Bringing a new puppy home is more than exciting, but if your relationship is going to be successful you definitely want to take the time to plan ahead. For any one bringing home a new puppy, step one is to make sure you have secured a veterinarian and know all of the vaccinations and medical requirements recommended to care for your dog properly. Step two is making sure that you purchase some of the must-have essentials (use the new puppy checklist below) that your new fur pal will need. That way you’ll be able to focus on settling your puppy into his new home instead of rushing out to grab things at the last minute!
What will your new puppy need?
As a new puppy owner, you’ll need to make sure your puppy has all the supplies necessary to take care of his/hers basic needs:
- Puppy food
- Food and water bowls
- Puppy pads and potty training essentials
- Bed and/or crate
- Grooming tools (brush, comb, shampoo depending on your dog’s coat)
- Collar and leash
New Puppy Checklist
1. Puppy food
There are many good dog foods formulated specifically for puppies today, including specific foods for different breeds and different sizes: micro, mini, medium, large and giant. It’s always important to continue feeding your puppy the same food he is used to eating, at least for the first few days in your home. You shouldn’t try to make too many changes at once in his life. Changing a puppy’s food too fast can lead to stomach upset. If you don’t like the food your puppy is eating and you want to change it, make the change very slowly, over the course of several days.
To change your puppy’s food you can mix a small amount of the new food in with the old food each day over the course of a week until your puppy has been switched over to the new food. If your puppy shows signs of an upset stomach, stop the change until your puppy has adjusted. Keep in mind that dry food can always be mixed with wet food.
For suggestions about good puppy foods, talk to your veterinarian or check some of the good dog food review web sites.
2. Food and water bowls
Naturally your puppy needs food and water bowls. There are several different kinds of bowls from which to choose. We recommend that you avoid using plastic bowls. While these bowls are cheap, convenient, and easy to wash, they are also easily scratched. No amount of washing can entirely remove the bacteria that can grow inside the scratches in the plastic which makes these bowls less sanitary than other bowls. In addition, some dogs can have an allergic reaction to the plastic.
Ceramic bowls are beautiful and fairly expensive. They have the benefit of being heavy-weight so your puppy can’t easily push them around or tip them over. And some of them are dishwasher-safe. On the down side, if you drop them they will break. If they form cracks, they can harbor bacteria.
Stainless steel bowls, while not the most attractive dishes, are by far the most sanitary. They do not scratch or crack so they don’t harbor bacteria. They are easy to wash. Many stainless steel bowls come in attractive colors today and some come in nice designs.
If you have a puppy from a breed that is prone to bloating you may want to consider a slow feed bowl. These bowls have speed bumps or raised elements inside the bowl to make it harder for a dog to get at the dog food. This effectively forces the dog or puppy to eat more slowly which is supposed to help prevent a dog from gulping in air while they eat.
3. Puppy pads and potty training essentials
Potty training is one of the most important things a puppy needs to learn. Whatever house training approach you eventually decide to use, when you first bring your puppy home he will probably be untrained and you’ll need to leverage the use of a dog pee pad.
Untrained puppies will pee in the house. That’s inevitable. But if you introduce dog pads, your puppy will be relieving himself in a spot chosen by you, without any trouble or clean up. The best puppy pee pads will be puppy pads with adhesive strips, so that the pads stay where you put them.
The great thing about training a new puppy to use pads is that it can even make it easy to house train your puppy if you want him to learn to potty outside later. Just take one of the dog pee pads outside when your take your puppy out and he’ll head right for it because he knows just what to do when he smells the attractant on the pad.
If you prefer, your puppy can continue to use pads as he grows and becomes an adult dog. If you can’t get home to walk him or if the weather is terrible outside, dog pee pads make it easy for your dog to relieve himself indoors without any mess or trouble.
4. Dog Beds for Puppies and/or Puppy Crate
Where to sleep? Lots of dog lovers struggle with the question of where their puppy or dog should sleep. Various studies say you should or shouldn’t let your dog sleep in your bed. Most dogs think they should sleep as close to you as possible. Whatever you decide, it’s still a good idea for your dog to have his own bed. Even if your dog sleeps on your bed or has another favorite spot in the house, dogs and puppies do need to have a quiet spot where they can retreat when things get hectic.
There are lots of different kinds of dog beds ranging from snuggle beds to heated orthopedic beds to raised canvas beds. They all have their uses. Puppies sleep and grow a lot during their first year. Most of them enjoy snuggly, cuddly-type beds, though very large puppies may prefer a bed that lets them stretch out.
Dog crates also have their uses. Don’t consider a crate as a “doggy jail.” Crates are a safe place for a dog. You don’t even have to close the door on the crate. It’s like a small cave where your dog can curl up and sleep. If your puppy likes to sleep in his crate, you can find some nice faux sherpa pads to make the crate comfortable or place a blanket in the bottom of the crate.
If you travel with your dog, most dogs larger than a Toy dog have to fly in a crate so it’s helpful for your dog to learn to enjoy spending time in his crate. Place toys and treats in the crate (for safety reasons, these need to be removed for overnight). Leave the door open all the time so your puppy can go in and out as he likes.
5. Puppy Toys
You can find all kinds of puppy toys online and in super pet stores. Try a variety of toys and find out what your puppy enjoys. Most puppies really like interactive toys – toys that involve you playing with them. Chews, balls, rope toys, squeaky toys and other things that make noise, plush animals, puzzles, and more. Puppies do need toys and play as enrichment to help develop their minds so encourage your puppy to play, but always supervise as your puppy could ultimately face a safety risk if he/she chews off a piece and swallows it.
6. Puppy grooming tools
The grooming tools you need will vary depending on your puppy. A puppy destined to have a long coat will probably need a brush and comb, as well as a pin brush. A terrier puppy with a wire coat may need a hound glove and/or a slicker brush. A puppy of a shorthaired breed may only need a brush. Try to find out how your breed or mix is usually groomed and get the basic tools. Brushes, combs, and other dog grooming tools are easy to find online or at pet super stores. Check around. Prices vary depending on the seller. Buy good quality tools and they will last a long time but you don’t have to over-pay.
Your puppy will also need to have his nails trimmed regularly. You can buy a simple nail clipper or a nail grinder for this job. If you aren’t eager to trim your puppy’s nails yourself, many veterinarians will do it for a small charge. Or you can take your puppy to a groomer.
We also recommend that you brush your puppy’s teeth. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Doggy toothpaste comes in flavors that dogs like so they enjoy it. You can find dog toothbrush kits online and in pet stores. (Do NOT use human toothpaste with dogs. It contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is harmful to dogs.)
Your puppy will also need a bath once in a while. Most people bathe a puppy as necessary such as when he gets dirty or into something stinky. You may also wish to bathe him for special occasions or when you have friends and family visiting. A bath about once a month is usually enough for most puppies unless they get really dirty. You can use a gentle puppy shampoo or find a shampoo that is formulated for your puppy’s coat type.
7. Collar and Leash
We have placed the collar and leash last on the list as your puppy can only go outside and meet other dogs once it has the met the medical requirements specified by your veterinarian. But truthfully, these items could be placed higher on the list depending on your puppy’s age and how you obtain him or her. Some puppies learn about walking on a leash later than others. You may bring your puppy home in a crate from the airport, for example. Or he may ride home with you in a pet carrier. Some people hold a small puppy in their lap, though this isn’t advisable for safety reasons. Whatever the case, it’s a good idea for your puppy to learn to walk on a leash early on because you will be taking him to the veterinarian for vaccinations. He should also be going other places, such as puppy kindergarten classes, for some socialization.
When selecting a collar for a puppy it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money because your puppy will quickly outgrow it. Many people choose a simple breakaway nylon collar with a flat buckle. You can get a leash to match. There are also some attractive collars and leashes in all kinds of colors and designs. The important thing is to choose a collar that fits your puppy. It’s generally recommended to get a collar that allows you to fit two fingers between the collar and your puppy’s neck. This way the collar won’t be too tight and it won’t slip over your puppy’s head.
Certain breeds, such as Toy dogs and some brachycephallic (short-nosed) dogs may do better with a harness instead of a collar. A harness doesn’t put pressure on the dog’s throat. This can be more desirable with some of these dogs for health reasons. However, no matter the breed, for safety concerns never leave the leash connected to the puppy’s collar if you are not right next to the puppy.
Get Ready to Welcome Your New Puppy Home
These basic supplies should carry you through the first few weeks with your new puppy. Many of these things will last a long time, such as the food and water bowls, the grooming tools, and your puppy’s bed/crate. Other things, like toys and your puppy’s first collar, will have to be replaced soon. After the first few weeks you’ll know enough about your puppy to know what he likes and needs. We hope this new puppy checklist gets you started on the right paw as you bring your new puppy home!