How To Prepare For Your First Puppy

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 47 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog. If you’ve been thinking about getting your first puppy, there are a few preparation strategies you should take into consideration in order to make the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Pick The Right Puppy

Before you begin the preparation process, you should spend time doing research to find a dog breed that will easily align with your family, lifestyle, budget, or living situation. For example, if you have small children, consider choosing one of the following breeds: Bulldog, Beagle, Bull Terrier, Collie, Newfoundland, Vizsla, Irish Setter, Poodle, Labrador Retriever, or Golden Retriever. To understand why these dogs are ideal for children, read more here. It’s also important to pick a puppy that fits with your budget. As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, having a dog comes with more expenses than just the initial adoption fee, toys, and food. The type of dog you get can determine how high your veterinarian bills get and how much training they will need. For more recommendations on how to pick the right pup for your family, click here.

Prepare Your Home

In the weeks leading up to the day that you finally get to bring your puppy home with you, you should spend time getting your house ready for your new (permanent) guest. There are a number of items to take care of and areas you can focus on. In the Healthy Dogs section of their website, WebMD recommends the following:

“You’ll need to puppy-proof the area where the youngster will spend most of his time the first few months. This may mean taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate; and installing gates. Once you think you’ve completely puppy-proofed, lie on the floor and look around once more to get a puppy’s-eye view.”

Spending time preparing your home for your new puppy will help the first few nights and overall transition period go a lot smoother for you and your new puppy.

Talk Through Responsibilities With Your Family

During the months and weeks leading up to your puppy’s arrival, it’s also a good idea to talk with your family members about the responsibilities associated with taking care of a pet. Your family should decide together who will be in charge of feeding the puppy, cleaning up after the puppy, training the puppy, giving the puppy exercise, and so on. A first pet is an exciting experience for a child. It can also a great opportunity for them to learn about responsibility, and the importance of working together to take care of a pet.

Make a Shopping List

You will need to have a number of items on hand by the time you bring your puppy home. Prior to your pup’s arrival, make a shopping list of everything you will need once he or she steps foot in your home for the first time. According to PetMD, you should include these top ten puppy items on your list:

  • Crate and bedding
  • Training pads
  • Baby gates
  • Bitter spray
  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Chew toys
  • Bowls
  • Food and treats
  • Paper towels

Develop a Schedule To Follow

It’s important that you take the time to develop a consistent puppy schedule for feeding, toileting, napping, and play/exercise. Your puppy will likely be a bit overwhelmed with the new surroundings and unfamiliar faces, but a consistent schedule can help reduce any anxiety that might arise. A familiar routine can also help when it comes time to start training your puppy. To get started on developing a schedule that works for your household, take a look at this template from

Create a “Puppy Paradise”

In addition to a consistent routine, your puppy also needs a designated place to sleep and rest. As mentioned above, you should purchase a crate and bedding for your puppy prior to their arrival. When you are buying a crate for your puppy, choose a crate size that will fit him when he’s an adult and block off the excess crate space so he is unable to eliminate at the back and sleep in the front.

It’s also important to decide where you want to put your crate. Remember: dogs are social creatures and will want to be where the family spends their time. Some dog owners like to keep two crates, one for their main living space and one in their bedrooms. The goal here is to make your puppy feel as comfortable as possible.

Schedule Your First Visit To The Vet

If your puppy didn’t see a veterinarian before coming home with you, you’ll want to schedule a first visit. During this visit, the veterinarian will perform a basic health check, and if needed, give your pup his first set of vaccinations. Regular visits to the veterinarian will be an important part of keeping your dog healthy throughout its life. By being organized about scheduling your puppy’s first appointment, you are establishing good habits that can help increase the likelihood that your dog will live a long and happy life.

What other puppy preparation tips can you offer to new dog owners? Leave a comment below.

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