The Complete New Dog Checklist

by Sundays

Bringing a new dog home is exciting, but it also calls for some preparation, that's where our new dog checklist comes in.

Congrats on getting your first dog! Sure, puppies are perfect for some people, but adopting an older dog is a truly unique and special experience. 

For one thing, you get more info about older dogs from the shelter–whether they’re good with cats or other dogs or whether they might be good with kids. You won’t have to guess how big they’ll get, because they’re already fully grown. 

Another huge plus is the fact that they’re most likely already potty trained. And they’re sure to come with notes about all their funny, cute, and downright weird personality quirks. All that’s left to do is match your quirks with the right shelter dog and their quirks. 

Here’s our new dog checklist of how to prepare and what to get your first dog so you can get right to the fun stuff as soon as you bring them home.

Do a Meet and Greet

So, you have your eye on a dog that captured your heart, and maybe you’ve even put in an application. Before you make it final, though, you should bring the other family members–human and canine alike–to meet this pup. You want to make sure that everyone’s on board, including your soon-to-be new family member.

Conduct a Home Safety Check

While you don’t have to do an all-out puppy-proofing of your house, you still need to do a safety check, especially if this is your first dog. 

Some common dangers to watch out for are household cleaners, human medications, and anything they could swallow and choke on. Dogs can swallow strange things like hair ties, coins, balloons, rubber bands, string, children’s toys, socks, underwear, and dental floss, all of which could cause major problems for your new dog and major vet bills for you. 

Check your plants against a list of plants that are poisonous to dogs. Switch open garbage cans to ones with lids, and use child-proofing supplies to secure cabinet doors and garbage can lids. 

Find a Vet and Make an Appointment

Ask everyone for recommendations for great vets, from your neighbors and coworkers to friends and family members that live nearby. You can even join pet-related groups on social media and ask if anyone knows a good vet. Schedule the appointment for about a week after your new dog comes home with you.

If you’re nervous about how stressed out your new pup might get at the vet, or you know you’re adopting a shy dog, search for a vet office that’s Fear Free Certified. This means that the vet and/or the entire office has completed a certificate program that teaches veterinary professionals how to make vet visits as stress-free as possible for your pet. 

At your first appointment, be sure to:

  • Get a prescription for flea and tick medication
  • Ask about the best diet to feed your dog and how much to feed daily
  • Have your dog microchipped
  • Find out any health issues or concerns
  • Ask when your dog should have a dental exam
  • Learn about any breed- or size-related health concerns
  • Have bloodwork done (gives you the best picture of your pet’s health)

Start Researching Pet Insurance Plans

When’s the best time to get pet insurance? As soon as possible after adopting an older dog! And by “older,” we mean anywhere from young adult to late senior years. 

The shelter might have some record of your new dog’s health up to this point, or they may only know what the shelter vet might have noted. That’s why it’s so important to schedule that first vet visit soon after you get your pup. Most pet insurance companies also require a preliminary vet visit within a certain time frame to establish your pet’s health history. 

Pet insurance covers many other things, from accidents and injuries to chronic illnesses (as long as they developed after a specified waiting period). You can even get wellness policies that cover routine vet checkups.

Plan for an Adjustment Period

While your new pup is probably really thrilled to be coming home with you, they could be pretty scared, too. You may not even know much about their backstory or how they ended up in the shelter to begin with. Just know that it will take a while for any dog to settle in and show off all of their amazing personality.

For some dogs, the adjustment period can be longer than with others. You just have to be patient and do everything you can to help them de-stress. Set up some potential safe spots for your new family member that are away from the hustle and bustle of the household. 

You may want to pick up a dog pheromone diffuser that releases the synthetic version of the pheromone that a mother dog uses to calm her puppies. It also helps to stock up on calming supplement treats.

Stock Up on Dog Supplies

What do dogs need? Don’t worry; we’ve put together this list of what to get your first dog, so all you have to do is the fun part of shopping for it. For each item, we’ve listed the classic version and the fancier, upgraded version. It all depends on your style and your new dog’s style!

New Dog Supplies Checklist

  • Stainless steel food dishes and a mat 
  • Stainless steel water bowl or a ceramic or stainless steel water fountain
  • Nylon fixed-length leash or a leather or designer rope leash with a poop bag holder
  • No-pull reflective harness
  • Collar ID tag  or a personalized collar
  • Poop bags
  • Machine-washable dog bed 
  • Air-dried dog food
  • Dog toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Dog treats
  • Chew toys and fetch toys
  • De-shedding tool, clippers, and brush

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