Checklist: What to do when bringing home a puppy

This is it. This is the moment you’ve been waiting almost your whole life for. You’ve wished and wished for a puppy, and now you’re going to bring one home. Your dream of being a pet parent is so close!

Congratulations! A lot of joy awaits you, and we promise being a pet parent is absolutely everything it’s cracked up to be. If you’re nervous, that’s only natural. Doing anything for the first time is always going to be a little bit scary, especially raising a lovely puppy that you absolutely want only the best for. If you’re worried that you don’t know what to do, aren’t sure if you’re adequately prepared, or are just generally clueless about where’s the best place to start taking care of a new pup, The Pet Project has got your back. Here’s our super simple, starter-kit checklist for what you need to do, buy, or prepare for when getting a puppy.

1. Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities

Bringing a puppy into a home is like having a new-born—there will be plenty of work and lots of responsibility to go around. This includes feeding, walking, training, playing with your pup, taking them to the vet, nursing them when they’re ill. Make sure everyone in the family is clear about their jobs and what it takes to raise a puppy in a loving home. You don’t want to bring a pup home to find your brother wasn’t aware he is expected to feed them, or your children won’t walk the dog as often as they need to. If it helps, you can draw up a rota of responsibilities and assign jobs to everyone.

2. Buy food and treats

So many new pet parents find themselves running out the door in a panic because they have nothing to feed their little one with. Make sure you buy puppy appropriate food (not the same as dog food!) and keep it stocked up for your pet. Make sure you buy treats as well, as they are useful for training. If you need more guidance, we’ve covered what to feed your puppy here .

3. Buy grooming and health supplies

While it’s unlikely you’ll need these on a daily basis, it’s wise to stock up on grooming and health supplies for your pup. This includes anti-flea shampoos, dental care products, brushes, cleaners and wipes, nail care and so on.

4. Shop for a new puppy bed

Something about buying your pup’s bed makes the whole experience feel more real: this will be their little corner of your home where they can retreat to, sleep, and generally lounge. Pick out a bed that you think your pup may like and put it in a place in the house you’ve reserved for your pet. Remember, your pet is going to probably outgrow this bed pretty soon—either in size, or because they’ve chewed it to shreds when teething—so don’t agonize too much over the choice.

5. Puppy-proof your home

Ah, the step that most pet parents miss and that is the most crucial. Puppy-proofing your home is essential for your puppy to feel welcome, and for you to limit the upcoming devastation to your devices. Buy a whole bunch of cleaning supplies for when your pup is being toilet trained, and either keep your cables hidden (safe from your pup’s teeth!) or invest in cable protectors. If you were planning to install a pet door, now’s the time to do it. If you live on a property with a garden overlooking the road, make sure you have a sturdy gate! You don’t want your puppy running out onto the street with upcoming traffic.

6. Buy food and water bowls

Buy food and water bowls for your pup. Make sure they’re not too large, otherwise your pup will probably fall into them, which may be counter-productive.

7. Get all the toys!

Okay, don’t get all the toys but definitely get some. Toys are a great way to bond with your puppy; they’re also an excellent learning aid to help sharpen your pup’s reflexes and cognitive skills. To begin with, invest in a small plush toy your dog can fall in love with and maybe some chew toys, and then you can build up your collection as your puppy grows.

8. Buy a crate that’s home and travel safe

For the first few months at least, your puppy will likely be spending some time in a crate–this will be their new den in your home and where they will be sleeping. Putting your puppy in a crate isn’t callous; it’s actually what your pup needs to feel safe and secure. This is their corner; it will have their bedding, their toys, and will be full of their scent, which will give them security. This is also the crate you’ll use to transport your puppy to and from the vet, so make sure it’s comfortable, fits in the car, and is travel safe (it shouldn’t be flimsy).

9. Buy a collar and leash

It’s important to have a collar and leash on hand to walk your dog. It may be best to choose these items once you have your puppy home, as it’s important to make sure the collar fits them and the harness or leash is comfortable—you don’t want your pet to be uncomfortable! But definitely don’t set out on your first walk without these items. Here are our guides to choosing the right collar and leash for your dog.

10. Make identification tags for your puppy

Identification tags are how the rest of the world knows your pup has a home, and that home is with you. This is important if your pup ever runs away; it makes sure they can be returned to you with minimum hassle. Invest in a simple identification tag that has your number and address on it for someone to contact you if they find your dog.

11. Choose a vet that you’re happy with

A puppy usually needs vaccines, shots and to be dewormed. Have a vet picked out early on so that you aren’t hopping between vets; as far as possible, it’s best to keep your puppy with one vet so that they grow more familiar with your dog and know their behaviours and history. That doesn’t mean you don’t do your research though; don’t just go with the first vet you find but make sure they come recommended and that the clinic is relatively easy for you to travel to (you don’t want to be putting off vet visits because it takes you 3 hours to get to the clinic).

That’s it—that’s your starter kit to being prepared to bring your pet home. Here it all is again, in an easy list format you can check off:

1. Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities

2. Buy food and treats

3. Buy grooming and health supplies

4. Shop for a new puppy bed

5. Puppy-proof your home

6. Buy food and water bowls

7. Get all the toys!

8. Buy a crate that’s home and travel safe

9. Buy a collar and leash

10. Make identification tags for your puppy

11. Choose a vet that you’re happy with


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