How to Prepare for a New Puppy

FT Contributor  | 

A parent wouldn’t bring a newborn baby home from the hospital without any preparation beforehand and the same reasoning applies to a new puppy. If you’re a fledgling dog owner, it’s wise to take the time to prepare yourself, your family, your schedule, and your spaces for the impending arrival of your new canine companion.

When done properly, getting ready for a new pup can make a huge difference in the long-term success of your dog-ownership journey.

Prior to Bringing the Puppy Home

Before the big day arrives, you’re going to want to set the stage by taking a trip to the store in order to pick up all of your puppy’s gear. Here is a list of the most common items all puppies need, which make up a big part of the cost of owning a dog:

  • Pet food. This one may seem obvious, but give it a little thought. If you can afford it, look into getting premium pet food that doesn’t use sugar, salt, byproducts, food coloring, or other low-quality ingredients that can lead to things like hyperactivity and poor overall health.
  • Food and water bowls. Look for bowls that are big enough for your puppy once they’re full-grown and ensure that they have a no-tip design to prevent spills.
    A crate or kennel. It’s wise to get an adult-sized crate and then resize it for your puppy. That way they don’t have to change crates as they grow and you can avoid the cost of purchasing a new crate every few months.
  • Identification tags and a collar. Get your dog’s name along with both you and your veterinarian’s name and contact information engraved on your pup’s identification tags. Also, look up your local laws or call your vet in order to see if you are required to include vaccinations on your identification tags.
  • Grooming gear. This includes dog shampoo, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. Also, get a brush or comb that is good for this particular breed’s coat and a good set of dog nail clippers.
  • Toys and treats. Every good dog owner knows your puppy will bond with you that much better if you come equipped with a good supply of dog-safe toys and treats.
  • Pest control. You’re going to want to talk to your vet in order to discover which topical or oral agents you will need to give your dog for things like parasite, flea, and tick control.
  • Outdoor gear. You’re going to want a leash for walking at the least. You may also want to consider a doghouse, fence, or anything else you may need if you plan on giving them time outside apart from going for walks.
  • Cleaning tools. Remember, a puppy can be a handful. Make sure to have things like a good cleaner, an anti-odor agent, and paper towels on hand for accidents. Also, have a vacuum handy for the extra fur that will most likely begin to gather in your home’s cracks and crannies.

Home Inspection

Once you’ve got all of your supplies gathered, it’s time to do a home inspection. Before your puppy is given free rein in your home or yard, you’re going to want to give your space a thorough once-over to make sure they’ll be safe.

Look for a few things in particular:

  • Spaces where your puppy can escape from your yard or home.
  • Things that are dangerous for your puppy to get into, like cleaning agents.
  • Anything that you don’t want your puppy getting into and possible destroying.

Establish a Vet

It’s a good idea to find a vet that you can trust before you bring your puppy home. Inquire with a friend or a local breeding club or try looking online for a reputable veterinarian.

Once you’ve found one you think you’ll like, pay them a visit to see what you think about their staff, facility, and operational hours.

Also, make sure to consider how you’ll cover vet bills over time. Recurring expenses like checkups and vaccines can be budgeted for, and you can look into financial assistance for vet visits to help with larger bills.

Come Up With a Schedule

It’s essential that you have a schedule in place before your puppy arrives. Here are some schedule-oriented things to consider:

  • Who will be responsible for taking the dog out and when will they do so?
  • Who will feed the dog, how much food should they be given, and how often should they be fed?
  • Who will be responsible for training the dog?
  • Who will pick up after the dog if they use the yard for their business?

Establish Rules

You’re going to want to establish rules beforehand as well. A few important rules to initially consider are:

  • Where will the puppy sleep? Will they be allowed in your bedroom or on your bed?
  • What are your new dog’s boundaries? Can they go on the furniture? Are any rooms off-limits?
  • Will they be told not to jump up on people?
  • Are they allowed to sit on your lap?

Make sure to consider how you plan on enforcing these rules. Positivity and nonviolence are critical when training a dog, but remember that positivity doesn’t mean permissibility. Take time to research which training method you want to use in order to enforce your rules; then do so consistently.

The First Days Home

When the big day comes and your new puppy comes home with you, it’s important to set your expectations. It’s exciting to have your new four-legged friend to play with, but this is also a critical time to begin steadily enforcing all of your new rules.

You’re also going to want to be committed to getting them on a schedule as quickly as possible. Don’t give them time to establish their own way of doing things or you may have a much harder time training them.

Here are a few key things to consider when dealing with a new puppy, in particular:

  • Make sure you have plenty of time to devote to your new puppy in these early days.
  • They’re going to need to be given a chance to go to the bathroom in a designated potty spot. Praise them when they succeed at doing this and make sure to take them out to use the bathroom as often as every half hour during the initial few days in order to establish a good habit.
  • Always be watching your puppy for signs that they need to pee. If they have an accident, don’t punish them, either. Simply encourage them to go to the bathroom in the right place.
  • Make sure you feed them good food meant for puppies — including a formula if necessary — depending on their age and nutritional needs. Ask your vet for recommendations.

Introducing Them to the Rest of the House

When it comes to introducing your new pet to the rest of the household, make sure to do so carefully and purposefully.

Introducing a puppy to kids:

When you introduce your pet to younger children, make sure that they know not to be too loud or not to tease the puppy. Supervise their interactions and make sure the puppy doesn’t playfully bite the children either.

Consider integrating the children into your puppy’s feeding routine in order to establish their position as a fellow owner.

Introducing a puppy to pets you already have:

If you already have a pet, keep the new puppy away from them for a few days. Once they’re used to their new crate, allow them to meet your other pet through a gate.

When they’re comfortable with each other through the gate, have them interact directly with close supervision.


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This post was updated November 20, 2019. It was originally published November 20, 2019.