Are you looking to bring home a new puppy but feel confused and overwhelmed by the whole process?
If you’ve never owned a dog before (or haven’t owned one for a while) there are things you’ll need to do and buy before you let your new doggo loose in your house.
That’s why we’ve created the ultimate puppy checklist to make sure you don’t go “barking mad” (sorry...had to slip that one in there).
In this post we are going to explain exactly what you’ll need to do to prepare your home for the arrival of your new puppy.
We’ll also provide a checklist of the important items you should purchase to keep your doggo healthy and happy.
Here’s what we’ll cover…
- Choosing the right dog breed (that suits your living space and lifestyle)
- “Puppy proofing” your home for the arrival of your new furbaby
- What foods to feed them (we’ll cover this in great detail)
- How to ensure your pup stays hydrated (even when out and about!)
- Where they should sleep (this one might surprise you) + choosing the right bed
- Why Crate training might be a good idea
- Taking your dog on their first walk
- A downloadable checklist for all the items you should buy before you bring your puppy home.
So if you want to be the ultimate dog Mum or Dad, we think you’ll love this comprehensive guide.
Let’s jump in!
Best dog breed for me
Let’s address the elephant in the room, or maybe the Great Dane on the Italian leather as it were.
“What’s the best dog breed for me?”
Choosing the right dog breed to share your life, food and living quarters is super important to get right.
There’s a great resource on choosing the right dog breed to suit your lifestyle here
The biggest mistake we see people make is thinking that all small dogs are great for apartments and don’t need much exercise whilst all larger dogs want to run around like mad...ah...dogs.
This couldn’t be further from reality. To bring up the Great Dane again, they love lounging around on couches and being lazy, they are the Seth Rogans of the dog world.
There are a plethora of highly amusing videos on YouTube of owners trying to walk or should I say drag their Great Dane’s off the couch and down the street.
Beagles are another dog breed that most novice dog owners think would be perfect for an apartment. Oh, hell no!
Beagles need lots of exercise but that’s not why they aren’t suited for apartment living. It’s mainly due to the fact that they howl and bark...a lot!
So unless you want your cantankerous old neighbour Steve to complain to the body corporate about your pooch, you need to buy a dog that is content to live in the confines of your apartment (and possibly on its own while you’re at work).
Choosing the right dog is 60% of the job. So do your research people! and use the link we provided above...it’ll make your life easier.
Dog Proofing your home:
There’s a lot to do before you even bring your dog home…
Firstly, make sure that all choking hazards are removed from your new furbaby’s environment. This also goes for stuffed animals as puppies can sometimes remove their eyes and get them lodged in their throats.
Electrical cords should be moved out of reach from the eager chompers of your new pup, as these look like fun toys to them.
This goes for dangerous chemicals and cleaning solutions as well. Have a good think about what your puppy might be able to gain access to. Some careful consideration can prevent a frantic trip to your local vet.
TIP: In regards to vets, we would recommend picking out a trusted local vet before bringing your puppy home. A good vet is like a great family doctor, they are hard to find but when you locate a good one, you’ll probably stick with them. It also pays to have your vet lined up in case the worse happens.
Also, puppies are like toddlers, they are clumsy and don’t really “think”, they just “do.” That’s why it’s super important to cover sharp edges on things like Coffee tables and cabinets as they can do damage to your doggo.
Another tip is to partition off your home with a baby gate. Puppies love to wander around and explore. Everything is new and exciting.
You don’t want something bad to happen to them, like them falling down the stairs or eating something they shouldn’t be eating.
Not only that, but it stops them from going potty on your carpet or your floorboards. Trust me, a baby gate is a Godsend! (except when you come home drunk at 3 am and fall over it in the dark).
Foods dogs can eat
What NOT to feed dogs
We have an infographic below that explains the foods you need to strictly avoid giving your pooch.
Hopefully, you all know that chocolate is highly toxic to dogs (especially dark chocolate...the darker the deadlier) this is probably the number one offender!
However, there is a stack of little known foods that can make your doggo quite ill (or worse). So be sure to read up on these.
What Should They Eat?
Your puppy will have different nutritional needs than that of an adult dog. That’s why it’s super important that you get food specifically created for your furbaby’s growth and wellbeing.
That’s why out of all of the items on the new puppy checklist, food is one of the most important to get right.
Firstly, if you’re reading this and you’re from the United States, you’ll want to look for food that has undergone feeding trials with the AAFCO.
Pet food companies who truly care about the wellbeing of pooches will invest time in scientific research as well as consulting with veterinary nutritionists to provide food that is completely balanced without any imbalances in nutrients that may be negative and harmful to your pup’s growth and development.
Ok some key things to know:
- Puppy Food Should Be Higher In Calories: Puppies expend a lot of energy while they are growing, so it goes without saying that they need extra fuel! So make sure you’re giving your little energiser bunny the right food...Did you know that half the calories they consume get spent on tissue growth and development? Crazy right?!
- Choose A Food That Is Formulated For The Size Of Your Puppy: If you have a Chihuahua, it goes without saying that you wouldn’t give them a food that has been nutritionally designed for a German Shepard or Great Dane. It is super important that the food they are eating provides an adequate amount of nutrients to help them develop properly.
- Puppy Kibble - Best Dog Food For Small Dogs (in this case): When you are buying your dog’s kibble, you’ll want to make sure the actual size of each food chunk would be comfortable for them to chow down on - if you have a small dog, it’s strongly advised that you look for a small breed formula that would be right for them.
So your puppy is growing before your eyes?
Now you’re wondering when your puppy should be eating adult dog food?
Little Dogs: 7-12 Months
Medium Breed Dogs: 10-12 Month
Large Breed Dogs: 15-18 Months
Giant Breed Dogs: 18-24 Months
If you want to keep your dog happy and healthy, make sure the treats you give them are full of goodness and not rubbish!
Snacks and treats are perfect training tools, or great for just spoiling your pooch because well...they are so damn cute!
However, there are some key things to look out for when choosing the right treats.
- No artificial flavours, chemicals or sugars: These are bad, bad BAD!
- Dried or freeze-dried treats are the best: They shouldn’t contain any nasties and be made from all-natural ingredients.
YouTube Video (Choosing Safe Dog Treats):
Make Your Own Dog Treats:
The healthiest dog treats are the ones you make yourself. You know exactly what goes in them and you’ll save a whole stack of money. All you’ll need is a Food Dehydrator and some choice cuts of meat.
The best rule of thumb to live by is to ask yourself this question “would you eat it?” If the answer is NO, then why should your poor pup be forced to munch down on bad food?
*Note: We’re not condoning eating dog food, but imagine if you were starving and on a deserted island. If you wouldn’t even eat some of the food you give your dog for survival...maybe don’t give it to your dog.
Dog Food Bowls:
What you are putting your precious food into is almost as important as the food itself!
The safest and best dog bowls for your puppy are the ones made from true stainless steel. These should also have a non-stick rubber bottom.
Stainless steel dog bowls are unbreakable, durable, easy to clean and are dishwasher safe.
A close runner up to the stainless steel bowl is the ceramic dog bowls. These are non-porous and very easy to keep clean. If you choose to go for the ceramic stone option make sure the bowl you choose is dishwasher safe and is lead-free with a food-grade glaze.
It’s important to note that if significant “chipping” occurs with your ceramic bowl then it should be replaced as bacteria may grow in the porous cracks and chips.
There are a whole bunch of super-foods out there for your pooch which will help them live their best and most healthy lives.
It’s recommended that these are introduced slowly into your dog’s diet and you probably shouldn’t give these to your puppy during their developmental stage. However, after 7-8 Months you might want to try these and see how you go…
How much water should a dog drink?
Water is more important than food and this is why keeping your new furbaby hydrated is so imperative.
The water itself should preferably be filtered and chilled (especially on hot days). The easiest ways to filter your water is to buy a water filtration container and store this in your fridge.
Again, what you pour your dog’s water into is just as important as the water itself.
For starters, make sure you purchase a bowl that is relative to your puppy’s size. Tall narrow bowls are great for breeds with long droopy ears, such as King Charles Cavaliers, Cocker spaniels, Basset hounds etc. This will keep their ears out of their bowls and reduce the risk of ear infections.
Make sure you fill their water bowls daily (TIP: we recommend doing this twice daily...once in the morning and once at night). Always make sure your dog has access to water, especially when you are sleeping and they may require a midnight slurp of H2O.
Clean their bowls regularly to prevent germs and bacteria forming in their water bowls. A good tip is to give it a wash with soapy water (rinse thoroughly) before filling your dog’s bowl with fresh water.
Ceramic and Stainless Steel bowls are once again the ideal choices for dog water bowls. It’s highly recommended that you buy a weighted water bowl with a heavy bottom to avoid any unnecessary spills.
Is your dog fussy when it comes to drinking water? Maybe a water fountain is an ideal solution?
Most water fountains grab the curiosity of your pooch and encourage them to check out what all the fuss is about. Water fountains will filter and recirculate the water (make sure they have this feature before purchasing). This means the water will always be fresh and delicious for your best bud.
Another helpful tip is to buy multiple water bowls and place them throughout your house (especially if you have a larger home). This means that no matter where your dog is located in the house they have access to fresh, clean (and hopefully cold) water.
When it comes to water bottles, again a filtered water bottle is highly recommended. A bonus would be a dog water bottle that has a “lockable” lid and is easy to carry on walks and whilst travelling in the car.
How much water should a dog drink?
How much does puppy sleep (Choosing The Right Dog Bed/Sleeping Products)
We all need to sleep, and some of us love to sleep… almost too much. 😂
Like you, your puppy is doing a lot of growing and developing, so it’s perfectly normal for them to sleep about 15 to 20 hours a day!
In the beginning, sleeping through the night with your new-found cutie at home can be really difficult, and you honestly might show up to work with panda eyes. 🐼
But with a little foresight, planning and some training, you can have your puppy sleeping through the night in just a few days.
Alright, let’s tackle this from the first night of bringing your puppy home 👇
Just like your bedtime routines, having set regiment with your puppy can really help prep them for sleep and an opportunity to associate something positive with bed time.
If the puppy is mad energised, it just means that they are not getting enough stimulation during the day.
From speaking with our dog trainers, they have recommended exercising your puppy early in the evening, a few hours before bed time…
This will stimulate him mentally and physically before bed time, getting him tired and ready for bed.
A game that worked really well for us is either throwing a toy, playing hide-and-seek or calling them by their name and if they come to you, reward them with a little treat or give him his favourite toy.
“Where should my puppy sleep the first night?” 🤔
In our experience, your puppy should sleep in a crate next to your bed for approximately the first 3 weeks. (we actually put a blanket over it to make it seem more cozy)
Look, the first few weeks of owning a puppy is not going to be easy, so be prepared! 😴
Half an hour before bed time, put your puppy in the create and darken the room.
Then go quietly to sleep, and they’ll usually follow.
Don’t think of the crate as a punishment for your puppy.
Think of it as their own space, like a bed room to them.
QUICK TIP: Introduce your puppy to their crate by putting them in it throughout the day and rewarding them with treats & toys. (so they associate the space being a positive thing)
“What do you do when your puppy cries at night?”
If your puppy cries at night, try putting your hand next to him and see if it relieves him.
If it doesn’t, try taking him out to an area where it relieves them.
Don’t give them any treats or any play time, as soon as they are relieved, put them back into the crate and they should go back to sleep.
“Should I let my puppy sleep in bed with me?”
Honestly, that’s a bad habit to build so no, they should stay in the crate.
“Okay, what about middle of night potty breaks?”
Pups usually don’t like to soil the area they sit or sleep in, so if they need to go at night, it’s likely they’ll let you know before they go.
When you’re taking them out for a bathroom break, try and stay neutral, don’t make it fun.
Stay in one area until they go and let them know that they’re a good dog straight after.
Lining your puppy’s crate with a pee pad is a good idea until they become potty trained.(just in case)
Overtime, they’ll build bladder control and should be able to sleep without going to the bathroom frequently.
So for sleep, there are really two things you need as new puppy owners:
- Puppy crate
- Plush puppy bed (those calming ones tends to work very well)
Crate Training A Puppy
Did you know that dogs are a den animal? To a wild dog, a den is their home, their refuge, where they sleep and raise a family.
So, crate training is very much taking advantage of their natural instinct so the crate becomes a place where they can find comfort and solitude.
While you know they’re safe and not wreaking havoc in your house while you’re out running errands. 😂
The main thing with crate training is that you want to associate the crate being a positive experience and not a punishment.
Otherwise, they’ll never enter again.
So if you’re asking is crate training good for dogs, the answer is:
Absolutely! Don’t think of crates being a punishment for them, think of it as a place where they feel secure and a sense of security (as mentioned in the reasons above) Plus, it’s just a great way to manage your doggy while you’re out.
We’ve broken down the crate training process into 3 steps:
- Familiarise the pup to the crate
- Feeding your pup their meals in the crate
- Conditioning your pup to the crate for longer periods of time
Familiarise the pup to the crate
First thing first, when you bring home a puppy the first time, introduce them to crate and make sure the crate door is fastened open. (so it doesn’t accidentally hit them, that’ll frighten them)
To encourage your pup to enter the crate, try these 3 things:
- Put small amount of food near it;
- Then put food just inside the door;
- Then food all the way into the crate
You want to try this a few times until your pup walk calmly into the crate to get the food.
If food doesn’t work, try a toy and see how he reacts.
It might take a few hours or several days for the pup to fully acclimatise. (it took our cav 2-3 days to get used to it)
Feeding your pup their meals in the crate
Similar to the first step, you want to associate the crate with positive experience.
And a really good way to do this is to feed their regular meals inside the crate.
In the beginning, keep the door wide open so they get really comfortable being inside.
Once you see them being really comfortable, start to close the crate door for a few minutes, increasing the time with each feeding.
You want to work your way up to about 10 minutes after eating.
But if they whine or cry while eating, you probably increased the time of doors being closed too quickly.
It’s really important that if they cry/whine, let them finish crying before you let them out.
We know that’s really hard but if you let them out, they’ll learn that in order to get out of the crate, they need to cry and they’ll just keep doing that.
Conditioning your pup to the crate for longer periods of time
As your pup gets more comfortable eating their meals in the crate with no anxiety, you need to start teaching them to stay in the crate while you’re not near the crate.
You want to follow these steps and work your way up to the puppy staying quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight:
- Get a treat and call them over to the crate
- Give them some kind of command to enter, i.e. “KENNEL”, and encourage them to enter the crate using the treat and point inside the crate
- After they enter, reward them with the treat and close the door
- Sit quietly near the crate for 5-10 minutes, then go into another room for a few minutes. Come back, then sit quietly close to them for a few more minutes before you let them out
- Repeat this a few times a day, increasing the time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you’re out of sight
You want to work your way up to about 30 minutes here so you can prepare for crating the dog when you go to work.
When your dog can spend 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can start leaving them in the crate for a short time when you leave the house.
You can crate them from 5-20 minutes prior to leaving, and don’t make your departure emotional, praise your puppy, give them a treat for entering the crate and leave quietly.
Same applies to when you come home, don’t reward your pup for exciting behaviour, keep it low key, and continue to crate your dog for a short time after you’re home so they don’t assocate crating with being left alone.
Having Fun With Your Dog
Your pup is just like you, they get bored easily with the same old everyday routine.
And if they don’t get enough exercise physically and mentally, they sometimes become destructive dogs.
We’ll tackle the mental exercises in this section and in the next section we’ll talk about physical exercise.
Nope, the games below doesn’t include fetch. Fetch is good for getting exercises but there is just no thinking involved.
Here’s a couple games to play with your pup:
- Treasure hunt
Start out by letting them see where you’re hiding the treasure, then give them a release cue to go find the hidden treasure.
Make sure you reward him big time for his successes :)
Once they start to get the hang of it, try making it harder by telling him to stay, go into other areas of the house and hide the treasure.
Let them go investigate and find it, and make sure you treat them right after!
- Shell Game
You need 3 non-transparent cups for this game (duh)
Place a treat inside and do your best impression of being a magician, shuffling the cups and then give you pup a chance to guess the right one.
If they miss (and they will), show them the treat under the cup but don’t let them have it.
- Toy Pickup
Probably one of our favourite games, also because it cleans up all their toys haha 😂
You want to start off with the command “drop it”. It’s an important component to getting them to eventually drop off the toys in the right location.
After a solid drop it, you want to get them dropping it closer to a particular location. Then finally into the right location.
Again, make sure you treat them a little each step of the journey.
Walking Your Dog
It’s time to talk them out for a walk, the first thing you have to ask yourself is:
“Is the weather too hot for a walk?”
If the temperature is too high, the pavement might just be too hot for your pup’s paws. A good test would be putting your hand on the pavement, if you had to pull it away after 5 seconds, it’s probably too hot.
Now, “what do you need to walk a dog?”, you should seriously consider having the following items:
- Dog water bottle, and some treats
- Heavy padded vest and a reliable leash (we don’t recommend retractable leash just because with enough pressure, the retractable function will disengage)
- Poop bags
Let them sniff around by the way, it’s actually mentally stimulating!
Consider using this infograpgic:
Travelling With Your Dog (Car) (DQ)
In most countries, there are penalties on when animals are preventing the driver to not be in full control of the vehicle or even driving with a dog on their lap.
Also, we prefer not to have our dog in the front seat just because of the force that comes with air bag deployments. (it’ll seriously injure or even kill a dog if it’s struck by an exploding air bag.)
What we’ve found to be the most useful is to secure our pup in the backseat, with a seat belt attached to their harness.
There are a few things we learnt the hard way and we want to share it here:
- If you don’t have leather seats, it’s honestly going to take you a while to vaccum and clean the hair off your seats
- If you have leather seats on the other hand, the pup can get pretty destructive on those seats if don’t have adequate cover
We have a hammock seat cover on our back seat now, and it seriously is a game-changer for our car travels with the pup.
It’s water-proof, hair doesn’t stick to our seats and if you happen to take them to the beach or out doors, there won’t be any prints that’ll funk up the car.