Welcoming a new puppy into your home is super exciting! Having a dog in your life can help reduce stress and loneliness along with helping you stay more active as you walk and play with your dog.
But dog ownership is a huge undertaking that should not be taken lightly. In my years as a dog groomer I have had numerous encounters with new pet parents who are overwhelmed with just how much work taking care of a puppy is, and in some situations the pet parent ended up giving their dog to another family.
So with this article I am hoping to help you prepare for your new puppy so help the transition be as smooth as possible and to also help you decide if dog ownership is right for you.
Sit down with your family and discuss the following:
Depending on how many people are in your family, you should have a serious sit down discussion about the amount of effort each family member wants to put in. If you are single, that is even more to consider.
First thing I think someone should consider is the amount of time and resources owning a dog takes, especially a puppy. It’s recommended that the new owner take a few days off to help the puppy get situated, is this possible for you? When you first get your puppy you will also be at the vet quite often with shots, tests for heart worms and other things. This requires a lot of time and finances. When it is time to get your puppy spayed or neutered, your puppy could take up to 10 days to heal. Someone will need to be with them the full 10 days to make sure they are healing up properly and all after care instructions are followed. So this will require either getting help from outside places like a family member or friend or the family inside the house take turns.
Other time and care considerations will be exercise, training, and grooming. These will all depend on the breed you get and the dog as an individual. Training will begin not long after the puppy arrives and will take a team effort. Make sure everyone is on the same team when it comes to who will take what roles. Sometimes it helps to establish who will take care of the grooming, who feeds and waters the dog, and so on and so forth. There is no such thing as too much preparation! Again, if you are solo then consider that you will have to do all these things by yourself. Your work schedule will have to be accommodating for all of these things.
A final piece of consideration to getting a new puppy is the breed of puppy you get. Breeds like Huskies or Malamutes are not recommended breeds for first time dog owners. They need several hours of exercise a day, along with major grooming needs. If you are considering a poodle mix of some sort (think doodle), keep in mind you never know how your dog will look in the end. They have massive grooming needs and you will be at a groomer typically every 4-6 weeks.
If you are not sure of what breed of dog to get, akc.org has a quiz that you can take, and they ask you about the different aspects of your life to help you find the best fit for you! They also have a list of reputable AKC certified breeders if that is the route you want to take. Also look at local rescues, there are many breed specific rescues as well!
Now that we have done some serious planning and research and have found our perfect breed and breeder/rescue, let’s get to the fun part. Buying all the things your puppy will need when they get to your home!
Items to have before your puppy arrives home
I came across a couple of websites that gave wonderful lists of items to have when welcoming your new puppy, and like always I will have all my references at the end of the article!
- High Quality Puppy Food and High Quality Treats
- Water and Food Bowl
- Variety of Toys
- A Sturdy Leash and Collar
- I.D. Tags
- Stain and Odor Remover
Other items that may not be necessary depending on living and training situations but I do recommend also having baby gates and puppy pads.
Let’s dive deeper into each of these items:
Your puppy’s crate will be a safe place for them to go to feel secure and to sleep. It will take time for your puppy to be used to their crate and there are lots of articles, videos and podcasts out there to help you with that process. Another note is you do not need to have a large crate! Your puppy’s crate needs to be big enough for them to stand up and turn around but nothing more. If your puppy is going to be a larger breed, consider getting a large cage with dividers. They allow you to have an appropriate size without having to keep upgrading and spending money on cages.
High Quality Food and Treats
Nutrition is so important for your puppy to grow up healthy and strong. I personally advise getting your puppy’s food from a pet store and avoid major chains that don’t specialize in pets. When I look for new food for my pets, I always look at the ingredients list. When it comes to pet food, they list the ingredients by weight. Avoid any foods where the first ingredient is corn or corn meal. These are filler ingredients that don’t do anything for your pet nutrition wise. I look at the first 5 ingredients to make sure they are healthy options.
Please note, if you see “meal” at the end of a food that’s okay! When you see “chicken meal” or “beef meal” that simply means that the food has been dehydrated and the moisture taken out. No water weight, all nutrition and protein!
Water Food and Bowl
This one is pretty simple. Make sure the bowl walls are not too high so your puppy isn’t struggling. Or, the opposite. My last dog was a Saint Bernard, so my family needed to invest in a set of water and food bowls that were lifted up to her, even at a very young age. It is very important especially with large breeds to prevent bloat or other digestive issues with any breed of dog to have the appropriate height bowls.
Variety of Toys
Toys are going to help keep your puppy entertained and help burn that puppy energy. When purchasing toys, pick a variety. You never know what your individual puppy will find the most fun. Do they like squeaky toys? Frisbees? Rope toys? There are so many to pick from. Toys are also helpful when it comes to puppy biting, when your puppy nips you, give them a toy instead! Also grab a few for teething, as your puppy will go through teething just like a human infant does. Having something like a soft rubber toy (you can typically find the puppy specific ones in softer colors in the pet stores) will help soothe their gums.
Note, I would advise getting some sort of chest or container to keep the toys in. Changing out the toys daily helps keep things mentally stimulating and they won’t get bored which can happen if they have access to all of their toys all of the time. It will also help your home stay cleaner!
Sturdy Leash and Collar
It’s going to be so tempting to buy all the cute collars that have the plastic buckle but those plastic buckles will wear over time and eventually will no longer hold, and they typically give when you need them to hold the most. I personally love the collars that have a metal belt type buckle on them. Nylon is great because it’s easily washed, and a leather collar is really sturdy and can also be wiped down easily.
When picking your leash, pick one that is about 6-8 feet long. Retractable leashes are hard to use when training your puppy and most dog trainers do not recommend them. They can also break if your dog lunges and pulls on the leash hard enough. Same as the collar, a sturdy nylon or leather leash will last you some time.
Make sure to pick the appropriate weight and thickness. A leash for a Shih Tzu or chihuahua will be much smaller and thinner than a leash for a Labrador Retriever.
Make sure to always have I.D. Tags on your puppy! Since they are so new to your home, if they accidentally run away they won’t know where to run back to. Talk to your vet about microchipping as well, as tags can fall off and are not a 100% way of getting your puppy back. Microchipping also helps if the unfortunate event happens that your puppy is taken, a vet will be able to scan the chip and see your information registered.
Again, a pretty straight forward item. With the cage, make sure it isn’t too big so they can snuggle up and stay secure. I would put a bed where you would like your puppy to rest as well if you do not plan to let them on the couch or your own bed. Look for ones that are easily cleanable, as puppies have accidents. I also advise not purchasing expensive beds for your puppy until they grow out of the chewing phase. I’ve personally lost many dog beds during this time!
Stain and Odor Remover
As mentioned before, puppies have accidents. Having a good stain and odor remover is important, because you want to make sure no odor is left behind. Not only for your own home, but once they smell the spots they pee they tend to go in the same spots again.
I hope this list and in depth dive to getting a puppy helps you and your family welcome the new bundle of fur! I want to end this article with an extra stress on thinking of training, grooming and veterinary care. Currently this article is being written October 2021, and animal professionals are currently overflowing with the rise of dog ownership due to the coronavirus. Depending on the times you get your puppy, sometimes contacting professionals weeks and months in advance is required. My grooming salon is typically booked weeks out, veterinarians booked out even longer. Do research and find each of these professionals that you want to work with either right when your puppy comes home or before, so when the time comes you won’t be stressed trying to find someone who can take your dog on short notice.
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DogTime. “Bringing Home Your New Dog: Prepping and First Steps.” DogTime, DogTime, https://dogtime.com/dog-health/general/262-adults-bringing-home. Accessed 7 Oct. 2021.
Perry, Somyr. “9 Things You Need Before Bringing Home a New Puppy | BeChewy.” BeChewy, Chewy, 14 Nov. 2018, https://be.chewy.com/new-puppy-checklist-9-things-you-need-before-bringing-home-a-new-puppy/?gclid=CjwKCAjwkvWKBhB4EiwA-GHjFi6FwP239tFxvbU5dVuUJPbryXObEpKAHNXHKff-aGVDb_AW_PHu1RoCWLIQAvD_BwE.