Your No-Fail New Puppy Checklist

by Sundays

Everything you need to know—and get—before bringing home a new puppy.

Are you counting down the minutes until you can bring your new puppy home? Well, make good use of the minutes you have left by getting ready for their arrival! We’re all about making things easy, so here’s a helpful checklist with tons of new puppy tips to help you prepare for the big day.

And if you're looking to adopt an older dog, take a look at our checklist for adult and senior pups.

New Puppy Tips: How to Get Ready for Your New Puppy

1. Find a good puppy training group.

Training is a huge part of your new puppy’s successful integration into the family. It’s in these first few months with you that a puppy learns everything from where to pee and poop to how to walk on a leash without pulling your arm off. Your new puppy may be tiny now, but it’s not so cute when your adult dog jumps up and knocks you down when they’re fully grown. 

You can do one-on-one training sessions with a dog trainer, but it may be more cost-effective and even more fun to find a group puppy training session. And this way, your pup will learn how to interact with other dogs and people as part of the training. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations or read through online reviews of local puppy trainers.

2. Read up on everything puppy-related.

Sure, it’s super easy to fall for a puppy, but you should be prepared for everything beyond the cuddling part. Caring for a puppy is very similar to caring for a toddler. You are responsible for potty training, cleaning up accidents, and knowing what you can feed them and what you can't. The list goes on. 

There are so many things to learn about caring for a puppy, but you can make it manageable by reading one article a day on a different topic before your new puppy comes home. Here are some topics you’ll want to include for sure: training, crate training, potty training, socialization, feeding a puppy, common puppy illnesses, puppy-proofing, and puppy vaccinations.

3. Find a vet and make the first appointment for your new puppy.

It’s really important to find a veterinarian that is great with your puppy, but you want to make sure you like them, too. This is where you’ll really need feedback from friends, family, and neighbors on the vets they love. Join a social media app like Nextdoor and make a post asking which vets are the best, most accommodating, and most reasonably priced. You’re sure to get tons of recommendations there.

Once you’ve got a list, check them out on Google to see how far away they are, what their hours are, and whether they have good ratings. Then make a call and set up an appointment as soon after the adoption date as you can. Make sure you get your new puppy’s health records and vaccination records from the shelter, rescue, or breeder and take them with you to the vet appointment.

Here’s what will happen at the first appointment:

  • Vaccinations and discussion of any follow-up shots needed

  • Microchipping

  • Full physical exam (checking full body, temperature, weight, heart, and lungs, etc.)

  • Fecal sample

  • Reviewing your puppy’s medical records from the shelter

  • Discussion of what to feed your puppy and how often

  • Plan for spaying/neutering if not already done

4. Puppy-proof your place.

This is where the real work begins. What can puppies get into? More than you would think. You have to think like a puppy–what looks super fun to tear up or eat? 

Step 1: Secure the garbage can. You can get all sorts of latches made for child-proofing that will keep the lid shut and inaccessible to puppies.

Step 2: Lock away any medications and cleaners. Again, you can use child-proof latches on cabinets or put things high up where your puppy can’t reach.

Step 3: Pick up any choking hazards and get used to scanning the room for them. This could be anything from coins to rubber bands or hair bands. Keep your laundry off the floor, because puppies are drawn to things with your scent, like socks or clothing that they can accidentally ingest. 

Step 4: Put away anything you don’t want your puppy to chew up. This includes your prized possessions but also stuff like electrical cords that you can protect with special tubing.

Step 5: Get some pet gates so you can keep your puppy out of unsafe areas in your home or rooms you don’t want them in.

5. Divide the puppy care responsibilities.

If you live alone, hooray, the responsibilities are all yours! But you also get 100% of the cuddles, too. In this case, make a checklist of daily responsibilities so you don't forget anything that's out of your typical routine. 

If you live with others, make sure everyone agrees to and understands their puppy duties. This can be anything from walks and feeding to training and cleaning up messes. Otherwise, you may have two people giving the puppy breakfast, but no one walking them, which can be a very not-fun situation for all involved.

6. Check out nearby dog parks and amenities.

This is a fun checklist item! Gone are the days when you looked longingly at dog parks that you passed in your neighborhood, daydreaming about throwing the ball for your cute pup who tripped over his own paws trying to run after it.

Now you can scope out all the dog parks and dog-friendly markets and plan for you and your new puppy to make a day of it.

7. Find a good pet sitter.

Having a pet sitter that you trust and is actually available and affordable is everything. Yes, you could rely on your roommate or neighbor to watch your puppy while you are away. 

Or you could hire a professional who is obligated to follow a complex list of care instructions and send you as many pics of your pup as you request without straining any relationships. Read more about how to find a dog sitter you love on our blog.

8. Start researching pet insurance.

You may think it’s way too early to even talk about pet insurance, but it’s actually the perfect time. For one, a puppy is not likely to have any pre-existing conditions, and no pet insurance company covers those. 

The second point is that puppies will get into things they shouldn’t, and that can lead to several emergency or scary situations (surgery to remove some strange object) where you will be really happy you had pet insurance ahead of time.

9. Get new puppy supplies and gear ready early.

Another fun new puppy checklist item! Start shopping for things you’ll need so you can have everything set up the moment your new puppy sets paws in your home.

Curious about what to get for a new puppy? From chew toys to cozy dog beds, our new puppy checklist has everything your pup needs to grow up happy and healthy.

New Puppy Checklist: What To Get Your New Puppy

When it comes to gear, what does a puppy need? We’ve put together this list to get you started:

Puppy Food: Look for food that’s labeled for puppies and mentions that it’s formulated for growth in the AAFCO statement on the bag. Our USDA-Grade Beef Recipe and All-Natural Turkey Recipe are great options for puppies. Check out our feeding guidelines to gauge how much food your new puppy needs.

Bed: You might want to buy one that gives them room to grow. 

Chew toys / busy toys: Pick out chew toys designed especially for puppies so that they won't be too hard on their puppy teeth. Toys that you can fill with food or treats are also great.

Treats: Make sure they are suitable for puppies. Treats should only account for 10% of your puppy’s calories.

Crate: Learn about crate training before trying it out. A crate should be a safe spot and not used as punishment.

Leash: Get a fixed-length leash of average length. 

Harness: You might need to try a few different kinds to get the fit just right.

Bowls: Go for the standard or upgrade to programmable feeders.

Poop bags: These days, you can find all sorts of biodegradable options for poop bags.

Clicker: This is exactly what it sounds like, and you’ll find out how to use it in your puppy training group.

Pee pads: Even the jumbo package might not be enough!

Flea/tick meds: What do puppies need for flea and tick prevention? Your vet can prescribe the right flea and tick product for your pup. Some kinds can be used in puppies at least 8 weeks old, while others are for puppies 6 months and up. 

Deodorizer spray: New puppy tips for potty training? Try an enzyme-based deodorizer spray. You can never have too much of this for cleaning up smelly accidents.

ID tags: These shouldn’t take the place of a microchip. Get your pup some tags with your phone number so neighbors can contact you without needing a microchip scanner.

Baby gate: Consider what areas you want to keep your new puppy out of and measure the openings.

Calming products: Your new puppy may be nervous about being in a new home, so pick up some calming chews and try dog-appeasing pheromone diffusers.

Fetch toys: Keep in mind that your puppy has a little mouth. Look for the small size tennis balls and fetch toys made for puppies.

Grooming gear: Your pup will need their own toothbrush and doggy toothpaste, and you’ll need to get them used to having their teeth brushed while they’re young.

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