Updated March 18, 2021
Here’s a checklist to help you get ready for the big day your puppy arrives. It might seem like a lot to do but that’s only because you’re actually thinking about things in advance.
☑️ Family Meeting!
Not much in this list will go properly if everyone isn’t on the same team. Get all the adults and especially the children together to discuss the house rules for the new puppy. Read more in our guide to kids and dogs living together and our thoughts on early puppy education.
☑️ Book Your Free Puppy Check.
The best time to fix problems is either straight away, or before they happen! We invite you to bring your puppy in for a free half hour vet appointment where we will give your puppy a full physical examination, check for congenital defects and answer any of your questions.
When is best? You can do it on the way home from the breeder, or in the first few days.
☑️ Book Your Puppy Preschool Class.
Space in small group classes run by Delta-accredited instructors fills up quickly. Ring and secure your place well in advance and you won’t be disappointed.
☑️ Puppy Proof the House
We’ve included a full article on this elsewhere in the Ultimate Puppy Guide.
☑️ Get Your Other Pets Ready
Don’t make the mistake of assuming things will just work out.
Make any changes for existing dogs early so they don’t associate loss of privileges with the new arrival. Settle him or her to their new spot before the puppy arrives, and choose a feeding strategy that will work with two. Make sure they keep getting all the attention, love and individual time that are used to getting.
Introduce puppies to existing dogs slowly under supervision. Don’t leave treasured items like treats and food out for the puppy to grab when they are together and make sure to reward good behaviour frequently. A dog that associates a new puppy with love and treats is already half way there.
Cats need to be able to escape to a puppy-free time out zone. You can read a lot more about mixing dogs and cats here.
Although you always hear of the successes, rabbits, ferrets, rats, guinea pigs and mice are at risk from predatory behaviour and are best kept apart from dogs.
☑️ Organise Puppy Insurance
You don’t have to insure your puppy, but it’s a good idea. To sign up, the company will require a vet check first for full cover ( your free checkup will do this). You often get a month of (limited) dog insurance from many breeders but there’s no obligation to continue.
☑️ Premium Puppy Food
Visit our Puppy feeding FAQs later on in the Ultimate Puppy Guide.
You will need good, indestructible bowls for food and water. The water bowl should be large and hard to tip over. Also consider buying food dispensing chew toys.
☑️ A Cosy Bed
The best allow the puppy to snuggle into the bed. For calming smells, a good idea is to add some of your unwashed T-shirts rolled-up into puppy-sized packages, and something from the breeder like a small piece of their blanket. Please make sure neither is able to be swallowed.
☑️ Collar, Leash and Car Harness
A collar or harness should be fitted so that only two fingers can fit under it. It will take your puppy weeks to get accustomed to wearing it so don’t worry about lots of scratching or sideways walking.
See our comments on safe car travel in Common Puppy Hazards later in the guide.
Please read about the technique of crate training elsewhere in the Ultimate Puppy Guide.
Puppies get bored with just one chew toy. We recommend having at least five, and rotating which ones your puppy has each day. Chew toys need to be made for dogs, and impossible to chew up. This page covers the commonly available puppy toys recommended by vets and trainers.
Have some treats ready for toilet training as soon as your puppy arrives. We use Vets Best Rewards: they are crunchy dried liver which we break into fingernail-sized treats. One bag usually lasts a puppy’s first 6 months. Other healthy dog treat options can be found here.
Yes, you can bath your puppy. It’s a good idea not just if they are a bit smelly, but also to get them used to gentle bathing early. Just make sure you keep the water and the room warm and dry them straight away.
Not all shampoos are the same though; read more in our guide to bathing dogs.
☑️ Training Pads
Not everyone needs these. See our full article in this elsewhere in the Ultimate Puppy Guide on Toilet Training.
☑️ Chew Treats?
Our advice is, be very careful. Rawhide, raw bones, chicken necks etc can all cause choking if fed too early. Ask our advice on when to start when you come for your free puppy check.
Probably the only treatment you need to give before your puppy’s 10 week vaccinations is a worming dose at 6 and 8 weeks of age. Ask the breeder what was already given, and get a dose that’s right size for your puppy by weighing him or her first. Read more about puppy worms here.
☑️ A Warm Coat
Puppies get cold very easily, especially those with poodle-type or short hair. A coat may seem silly, but you should see that your puppy enjoys wearing it in colder weather. Just watch out that it doesn’t get chewed off!
Dog Appeasing Pheromone is a synthetic pheromone released by suckling mothers. Using a collar or plug-in diffuser around your puppy should improve their separation anxiety in the first few weeks. Read the evidence here for Adaptil in helping puppies settle in.
Most local councils require registration by 12 weeks of age. Check with yours and ask if they have short-term registration for puppies (the cost goes down after desexing).
☑️ Nail clippers and Stop-chew sprays?
Actually, we DON’T advise these commonly bought items until we have met your puppy. Let us show you how to clip the nails and avoid the sprays.
If you’re a vet and our culture appeals to you, we’re currently hiring. Click here to learn more!
Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These articles are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!