Getting a new puppy can be exciting and stressful. The best way to keep everyone healthy and happy is to get organized and prepared before you bring your new puppy home. Here is a new puppy checklist complete with all the essential supplies you'll need for your new puppy.
Are you wondering if your house is properly puppy proofed? Do you have all the supplies that can't your new puppy can't live without? Does everyone in your home understands the rules and routines of welcoming a new dog? Don't worry, you are not alone.
This guide will help you create a safe and comforting environment for the new puppy and help you find the right products and tools to care for your new friend.
Preparing for a New Puppy
Before you even think about bringing your new puppy home, you need to take a look at your house, your routine, and think about what your puppy is going to need day one. This will allow you to assess the environment and make changes, buy products, and lay down ground rules before your puppy arrives.
This will be much less stressful on you, and especially on your new puppy. Remember that your puppy's whole world is changing, and the transition will be easier if you are fully prepared for your new addition. Here are 7 steps for getting your home and life in order for your new pooch:
1. Prepare Children
If you have children, try to acquaint them with dogs and puppies before bringing the new puppy home. If you can, have each member of your family come in and see the puppy before adopting. Get your child excited about dogs by reading them a book about your specific breed. Book stores often have informative books that go through everything from potty training to teaching tricks.
Let your children help pick out the supplies you will need for the puppy and explain what each is for and how to use them. It’s also wise to teach your kids about your new puppies routine and let them participate. This will ensure that your kids know when your puppy can play, and when they need to rest.
You'll also need to teach them the rules of how to handle the new pup. Whether you are welcoming a brand new pup, or rescuing an grown dog, your kids need to know the boundaries of play time, how to approach your new dog, and when your pup needs some time alone. This can prevent injury and make your kids less intimidating to their new fur friend.
2. Make Space for your Puppy
As exciting and wonderful as it is to have a new puppy in the house, young pups need a lot of rest, so make sure that they have a space that is just their own. Once you've shown them their new home, starting with the appropriate potty areas, show them where they can spend quiet time.
This can be a kennel, crate, ex-pen, bed, blanket, or even their own room in the house. Just make sure that it’s a place of their own - free from kids and other pets. This will be a comforting place for them, and can help to quell anxiety and destructive behaviours.
3. Get Supplies
Get all necessary supplies before you bring your new puppy home. Try to get enough of the puppies current diet to allow you to keep them on that diet for at least the first month. Once they have settled you can decide if you want to change their diet or not.
The first 7-14 days are the most critical, so try to have enough supplies to provide consistent activities and routine for your new doggo. Check out the new puppy checklist below to make sure that you have everything you need to get started.
4. Puppy-Proof Your Home
Puppies are endlessly adventurous, so they are going to want to explore their new environment. To keep them safe, you may need to block off certain areas of your home, like staircases, until they are brave or practiced enough to use them. Dog gates are an excellent tool for sectioning off parts of the house that your puppy should be exploring.
Plants and decorations could be hazardous if ingested, so move them to higher places and out of reach of curious noses. Even cords can be risky. Try to cover or tape down loose cords to prevent your pup from chewing on them or getting caught in them. Not all toys are dog toys, so make sure your kids keep their toys out of reach too.
Puppies typically explore with their mouths, so if something fits in their mouth then that’s exactly where it will go. You'll need to be sure to keep a close eye on them indoors and out. Even your backyard can have some dangerous mouth-sized things to chew on.
Natural chews are a great alternative to your puppy chewing on your shoes or furniture. Have a variety of options that you can direct your baby dog to when he feels like getting his chew on.
5. Educate Yourself
Pick up a book on your desired puppy’s breed. Certain breeds have different personality characteristics, temperament, and exercise and grooming requirements. Pick a breed that you like and that suits your lifestyle.
Check out Dogtime.com for some helpful information about specific breeds.
Talk to the breeder, rescue, or previous owner to get an idea of your pups current routines, habits, and favourite games. The more you know about your pup, the better you will be able to make him comfortable and safe in his new home.
This is also a good time to think about diet. Start checking out the different food options to find out which ones might best suit your dog's breed. You can scout out local or online pet stores that carry the products you want, and even have some on hand so you can slowly transition once your puppy is settled.
6. Assess Your Situation
If it is a stressful time at your house, do not bring the puppy home. Stressful times could include any time when there is more noise, more people, or if you are going to be spending a lot of time away from your house. All of these factors can put additional stress on an already tense animal.
If you have a vacation, out-of-town visitors, renovations, or a move planned, then it's best to wait for the dust to settle before getting a new puppy. A busy home can be scary for a puppy, and it may affect their transition.
When you first get your puppy home, it’s ideal to have a good chunk of time off work to spend with them while they adjust. This will help you bond but also instill some positive routines in their first week.
7. Plan for Travel
Bringing your puppy home is beyond exciting, and it’s easy to forget some essential supplies that you will need for the journey back home. Here are some of the supplies that you should pre-pack:
Your puppy will probably be overwhelmed by this move. They may cry, bark, or just sleep the whole way, but having all of these supplies will make sure that you are prepared for any possible scenario.
You new puppy should be safely positioned on your lap (not the drivers lap), or secured in a comfortably sized kennel or crate to ensure they are not able to wander around the vehicle if they are feeling adventurous.
8. Find a Vet
Within a week of bringing home your new pup, you’ll want to schedule a vet appointment. The vet will examine the dog and make sure that he is growing, eating, and digesting food properly.
Ask around, read reviews, and even talk to the previous owner or breeder to get advice on which vet they would recommend (assuming they are local). Many vets practice traditional medicine, but some are incorporating integrative or holistic medicine into their practices. Make sure you find a vet that will be supportive and provide valuable advice.
New Puppy Checklist
1. Puppy Food
Your puppies diet is the foundation of their health, so choosing the right diet is the first step of new puppy ownership. It’s a good idea to pick up some of the food that your puppy is currently eating at their breeder or rescue.
Regardless of whether you keep your new pup on or not, it’s best to minimize changes to their diet and routine until they have had a chance to get comfortable in their new environment. A new home is stressful enough on a puppy. Staying on the same food can decrease the likelihood of digestive upsets.
If you are planning on switching their diet, make sure that you leave yourself enough of the old food to properly transition. We recommend waiting about 3-4 weeks before making any big dietary changes, unless it's absolutely necessary.
Check out What Should I Feed My Puppy? To learn what your new puppy needs. When you are ready to change their food, it’s best to slowly replace the old food with the new food over the course of 7-10 days. Start by replacing 1/4 of the old diet with their new one and gradually increase this quantity over the course of a week or so.
2. Dog Food Dishes
There are many types of dog dishes to choose from: plastic, ceramic, steel, weighted, elevated, or automatic.
Plastic bowls are cost-effective, but they do have a few drawbacks compared to other materials. For a puppy that loves to chew, a plastic bowl may look like a fun chew toy. They are fairly light, so it’s easy for your pup to pick up, push around, and destroy, if they feel so inclined.
As the plastic wears, bacteria can hide in the scratches and grooves of the material. While this bacteria is unlikely to cause digestive issues, it can lead to puppy acne or small pimples that develop around their muzzle. Puppy acne will go away if the source of the bacteria is removed, but we recommend sticking to glass, ceramic, or metal to avoid puppy acne and bacteria build altogether.
If your puppy is a guzzler when it comes to food, try out a slow feed bowl. This will help them regulate the speed that they eat, and prevent gulping large mouthfuls of food at a time.
Learn more about the dangers of speed eating and how to slow down your pup in My Dog Eats Too Fast!
3. Dog Water Dishes and Fountains
It's best to avoid plastic for water dishes, as well. Just like their food bowls, bacteria builds up in the dents and scratches of the plastic. Even if you are regularly cleaning the bowl and replacing the water, a plastic bowl will need to be replaced more often than metal, ceramic, or glass.
Dog water dishes are the old stand-by, but water fountains have certain benefits as well. Water fountains are an excellent choice to keep your puppy's water cool and clean. Dog water fountains only need to be topped off daily or every other day and changed completely at least once a week.
If you choose to use a dog water dish or bowl, make sure your puppy always has access to clean water. This may mean changing your puppy's water multiple times per day.
4. Dog Brush
You should be brushing your puppy at least once a week, no matter your dog's breed. Long-haired puppies may need even more frequent brushing. Brushing reduces shedding, matting, and stimulates healthy hair growth. Start with a small soft slicker brush, preferably one with rubber or plastic tips, as it will feel gentler on their sensitive skin.
The earlier you start brushing your puppy, the better. Try having some small reward treats on-hand whenever you brush your puppy. Treating can help them view grooming routines as a positive experience and make it much easier to maintain as they grow up.
5. Collar and Harness
Before they are fully vaccinated, your puppies interaction with the outside world should be limited, though getting them used to good walking habits can start right away.
Practice in the house or backyard so that by the time they are ready to explore the world, they are accustomed to the equipment.
Depending on your puppies breed, they may grow a lot over the next 18 months, or they may barely double in size. Either way, try to find walking accessories that fit appropriately now, but also give your puppy some room to grow. This will reduce the frequency at which you will need to replace the equipment that they have outgrown.
Even if they never leave your side, you should always make sure that your puppy is properly tagged. An ID tag on their collar can make it safer and easier for them to find their way back home if they happen to get out on their own.
A harness is a great choice for teaching your dog to not pull on the leash when they walk. Collars can add stress to their fragile necks, so a harness will be safer and will give you better control of your dog.
Check out our Best Dog Harness article to help you find the right style for your pup.
That said, a collar is still a vital accessory. It holds their ID tags, licenses, and vaccination tags, and is a easy way to grab hold of your pet in an emergency. Look for collars that can be worn all day in the Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Dog Collar.
6. Tearless Puppy Shampoo
Puppies have very sensitive skin, so over-bathing or bathing them too young can reduce the natural oils that they produce to protect their skin. Avoid bathing puppies under 12 weeks of age.
Instead, try to spot clean or use natural wipes to clean your puppy when they get messy. Just because you can’t bathe them, doesn’t mean that they need to be stinky. If you do bathe your puppy, look for a shampoo made from natural and gentle ingredients. Here a few brands that make puppy-safe shampoos:
Always choose a shampoo designed for dogs - human shampoos are made to suit a different skin pH. The wrong shampoo can dry out your dog's skin and coat or even cause an allergic response.
7. Puppy Chew Toys
Teething puppies need something to chew. Choose tough toys meant for chewing that your puppy will not be able to swallow. Select quality dog toys of many different textures to get your puppy used to them.
If you are offering plush, stuffed, or rope toys, be mindful of all of the materials that your pup could potentially ingest. Stuffing, squeakers, and fabric can all cause digestive upsets and could be choking hazards.
At any age, and with any type of toy, supervise your pets chewing to avoid choking and ingestion of inedible materials. For teething pups, check out Best Chew Toys for Teething Puppies.
Never give your dog a baby or cat toy, or any toy not designed for dogs. They can be a choking or ingestion hazard, or even toxic if eaten.
8. Dog Kennel
Choose a dog crate or kennel that fits your puppy properly - he should be able to stand up in it and turn around comfortably. Your puppy's kennel should be roomy, but an over-sized kennel can make house training difficult.
If left with enough space, your puppy will be tempted to relieve themselves in an open part of the kennel or crate. Your puppy is less likely to potty in the kennel if they will have to sit or lay in it.
Only want to buy one kennel throughout your puppy's life? Many kennels come with divider panels, so your kennel can grow with your puppy.
Look for a washable kennel mat that fits in your dog crate for your puppy's comfort.
9. Dog Bed
Dog beds are for more than just comfort. Great dog beds for puppies are stain-repellent, durable, tear resistant, and washable. Look for these features in a quality dog bed for your puppy.
You may even be able to find beds labelled as chew proof or chew guaranteed. These are a good investment for puppies with destructive tendencies.
Beds with removable covers are great too. The covers can be washed and you will avoid having to wash a big bulky bed that will end up being misshapen after a tumble in the washing machine.
10. Puppy Treats
Treats can make training easier and faster for your puppy. Try to find a variety of healthy treats that your puppy goes crazy for to help keep their attention during training. High-value rewards should be meat-based, smelly, or soft and chewy.
Look for dog treats with healthy, whole food ingredients. Make sure the treats are small enough and low-calorie so that you can feed many throughout the day as you train.
Soft treats can be ripped or cut into smaller pieces. Treats for training should be smaller than a piece of kibble. Check out 10 Healthy Training Treats for Puppies for some tasty ideas.
11. Natural Pet Cleaners
Cleaners are essential puppy items. Your puppy will have accidents - cleaning them completely and effectively decreases the chance your puppy will return to the same spot.
12. Puppy Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Get your puppy used to proper oral care from a young age. Try to get in the habit of brushing your puppy's teeth every day. Good brushing habits mean lower vet bills over the course of your dog's life. To learn more, check out The Complete Pet Dental Care Guide.
Small finger toothbrushes, like Petrodex Finger Toothbrush, are good for small mouths and can be easier for your puppy to get used to. You can gradually switch to a standard toothbrush over time.
Even if your puppy hates the process of toothbrushing, keep trying. No other dental care routine will completely replace regular tooth brushing.
13. Puppy Training Pads
Training pads are perfect for underdeveloped puppy bladders. Often scented with pheromones to attract your puppy, puppy training pads can be a great aid no matter how you plan to house-train your dog.
Start with the puppy pads in an area close to where your puppy normally spends most of their time. Using an exercise pen is a good way to give them room to play and still keep them contained. The pen will be large enough to fit a training pad and still have plenty of space for your pup to frolic.
Are You Ready?
Perhaps the most important question you should ask yourself before you bring home your puppy is - Am I ready for a dog?
Getting a new pet is not something that should be done on a whim or without proper planning. There is a reason there are so many pets in shelters and rescues. Before you commit to a new pet, take sometime to really think it through. Talk with your family or anyone else you share your home with and make sure this is the right fit for everyone.
If you've thought about how this pet will fit into your life, and you are ready to take on the responsibility of pet ownership, both emotionally and financially, then this guide should give you the steps you need to get ready.
Don't get discouraged if your puppy is taking longer to adapt to his new environment than you thought he would. Dogs have unique personalities, traits, and needs, so plan for some trial and error as you help your pup adjust. You may need to try different foods, toys, and routines to provide the best for your puppy.
Best of luck with your new puppy!
We'd love to hear all about your new puppy experience. Let us know what you learned and what tips you'd give to a new dog owner. Share your story in the comments below