The addition of a puppy to your family is a very exciting moment. To make sure that he/she settles in as smoothly as possible there are some essential items which you should ensure you have prior to bringing home a new puppy for the first time.
While making the decision whether to get a puppy it is important to think about whether you can provide the level of commitment that the dog will require throughout its lifetime to care for it and provide it with a good quality of life. When considering what to buy for a new puppy you should take into account the age and breed of the puppy, as well as the type of home and environment that you live in.
This new puppy checklist is a guide to help you when thinking about what do I need for a new puppy? Before bringing a new puppy home you should ensure that you have most of the items on the checklist. Being properly equipped can help to prevent the development of future behavioural problems. This is because the first stage of your puppy’s life is a crucial period where puppies learn to cope with their environment and acquire social skills[i].
1. Collar/Harness, Lead and ID Tag
A collar and lead with ID tag are essential. The ID tag should have at least a contact telephone number so in the unfortunate event that your puppy should go astray you can be easily contacted.
The style of collar and lead that you chose should be appropriate for the breed, size and age of the puppy and you should ensure that it is a good fit, checked regularly for size as puppies can grow rapidly. You can test the fit of your puppy’s collar by checking that you can fit two fingers between it and the neck of your dog. Too tight and it will be harmful and too lose and it will slip off easily if your puppy pulls away from you whilst out walking.
The earlier you start to practice walking your puppy on a lead the better. Good lead training will make taking your dog out for walks a much more pleasant experience. Start with a shorter lead to train your puppy and when it understands how to walk nicely next to you a longer lead can be used.
In addition you may wish to use a harness to train your puppy. Harnesses can be useful for very small or long backed breeds or dogs which pull a lot whilst learning to walk on the lead in order to avoid any harm being caused to their neck by their collar. Special car harnesses can also be used like a seat belt if you take your puppy in the car.
2. Puppy Crate/Pen
A puppy crate or pen is a fundamental piece of equipment to have when you get a new puppy. Crates are generally made from either
Ensure you chose a crate/pen specifically designed for dogs so that your puppy does not injure themselves on it, for example by getting their mouth stuck if the mesh is too big. When your puppy is in the crate you should always remove its collar to avoid it getting caught.
The crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up and lie in stretched out when it is fully-grown. You should make it a comfortable and pleasant place for the puppy to be with some bedding and toys, as well as ensuring access to water. If your puppy has an accident whilst in the crate clean it immediately otherwise it may become very distressed and become aversive to being in the crate.[ii]
Confinement is a useful tool to toilet train[iii] and keep your puppy out of trouble but should never be used as a punishment or your puppy will start to resent it. Once your puppy is crate trained you can gradually allow it more freedom around the house. If you wish to restrict the parts of the house your puppy can access then child gates can be useful to do so.
3. Dog Bedding
Comfortable bedding for your puppy should be big enough for it to grow into and stretch out in. A sensible choice of bed is one which is cosy and comfortable but also easily washable and as resistant to chewing as possible. Serta Cuddler is a good example that's designed to be supportive, comfortable, and easy to wash.
4. Food and Water Bowls
The size of the food and water bowls which you chose will depend on the breed of your puppy and how much they need to eat. Obviously a larger breed will require larger bowls! All dogs should always have free access to water at all times. Stainless steel bowls are ideal as they are durable and hygienic and difficult for puppies to pick up and carry around in their mouths.
5. Food and Treats
Before picking your new puppy up you should make sure that you have an appropriate food for it to eat. This should ideally be the same one that the puppy is already eating so you will need to find this out from whoever you are getting your puppy from. Once you have your puppy at home if you wish to change the type of food it is eating this can be done gradually, over a week or so, so as not to cause digestive disturbances.
You should feed your dog a food designed specifically for puppies and chose a variety appropriate to its breed or size, this should provide your puppy with all of its nutritional requirements for normal growth. Use the best quality feed you can afford and if you are not sure about which diet to choose speak to your veterinarian who will be able to provide you with help and advice.
Treats are a useful aid for positive reinforcement of good behavior whilst training a new puppy. They can be used as a reward when your puppy behaves in the way you want[iv]. Ensure that the treats you buy are suitable for young puppies.
It is important to provide puppies with appropriate toys to chew to avoid the development of bad habits or destructive behavior in the future. Apart from providing comfort when left alone they are also useful for training purposes[v]. Remember that if the puppy doesn’t have toys to play with it will no doubt look towards something else within its reach!
7. Pooper Scooper or Poo Bags
Whenever out with your puppy you will need to ensure that you have something to clean up after it if you are in a public place. Poo bags are easy to carry around but a pooper scooper may be more appropriate for a garden if you have one.
8. Grooming Equipment
The type of grooming equipment you need depends very much on the type of dog you have chosen and the length of its coat. However, even if your dog has short hair it is always useful to introduce them to at least some brushing as it is also a pleasant experience for most dogs and can be a way of bonding with them as well as removing lose hair when they are molting which will otherwise end up around your home. If you have chosen a long haired breed introducing brushing from an early age is key to avoid the build up of knots and mats.
9. Cleaning Equipment
Even the best behaved puppies can be messy while they are learning and being house trained. A good stock of “pet safe” products can therefore come in very useful. Having these to hand will make it far less stressful when your puppy does have an accident.
10. Basic Puppy Training Book/Information
Information about puppy training and behavior is always useful to have to hand if you are a first time owner. By ensuring to educate your puppy properly from the start you will avoid problems in the future and owning a dog will be a pleasurable and rewarding experience. There are numerous books available as well as online information in addition to puppy training classes which you can attend together.
[i] Lindsay S. R., 2000, Development of Behavior, in Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Adaptation and Learning, Volume 1, Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, USA. p. 63.
[ii] Lindsay, S. R. (2005) House Training, Destructive Behavior, and Appetitive Problems, in Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Procedures and Protocols, Volume 3, Blackwell Publishing Professional, Ames, Iowa, USA. p. 107-111.
[iii] Menteith, C. (2014), Toilet training puppies. Veterinary Nursing Journal, 29: 398–399.
[iv] Owren, T. (1987), Training dogs based on behavioural methods. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 28: 1009–1029.
[v] Lindsay, S. R. (2005) House Training, Destructive Behavior, and Appetitive Problems, in Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Procedures and Protocols, Volume 3, Blackwell Publishing Professional, Ames, Iowa, USA. p. 84-5.