Bringing home a new dog soon? You have various important things to consider:
Keep reading for a comprehensive new puppy checklist!
Few things compare to the mental whirlwind and emotional rollercoaster of bringing a puppy home for the first time. You’re excited to have a dog to play with and keep you company. At the same time, you have various questions plaguing your mind because you want your pet to be as comfortable and well-adjusted as possible with your household.
You’ll find yourself wondering, “What is the first thing to do when bringing home a puppy?” and Googling, “What do I do as soon as I pick up a new puppy?”
I hear you! I remember having a hundred questions and then some, when I first got Cofi home.
I’ve therefore put together this new dog checklist that tackles everything – from getting the essential puppy stuff you need before bringing the dog home to making your house puppy-proof to learning how to deal with the new dog’s first night at home.
It’s going to be a rollercoaster. Consider yourself warned!
Bringing home a puppy is not all fun and games. Sure, you finally have a tiny fluff ball to cuddle. But as a new pet parent, you’re responsible for ensuring you have all the puppy essentials in place to make the pup comfortable when it finally comes home.
But what are these essential puppy supplies, you ask?
“Quality puppy food, wet and dry, a few toys, a safe place for him to stay when I couldn’t supervise him, a snuggly bed and soft blankets”, answers Patty Hamon, who works in Long-term Care Nursing.
That’s not all. I’ve broken down the first-time dog owner checklist to make the preparation process easier for you.
The first thing on your puppy checklist is a crate – it’s where your new pet will stay when nobody’s around to keep an eye on it. It also comes in handy when you want to keep the pup confined for house training and discouragement of destructive behavior.
Preparing one for your puppy is a good idea because a crate will give it a sense of privacy and security. Your new pup is going to be feeling anxious and confused in a new place until it gets used to you and your home. Until then, the crate can be its safe haven.
Puppies are cute little bundles of energy when they’re awake. Most of the time, however, they’re sleeping angels – they usually sleep between 18 to 20 hours a day.
So for them to remain well-rested and ready for another round of playing, you want to ensure they have a comfy bedding to doze on or snuggle in.
“Puppies need places where they can be safely confined until they learn their house manners, which may not be for more than a year”, says Barbara Davis, CDBC CPDT-KA, of BADDogsInc Family Dog Training & Behavior, California.
In this case, your best option is to install a wire playpen somewhere inside the house.
According to the National Sanitation Foundation, the pet bowl is one of the top five most germ-filled items at home.
For this reason, you must be mindful of the type of food and water bowls you buy for your new pet – choose materials that are least susceptible to bacterial growth, such as non-porous stainless steel and silicone.
You need to be discerning about the type of food you feed your puppy because these are the crucial times when its bones and joints are developing and it is growing into its body.
Consult a veterinarian about the best puppy food, check the ingredients, and, most importantly, be mindful of the serving size.
Treats act as a reward that indicates to your puppy that it has done something right. Giving it treats is a way for you to encourage your puppy to behave, listen, and make an effort to obey your commands.
Moreover, puppy treats are an incentive that encourages your pet to learn commands faster and more eagerly.
Bringing home a new dog for the first time? Be prepared for the teething phase, which starts at about 2-3 weeks. Teething is an intense experience for pups, and chewing is one way they try to alleviate the discomfort. Your pup might be tempted to gnaw on furniture and chew on any shoes and slippers it can find.
But while these are normal, not curbing the habit in time can lead to destructive chewing as your pup gets older. You can address this by preparing a bitter apple spray even before the puppy arrives.
Most puppies like to gnaw on anything they can find. It’s not always easy to stop them from doing this, especially when they aren’t house-trained yet and if pet parents aren’t always around to stop them.
In such cases, the next best option is to have chew toys ready.
Understandably, you’d be excited to shower your new puppy with different kinds of toys – there’s a reason why they’re part of the new puppy checklist.
“Exposing them to different toys helps to socialize them to remain calm and accepting of differences in their environment throughout their lives”, says Barbara Davis, a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.
A flat collar is ideal for everyday use because it also serves as a form of identification for your new puppy. But when it’s ready to go on walks and outdoor excursions, you will have to choose between collars and harnesses.
Either can be attached to a leash, but harnesses are preferred when you have an excitable pup that pulls on the leash.
Toilet training will test your patience as a pet owner – especially when the puppy you’re bringing home is your first pet. You can make the entire process a little more tolerable by investing in high-quality pee pads that let your young, four-legged friend know where it should be doing its business.
You would inevitably want to bring your puppy on walks in the park and other mild outdoor adventures. However, you have to be responsible when doing so.
This means getting along a few puppy essentials, like poop bags and a holder in case your pet decides to take a potty break while you’re out together – and this is likely to happen!
My sleepy boy Finn on the ride to his new home [by therealbabygroot]
— Adorable Dogs and Puppies (@AdorableDogsan1) January 12, 2023
Before bringing home a new dog, research pet-friendly cleaning supplies, including disinfectants and stain removers. As adorable as they are, puppies can make a huge mess in your house, from accidental spills to the lingering smell of dog waste in the air.
You’ll be needing plenty of cleaning supplies but choose products that are safe for your dog.
To put it simply, an enzyme spray is a cleaning product that uses a combination of good bacteria and naturally occurring enzymes to eliminate harmful bacteria found in pet waste. It’s an efficient way of keeping your space clean when you have a pet around.
Of course, nothing compares to taking your pup to a professional groomer. Between those appointments, however, you are responsible for looking after your pet’s hygiene.
In addition to pet shampoo and bathing tools, you must also get a dog brush, trimming scissors, and nail clippers to maintain your pet’s upkeep.
Sometimes, especially on those days when reality hits hard, you may not have time to bathe your pup or take it to the groomer. In such a case, your next best option is to use alcohol-free and pet-friendly grooming wipes that can effectively wipe off dirt and eliminate smelly odors.
Of course, check the ingredients to ensure they’re safe and healthy for your dog’s coat.
Also Read: How To Handle A Dog While Grooming?
Puppy breath is not as strong an odor as dog breath. After all, puppies still drink milk, and the sweet scent is also partly due to their relatively clean teeth.
That said, try to brush your puppy’s teeth regularly so it can get used to the habit. Invest in toothpaste and a toothbrush made specifically for dogs.
Also Read: How To Clean A Dog’s Mouth: A Detailed Guide
Puppies are naturally curious and adventurous, so they’re likely to be exposed to different types of parasites.
Prevent them from getting infected with fleas, heartworm, roundworms, tapeworms, and other parasites by researching and using preventative treatment methods at home.
A veterinarian is your new pup’s first and best defense against infections, diseases, and other factors that could threaten their health and wellbeing.
Get in touch with a local veterinarian and schedule routine checkups for your pup to ensure it is growing up healthily.
“Lots of people remember to buy their puppies beds, bowls, and collars, but pet insurance gets forgotten”, says Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, of The Veterinary Content Company. “Pet insurance covers your dog for unexpected medical bills if they become ill, and as proper veterinary care often costs thousands of dollars, it’s worth getting some good coverage.”
Even the most angelic puppy needs training and guidance if you want it to have excellent behavior. A professional dog trainer does more than help you house-train your dog and teach it tricks.
Professional trainers know how to hone a dog’s skills and work on aspects like discipline, patience, and loyalty.
No matter how thorough you are with shampooing your dog’s fur and brushing through its tangles, a professional dog groomer is trained to do a more thorough job of keeping your dog clean and hygienic.
They also know the best approach to take with a dog that is restless or averse to bathtimes or getting its teeth brushed.
Maintaining a walking routine is essential so your dog can get the physical exercise and mental stimulation needed to maintain a healthy weight and a sharp mind.
However, if you have a busy schedule, you might not always have time to walk your dog. You might therefore want to consider hiring a dog walker.
Similar to how a dog walker substitutes for you when you don’t have time to take your dog out for walks, a pet sitter can take charge when you are away from home for short or long durations.
This way, you know that someone will be looking after your dog – feeding it, bathing it, and playing with it – when you’re away temporarily.
If you’re keen on taking your dog with you when you travel for longer than a day, start looking for a durable travel kennel that matches the weight and size of your dog.
The right kennel can make the trip more manageable and less stressful for your dog, especially when it is not entirely comfortable with riding in moving vehicles.
Finally, add microchipping to your new puppy checklist. It’s a tiny implant that serves as a type of permanent identification for your new dog. It uses radio frequency identification or RFID tags to keep your pet on the database.
This makes your pet easier to track should it ever go missing. The procedure is relatively quick and pain-free – you may opt to administer anesthesia for your pup, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
Bringing the puppy home! pic.twitter.com/2NTptgddFK
— Ed Fear (@edfear) March 8, 2020
You’ve prepared all the essential items needed for your new puppy’s arrival – now it’s time to focus on how to make a puppy feel comfortable in a new home.
You must first survey the area and note which living spaces need to be puppy-proofed. This way, when your new dog arrives, it can explore its new home without you hovering over it or dragging it away from a specific room or furniture every few seconds. The same goes for your lawn or garden!
To puppy-proof your home, you must first survey the area for various hazards, such as toxic houseplants, poisonous foods, and other dangerous substances that could be within reach of your curious new puppy. Keep these items out of sight and reach.
“Then, get down on all fours and look. Look for anything the puppy can hurt himself on. Electric cords, access to pills, cleaning supplies, cords for blinds, choking hazards”, describes Jill E Griffin, who works with EMTs and Paramedics.
Electrical cables, sockets, and small objects may seem harmless, but they could compromise your dog. So, keep them neatly organized and out of your dog’s way.
Puppy-proofing your garden requires as much attention to detail as puppy-proofing the inside of your house – if not more, because there’s usually more for curious pups to explore outdoors. The most common hazards are toxic garden plants and other dangerous natural substances that could trigger allergies or other health concerns.
Pack away sharp tools and small objects that could injure your dog. Fix broken gates and fences to ensure your dog doesn’t run out onto the driveway and into the streets. And keep any pond or pool on your property covered or out of bounds as well.
So, your puppy is finally going home with you! While the anticipation could lead to a euphoric rush, there are some things to keep in mind when collecting your puppy.
When you’re at the breeder to collect your new puppy, ask them all relevant questions to make the pup’s transition to its new home easier:
You also want to bring a blanket or plushies when you come to collect the puppy. Give these items to the puppy’s mother and littermates – scenting them would help keep your new puppy calm on the way to its new home.
Once you’ve asked the breeder all relevant questions, ensure your puppy has gone to the toilet and hasn’t just been fed – this reduces its chances of getting sick in the car.
Puppies may get anxious about car rides, especially when they are unfamiliar with their surroundings. So bring someone along to hold and comfort your new pet and look after it while you drive. Your travel companion can have the puppy resting on their lap, seat, or floor beside them. However, if you’re driving home alone, you’ll need a crate.
Place the blanket or toy scented by the pup’s mother and littermates beside your new pet. Give it a treat or toy to chew on to keep it occupied during the drive.
It’s normal for your puppy to bark, whine, or cry on the way home – especially when it’s the first car ride. The best you can do to keep it comfortable is to calmly reassure it that it’s going to a safe place.
If you have a long way home, it’s a good idea to have regular stopovers so your new pet can eat, drink, take a potty break or get some air.
When you arrive home, don’t bring the puppy indoors immediately. It’s best to take it to the lawn or the garden first so it can relieve itself.
And when it has done its business and has seemingly calmed down, you can take it indoors. Be as calm and comforting as possible to prevent your little pup from getting anxious.
My mom is bringing her puppy home today!! pic.twitter.com/msGYlTg71o
— Daniela Clawson 🍓 (@DanielaClawson) December 9, 2021
How long does it take for a new puppy to get used to a new home? It varies from pup to pup and family to family. You can make the process easier for your new pet by letting the puppy make the first move when you introduce it to family members. Take things slowly, speak calmly, and watch for signs to ensure the pup is not overwhelmed.
You might also have visitors eager to meet the new family member. But you should consider limiting the number of visitors to prevent your puppy from feeling anxious or overwhelmed. You can make gradual introductions until your pet is comfortable with each person. And always supervise when it’s getting to know someone else.
Be mindful of what you feed your puppy. It’s best to have a conversation with the breeder and then with a veterinarian to discuss the most suitable diet for it.
Proper nutrition is important to ensure the optimal health and development of your new dog. The right type of food – and the right amount of it – can make all the difference in its immunity and body composition, thus aiding its growth.
Just like their humans do, pets, too, need protein, fat, calcium, and carbs in their diet.
The first thing you have to do is to learn about puppy nutrition and feeding from the vet. They can tell you the best approach to puppy food and feeding schedules based on your puppy’s breed, size, and eating habits.
You will also need to make some adjustments at home. For example, set a feeding schedule if it doesn’t already have an established schedule from the breeder. Designate a quiet place where it can eat its food. And until it gets used to dog food, refrain from giving it other food – it’s best to stick with the same diet initially.
Also Read: How To Feed Your Dog?
Congratulations! You have a new pup in the house. On your puppy’s first day home, your priority is to get it used to its new home. This means being patient and allowing it to explore its new surroundings. Sniffing and marking its territory are going to be part of the exploration.
Introduce your pup to its bed or crate. And of course, supervise it at all times, doubly so if you have very young kids at home too.
Where should a puppy sleep the first night in a new home? What should I do the first night with a new puppy if it whines? Here are the answers to your concerns:
Where should a puppy sleep the first night? The best option would be a crate – where it can sleep for around three weeks until it adjusts to its new home. You can line the base with cozy blankets and plushies that carry the scent of its littermates.
“Make your puppy play in and near the crate”, Dr. Claudine Sievert, DVM, advises new dog owners. This is so the puppy can get used to it. “During the process of introducing him to a crate, use some treats to keep him motivated. Once he becomes comfortable being in the crate, you can extend the length of time he is in there.”
You’ll want to take a few precautionary measures throughout the day, to ensure your puppy falls asleep comfortably. These include tiring it out with play, limiting food and water consumption before bedtime, and playing soft music to calm it down.
If your new puppy continues to wail and whimper throughout the night, check for any possible sources of distress in its surroundings. You may also opt to let the little one sleep in your room to make it feel more welcome in the family – be sure to keep it in the crate or on a dog bed, so it doesn’t get used to sleeping on your bed.
During the day, you want your puppy to have ample time for physical exercise, so it remains healthy, and its body can develop accordingly. Of course, you would also need to be consistent with house training and behavior training so it can develop good habits, learn neat tricks, and hone its conduct and behavior skills early on.
Puppy feeding is another aspect you must be consistent with – feed it at the same time every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Minimize after-dinner snacks and treats to reduce midnight trips to the bathroom. And speaking of bathrooms, puppies need a toilet trip after every meal, naptime, and playtime. So, incorporate these in your training.
Tire your pup out with play before bedtime, so it has a higher chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
Excited to take your pup on its first walk? Now that your puppy is adjusting well to its new home and is ready to go on outdoor adventures with you, here are some things to consider:
Are there any other tips you want to add to this new puppy checklist? Let us know in the comments below!
A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.