So you've decided to get a puppy! Now you're wondering "what comes next?" Bringing home a puppy is exciting but overwhelming, especially to first time owners. Fortunately, you're not the first person to adopt a puppy, which means there are lots of resources out there. We're here to help with this new puppy checklist to get you started on the right path.
A collar is an important vessel for your dog's identification tags. But it also allows you to hastily and easily grab your puppy in certain situations. Look for durable, comfortable collars that will hold up to wear-and-tear but not cause irritation or chafing. It's also a good idea to get cost-effective and adjustable ones because puppies quickly grow out of their collars.
2. Name Tags
Name Tags are essential for those worst-case scenarios when you and your dog may become separated. They help identify your pup and provide the necessary contact information to reunite you two.
Pro Tip: It's a good idea to microchip your dog as well, in case your dog's collar or name tags fall off.
You'll need a leash to take your puppy on walks outside. Look for durable leashes that will withstand pulling and other wear-and-tear. The standard length is six feet, but you can opt for four foot leashes for more control or long line ones that give a little more freedom.
Pro Tip: You can also opt for a retractable leash, though there are some downsides to using those including risk of breaking or injury.
It's recommended that you also use a harness, which can be useful for several reasons. Not only is it safer for your dog to attach the leash to a harness rather than their collar, but it can help with walking issues (like pulling).
Pro Tip: Harnesses that have the leash clip in the front, as well as gentle leaders, are helpful for dogs who pull.
5. Poop Bags or Pooper Scooper
Your new puppy is going to go to the bathroom and you're going to need a way to pick up the droppings. You do have a few options, from more portable poop bags to a pooper scooper, that helps you keep your distance or not bend down.
Food / Eating
6. Puppy Food
Puppies need special food, so make sure you're getting something labeled for the right age group. Observe how your puppy reacts to the food and if it upsets his or her stomach, you may need to switch.
7. Dog Bowls
Your puppy will need a way to eat their food and drink their water. Stainless steel bowls are recommended as they are the easiest to clean and most durable. But if your new puppy inhales food, you may want to get a slow-feeder.
Puppies chew a lot. They chew furniture, shoes, your hair, your hands and feet, and anything they can get their teeth on. They do this because they are teething. Dog chews will help redirect the destructive behavior, as well as help their teething pain and discomfort. You can get bully sticks, teething toys or use a DIY frozen towel or carrot.
Pro Tip: You can also get some "anti-chew spray," which deters your dog from chewing whatever it has been sprayed on.
You'll want treats to help train your pup, which typically starts the day you get him or her. But even if you decide not to train with treats, they're still important to have for your puppy.
Pro Tip: Treat pouches are great for holding treats, clickers and other training tools. They're especially helpful to free up your hands on walks.
10. Food Container
If you decide to use dry dog food, it's important to get an airtight container to keep it fresh and protected from bugs. It's also a good idea to keep the food in the original bag, since it's made to store kibble for a long time and has important information (such as expiration date, calorie count per cup, and more).
11. Dog Toys
Pro Tip: You can get a plush toy to rub on your puppy's mom, litter mates or on yourself so they have something with a familiar scent.
12. Dog Crate
Crate training your puppy is usually a good idea and can even be beneficial to him or her. Crates can give your pup a place of their own, almost like a safe haven. But they also provide a means of containing your puppy when you're not home or need to otherwise.
Pro Tip: You can also use a playpen if you don't want to crate your puppy.
13. Dog Bed
Dogs and puppies love cuddling up in comfortable spots and dog beds are perfect for this. They're especially nice if you decide to crate train, as they will cozy up the space. Some dogs prefer flat beds, while others like sofa-style ones. Look for a bed that fits your pup and is easily washable, as you'll want to clean it regularly.
You can also take a dog bed one step further by adding blankets and other bedding. Just beware that some puppies will decide that bedding is better suited as a chew toy than a blanket.
Pro Tip: You can also use bedding (such as blankets, pillows, towels and sheets) to create your own DIY dog bed.
15. Pet Gate
Gates are really useful when you want to contain your puppy but not in a crate or playpen. You can use gates to barricade them in a room or keep them out of a specific one (such as the kitchen or bathroom). This can be especially helpful during the holidays.
16. Dog Brush
17. Nail Trimmer
If you decide you'll be trimming your pup's nails at home, rather than taking him or her to the groomer, you'll need a nail trimmer. There are several types, from clippers to grinders. Just know that puppies need more frequent trimmings because their nails grow at a faster rate than adult dog nails.
18. Dog Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Brushing your dog's teeth is an important part of dental hygiene. It's a good idea to begin when your dog is a puppy, so he or she gets used to the task. Make sure you're using a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically made for dogs.
19. Puppy Shampoo
Regular baths are an important part of keeping your dog's fur and skin healthy, which means you'll need shampoo. Puppies typically have more delicate and sensitive skin, so it's important to use puppy shampoo until they grow older.
20. Baby Wipes
Though not totally essential, baby wipes come in very handy with puppies (and even adult dogs). Sometimes your dog needs an extra wipe after going to the bathroom or a gentle product to clean up his or her paws.
This one needs no explanation, vets are absolutely essential for pet owners.
Pro Tip: It's also a good idea to find a 24 hour emergency vet in your area.
21. Flea & Tick Medicine
Flea and tick medication is necessary to protect your puppy from these pests. Fleas are a nightmare, and can even be an issue in colder months, while ticks can cause serious health issues, like Lyme disease. Prevention medication dog can be given via a monthly medicine, a vaccine or regular medicated topical applications. Talk to your vet to figure out which medication is best for your puppy.
22. Heartworm Medicine
You'll also need to give your puppy heartworm medication to prevent the disease. Heartworm is a serious, potentially fatal health issue caused by worm parasites living in the blood vessels. The presence of parasites leads to inflammation of the blood vessels and lungs, as well as stress to the heart. In advanced infections, the worms can even enter the heart. It's recommended that dogs take heartworm medication all year, typically in a monthly tablet or oral application. In addition, it's recommended that your dog be checked for heartworm once a year at the vet.
24. Pet Insurance
Pet insurance is not necessarily essential, but it's also not a bad idea. It protects you from racking up unaffordable vet bills, especially in emergency situations.
25. Travel Kennel
Travel kennels are a good idea for transporting your puppy places and even for when you're at certain destinations (like the vet). These kennels are typically collapsible, which makes them more convenient to use than regular crates.
26. Stain & Odor Remover
Unsurprisingly, puppies make messes. They may have accidents (even when on a strict potty training schedule) or vomit on occasion. You'll want to get a cleaner with a stain and odor remover to tackle these situations.
Pro Tip: Enzymatic cleaners do a good job at eliminating the smell of urine.
27. Puppy Pads
Puppy pads are great for your pup's crate or dog bed as a backup, in case he or she has an accident. They can be a really helpful supplement during potty training.
Pro Tip: Rags, old towels and paper towels are also useful to clean up messes.
28. Pet Sitter or Walker
Although we'd love to spend all day, every day with our new puppy, that's not usually possible. Most people have jobs, which is where pet sitters or dog walkers are helpful. They can check in on your puppy and make sure he or she is getting the necessary care and exercise.
29. Dog Training
It's typically a good idea to train your puppy as soon as possible. If you don't want to do it yourself, you can turn to some professional help - from group classes to one-on-one trainers. Either way will help your puppy grow up well-mannered and properly behaved.
Pro Tip: You may want to get a clicker to help with training. There are a variety of clickers, from loud ones to quiet ones (for sensitive dogs). Find the right one for your pup, depending on their personality and reactions. In addition, look for a clicker with a wristband so you can free up your hand if need be.
30. Boarding Option
Eventually, you'll want or need to take a trip out-of-town and won't be able to bring your puppy along. For these instances, you'll need someone to watch your pup. You can take your puppy to a dog boarding facility or get an extended-stay pet sitter (who either stays in your home or brings your pup to theirs).