By Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH, DACVPM
Get the Basics
Get Grooming Tools
Get Training Supplies
Get Health Products
Do This to Keep Your Puppy SAFE
Bonus Dog Supplies
Congrats! You found your dream puppy and you’re ready to bring her home.
Or are you?
Before your new puppy is home, there are some essentials you’ll want to first have on hand.
This way you can avoid emergency trips to your local pet store and enjoy bonding instead!
By pausing to plan ahead just a bit, it’s easy to be 100% prepared for your puppy’s arrival.
Don’t ruin your first days together.
Instead, here’s everything you’ll want to have during your pup’s first days home.
1. Get the Basics
Consider these your essentials, aka non-negotiables.
These are the products to get regardless of the size, breed, or personality of your little pup.
1. Adjustable collar
Call it a puppy collar or a grown dog collar. As long as it’s adjustable, it’s perfect for both.
By getting a collar, it’ll make dog walks easier and safer while cutting back the chances of your little puppy running off into unwanted territory.
Look for a leash that is strong, durable, and able to withstand lots of tugging. For starters, it doesn’t need to be a long leash. Instead, look for a leash just long enough for those daily walks through your neighborhood.
3. I.D. Tag
Find an I.D. tag to attach to your puppy’s collar. It should include your name and phone number, plus your puppy’s name. This way should calamity strike and your puppy go missing, the I.D. will point people back to you after your puppy is discovered.
Take proper identification to the next level with a microchip. Some puppies come with a microchip, others you’ll need to have microchipped after they are home. Whatever the case, once your pup is microchipped, ensure the information recorded is correct.
A microchip is a small chip attached to your puppy that again helps to easily identify your puppy should she/he go missing. AKC Reunite defines a microchip as a tool to, “permanently identify your pet when it gets lost or if it is ever stolen.” It’s also extra reassurance in case your pup accidentally slips out of her collar. With a microchip, she can still be linked back to you.
Get at least two bowls: one for food and another for water. Stainless steel bowls are perfect because they are easy to clean and sturdy enough should your puppy want to chew on or play with the bowl. When getting your pup his own bowl, look for a shallow bowl. This way your little pal can eat and drink to his delight without straining his throat.
6. Dog Food + Container
Spoiler alert: dog foods are not equal.
Like people food, there are both clean kibble mixes and kibbles loaded with not-so-great preservatives too. Be picky when choosing your puppy’s food. Look for a clean dog food that contains whole foods and nutritious ingredients.
In addition to what’s in the bag, consider that kibble size. Make sure the food pieces are small enough for your little pupper to chew without choking.
After you choose your dog food, get an airtight container to store the kibble inside. This way, your puppy won’t be chewing through the bag and overeating.
Treats are perfect for encouraging and rewarding good behavior. Like dog food, look for puppy treats that are healthy, wholesome, and delicious. Avoid tough chew sticks or antler-like treats as they may be too hard for little puppy teeth.
8. Dog Bed
Look for a dog bed that’s plush, comfy, and not too large. If your puppy decides the pillow stuffing is just too much fun to rip out, you may need a more indestructible chew-proof bed.
*Note: if you are crate training your puppy, a dog bed is optional. Lots of puppies actually prefer to sleep and cozy up in their crate over a doggy bed.
9. Dog Crate
Dogs are den creatures by nature. Contrary to what some think, many dogs feel safe and comfortable in small, den-like spaces. So put a dog crate high on your to-get list.
Dog crates are essential for crate training, plus they can speed up the potty training process. Not to mention, they make puppy transport so much easier.
Learn how to crate train your puppy here.
10. Poop Bags
Accidents happen. It’s okay. Just keep a stash of poop bags handy for when your puppy doesn’t make it outside in time. Some poop bags even come with a dispenser you can attach to a puppy’s leash so you always have them handy.
11. Baby Wipes
Baby wipes, paper towels, old rags…..take your pick. What matters is that you have a few rags or wipes to clean up messes when they happen (because they will).
12. Baby Gate (or some type of barrier)
When your puppy first gets home, it’s best to let him get comfortable in a small specific space rather than giving him full reign through your whole house. So grab a baby gate or two and block off a single room to first welcome your puppy home.
This one is for puppies in cold climates. If you’re from the cold north, get a cozy pupper blanket for your little pal.
2. Get Grooming Tools
Check out this complete guide to grooming your puppy here. Supplies to get are:
14. Dog brush
Regardless of which breed you choose, there’s always fur to comb.
Depending on your pup’s coat type, you may be able to get by with just a soft bristle brush or steel comb for shorter-coated breeds. Alternatively, if your puppy has longer fur or an undercoat, you may need a thicker slicker brush.
15. Toothbrush + Toothpaste
Yes, you’ll want to brush your puppy’s teeth regularly to keep those pearly whites shining. Look for a toothpaste that is puppy-approved.
Even though puppies lose their baby teeth starting at four months of age, getting them started early with a toothbrush will mean they are used to you handling their mouth and brushing their teeth. Your job will then be that much easier when their adult set of teeth are fully in at six months old.
Get a gentle doggy shampoo for the occasional puppy bath. Most pups will require monthly bathing, although some will need more frequent baths if they are getting dirtier or experiencing excess dandruff. Lots of products now come as 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner to keep your puppy’s fur coat healthy and shiny.
17. Nail Clipper
When you keep your pup’s nails short, you’ll find fewer scratch marks and hear less clacking across your kitchen floor. For the advanced nail trimmer, look into pet-safe dremels which smooth the nail down more evenly; you will need to get your pup slowly used to the sound.
Get Training Supplies
Chances are you’ll want to start housetraining your puppy after she’s home. Specific for potty training, look for:
18. Enzyme Cleaner
When your puppy has an accident on the carpet, it’s crucial to kill the odor so your puppy doesn’t continue returning to that spot to do his business. Look for an enzyme cleaner to spray where those accidents happen.
19. Stain Remover
Ward off puppy pee (and poo!) stains with a tough stain remover.
You likely already have this! Make sure your vacuum is working well and ready to tackle the impending dog hair.
21. Pooper Scooper
If you don’t like the hand-in-bag technique for picking up doo-doo, grab a pooper scooper to do the job.
As you already know, training a puppy includes more than just housetraining. There are commands to teach and good behavior to reinforce. So moving beyond housetraining, here are essentials for all-around puppy training:
Playtime is critical in fostering good puppy behavior. Make playtime fun with games of fetch, adventures at the park, and favorite toys.
Teach commands like “sit”, “stay”, and “rollover”. Praise your little pal often and grab a few toys.
Puppy toys can include chew toys, objects to chase, and plush little gadgets. As your puppy grows, be mindful of toy sizing. What was perfect for your puppy could actually be a choking hazard for your grown dog.
Get Health Products
Healthy dogs and puppies don’t “just happen”. This is what to consider for keeping your little pal healthy.
23. Puppy Insurance
Emergencies happen. Stay prepared by getting good puppy insurance. Here’s what to look for when getting puppy insurance.
Or head straight to Trupanion for an insurance plan you can feel good about.
Dr. John Basterfield, a veterinarian from Juan De Fuca Veterinary clinic describes Trupanion as, “Broader and more comprehensive, adjusting to the increasing sophistication of medical services, diagnostics, treatments, and specialty care.”
24. Local Veterinarian
Once your puppy is home, you’ll be visiting your local vet for routine wellness visits and vaccinations.
At your puppy’s first wellness visit, remember to bring any paperwork along from your puppy’s previous vet. Also know which food and treats you are feeding, along with how frequently your puppy is eating.
In addition, discuss with your vet options for spaying or neutering your puppy (if desired), along with an ongoing vaccination schedule.
This will vary based on which breed you choose. Some breeds need frequent grooming while others are super low maintenance and can be groomed from the comforts of your home.
If you’re looking to groom your puppy yourself, here’s a complete guide to getting you started on the right paw.
26. Dog Sitter + Dog Walker
Take a look at your life and ask yourself how much time you’ll have to spend with your puppy?
If your puppy will be spending extended blocks of time alone, consider hiring a dog walker to give your puppy some fresh air partway through each day. Doggie daycare is another option for the particularly social pooches.
Or if you are away overnight, look for a local dog sitter who will care for your puppy while you are away.
27. Puppy Trainer
This one is optional and depends on you. Are you planning to train your puppy yourself? Or do you prefer enrolling a local trainer to teach your pup the ropes of life?
Puppy training classes are a great option because they can help reinforce the behaviors you are teaching your puppy at home while she learns in a more distracting environment.
Do This to Keep Your Puppy SAFE
Before your puppy is home, look around your home for anything that could be hazardous for a curious little pup. Are there low-hanging cords? Where do you keep your knives? Do you have glass objects stored on or near the floor?
Walk through your home, rearranging things to make it puppy-safe.
If you have a staircase, block it off until your puppy can ascend and descend with ease.
Move your trashcan to a closet or get a snap-on lid.
Lock any cabinets containing medicines, chemicals (think cleaning supplies), and food that your puppy could get into.
Get an anti-chew spray and douse wires, furniture, and shoes with the spray.
Bonus Dog Supplies
These supplies are not required during your puppy’s first days at home. However, they are fun accessories to grab if you’re feeling a little extra.
28. Long Leash
As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need a shorter leash at first. However, after some training, your puppy may enjoy a longer leash as it allows more freedom and further space to roam.
A longer line is also helpful as your pup learns his recall, to ensure he will come back to you if he decides something else is more interesting in the environment. Some pet parents also use a houseline to help catch their pup should they run off to chase the cat.
29. Dog Harness
Again, not a necessity. Just a fun something extra for your little pal.
Depending on your training method, you’ll want a clicker to assist in daily training. Clickers help by teaching your pup that the noise means they did something good and a reward (treat) is coming their way.
31. Treat Pouch
Sure, you can put the treats straight into your pocket. Chances are they’ll smash and leave your pocket a mess. Instead, grab yourself a treat pouch to store those frequently used doggy treats.
32. Pee Pad
While most puppies are trained to do their business outside, sometimes circumstances force a puppy to pee inside instead. If this happens, get your puppy a pee pad so he knows exactly where it’s safe to go.
New Puppy Checklist FAQ
What should you not do with a new puppy?
Wait to start teaching basic puppy commands. The best time to start puppy training, even if it’s just teaching basic commands, is always immediately after your puppy is home.
Can a ten-week-old puppy sleep through the night?
This depends on how long your night is. At ten weeks old, you can expect your new little puppy to sleep anywhere from six to ten hours at night. She will be less likely to wake up in the middle of the night if she does not have free access to water overnight or if she is fed too close to bedtime.
What should you do when you first bring home a new puppy?
First, spend quality time together. Give the respect you wish to receive, and provide a space for your puppy to call hers. Then? Stay calm, be patient, and show kindness.
How old should a new puppy be before going home?
Eight weeks. At eight weeks, a puppy is mature enough to leave her mom and littermates while still being young enough to bond deeply with her new family.
Now that you know what you’ll need, head on over to your local pet store and get ready for your brand new little pupper!
You’re embarking on a wonderful journey.
Yes, some days will be hard.
You may wonder what you got yourself into.
But in the end? With good training, lots of love, and heaps of patience, you’ll discover a charming little furry-pal-turned-best-friend!
Along the way, know that we are here to see you succeed!
Equipping you to be your best puppy-parent-self is why we keep showing up.
If you hit up against a question, send it our way.
To your success!
P.S. Oh, and if you haven’t yet found your new puppy, don’t miss these newest puppies for sale right here.
Morita, C. (2020). New puppy checklist 2021. Retrieved from https://puppyintraining.com/new-puppy-checklist-im-getting-a-new-puppy-what-do-i-need/.
Doyle, A. (2020). The ultimate puppy checklist. Retrieved from https://www.pumpkin.care/blog/new-puppy-checklist/.
The Essential Puppy List (n.d.). The Dog People. Retrieved from https://www.rover.com/blog/best-new-puppy-checklist/.
Your New Puppy Checklist (n.d.). Pawlicy Advisor. Retrieved from https://www.pawlicy.com/new-puppy-checklist/.
Dr. Heather Venkat has been a veterinarian since 2013, working in companion animal medicine with dogs and cats, as well as veterinary public health. Her passion is in prevention, One Health, and strengthening the human-animal bond. A bonafide animal-lover, she competes in dog sports and currently shares her home with a border collie mix named Luna, three cats, and two leopard geckos.