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I have had many families tell me that they have prepared more extensively for the arrival of their puppy than the arrival of their first child! It can be a bit overwhelming, but it is also essential that you are prepared for your puppy with all of the necessaries. These are the "basics" which I recommend for all of our puppy families. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime, I'd strongly encourage it, as the savings and convenience of the monthly standing order ("Subscribe and Save") makes it worthwhile. We have a standing order for food, treats, shampoo, and bully sticks. Makes my life quite a bit easier! (Thank you Amazon!) 


Golden Retrievers are a large breed dog and thus, in order to insure that they grow at a slow rate and in a healthy manner, it is essential that they be fed a well-balanced, established, slow-growth food. There are plenty of options available, including home-cooked recipes formulated by board certified veterinary nutritionist (we strongly discourage the use of recipes just puled off the internet). Many of our families do not have time to prepare meals, but instead do a combination of a prepared kibble with fresh organic fruits and vegetables. If you think you'll do the same, Royal Canin Golden Retriever formula offers a good baseline kibble. 



Training treats will be your best friend with your new puppy. Goldens are incredibly food-driven. For the first couple of weeks home, we advise only using their kibble as a treat so as not to disrupt their GI system. After that, depending on the training situation, you can actually add in fresh fruits and vegetables. TINY, tiny pieces are very effective (like the size of a pea). Carrots and apples (one slice a day for an 8 week old pup) are a good starting point. We give our adult dogs a huge range: spinach, broccoli, avocado (one slice a day, celery, blueberries, banana, etc. You will discover what your puppy REALLY loves and reserve that for higher value training needs, like a vet visit (boiled chicken breast is excellent for this).




All I can say is, buy several of them. Now. They will be your puppy's best friend! This is an EXCELLENT tool for quiet time, decompression, and crate training. You can actually fit an entire meal in here (soak kibble, blend, then pour in to opening on top and freeze). This will keep your pup busy for 30-60 minutes AND help tremendously with crate training.


Because licking is proven to be a calming behavior, one of our "must haves" for all new puppy owners is this fabulous toy - the Chilly Penguin. For young puppies, it's best to stick with just their kibble (a super easy snack: put 10 pieces of puppy kibble in it, add one tablespoon of hot water, let soak for about 20 minutes, add another tablespoon of water and freeze!), plus a few blueberries a thick slice of banana (on the green side!). This is a game changer for the crate. 


KONG: This is a puppy favorite. One trick that works really well is to put a little dab of peanut butter on one end, then fill with no sodium broth and freeze. You will not believe how entertaining this is for your puppy! 



BRUSH: Not all slicker brushes are created equal. This Kenchii brush does an exceptional job with the undercoat.


SHAMPOO: Our Goldens have paler coats, so we like using a product that helps bring out all of their highlights, as well as making them incredibly soft. And, it smells fabulous!

LINK: Miracle Coat Radiant White Brightening Shampoo

NAIL CLIPPER: "Just the hook" - this is what we tell our Nicholberry families when trimming nails, and we find that these guillotine clippers do the best job in trimming just a little bit off. 

LINK: Nail Clippers


Your lil' puppy isn't going to be little for long, so we always recommend that our Nicholberry families purchase the 42" wire crate. It comes with a divider, which aids in potty training, and as the puppy grows the divider can be removed so that puppy can still have plenty of room.

LINK: 42" Wire Crate

It is essential to have a safe area in which you can contain puppy in your home. Boundaries! We like to use a couple of these exercise pens and connect them together to make a nice play area for puppy. 

Link: Exercise Pens

I LOVE my freestanding gates! I use them in new ways all of the time - if I just want to take puppy with me into the bathroom while I shower, it's a great way to create a confined space; if I want to block off a room (to either keep puppy in OR out), it does a super job. Sturdy and adjustable - an essential in our house!

LINK: Freestanding Gate


SMART PET LOVE: SO many of our families have told us of the wonders this little toy has worked on their new puppy. It has a heartbeat and apparently offers tremendous comfort to a puppy in its new home. 

LINK: Smart Pet Love Heartbeat Toy

FLIRT POLE: This is such a fabulous toy for kids and puppies. It enables kids to stay out of range of a puppy's sharp teeth, yet really helps drain that puppy energy. My only caution is that you monitor your kids when playing with this, explaining to them how important it is that puppy doesn't slip on slick floors, and that puppy isn't jumping in the air (both of which can cause serious hip and/or joint injuries).

LINK: Flirt Pole

KONG WUBBA: Oh, the beloved Kong Wubba! Our Goldens absolutely love this toy - it is incredibly durable, but light enough that they can toss it in the air to play a game of fetch with themselves (true story!), and the squeaker is virtually indestructible. We use these in the pool and lake and the entire pack absolutely LOVES them! A Golden essential...

LINK: Kong Wubba


HARNESS: A lot of our Nicholberry families have used the Easy Walk No Pull Harness and been very happy with it. 

LINK: Easy Walk No Pull Harness

LONG LINE: Long lines are invaluable training aids for sniffaris (allowing your pup to simply explore with his nose) and for teaching recall. Having an approximately 15 foot lead and a 30 foot are nice for varying needs (along with a 5 foot lead for things like going potty).


SWIM FLOAT JACKET: One of our favorite things to do with our Goldens is to take them to the lake. As a matter of safety, we always put their lifejackets on them. We have found the Ruffwear products to be incredibly durable, effective, and comfortable. 

LINK: Ruffwear Swim Float Jacket



This was a labor of love and arises from the wisdom gleaned in raising hundreds of puppies. The goal is to equip you so that you can help your puppy grow into a resilient and happy dog. 


ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN: This is not a training book, but it is a terrifically funny and moving work of fiction written from a dog's perspective. Brilliant.  



DOG FOOD CONTAINER: I am a sucker for functionally cute. Why settle for functional, if it can also be cute? I love this metal container. It holds an entire 30# bag of food, but seals tight to keep out bugs (we live in the country and ants are not our friend). 


DRYMATE MAT: If you have hardwood or tile floors, buy this. It is impossible to overstate how ESSENTIAL it is to your puppy's health that he does not slip around on slick floors. A lifelong joint/hip/elbow injury can occur from just one rambunctious play session. We strongly encourage our Nicholberry families with slick floors to purchase these mats for traction. The 48"x100" is easy to cut (we cut ours in half), and is very easy to wash (in the washing machine). 



VETERICYN: Buy it. Can I say it more strongly? This is one of those "go to" items that we ALWAYS have on hand, as it is truly a miracle worker (I jokingly refer to it as my "Windex" a la My Big Fat Greek Wedding). We have treated everything from bee stings to gashes with this and always marvel at the way it promotes healing. Just something you should have in your "medical bag"!

Link: Vetericyn Wound Care


FURBO DOG CAMERA: TREAT TOSSING: This product was on "Ellen" and is a ton of fun!



KURANDA: Oh, how these beds have stood the test of time in our home! Our dogs LOVE them (as do our puppies - all of our litters are raised with them). It keeps our dogs off the tile/cement (which they often prefer when it's warmer weather) and thus relieves their joints and elbows from the pressure those hard surfaces put on their bodies. I bought the cheap version from Costco and the dogs destroyed it within a couple of weeks. We have never had to replace a Kuranda - they are worth the extra money!



WYSI WASH: We asked several facilities such as the SPCA and Doggie hotels what they use to clean their artificial turf and concrete. Over and over, this is what we heard: Wysi Wash. This system uses a chlorine cartridge and the distribution system dilutes the chlorine to ratios sufficient to kill the Parvo virus (among others). It is extremely easy to use and lasts forever. Because we have so many people coming in and out of our yard (including gardeners), and because Parvo virus likes to hitch a ride on the bottom of shoes, we use this quite a bit in our backyard. It is safe on artificial turf (and obviously concrete/landscape rocks) and is super easy to use.


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