Bringing a puppy home is both exciting and daunting for new owners. That little bundle of fluff will be counting on you for the rest of their lives – to provide, love and care for them. No pressure then!
All that responsibility can be stressful and hard work, so getting the essentials now will ensure you have everything to hand. You certainly don’t want to be rushing to the shops on the day your new pup arrives. You’ll want to use that time to enjoy every moment and help them settle in.
So to keep a cool head on the big day, get these puppy fundamentals in now. You can never be too prepared!
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Your new puppy will need a quiet and comfortable place to sleep. After all, they’ll be sleeping around 18 hours a day so will need a cosy spot to recharge. Be sure to buy a suitable dog bed and consider using a crate.
A crate will help toilet train your new puppy and provide a den-like safe space when things get too much. Unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells can be overwhelming to a small puppy. It’s also useful to prevent injuries and damage to your home when they can’t be supervised.
If you buy a crate, ensure it’s just big enough for them to stand up in and turn around. As dogs prefer not to mess in their sleeping area, this will teach your new puppy to hold it until their next toilet break throughout the night.
When you’re busy during the day, a playpen can provide a secure area when pup can’t be watched. This way, if you’re busy washing dishes, they can play safely while still being able to see you.
We didn’t have a playpen when Loki was a puppy, but looking back that was a big mistake. Working from home with a curious puppy would have been much easier if we’d bit the bullet and splashed out on a pen.
Here’s a good quality pen if you’d like to check it out.
Water and food bowls
This one’s a no brainer. Your puppy will need something to eat and drink from. It’s personal preference whether you choose a stainless steel, plastic or ceramic bowl. We use a ceramic bowl as they’re a little heavier and can’t be moved around as easily.
I’ve also heard ceramic bowls are better for preventing brown staining on white fur. Loki has an impressive white beard and we’d like to keep it that way. I don’t know how much truth there is behind this, but if it does help that’s an added bonus.
I recommend these bowls.
Quality dog food
The food you choose has a direct impact on your dog’s overall health as they grow into an adult. You’ll need to decide if you want to feed dry, wet, raw or homecooked. There are plenty of quality dry food options available, but it can be a total minefield.
You should aim for a brand with three stars and above. This will ensure you’re giving pup all the nutrition they need to stay healthy inside and out.
Most good breeders will provide a small supply of the food they’ve been feeding. But if you want to change to a different brand, you can slowly mix old and new over a week to avoid upsetting your puppy’s tummy.
We feed Loki the fish variety from James Wellbeloved. But I suggest you do your own research using the links above to decide the right food for your puppy.
Collar and tag
Your new puppy will need a suitable sized collar and an identity tag. A small, lightweight collar with a simple clip will be perfect for those puppy months. This also gives a good starting point to develop your lead training.
Avoid buying a collar they will eventually grow into, these will be too heavy and bulky for your young pooch. Collars aren’t too expensive and you can always buy a bigger size in a few months’ time.
An identity tag is a must-have in case your puppy goes missing. Your pup is far more likely to be returned to you if people can easily find an address or number to call.
When your puppy is allowed to go outside after their vaccinations at 12 weeks, they’ll need a sturdy lead for walks. They’ll also need to be taught how to walk on a lead properly, and you should teach lead manners almost immediately while at home.
You’ll need to decide if you want a fixed lead or the retractable kind. Some owners dislike retractable leads, believing they’re dangerous and teach your dog to pull.
Personally, I have no problems with Loki pulling on her retractable lead (unless she sees another dog or cat, but that’s a whole different issue) and if you’re sensible, they’re not dangerous. Just use common sense and don’t keep it loose when you’re next to busy roads.
If you want to give your dog the occasional roaming space while on walks, go for a retractable. But it’s all personal preference really.
I recommend and use this lead if you’d like to check it out.
If you’re bringing a puppy home during the height of summer, you could leave a coat off your list for a few months. But if it’s particularly wet and cold, a coat will keep their tiny body warm when on walks.
Due to their small frame, puppies can’t retain heat as well as adult dogs, so the extra protection will keep them snug and warm while they explore the world.
Here’s a great coat that’s very similar to the one we use for Loki. It’s both fleecey and waterproof.
If your new puppy is a long-coated dog, all that fur will need regular maintenance. And it’s best to get them used to grooming while they’re young to prevent anxiety and fidgeting when they’re older. Brushing can be an absolute nightmare if you don’t acclimatise them to a regular routine early on.
Dog toothbrush and toothpaste
Poor oral health is one of the most common reasons dogs visit the vets. Like us, daily brushing is the best way to keep your puppy’s teeth in good condition. This helps remove plaque and tartar build up, preventing future problems such as rotting teeth and tooth extractions.
Getting them into a routine now will also get them used to the idea as they grow older. It’s much harder to get a one year old to sit still if they’ve never had their teeth cleaned before. Early introduction will make the process easier and less stressful for you and your dog.
I recommend this dog toothbrush. You can also buy a dog toothpaste, but I’ve recently started making my own to avoid nasty chemicals in shop bought products. Feel free to check out my homemade dog toothpaste recipes.
Important note – Never use human toothpaste for your dog’s teeth. They contain fluoride which is toxic to dogs if ingested.
Chews and training treats
As puppies explore their surroundings they tend to use their mouth. That means your chair legs, sofa or coffee table can become a target for chewing. If you want to keep damage to a minimum, provide appropriate chews to keep your puppy occupied.
Be sure to read the packaging to ensure they’re suitable for young puppies. Most chews are too hard for your puppy’s developing teeth which could leave them with dental issues. These Nylabones are a great start. Loki also loved these Whimzees as a puppy, these rope chews, and of course the classic Kongs.
You’ll also need a few packs of training treats to teach them the rules of the house. Your new puppy won’t know how they fit into your home or how they’re supposed to behave, so positive training with treats will put them on the right path.
These Coachies treats were a godsend for us and they’re suitable for puppies of 8 weeks old.
Play is important to young puppies. It’s how they socialise with other dogs and people, and helps them develop physically and mentally.
Puppies need baths just as adult dogs do. It’s wise to be prepared if your puppy gets dirty after playing in your garden or around your home. Believe me, you don’t want to be caught out if your little one rolls in fox poop!
Be sure to get a specific puppy shampoo – adult versions can be too harsh on your puppy’s sensitive skin. We used this shampoo from Tropiclean when Loki was a pup. It’s very gentle and has a lovely delicate smell of coconut. I highly recommend it.
Although you won’t be taking pup outside for a few weeks, you’ll still need something to pick up all those landmines from your garden. Aka, the poop bag. This will also prepare you when you eventually take pup out for walks.
Please don’t become another owner that leaves their dog’s mess all over the streets!
You can pick them up from any supermarket or pet store, but if you want to add them to your shopping list, here’s the link.
Your new puppy will inevitably have an accident or two around your home. More if you’re struggling with house training – go here to learn how to toilet train a dog.
But to ensure you clean it all up and they don’t keep fouling the same area, you’ll need an ammonia free cleaning spray. As dogs tend to go in the same place if they can smell previous mess, this will remove all traces of their little mishap.
I recommend this cleaning spray if you’d like to check it out.
Getting your puppy insured means you’re not left with a hefty bill should they have an accident or fall ill. Most breeders will provide 4 weeks of insurance when you take them home. But it doesn’t hurt to get a few quotes beforehand so you’re not in a panic when the time comes.
Be sure to check out a few comparison sites to find the right policy for you. Just a heads up, the lifetime policy is a great package as it covers long-term, chronic and recurring illnesses such as arthritis or diabetes. They generally offer more cover in terms of payouts each year for vet treatments too.
But of course, you should go with the best policy you can afford.
It’s advisable to take your new puppy to the vet a few days after bringing them home. This is just a check up to evaluate their general health and make the formal introductions should you need them in the future.
Before bringing your puppy home, do your research in advance and find out which local vet you want to register with. Doing this now will make life easier when you’re up to your eyes in puppy duties.
Call them up and introduce yourself. Tell them you’ll soon be bringing a puppy home and you’d like more information on the next steps. It’ll give you that peace of mind when you finally have your new pup.
So that’s everything! You may want to add a few things to your shopping list as your puppy gets older, such as a harness and ear cleaner, and I’m sure you’ll add a heap of toys to their toybox too. But I hope these essentials will serve you well to prepare you for dog parenthood.
How’s your preparations coming along? What kind of pup are you welcoming into your home? Let me know in the comments below…
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