The job of raising a puppy starts before the puppy enters your house. If you take the time to consider all the things you will need to get and do before your puppy comes home, it can get overwhelming--fast.
We’ve put it all together here for you so you can do the prep work with minimal stress and get right on to bonding with your new family member!
How to Prepare for a Puppy
What do I need to DO before I bring a new puppy home?
1. Choose a veterinarian and make an appointment.
Soon after you bring your new puppy home, you will want to have her checked out by a vet. If you don’t already have a veterinarian, ask your pet owner friends for recommendations.
It’s a good idea to post your vet’s phone number on the fridge or other central place in your house, as well as an emergency number, so no one needs to spend time looking for it if it’s needed.
2. Talk to your family about responsibilities.
Have an honest discussion with everyone in your house before your puppy comes home. Make sure everyone is clear on responsibilities and expectations when it comes to caring for your puppy. This conversation will help ensure that your puppy is well taken care of and helps keep family members from getting frustrated with each other, since everyone is on the same page. To help plan all of the puppy care tasks, we put together a step-by-step guide on how to take care of a puppy.
It’s also important to make sure everyone in your house knows the foods that are off-limits for dogs: which include chocolate, onions, and garlic. Here's a helpful list of foods a dog can and cannot have.
3. Puppy-proof your house.
Puppies, like babies, are great at getting into anything and everything they can. Make sure to secure and/or move electrical cords so that your puppy can’t chew on them. Make sure that chemicals, cleaning products and other toxins are secured. Check that all trash cans are covered and can’t be knocked over. Remove rodent and insect traps on the floor. You may want to get some gates to block off certain areas of your home completely.
For more info on how to puppy proof your house or apartment, here's a robust checklist.
4. Puppy-proof your yard.
If you have a fenced-in yard that you plan to allow your puppy to roam freely, check for gaps or breaks in the fence. Your little, curious puppy may be able to squeeze through even small areas! Patch these spaces to keep your puppy from exploring the neighbors’ yards.
5. Pick a name!
Some families like to wait until they see the puppy to determine a name that fits. It’s a good idea to talk about it as a family ahead of time to try to avoid arguments when it’s really time to make a decision.
6. Adjust your budget.
Puppies definitely rack up expenses, from the things you’ll need initially to veterinary care, dog walkers, grooming and other unexpected expenses. Stick to your initial budget when buying things your new puppy will need, and make sure to factor other expenses into your budget for the future.
7. Research pet insurance.
As you look at your budget, you may find it more comfortable for your family to keep costs consistent over time. Pet insurance is a great way to do that, as it protects your family from unexpected pet healthcare expenses. For many families, a consistent pet insurance premium and deductible they can plan for is much more manageable than a large, unexpected expense.
Thinking of insuring your pet?Get Quotes & Compare
- Find a dog walker
- Find a dog groomer
- Look for an obedience class.
What do I need to BUY before I bring a new puppy home?
1. Puppy food
Puppies have specific nutritional needs, so make sure to purchase a food made specifically for puppies. The package should have a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that the food meets or exceeds the nutritional requirements for growing canine bodies.
2. Collar with ID tag
Most pet stores have a tag maker that you can create in minutes. Include your dog’s name and your phone number, at least. You may also want to include your address (helpful if your dog gets out in your neighborhood so someone who finds her can easily bring her back) or your vet’s phone number.
There are a wide variety of leash options, but a nylon leash is typically a good starting point because they are affordable, widely available, and easy to clean. Many experts do not recommend retractable leashes because they encourage your dog to pull and can put him and the walker at risk for injury.
4. Food & water bowls
5. Chew toys
Having a variety of chew toys on hand will help distract your puppy from chewing on things that are not toys, like furniture and shoes.
6. Dog bed
Puppies often sleep for more than half the day, so you will want to have a comfortable bed for your puppy to rest in. Some families with two- or three-story houses like to have a bed on each level.
A crate is not a punishment, but rather a safe place for your puppy to call her own. You will probably want to purchase one that will fit your dog when she grows up, but you may need to use boxes or other gates to make it a more snug fit for your puppy when she is little. Puppies tend to have accidents in crates that are too large.
Make sure the crate includes comfortable bedding and is open to your puppy whenever she wants to use it.
Click here for expert tips on how to use a crate to housebreak your puppy.
8. Cleaning products
Your puppy will have accidents. Make sure to have a good carpet spray and extra cleaning products on-hand, especially in the first few months.
9. Dog shampoo
It’s best to keep it simple and choose one with natural ingredients. Your veterinarian can also help you choose the best shampoo for your puppy.
10. Grooming brush
Daily brushing is good for your puppy’s coat and helps him get used to more extensive grooming in the future.
11. Nail clippers
Long nails can create unnecessary stress on your dog’s wrist joints and risk scratching people when she plays. Trim your puppy’s nails weekly to keep them at an appropriate length and help your puppy get used to nail trims.
When you’ve done all your preparation ahead of time, you’ll be ready for that special day of bringing your new puppy to her new home!
For additional puppy preparation information, don't miss these expert tips on how to housebreak a puppy.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. People Foods to Avoid Feeding to Your Pets. Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets
- Cesar’s Way. (2019). The Right Shampoo for Your Dog. Retrieved from https://www.cesarsway.com/the-right-shampoo-for-your-dog/
- Curley, K. (2018). Recent Study Shows Why It’s So Important to Clean Dog Bowls. Retrieved from https://www.petmd.com/news/care-safety/recent-study-shows-why-its-so-important-clean-dog-bowls-37586
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- Madson, C. (2020). Choosing Your Dog’s Leash. Retrieved from https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-choose-the-right-kind-of-dog-leash
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- Vet Street. (2014). Puppy Basics 101- How to Care for Your New Dog. Retrieved from http://www.vetstreet.com/care/puppy-basics-101-how-to-care-for-your-new-dog#6.-teach-obedience