Shopping List

These are items that I have found useful and recommended for a number of years.
I hope that you will find this list helpful.  
I will try to keep it updated as I find more cool things!

Dog Food & Treats

I feed Pro Plan Dog food.  Don’t let the kitchy sales people upsell you – Purina spends hundreds of thousands annually on research and is the food of champions – including ours!

Whatever you ultimately choose to feed – DO NOT feed a grain free food.  Grain free foods have been found to be a cause of nutrition related Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs – article from Tuft’s vet school here.

Just remember to watch out for fillers, dyes, and junk.  Most of the food and treats in the grocery store aisle are junk food – read labels and think about if it were people food – is it something you would want to eat.  

For puppies (until about six months) I feed:  Pro Plan Puppy Chicken and Rice as directed in the paperwork I send home with the puppy.

For Adults (after six months) I feed:  Proplan Sport Adult Performance 30/20 Chicken and Rice, or the Proplan Active (26/16) if they tend to carry a little extra weight.

Some dogs will do better with a different protein source (lamb, fish, beef) – but I believe in Pro Plan, and they will have all those options.

Treats – I like the Old Mother Hubbard hard puppy treats (in a bone shape),  I like the original mini ones, just to have in pockets and near the door for handy treats because they are small, don’t crumble, and don’t grow green fuzz in your pockets when you forget about them. 

For training, something a little more tasty is often helpful and there are ton’s of treats out there – I like Stella & Chewy’s , specifically any of the Wild Weenies flavors as well as the any of the Dinner Patties flavors (just remember that these are designed to be a complete food and will quickly add calories to your pups day).  


Probiotics – I really love the Pro Plan FortiFlora (doggy probiotics) and keep it on hand for any time I’m traveling, or the dogs might be stressed, and give it twice weekly to everyone. 

All of my dogs get their food top dressed daily with Ultra Oil, a high quality source of omega oils.

For a joint supplement all of my dogs are on OsteoMax and Gut X daily.  These are equine products, but are used by many canine owners and we have had great results on them!  Don’t worry – they are always on sale – LOL.


Leash & Collar

I love the Water Dog hexathane slip leads!  And now they are offering collars and leashes too.  They are waterproof, clean up easy and easy to grip even when wet. They are starting to offer toys and treats as well!

I recommend a Flat buckle adjustable collar of 18″ – 22″ for adults, and 10”-14” for puppies and a  four to six foot leash – make sure to get one that is comfortable in your hand.


Brush/Comb – I do not use the metal type shedding tools that are advertised – they cut the coat and ruin it.  This Zoom Groom works great to get dead hair out with daily brushings and doubles as a scrubber for bathes.  Plus, because it is rubber, it can be used anywhere on the dog without fear of it hurting them.  This metal comb also works great when they are starting to shed to pull out the dead hair without hurting the dog at all.

Blower – The Jellyfish is a handy little blower that works both post-bath, and when your dog is shedding to help get all the dead hair out and is small enough to travel with.

Shampoo – I like the Paul Mitchell (yes, the people one) dog shampoos.  This oatmeal shampoo is gentle and easy on the coat and skin.  

Household supplies

Dishes & Buckets – we only use metal feed dishes and buckets.  Plastic can harbor bacteria.  These are great feed dishes, but some Labradors eat so fast that a slow feeder is helpful.  These buckets work well when traveling to hook on the crate door.

Floor cleaner – Natures Miracle will neutralize the smell when puppies have the occasional accident which is the important thing for the puppy learning  to go outside.

Please check all cleaning supplies for their safety with animals.

What about using a harness?   –  I know a lot of people and trainers are interested in using or recommending harnesses rather than collars. I am anti-harness for a number of reasons.  If you control the animals head, you control the animal.  The farther back on the body you move in using an apparatus to control, the less actual control you have.  If you think about the purpose of a harness – horses, sled dogs, farm animals – they are all designed to allow and actually encourage the animal to pull.  The harness is used to transfer the power of the animal to whatever is on the other end of the harness (think high school physics).  In addition, we are now anecdotally seeing an increase in dogs with shoulder and elbow orthopedic issues in those dogs who use harnesses.  This is because the harness absolutely changes both the dynamics of the dogs actual movement (see video) and applies pressures to these joints that were never intended by nature.  There is no reason that your puppy cannot be trained to walk politely on a normal flat buckle collar.


Chew toys are pretty individual and you’ll have to do some trial and error.

I like the Kong products because they hold up (at least longer).  Soft stuffy toys are treasured by some and considered nothing but a challenge to de-squeak as fast as possible by others.  Tug type rope toys are great for interactive play (with you) but not good left in the crate as the string can get wrapped around the intestines and require surgery.  I also look for items made in America, because there have just been too many stories about what is added to things made in China.  About half of the Kong toys are made in America so you’ll have to look on the packaging. 

I really like the Tuffy Dog Toys (pick the ones for aggressive chewers).  Kong, Chuckit, Goughnuts, West Paw are all brands that I have found hold up and the dogs like.  Greenies help with keeping their teeth clean and give them something to chew on.  I also like the Benebone and nylabone products and most of the dogs do too ;).  Costco often has something from nylabone as well.


A crate that is (roughly because all the manufacturers have done something a little different) 36”x24”x26” is sufficient for travel (fits in most SUV’s) and is good for the girls.  The boys are often a little bigger and will need the next size up at 40”x27”x30”.

Whether to get a hard sided crate (like the airline ones) or a wire crate is a personal preference, and both have pros and cons – the hard sided ones are more den like and provide more security for the dog when traveling in a vehicle.

The wire crates provide more access to what is going on in the house – so if the puppy is crated (for example during dinner) they can still see and hear easily everything that is going on (if in the same room).

I don’t recommend the soft sided collapsible crates for young dogs – having replaced several of them after leaving adolescents in them at a show only to return with a crate that has been remodeled or the zipper removed.  They are very nice to have with a little older Labrador who is already crate trained, especially when traveling as they are easy to carry and take up little room when broken down.  The Elite Field crates are what I recommend for soft crates.  Either the 36” or the 42” as discussed above. 

Crate mats/blankets

As a general rule, my puppies and young dogs don’t get crate mats until they have proven that they will not eat them.  Your Labrador will have a lot of coat, and will not need a crate mat or blanket to stay warm.  I find that mine often wad the mat up in the corner, especially in the summer and prefer to sleep on the cool bottom of the crate.

Dog Beds:  I really like the Brindle Soft Memory Foam Dog Beds to have around the house.  These are not necessarily for crates, but for when the dog(s) are loose and you want to have a bed that looks decent for them in the room.  I buy them from Amazon – I like the 46”x28” size, but that is really large for just one dog and you could certainly do smaller.