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 understand 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 on 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 for you, and especially for 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 puppy's 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 a grown dog, your kids need to know the boundaries of playtime, 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 puppy's 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 pup's 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.
Your new puppy should be safely positioned on your lap (not the driver's 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.
Are You Ready?
Perhaps the most important question you should ask yourself before you bring home your puppy is - Should I get 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 some time 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.
Check out our new puppy checklist below to make sure you have the tools and gear you need to welcome your new pup.
New Puppy Checklist
Your puppy's diet is the foundation of their health, so choosing the right diet is the first step of new puppy ownership. The type of diet you choose is up to you, but make sure you know all your options before making a choice:
Check out What Should I Feed My Puppy? To learn what your new puppy needs.
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 for a puppy. Staying on the same food can decrease the likelihood of digestive upsets until they are acclimated to their new life.
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.
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.
Food Storage and Feeding Accessories
The right feeding accessories can help take some of the guesswork and safety concerns out of your puppy's routine. Proper food storage will help keep your puppy's food fresher and prevent bacteria contamination.
There are different best practices for different types of food, so let's take a quick look at each and figure out the best ways to keep your pup's food safe:
- Kibble is best stored in its original bag, inside an air-tight container. The bags themselves have a coating that helps to protect the food from oxidization and bacteria contamination but once the bags are opened, there is no way to reseal them 100%.
By placing the bag in an air-tight pet food storage container, you are doubling down on protection and ensuring that the food will stay fresher for longer. This method also reduces the chances of bacteria building up in plastic containers, which are usually the most affordable options.
- Wet foods need to be refrigerated once opened, and the type of wet food will change how it can be stored. Cans are convenient and can be stored in the fridge with a reusable can lid cover. These keep oxygen out and moisture in.
Wet foods that come in pouches or tetrapaks should be transferred to a glass food storage container to keep them freshest.
- Storing fresh raw dog food has two sides - frozen and defrosted. Frozen foods can be stored in their original box or bag, but can be transferred to freezer bags for longer storage. Once the food has been defrosted, it should be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container, like the Messy Mutts Stell Bowls with Silicone Lids, for up to 3 days.
- Similar to raw food, prepared freeze-dried and dehydrated foods can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for a few days, but unprepared or ready-to-eat formulas are best stored in their original packaging and then in either a pet food storage container or freezer bags for maximum freshness.
In addition to storage, there are many useful tools that can help make mealtime easier. Food scoops and mats help keep mealtime cleaner. For measuring food more accurately, you can use a pet food scale like this one from Big Country Raw.
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.
Here are a few o our top picks:
- Be One Breed Bamboo Diner Set
- Big Country Raw Bowl
- Messy Mutts Silicone Feeder with Stainless Steel Bowl
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!
Dog Water Dishes and Fountains
It's best to avoid plastic for water dishes, as well. Just like their food bowls, bacteria will build 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.
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 - though food-motivated pups might not care what kind of treat it is, as long as they can eat it!
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. When it comes to training, the smaller the better.
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.
Before they are fully vaccinated, your puppy's interaction with the outside world should be limited, though getting them used to good walking habits can start right away. There are two things you need right away to start teaching your puppy good walking manners:
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 puppy's 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.
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 an 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.
Don't get caught without poop bags. Even if you are just going for a quick walk, and walking from the car to the pet store, you never know when your puppy will have the urge to go. This is one product that is smart to buy in bulk!
Poop bags come in a variety of styles, so you can choose the type that works best for you. Most poop bags are a standard size, but you can find larger poop bags if you happen to be raising a small bear.
All of us eco-conscious pet owners love recyclable or even biodegradable poop bags. Why not pick up your dog's biodegradable poop with a biodegradable poop bag. You're welcome mother earth!
For those of you with a sensitive nose, you might want to look into a scented poop bag, like Earth Rated Lavender Poop Bags. It doesn't completely mask the smell of a warm, fresh turd, but it definitely softens the blow. Just pick a scent that you don't use in your house or perfume because it will be ruined for you after this.
Everything is a training opportunity with a new puppy, so make sure you have the right tools and accessories for success. If you are treat training, we recommend a good treat bag or pouch so that you can carry rewards with you anywhere you go with your puppy.
Clicker training is another option that can be used either in combination with treat training or instead of. Clickers can attach to your leash or wrap around your wrist so it's always within range.
If you are practicing your training in a large open space, a dog whistle might come in handy for getting your pup's attention quickly. You can even get a silent whistle so that it's less abrasive to other people.
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.
If you want to avoid the jingle jangle of the tags clinking together, get a Dog Tag Silencer for your ID tag. It will not only cut the noise but will prevent the tags from rubbing together and fading the engraving over time.
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.
For fluffier pups, especially those with an undercoat, you may want to invest in a good deshedding brush, like a Furminator Deshedding Tool, that you can use once a week to reduce the dog hair that will inevitably end up on everything you own.
Tearless Puppy Shampoo and Pet Wipes
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.
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.
Just like brushing, trimming your puppy's nails from an early age will help them get used to the practice and get over any fear or anxiety. Puppies won't need their nails trimmed as often when they are very young because the nail hasn't grown out past the quick very far, so just clip the very tips off.
Find a pair of dog nail clippers that are both suited for your dog's nails and comfortable for you to work with. The more comfortable you are, the easier this grooming process will go. For very young puppies, cat nail clippers are sometimes easier to work with when you are just getting started.
As they get bigger and the nails grow faster, you can start cutting a little further back, always being cautious of the quick. Check out our Dog Nail Trimming Tips to help you get started.
If you aren't comfortable clipping your dog's nails, you might want to check out a dog nail grinder. They take a little practice, but some dogs are more amenable to the grinder than clippers. They also allow you to leave a smoother edge so those puppy nails aren't a hazard to your floors and skin.
Ear Cleaning Solution
Routine ear cleanings help to prevent itchiness caused by gunk and build-up in the ear. Puppies are messy, they love to get dirty, and some of that dirt will inevitably end up in their ears.
A good dog ear cleaning solution will be gentle and safe for cleaning the outer part of the ear and get in between folds that can collect bacteria. Monthly ear cleanings can reduce itchiness and scratching.
Occasional spot cleaning with Earthbath dog ear wipes are also helpful, especially if your pup is suffering from allergies or skin issues that can cause frequent ear itch.
Puppy Chew Toys
Teething puppies need something to chew. Choose tough dog 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 pet's 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.
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 oversized 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 crates, like Precision Pro-Value Dog Crates, come with divider panels, so your crate can grow with your puppy.
Learn more about the benefits of crate training in our Fool-Proof Guide to crate Training Your Puppy.
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, but it doesn't mean your puppy won't try.
He may even succeed. No bed is indestructible, so if your puppy likes to destroy his beds, save your money and stick to cheap easily replaceable beds until he grows out of this habit.
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.
Bigger dogs may benefit from something raised, like the K&H elevated pet cot. This is great for summer and warmer weather because the airflow under the bed helps to keep your pup cooler on a hot day.
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.
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.
Make Yourself a Schedule
Getting a new puppy can range from scary to overwhelmingly exciting, and it's easy to forget things along the way. A good tip when preparing for a new puppy is to make yourself a loose schedule.
Include the steps for getting your home ready, how you'll handle the first few days, what training routines you are using, and even having an activity schedule to ensure that your new puppy is getting the attention, love, and exercise they need.
Some things you'll fly by the seat of your pants on, and that's ok, but having a routine that you and your family can follow will make sure your new puppies transition to his new home is as seamless and fun as possible.
And most importantly - post pics of your new pup and tag us @homesalivepets so that we can gush over your cute ball of fluff with you!
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