Bringing home a puppy can be really exciting. A little bundle of cuddly fluff, bouncing around and curling up to sleep in your arms. Flopping awkwardly around and chasing her tail.
But it’s also a lot of work.
If you’re not prepared, it can be even more work. At this moment right now, you need to be really organized.
What do you need to have on hand when this new pup arrives? We’ve created the ultimate checklist to help you get ready:
The Ultimate Checklist For Bringing Home A Puppy
If there’s one thing your pup absolutely can’t do without, it’s food. That’s a no-brainer.
So, do you know what you’re going to feed your puppy? Are you planning on heading to the local pet store and grabbing a bag of puppy chow off the shelf? To help your dog establish a strong foundation for health, you have to start ASAP. You want to feed the healthiest, most nourishing food possible.
And that doesn’t mean a bag of kibble.
Kibble is processed to within an inch of its life, denatured, stripped of natural vitamins and nutrients and then pumped full of synthetic supplements. It uses ingredients like soy and corn that your dog really shouldn’t be eating.
A well balanced, species appropriate raw diet that covers all the nutritional bases is the best way to set your dog up for a healthy life.
There are several benefits of a raw diet (for puppies and adult dogs alike):
- Better, more natural nutrition
- Improved digestion and gut health
- Stronger immune system
- Healthier skin and coat
- Better dental health
Just remember that puppies need a diet that will help them grow, so make sure you’re balancing the calcium and phosphorus and that you’re feeding enough food!
Concerned about bacteria? Don’t be. Your new puppy’s digestive tract is much shorter than yours, so it takes far less time for food to travel through it. This means any potential bacteria is usually dealt with well before it will ever become a problem.
If you want more information on how to feed your puppy a raw diet, check out this article from Dogs Naturally Magazine. It will tell you everything you need to know.
Food And Water Bowls
You need to feed your dog from something (unless you plan on using your own dishes).
Is plastic a good go-to? Plastics can emit dangerous chemicals that should be avoided. They’re also very porous and prone to scratches and those cracks can harbor unhealthy bacterial
Stainless steel bowls are another option. They’re non-porous, rust-resistant and much easier to clean properly. Just make sure you're getting radiation-free stainless steel!
Glass can be another good option.
Our favorite option? Bamboo. They're sustainable!
No matter what type of bowls you get, give them a good wash after each use!
Some people see crates as punishment tools and are hesitant to use them. Others feel it’s cruel to confine dogs to a small space such as a crate.
To me, a crate is really important, for several different reasons.
The most important reason is your dog’s safety. Let’s be honest, most of us can’t watch a puppy 24/7. A crate helps keep your dog safe when you’re either not around or can’t focus on her. Puppies are generally pretty curious and can get into a lot of trouble in a very short period of time.
Another reason crates are good? Dogs don’t like to mess where they sleep, so a crate can help with house training and bladder/bowel control.
Crates can also offer your dog a safe zone, a sense of security. Dogs are den animals, so don’t be surprised if your puppy gets so comfortable that she heads to her crate whenever she’s feeling sleepy or needs to relax.
Just remember not to abuse the crate. Don’t overuse it and don’t treat it like a babysitter. Make sure your dog is getting exercise before and after her time in the crate.
A Collar And Leash
A collar and leash are also no-brainers. Collars are important tools of identification if your dog ever gets lost, and even if you walk off leash there will be times you need a leash. You’ll also need them if you decide to do any puppy training classes.
I really like collars and leashes that are more natural. You can find some really nice hemp ones online.
Do you need a harness? That all depends on your dog. Some dogs pull when they walk, and a harness (and consistent training) can be very beneficial. But a harness should only be worn when walking or training, not all the time, and you may want to have someone help you with the fit.
When it comes to toys, there are literally a million different options out there. And some are definitely better than others.
Here are some tips to help you find the best ones:
- Look for natural materials without dyes, preservatives and chemical residue
- Also stay away from fire retardants and stain guards
- Avoid balls with single air holes, which can create a deadly suction trap
- Choose toys to fit your dog’s size and avoid those that reach the back of her mouth
Read labels and check out the company’s website if you have questions.
Avoid rawhide bones.These are some of the most dangerous dog toys/chews out there. This article explains the entire tanning, chemical bathing, bleaching and gluing process in depth.
** Always supervise your dog when she’s playing. No matter how “safe” a toy is, accidents do happen, especially if the toys are small, if your dog is a power chewer or if she eats her toys.
When you bring that new puppy home, unless you’re really lucky, potty training is going to be a fact of life. Be prepared for a few messes until your dog gets the hang of things. And of course, there will be messes throughout your dog’s life, so getting together a little cleaning kit makes things easier.
At the very least make sure you have some cleaner – in a spray bottle is best – and some rags for mopping up.
But, before you grab any old spray cleaner, you need to be aware of what’s in some of the most common cleaning products:
- Ammonia– burns the mucous membranes and can lead to asthma. If it’s mixed with bleach, it creates a toxic poisonous gas.
- Formaldehyde – yes, the chemical used for embalming. It can cause asthma and is carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
- Bleach – can cause vomiting and irritation, even chemical burns if the concentration is high enough.
- Glycol ethers– has been linked to anemia, lung damage and kidney damage in people and pets.
- Chlorine– can cause everything from dizziness to vomiting to laryngeal edema.
Your dog spends almost her whole life on the floor, so it you’re using something that’s full of these harmful chemicals, what impact is that going to have on her health?
Luckily, there are some natural products that are just as good (or better!) at cleaning and also safe for your dog. Just straight white vinegar is one of my favorites.
You can even make your own with natural ingredients at home. You can find several recipes here.
Having a new puppy at home usually means a lot of laughter, maybe a few sleepless nights and a whole lot of fun building bonds. Hopefully these basics will set you up for success and make things a little easier. Good luck and have fun!
** We’ve written this for new puppies, but all of these things are important no matter how old your new dog is!
Emily Vey is a research and writing wizard on the Four Leaf Rover team. She’s always working to help dogs live the healthiest lives possible (and helping the earth doesn't hurt either)! She lives in Ontario with her partner-in-crime Ryan, their husky Inuk and German shepherd Indi. Together they enjoy hiking, swimming and all things outdoors!