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New puppy checklist — here's what to buy for your dog-to-be

A guide to set you up for success!

If you’ve decided to adopt a puppy or are considering adopting, you’re in the right place. Welcoming a puppy into your life is exciting, but it’s also a big commitment. 

We’re here to help make this transition as smooth as possible by giving you vet-recommended tools and tips for preparing to bring home a puppy.

Things to consider before getting a puppy

It's a good idea to think about the commitment of adopting a dog, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. Training, socializing and caring for puppies requires a lot of time, energy and attention, so it’s important to consider how your current lifestyle will accommodate a new pup. 

Here are a couple of thought-starters to get you going:

  • Whether or not your lifestyle, home or work allows you the time and energy it takes to train and socialize a puppy.
  • Consider the pup’s breed and their need for exercise and stimulation.
  • Think about the lifetime commitment and health costs. 
  • Research veterinarians near you.

How to prepare for bringing a puppy home

Scheduling your first vet visit should be a top priority, Dr. McCullough says. Puppies need rabies and distemper vaccines, which are mandatory. Dogs are usually given distemper vaccines at 6 to 8 weeks and rabies vaccines when your pup is 12 weeks old.

Other vaccines depend on your pup’s lifestyle, like vaccines for Lyme disease, kennel cough, canine influenza or leptospirosis. Besides giving the necessary vaccines, a veterinarian can ensure your dog doesn’t have common health issues like foreign body ingestion, wounds, parvovirus or respiratory infections, skin mites, intestinal parasites, low blood sugar, hernias or hip dysplasia.

It’s good to prep your home before your pup arrives, so their first moments in their new environment are safe. Start by puppy-proofing your space, which includes the following steps: 

  • Hide electrical cords, chemicals or medications.
  • Lock or conceal your trash cans.
  • Keep household plants and small items out of reach.
  • Remove any poisonous outdoor and indoor plants, toys or trash.
  • Make sure there aren’t any weak spots or gaps if you have a backyard fence.

Next, it’s time to shop! You can buy some accessories in advance to make sure you’re all set up for your pup’s first day at home. Dr. McCullough recommends adding the following items to your next shopping list: 

  • Bowls
  • Leash
  • Harness
  • Identification tag
  • Toys
  • Grooming supplies like shampoo
  • Stain-removing products (made specifically for pets)
  • Nail trimmers
  • Vet-approved food
  • Safety gates
  • Skin wipes
  • Crate

RELATED: How to potty train a puppy

Best chew toys for puppies

“Chew toys should have some give and flexibility like rubber toys, ropes and stuffed toys,” Dr. McCullough says. “Avoid nylon bones, antlers, hooves and anything else that is very hard as they can break your puppy and adult dog’s teeth.”

Should I sign my puppy up for pet insurance? 

Pet insurance is a great option for so many reasons. It gives you the freedom to get your pet the best care possible, which sometimes includes expensive procedures and medications. It’s a good idea to sign dogs up for pet insurance as soon as possible to have their injuries and illnesses covered, Dr. McCullough explains.

How to introduce a new puppy to your resident dog or dogs

It’s exciting to have a multi-pup household. Dr. McCullough has some tips to get your current dog all set for the arrival of their new sibling: 

  • Create separate spaces for the various dogs using a crate, exercise pen or safety gates so that you’re prepared for when the dogs needs breaks from one another and you can’t supervise them.
  • Continue your pup’s usual routine to help them feel comfortable with all of the changes going on around them.
  • Put away any toys or items that your dog may be possessive over to avoid any tension. 

When you finally bring home your new pup, there are some ways you can make the transition smooth for all dogs involved. Dr. McCullough has a couple of tips to make it a great first introduction: 

  • Introduce them in a neutral location so your current pup doesn’t feel territorial (think: somewhere outside your home). 
  • Let them walk side-by-side on separate leashes and enter your house together, so they’ll get used to walking with each other.
  • Make sure you’re constantly watching them (if you can’t supervise, keep them separated) and take introductions slowly just in case there’s tension between the dogs.
  • Give the dogs breaks from each other to ensure their individual attention needs are being met.
  • Use positive reinforcement like praise or treats and ensure both dogs are getting enough exercise as these tips help alleviate tension. 

Tips for the first night with a puppy

It’s essential to establish a routine on your puppy’s first day at home because it helps them know what to expect and will inevitably help with socializing and training, Dr. McCullough says. Their daily plan should include time for naps, play, feeding and training, she explains. Another key part of their routine is getting them to sleep in their crate from day one. 

“It is ideal for puppies to sleep in a crate for naps and at night starting from the first night,” she explains. “This helps set a routine and establishes their crate as a calm and restful place.”

Help! My new puppy won’t eat

Your veterinarian can recommend the best food option for your new pup depending on their breed, size and health status. But, if your dog isn’t eating, you should take them to your veterinarian for a checkup and to work out a solution as puppies can quickly experience low blood sugar. 

Cheers to the start of a new relationship with your puppy. We’d love to see how your journey unfolds together. Send us a DM or tag us on Instagram at @fetchpetinsurance.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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