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New Puppy Checklist: Everything You Need to Get Started

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting and joyous occasion, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if you are not sure where to start with preparations. From choosing the right veterinarian to ensuring you have all the necessary supplies, there is a lot to consider. This comprehensive checklist will guide you through the essential items and steps needed to welcome your new furry friend into your home.

Establish a Relationship With Your Veterinarian, New Puppy Checklist

Importance of Veterinary Visits

One of the first and most crucial steps in caring for your new puppy is establishing a relationship with a veterinarian. Regular veterinary visits are essential for monitoring your puppy’s health, administering vaccinations, and providing preventive care against parasites. Puppies should visit their veterinarian about every three to four weeks during their early months.

Real-World Example: When Amanda brought her Golden Retriever puppy, Bailey, home, she immediately scheduled a veterinary appointment. This initial visit included a thorough health check, the start of Bailey’s vaccination schedule, and a discussion about flea and tick prevention. Establishing this relationship early on helped Amanda feel confident about Bailey’s health care.

Choosing the Right Veterinarian

Consider the following factors when selecting a vet:

  • Distance from Home: Proximity is important for regular visits and emergencies.

  • Services Provided: Look for a vet that offers comprehensive services, including dental care, nutrition counseling, and spay/neuter surgeries.

  • Experience: Ensure the vet has experience with your puppy’s breed and consider those who are Fear-Free certified or AAHA accredited.

  • Office Environment: Check if you can accompany your pet during exams and if the clinic has separate areas for cats and dogs to reduce stress.

Veterinarian’s Insight: Preventive care is key to your puppy’s well-being. Keeping vaccinations up to date and protecting against fleas, ticks, and heartworms can prevent many common health issues.

Puppy Food

Selecting the Right Puppy Food

Your new puppy needs a high-quality diet to support their rapid growth and development. Choose a puppy food with a nutritional adequacy statement for growth or all life stages from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Real-World Example: Sarah chose an AAFCO-approved large breed puppy food for her German Shepherd, Max. She consulted her vet to ensure Max’s specific nutritional needs were met, including appropriate calorie intake and essential nutrients for healthy bone growth.

Feeding Schedule

Puppies typically require three to four meals a day. As they grow, this can be adjusted to two or three meals. It’s crucial to maintain a consistent feeding schedule to avoid gastrointestinal issues like bilious vomiting.

Veterinarian’s Tip: If your puppy vomits in the morning before breakfast, consider giving them a small snack before bedtime to prevent an empty stomach overnight.

Puppy Training Treats

Importance of Training Treats

Training treats are essential for reinforcing positive behaviors and building a strong bond with your puppy. Choose small, easily digestible treats to avoid overfeeding.

Real-World Example: Emily used small, low-calorie treats to train her Border Collie, Luna. The treats were effective in teaching Luna basic commands and rewarding good behavior without upsetting her sensitive stomach.

Recommended Training Treats

Some recommended treats for puppies include:

  • Charlee Bear Natural Bear Crunch Grain-Free Bacon & Blueberry Dog Treats

  • Bil-Jac Original Recipe with Liver Soft Dog Treats

  • Fruitables Pumpkin & Blueberry Flavor Dog Treats

Water Bowls and Other Essentials

Choosing the Right Water Bowls

Invest in a shallow, non-slip water bowl for home use and a portable bowl for travel. These ensure your puppy stays hydrated wherever they are.

Real-World Example: John bought a collapsible water bowl for his hikes with Bailey. It was lightweight and easy to carry, making it perfect for outdoor adventures.

Other Essential Supplies

In addition to water bowls, you’ll need:

  • Collar and Leash: An adjustable, reflective nylon collar and a six-foot leash.

  • Poop Bag Holder: Essential for clean walks and hikes.

  • Identification Tags: Ensure your puppy has a tag with your contact information.

Toys for Your New Puppy

Importance of Toys

Toys are crucial for both mental and physical stimulation. They help keep your puppy engaged, reduce boredom, and prevent destructive behaviors.

Veterinarian’s Insight: “Mental activities, such as puzzle toys, help keep your puppy’s mind sharp and engaged. Physical activities, like playtime and short walks, promote physical health and burn off excess energy,” says Dr. Greenberg.

Recommended Toys

Some recommended toys for puppies include:

  • KONG Puppy Dog Toy: Durable and treat-dispensing for mental stimulation.

  • Chuckit! Classic Launcher Dog Toy: Great for high-energy play.

  • Tug Toys: Provide an outlet for puppies who enjoy tug-of-war.

  • Flirt Pole: Interactive toy that encourages chasing.

Real-World Example: Lisa’s Beagle, Daisy, loved her KONG toy filled with peanut butter. It kept her entertained for hours and helped soothe her teething gums.

Puppy Gates, Playpens, and Crates

Puppy Proofing Your Home

Gates, playpens, and crates help keep your puppy safe and secure. They prevent access to hazardous areas and provide a designated space for your puppy to rest and play.

Veterinarian’s Tip: When crate training, choose a crate that is appropriately sized for your puppy. It should be just big enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Recommended Crates and Gates

Some recommended products include:

  • MidWest iCrate Fold & Carry Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate: Adjustable size with a divider for growing puppies.

  • Puppy Gates: To restrict access to certain areas of your home.

Bedding for Your Puppy

Choosing the Right Bed

A comfortable bed provides a safe and cozy place for your puppy to rest. Choose a bed that is durable, easy to clean, and appropriately sized.

Real-World Example: Tom selected a washable, durable bed for his Labrador puppy, Rex. The bed was easy to clean after accidents and provided a comfortable space for Rex to sleep.

Recommended Beds

Some recommended beds include:

  • Best Friends by Sheri The Original Calming Shag Fur Donut Cuddler Cat & Dog Bed

  • BigBarker: Ideal for large-breed puppies.

Puppy Pads

Importance of Puppy Pads

Puppy pads are useful for house training, especially for those living in high-rise buildings or areas with limited outdoor access. They help establish a designated potty area indoors.

Veterinarian’s Tip: Gradually move the puppy pad closer to the door you’ll use to take your puppy outside to reinforce outdoor potty training.

Recommended Puppy Pads

Some recommended products include:

  • Frisco Premium Dog Training & Potty Pads

  • Simple Solution Pet Stain & Odor Remover with Pro-Bacteria & Enzyme Formula

Socialization for Your Puppy

Importance of Socialization

Socialization is critical for your puppy’s development. It helps them learn how to interact positively with people and other animals, reducing fear and anxiety.

Real-World Example: Sarah exposed Max to various people, animals, and environments during his early months. This helped Max become a well-adjusted and confident adult dog.

Activities for Socialization

Consider the following activities to socialize your puppy:

  • Observing other people and pets from a distance

  • Short greetings with other pets and people

  • Scent walks

  • Doggy daycare

  • Puppy kindergarten

  • Visiting dog-friendly establishments

Veterinarian’s Insight: Introduce your puppy to new experiences gradually and use positive reinforcement to create positive associations.

ID Tags and Microchipping

Importance of Identification

ID tags and microchipping are essential for ensuring your puppy can be identified and returned to you if they get lost. Microchipping provides a permanent form of identification that cannot be lost or removed.

Real-World Example: Amanda had Bailey microchipped during his first vet visit. This gave her peace of mind knowing that Bailey could be identified if he ever got lost.

Discuss with Your Vet

Talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of microchipping and the process involved. It’s a simple and quick procedure that can provide lifelong identification for your puppy.


Congratulations on your new puppy! This comprehensive checklist will help you prepare for your new furry family member and ensure they have everything they need to thrive. While raising a puppy requires time, effort, and dedication, the joy and companionship they bring make it all worthwhile. By following this guide, you can set the stage for a lifetime of love, joy, and cherished memories with your new best friend. For more information and a wide range of puppy supplies, visit

New Puppy Checklist
New Puppy Checklist


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