Getting a new puppy? This is guaranteed to be a really exciting time, but there is plenty to prepare before your new family member arrives. This guide covers the need-to-know basics, from how to make your home safe for a puppy and what you need to buy, to the benefits of training them with a real grass dog potty!
New puppy checklist
There are a number of essentials you will need before getting your new puppy, so use our quick and easy checklist to make sure nothing gets forgotten!
- Puppy proof your home
Puppies love to explore… and chew! It is really important to make sure all wires, cables, food, medicines, and other potentially hazardous items are kept well out of reach from mischievous puppy paws. Keep an eye out for any chairs or surfaces that your puppy may be able to climb on, or fall off! Puppy stair gates can be used to block stairs or certain areas to keep puppies safe, especially when they are unsupervised.
- Create a safe puppy resting area with a comfortable bed and pen
There are lots of dog beds available, but whatever you choose needs to be big enough for your puppy to grow into and still be able to stretch out on.
Not only are pens and crates good for training, but they are also a nice space for your puppy to feel safe and cosy in. The crate needs to be big enough for your puppy to be able to easily stand up and turn around in.
- Get ready for mealtimes
Your new puppy will need separate food and water bowls. It is important to make sure your puppy is being fed on a complete diet. This means that the food is specially formulated with all the correct ingredients for growing puppies. There are many options available, including diets specifically designed for certain breeds or sizes. In most cases, dogs should be fed a puppy diet until they are a year old. However, it is always a good idea to ask your vet for nutrition advice. Certain dogs, such as large breeds, may need puppy food for longer.
Also, don’t forget some puppy treats to help with training. Try to avoid high calorie or very rich treats as these can cause a stomach upset or make puppies gain too much weight. One potentially healthier option is to use some of your dog’s normal food as a reward. Alternatively, plain boiled chicken breast or vegetables such as carrots and broccoli can be prepared at home and given as a treat. However, it is very important that the food is cut into small pieces because puppies can choke on large chunks of food.
- Getting out and about
Your puppy will need a collar, ID tag, and lead ready for when they can go outside! If you plan to take your puppy in the car, you will need to safely secure him using a crate, travel harness, pet carrier, or boot gate.
- Prepare for playtime
Puppies love to play! Fortunately, there are endless toys available for our furry friends. Just make sure any toy you buy is safe for puppies and is appropriate for the size of your puppy. Having plenty of chew toys around means that your new puppy is less likely to chew on you, or your furniture! Different puppies like different toys, so it is good to have a variety of toys ready.
- Toilet training supplies
When you first start toilet training, accidents will undoubtedly happen and you may find puddles of wee or a mess inside the house. A solution of biological washing powder should be used to clean the area, and then rinse with water. This removes the scent and means that your puppy is less likely to use this particular spot again.
You will always need poo bags so be sure to stock up on these. Real grass potty patches can be helpful, especially if you live in an apartment or if you are training your puppy to toilet outdoors.
- Pampering your puppy
Grooming your puppy is important, so you will need a grooming brush and some puppy shampoo. Not only does grooming help to keep the skin and coat in good condition, but it also gets puppies used to being handled and grows the bond between you. Also, it is best to get puppies used to having their teeth brushed when they are young to help prevent problems in later life. You can get dog toothbrushes and special doggy toothpaste at pet shops.
- Prepare for veterinary care
Before you get your puppy, it is a good idea to get registered with a veterinarian. They will be able to advise you about vaccinations, worming, diet, and answer any other questions you may have about your new pet. Also, it is advisable to research pet insurance before you get your puppy. The amount that insurance companies will pay out for vet bills varies between policies, so it is vital to check this before taking out the insurance. Most people opt for policies that provide lifetime cover. This means that the insurance company will cover the cost of treatment for a particular problem every year, and the fund ‘resets’ each year. On the other hand, annual policies will usually only pay out for the treatment of a particular condition for one year. This can be problematic if a pet has an ongoing condition needing long term treatment. It is sensible to get quotes from multiple companies before taking out any insurance and always check the terms and conditions carefully.
Picking up your puppy
When you collect your puppy, there are some important pieces of information you should make sure you ask the breeder.
What are they being fed and how often?
It is a good idea to avoid changing your puppy’s diet as much as possible. Changing food too quickly can cause a stomach upset. If you do wish to change your puppy’s food, it is important to do this slowly. Start by mixing in a very small amount of the new food to his normal meal. Keep an eye out for any signs of an upset stomach, such as vomiting or diarrhoea. If your puppy is tolerating this well, then gradually give more of the new food over five to seven days until he is only being fed on the new diet. Remember to reduce the portion of the original food so that your puppy isn’t being fed too much.
When were they last treated for worms and fleas?
Different products last for different lengths of time and good flea and worm control is essential in puppies. There are plenty of options for flea and worm control, including tablets or spot-on treatments. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you which products are the best for your puppy and how often he needs to be treated. Although most veterinary clinics will send out reminders when flea and worm treatments are due, it is a good idea to record when you give treatments at home to make sure everything is kept up to date.
When are their next vaccinations due?
Make sure you have the vaccination card for your puppy and check that the microchip number is recorded on it too. The due date of the next vaccination should be written on the vaccination card.
What is their routine?
Routine is really important in young puppies. It is a good idea to try to stick to the routines that your puppy is used to as far as possible. Of course this is not always possible and inevitably you will need to make changes. It is best to do this slowly wherever you can to help your puppy adjust and ideally once he has settled into his new home. It is always preferable to not change too many things at once.
Is there anything you can take to remind them of their mum?
In the beginning, it can be very helpful to remind the puppy of their mum as this can help them to settle into their new home. Ask the breeder in advance if there is a blanket or towel you can take as this will smell familiar and comforting to your puppy.
Coping with your first night with a new puppy
The first night in a new home is quite a change for a puppy, so don’t be concerned if they are shy or seem worried. Your puppy will soon get used to being in their new home. At the start, your new puppy may need comforting at night whilst they get used to their surroundings.
Just like children, puppies need a consistent routine. It is important to set a bedtime and create a specific sleeping place for your puppy. Some people like to have the puppy’s bed in their own bedroom, while others would prefer their puppy to sleep elsewhere. Once you have chosen when and where the puppy will sleep, try to stick to it as much as possible. Remember puppies need to go use the toilet when they wake up, so be prepared to do night-time toilet breaks, especially at the beginning of puppy training. If you don’t have easy access to an outdoor area or live in an apartment, then you may find a real grass dog toilet a very helpful solution. These are designed for use inside the home and offer an environmentally friendly, hygienic alternative to plastic puppy pads.
Introducing your new puppy to your dog
If you already have a dog, it is really important to introduce them to your new puppy at the right time and in the right place. It is usually best to wait until your new puppy has adjusted to his surroundings and settled in. It is best to make introductions outside where you have plenty of space, such as in a garden or fenced off area. It is safest for first introductions to be made in a neutral area. Dogs are territorial animals and an older dog may feel threatened or protective if a puppy is brought into his home environment. If you don’t have access to a garden or outdoor area, then choose a location which has plenty of space and neither dog has spent much time in. Also, remember to remove any potential conflicts such as toys or food.
Both your puppy and dog should always be kept on a lead at the beginning so they can be easily separated. Allow them to investigate and sniff each other as long as they are both happy with this. Keep any initial meetings brief and make sure that neither is becoming anxious nor too enthusiastic! If one pet seems worried or even too excited, just take a break and let them meet again later. Always make sure they are supervised at all times until both the puppy and your dog are happy in each other’s company. Remember, it can take time for puppies and older dogs to get used to each other, so it is best to make any introductions slowly.
Training your puppy to pee outside
Toilet training a new puppy and teaching them not to wee inside is always a challenge. The key is to establish a toilet training routine right from the very beginning.
Puppies have small bladders and need to use the toilet frequently. Puppies will usually need to go at least first thing in the morning, after they have eaten or have been sleeping, and last thing at night. Keep an eye out for any of the tell-tale signs that they may need the toilet, such as sniffing the ground, appearing restless, or walking in circles.
If you have access to a grassy toileting area outside then make sure you take your puppy there plenty of times throughout the day. Alternatively, if you don’t have easy access to an outdoor area, then an indoor grass dog toilet can be very helpful. These are patches of real grass that are designed for use inside the home and aim to replicate a natural toileting situation. They are very useful as training aids to speed up the toilet training process and to teach your puppy to wee on grass, not your floor, furniture or anywhere else in your house!
Puppies often don’t like to be left alone to use the toilet, so try to avoid leaving them alone to do their business. Instead, wait with your puppy until he has used the toilet and then praise him. If you are using an indoor dog toilet then place your puppy onto the patch frequently to encourage him to urinate there. If you have taken your puppy outside to the toilet and he hasn’t done his business after five minutes or so then head back inside. It is important to then try him outside again ten minutes later. Repeat this process until he goes outside so that he understands he should wee outside and not around the house.
It is easy to forget some of the less obvious essentials you will need for your new puppy, so it is a good idea to use a checklist to make sure you have everything ready before your puppy arrives. Routine is very important in helping puppies to settle into a new home, so try to establish this from the start.
Don’t be disheartened if your puppy has a few accidents during the toilet training process. This is normal and with time and consistency, your puppy will soon learn not to pee inside!
To read more house-training tips, please check out our guide.