So you’re adding a puppy to your family. Congratulations! Bringing home a new puppy is easily one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do. There are so many things to look forward to, from introducing your new dog to your other family members to taking your puppy on a tour of his new home.
But there’s also so much to do! Part of being a responsible puppy owner is making sure you’re prepared—and that you have everything you need to help your new best friend through the transition to his new home.
But what, exactly, do you need for a new puppy? Let’s take a look at everything you need to do, buy, and prepare for as you get ready to bring your puppy home for the first time.
Get your home ready for your new puppy
Once you decide to get your puppy, the very first thing you need to do is make sure that your home is ready for your new addition.
Puppies are naturally curious, and they have a tendency to get into everything—including things they shouldn’t. Puppy proofing your home is a must, both to protect your new dog and to protect your home!
Invest in a few dog gates that allow you to block off doorways and keep your new puppy contained to a certain area of your home. That way, you can keep an eye on your dog and make sure he’s not only safe but isn’t getting into any mischief (like chewing on your favorite pair of shoes!).
Before you bring home your new puppy, you should also do a sweep of your entire home to identify and remove any potential safety hazards. Could your dog get into the pantry and chow down on potentially hazardous foods (like chocolate)? If so, invest in a lock or gate to restrict access to the area. Do you have a number of plants in your home? Do your research to make sure none of them are toxic to dogs—and, if they are, get rid of them.
Remember—your new puppy won’t be able to identify any safety hazards, so it’s up to you to remove them from your home before your puppy arrives.
Get the basics
Once you’ve puppy-proofed your home, it’s time to stock up on the basics your new dog will need to be happy, healthy, and comfortable.
Here are some of the essential items you’ll need to get before you bring home your new puppy:
- Dog crate. When you first get your puppy, chances are, they’re not going to be housebroken. Crate training is a great way to not only help your dog learn house rules (and where and when to use the potty), but it can also be a great way to help them feel safe and comfortable in their new home. Just make sure to buy a crate that your puppy can grow into! When choosing a crate, buy based on how large your dog will be when fully grown—not how big he is now as a puppy.
- Dog bed. You like a nice, comfortable bed to sleep in—and your new puppy deserves the same! Before you bring your new puppy home, make sure to invest in a dog bed. (If you’re going to crate train your dog, make sure to choose a bed that will fit comfortably inside the crate.)
- Dog bowls. Your puppy will need to eat and drink from day one—so make sure you have food bowls and water bowls on hand before you bring your new best friend home.
- Dog food. High-quality dog food is an essential part of raising a happy, healthy pet. Because puppies have different nutritional needs than full grown dogs, make sure to buy puppy food specifically formulated for young dogs.
- Dog collar, leash, poop bags, and a poop bag holder. Want to take your new puppy on a walk! You’ll need some supplies! An adjustable dog collar, sturdy leash, poop bags, and a poop bag holder are all must-haves before you head out on your first walk.
- Dog ID tags and a microchip. Getting the proper identification for your new puppy is an absolute must. Make sure your new pet has dog tags (with your contact information) and a microchip from the very start.
Connect with a vet…
As your puppy grows, he’s going to need to check in regularly with a qualified veterinarian. And, if possible, you should try to find that veterinarian before you bring your new puppy home.
If you have other pets, you likely already have a vet on speed dial. If not, do your research, find a reputable vet in your area, and call for more information about their services. Once you find a vet you like, schedule an appointment and bring your puppy in for his very first check-up.
…and a dog trainer
As mentioned, you need to find a vet for your new puppy. And if you want your puppy to grow up to be a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog, you’re probably going to need to find a dog trainer, too.
Puppy training can be a great way for your new puppy to learn everything from basic commands to how to walk on a leash to how to interact with other dogs. And if you get in on the training sessions, it can also be a great way for you to start building a bond with your new pet!
Before you commit to working with a trainer, it’s important to make sure they’re the right fit for you and your new dog. Make sure to ask about their training style (you want to work with a trainer who uses positive reinforcement to train your dog, not punishment!) and for referrals to other clients. That way, you can get the inside scoop on how effective they are at puppy training before you sign up for a training lesson!
Stock up on the right toys…
Puppies are playful—and you want to make sure you engage that sense of play with plenty of fun toys!
There are a variety of toys you should have on hand for your new puppy, including:
- Puzzle toys. Puppies are curious—and these toys are a great way to engage their curiosity (and brain!) and challenge them to solve a fun puzzle.
- Chew toys. Puppies will chew everything and anything they can get their paws on, which is why chew toys are so important! Chew toys allow your puppy to engage their natural chewing instinct without damaging your furniture, shoes, or home.
- Chase toys. If your new puppy loves to run, chase toys are a great way to help them work off that energy and have fun at the same time!
Your puppy needs the right toys in order to make their transition to your home a successful one—and as a puppy owner, you need the right tools.
Some tools you’ll want to have on hand before you bring home your new pet include:
- Dog treats. Treats are a must for puppy training—and if you want to train your puppy successfully, you should plan to have plenty of treats on hand. You can buy healthy treats at your local pet store—or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own!
- Dog toothpaste and toothbrush. Taking care of your dog’s oral health is part of being a responsible pet owner, so make sure you brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
- Brush. If your dog has lots of fur, brushing needs to be part of your daily grooming routine to avoid tangles and matting.
- Shampoo and grooming wipes. You should plan to bathe your dog regularly—and when you do, you’ll need dog shampoo to get him nice and clean (human shampoo has ingredients that can be harmful to dogs, so make sure to only use shampoos specifically formulated for dogs). In between baths, grooming wipes are a great way to keep your new puppy clean, fresh, and dirt-free.
- Enzyme spray and carpet cleaner. Chances are, your new puppy is going to have an accident or two during the house training process. Enzyme spray and carpet cleaner will help keep odor and pet stains at bay.
Get recommendations for additional puppy-centric services
If you have friends or family members with dogs, ask them for recommendations for your new puppy! Do they have a dog groomer they love? A pet sitter they swear by? An amazing dog park where your pet can socialize? Get the scoop before you bring your puppy home!
Enjoy your new puppy!
The first few months with your new puppy can be some of the most fun, exciting, and joyful of your life—if you’re ready. And with this new puppy checklist, you’re more than prepared to welcome the new addition to your family—so go and enjoy your new puppy!