The Ultimate Puppy Checklist to Prepare for Your New Arrival
If you’re planning on getting a puppy, the chances are that you’ve been looking forward to this day for a while. Maybe you’ve already picked out a name and had it embossed onto your new pup’s tag as part of a customised collar set. You might have even stocked up on things like stainless steel bowls for food and water, and puppy toys. But do you have everything you need?
The following puppy checklist will let you know everything you can expect from the first few months of your puppy’s life. That way, you can ensure you have all the groom tools, toys, and other equipment required to keep your puppy happy and healthy.
A little initial planning could even help to reduce the risk of problems later in life.
What to Do When Your Puppy is:
8-12 Weeks old
You’ll usually get your puppy around the age of 8 to 12 weeks, when they’re old enough to leave their mum, but not quite old enough to go exploring the great outdoors. Your puppy won’t be fully vaccinated yet, so trips to the park aren’t an option, but it’s still important to practice socialisation.
Pick your dog up so he or she gets used to being handled during the first 12 weeks of age and introduce them to new sights and sounds as much as possible. You can also:
- Introduce your puppy to the car, and any crate training equipment you’re going to use.
- Introduce grooming, baths, brushing, and other regular strategies to keep your dog in great shape. You could even introduce your dog to having their ears and eyes checked.
- Establish a routine, with regular “outside” time for going to the bathroom. Set some rules for behaviour and reward good behaviour whenever you see it. Ignore, rather than punishing bad behaviour.
During these initial weeks, you’ll also be feeding your puppy a consistent diet, with small, regular meals, and making a start on toilet training.
12 weeks to 6 months old
After the first twelve weeks, the real work begins. You’ll be able to give your pup their first vaccinations around this time, and you can also ask your vet about flea, neutering, and worming treatments. Get to know your puppy as much as you can as he or she grows.
Find out what kind of treats, toys, and rewards they like, so you know how to encourage good behaviour. If you’re going to be introducing crate training, make sure you follow this strategy consistently during the first 6 months.
6 months old and onwards
After the age of 6 months, your puppy will still be learning, but they’ll hopefully have a few things down, like how to go to the bathroom outside. As a pet parent, you’ll still be responsible for training your dog to behave properly, so make sure you take your time and seek out extra help from fellow puppy owners and trainers if you need it.
As your dog moves beyond 6 months, they may also need some different kinds of food. Dogs move from puppy to adult foot at 6 months. Your vet should be able to give you some advice on the right meals for your puppy parenting role.
The Things You’ll Need to Welcome a Puppy: The Essentials
Now you know what the first few months are going to look like, you can begin to invest in the products you need to keep your pup happy. Let’s start with the essentials:
A collar, leash, and ID tag
Start with a high-quality nylon buckle collar. Remember to ensure it fits correctly, but keep in mind that your puppy is likely to grow out of their collar quite fast. You’ll also need a lightweight leash that you can use for taking your dog for walks. You’ll discover after regular walks whether retractable leashes, leather leashes, or a basic training leash is better for your needs.
Add a tag to your pup’s collar just in case he or she manages to run off. This tag should include everything someone needs to know to return your pup to you.
If you want to control where your puppy can go in your home for the initial few months of its life – a baby gate is a great idea. You can puppy proof various dangerous rooms by applying a gate, and even stop other animals from eating the wrong puppy food.
When your puppy is out exploring the rest of the house, baby gates will also stop them from accidentally falling down the stairs or injuring themselves.
Toilet training products
Teaching your puppy to go to the bathroom outside is a challenging process, but it’s much easier if you have the right equipment. Make sure you invest in some puppy pads for indoor accidents, and an enzyme spray, just in case your dog ends up leaving a stain on the floor. This spray will break down all kinds of substances, so clean up is a breeze. Don’t forget a good set of biodegradable poop bags and a bag dispenser for when you’re out on walks.
No-one likes to think about their new pooch getting sick or injured, but if something goes wrong, insurance will help to ensure you can provide the right treatment. Look into the amount of insurance you’re going to need for your breed of dog. Most insurance providers can begin coverage from as little as 6 weeks of age, and they can even cover pre-existing ailments.
A Reliable Vet
When you’re looking for insurance providers, remember to search for a reliable and reputable vet you can sign your pooch up with. Ask other pet owners in your social circle which vets they’ve had a positive experience with in the past if you’re not sure where to start. A vet will be a source of expert advice when you need it most, and they’ll also be the people treating your canine companions when they’re sick or giving vaccinations whenever necessary.
Look for a vet you and your dog feel comfortable with. Someone who can answer any questions you have about illnesses; puppy products and other issues patiently is a good choice.
Bedding, Grooming and Comfort
Once you’ve gotten those essentials squared away, you can look at keeping your puppy happy and healthy with the right bedding, grooming, and comfort products.
Your Puppy Bed
While dogs don’t necessarily need beds, they definitely enjoy having a place of their own where they can unwind and relax. Choose a well-made bed that looks and feels fantastic. It needs to be big enough for your dog and should definitely come with the right bed cover. A moisture and odour-battling cover will help your dog bed to last longer and tackle unwanted smells.
A big part of grooming your dog is making sure they stay clean and fresh – even after rainy walks and running around in the dirt. A good dog towel will be able to get rid of extra dirt, soak up moisture quickly, and even protec
t your car when you’re transporting your dog back home after a walk.
You might prefer to get most of your grooming done by a professional when it comes to caring for your dog’s appearance – but it’s handy to have some shampoo at home, just in case. Choose something that’s going to be gentle on your dog’s skin, without any harsh chemicals or scents. Essential oils and all-natural ingredients ensure a better experience for you and your dog.
Baby wipes or puppy wipes
For moments when a full bath isn’t possible, it’s helpful to have some puppy wipes or baby wipes on hand. Safe wipes you can use to easily get rid of unwanted dirt or wipe away something smelly from your dogs paws can save you a serious headache when it comes to getting home after a walk.
Brushes and combs
If you have a long-haired dog, a brush that can easily untangle fur is a must-have investment. Even if your dog has shorter hair, you’ll find that regular brushing leads to easier grooming sessions, healthier fur, and even better skin for your pooch. Speak to your vet or a groomer about the kind of brushes and combs that make the most sense for your dog.
Nail clippers and grinders are an important but overlooked investment for a growing puppy. You might find that it’s easier to get a professional to clip your dog’s nails for you as they get a little older, however, a good grinder can help you to get on top of this grooming task yourself, without spending a small fortune.
Puppy Food and Treats
Now let’s look at some of the foods and treats you’re going to need to keep your pup happy and healthy, and the accessories that go with them.
With a little luck, when you want to pick your puppy up from his breeder, they’ll have given you some advice on what your kind of dog and its litter mates need to eat. Dogs aren’t strict carnivores like cats, but meat does make up a significant portion of their diet. Make sure you do your research into the kind of food you’re going to need for your specific breed, and whether any additional fruits and vegetables might be necessary.
To accompany the puppy food you buy for your pooch, you’re also going to need a set of dog bowls. This will include one bowl for food, and one bowl for water. Stainless steel boys are often easier to clean, and you should always ensure you get individual puppy bowls for each of your dogs, so you can ensure each one gets the right meal.
Ideal for training your puppy, as well as moments when you just want to give them something special, treats are a natural part of the puppy starter pack. Look for a treat option that’s packed full of healthy ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about your pup getting fat if they’re awarded too many treats in one day.
You might also want to invest in a special treat storage pouch, so you have somewhere safe to keep your treats when you’re exploring the great outdoors. Puppy treats can often lead crumbs in your pocket and lingering smells if you’re not careful.
Toys aren’t just a great way to keep your pup happy, they’re also important for good health and development. The right selection of chews and toys will keep your dog mentally stimulated and active, so they’re less likely to develop behavioural issues.
Training your dog requires a few crucial investments. We’ve already mentioned toilet training above with puppy pads, but there are other aspects of training to consider too. Here are some of the items you’ll need besides the things we’ve already mentioned.
A good-sized crate
If you’re planning on using crate training for when your dog is home alone, or left downstairs without supervision, make sure you buy a decent sized crate. Your dog will need plenty of space to move around in this craft, and there should be room for bowls and bedding too.
You might want to keep some puppy pads in the crate for the first few months while you’re waiting for the toilet training to kick in.
Clickers and similar training tools are an excellent way to train your dog to do things like go to the bathroom outside, sit on command, or even stay off the couch. If you’re training your dog to behave well in social situations, you can also look into things like play pens to control how much exposure your dog gets when it comes to time with kids and other animals.
You can tackle some of the basics of training at home with your puppy, like teaching them how to go to the bathroom outside and encouraging good behaviour with positive reinforcement. However, it might be a good idea to look into professional training too. There are experts out there offering everything from leash training to anti-chew training, so you can overcome some of the most common puppy behavioral problems. Training can also be a great way to socialize your dog.
This is an investment more intended for you as a dog owner than the puppy itself. If you’re a first-time pet parent, then you can always get some extra help on how to train a patient pooch with the right books. There are tons of great books out there that can teach you about everything from the playful personalities of different kinds of dogs, to how you can encourage your dog to avoid destructive behaviours like biting and chewing.
Bad behaviour deterrents
You should never shout at a puppy or respond negatively to bad behaviour – negative reinforcement doesn’t create happy dogs, it just causes more stress, and increasingly worse behaviour.
Bad behaviour should generally be ignored, while good actions are praised with toys, treats, and attention. If ignoring bad behaviour doesn’t feel like enough, you can always deter your dog by using certain products. There are things like anti-chew spray or bitter apple spray to stop chewing, for instance.
You’re Ready to Welcome Your Puppy Home
Every dog has its own unique needs to consider. Before you bring your puppy home, take the time to research h the breed and learn everything you can about caring for this kind of dog. Once you feel confident, you can use our guide above to make sure you’re fully prepared with a complete checklist of all the things you might need.
You can even stock up on a few essentials here, like dog towels, shampoos, bed covers, and more.