need to get your dog DNA tested. It’s super easy to do at home and with the specific DNA kit I recommend for Dobermans (pictured above) they will allow you to e-mail the results to your vet directly. Please don’t skimp on your dog’s health.
I use a Banfield Pet Hospital for my Doberman Cooper. This is a large Veterinarian chain that is often located inside Petsmart stores. Many people will say bad things about them, and maybe I got lucky. But my Banfield vet is extremely knowledgeable about Dobermans, professional, and very caring. I have no doubts that he’s getting great care there.
Once you find a Veterinarian, make sure to take your new puppy in for their first check-up as soon as possible. You will want a trained eye to give your pup a good “once over” and make sure everything appears normal. They will also tell you about the vaccination schedule and what next steps you should take to keep your new puppy healthy.
Hang in There!
Puppies can be a lot of work. Don’t give up and just remember that everything at this young age is just a phase that will soon pass. Dobermans grow up to be amazing members of families and your puppy will be no different.
Just keep your new pup happy and healthy, and before you know it he’ll be an adult. Then you’ll be missing those puppy years!