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New Puppy Preparation Guide

InsuranceRanked - Updated November 4, 2021
New Puppy Preparation Guide

The New Pet Parent’s Guide To Bringing Home a Puppy

Bringing home a cute new pet is exciting, but it’s important to be prepared. These new members of the family are financial, physical, and emotional commitments. They need love, exercise, and care daily to live their best lives. Though getting a pet is a big responsibility, you’ll find it can be an incredibly rewarding one.

Pets can have a profound impact on your mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. They also encourage exercise and social opportunities, and can decrease feelings of loneliness, thereby supporting a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle.

Before You Bring Your Puppy Home

It’s best to start preparing for your new furry family member as soon as possible. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing you already have everything you need, and can focus those first few days on getting your pet acclimated to their new space. You’ll need a range of supplies, from food to crates and toys.

Pet Supplies

If you’re adopting through a shelter or other formal organization, they may be able to provide a list of basics you’ll need before you take your pet home. Some of these basics include:

  • Crate or carrier;
  • Bed;
  • Food and treats;
  • Food and water bowls;
  • Leash and collar;
  • Toys;
  • Puppy pads.

Other helpful items for the initial coming-home period may include spot-cleaner, if your home has carpet, and a baby gate to prevent your puppy from getting in rooms they’re not supposed to be in.

Additionally, you’ll want to try and coordinate with the shelter or breeder regarding what food they have been feeding your puppy, and try to match this brand when you’re buying food. This can decrease gastrointestinal distress during the first few weeks.

Puppy-Proofing Your Space

A general rule of thumb to keep in mind while puppy-proofing is that puppies inspect everything with their nose and their mouth. This means anything at their level is liable to be chewed on and/or swallowed. This can be anything from your shoes, to a houseplant, to furniture.

Make sure you’re providing chew toys to encourage chewing on appropriate items, and keep all choking hazards out of their reach. Other general puppy-proofing tips include:

  • Covering exposed electrical outlets;
  • Organizing electronics cords;
  • Making sure valuables are moved to higher locations;
  • Keeping human food spaces clean and organized;
  • Moving or re-homing any dog-toxic houseplants;
  • Putting lids on all trash cans;
  • Putting medications, cleaning chemicals, and other toxic digestibles in a locked space.

The specifics of puppy proofing your space will depend on the kind of puppy you have, as well as the space you’re living in.

Room by Room

Each room of your house that your puppy has access to will require slightly different preparation methods. You can reduce the amount of puppy-proofing you have to do by purchasing baby gates to keep puppies out. Other tips for each room of your house include:

  • Bathroom:** Keep all medications and cleaners in a locked drawer or cabinet, keep the floor clean of clutter, keep the toilet lid shut.
  • Laundry: Place laundry detergents on a high shelf, remember to close washer and dryer doors after use, reduce space on the sides of machines where your puppy might get stuck.
  • Kitchen: Keep human food out of reach, keep the floor clean of clutter, invest in cabinet locks for low-down cabinets.
  • Bedrooms: Keep the floor clean of clothes and charger cables, reduce spaces your puppy could get stuck behind, cover all electrical outlets.

It’s generally best to keep your puppy completely out of your garage until they get a little bigger. As a small puppy, they could get stuck or hurt, and they might get exposed to lethal amounts of harmful chemicals.

Additionally, they may accidentally be able to access the street, which can also be dangerous if they aren’t trained. If they are in your garage area, be sure to clean up any spills and keep a direct eye on them.

Patio/Yard

Your outdoor space is likely where your new puppy will spend a lot of time during their life. This is a great place for them to play and explore as they grow. However, there are some hazards your outdoor space can pose to your new dog that you may not even be aware of. To make it as safe and welcoming as possible for your new puppy, follow these tips:

  • Check for and remove plants that may be poisonous to dogs.
  • Secure fencing or other boundaries around your yard or patio to keep your pet in and other potentially dangerous animals and wildlife out.
  • Store any pesticides and yard chemicals in a closed shed or container.
  • Remove hazards that may cause injuries, like jagged or exposed metal, yard waste, or sharp tools.

Dogs can be hard on a yard. You may see patches of dead grass, holes, and other signs of wear and tear in the first few weeks. Keeping plenty of toys around and starting training early can help keep your dog from destroying your yard.

Training for Your Puppy

You can minimize many risks and dangers to your new friend by focusing on training and reinforcing good behavior. Commands such as “leave it” or “stay” can save your pet’s life in some cases. Potty training is another priority for dog owners, especially at the puppy stage. Creating good habits early on can reduce mess and increase feelings of independence in your dog.

You can train your puppy yourself, or take them to a doggy boot camp. There are pros and cons to each approach. By training your dog yourself, you have an intimate understanding of what works best when training them, which can help you in further training. However, this can take a lot of time and dedication.

A doggy boot camp may achieve your behavioral and training goals for your dog, while still giving you the time in your schedule you need for work, school, or other obligations. However, the adjustment period and upkeep after the training program ends can be difficult. What’s best for you and your dog will depend on your specific circumstances as well as your dog’s personality and needs.

Accidents Happen

No matter how prepared you are, it’s important to remember that accidents happen. Your puppy is still a baby, sometimes only a few weeks old. Depending on the situation, your pets and any damage they cause may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance.

It’s important to check your policies, or invest in a policy that specifically covers pets. Pet insurance may also be a smart idea for pet owners. Puppies can be particularly prone to accidents, meaning pet insurance will come in handy. Then, as your pets age and become more susceptible to genetic conditions and chronic illness, pet insurance can help with treatment and management.

Preparing for Medical Costs

When you first get a new puppy, there are quite a few medical costs that you’ll see within the first year. This doesn’t include costs associated with training or puppy supplies such as food and toys. Medical costs you can anticipate as a new pet owner include:

  • Initial vaccinations: Initial vaccinations aren’t just important for your puppy’s health, but many dog parks, boarding houses, and trainers will require a full panel of vaccinations for your dog to use their services. This requirement is in place so that neither your dog, nor other dogs in the area, get sick.
  • Wellness exams: In the first few months of their life, your puppy will need more frequent wellness exams. This is to ensure that they’re hitting growth milestones and staying healthy. It’s recommended that you take your puppy in for a wellness check-up once a month until they are 16 weeks old. How many check-ups this is will depend on the age of your puppy when you get them. After they’re 16 weeks, you can talk with your vet about a check-up schedule. Most adult dogs need wellness checks at least once a year.
  • Pet insurance:** As we’ve mentioned, pet insurance can be a great resource for pet owners, especially those getting a new puppy. It can help you cover the cost of care for illness and injury. However, pet insurance is another financial factor in owning a puppy. The amount your pet insurance costs you per month will depend on your type of coverage, your pet’s age, breed, and any pre-existing conditions.
  • Spaying/neutering: There are several benefits to spaying/neutering your pets, which is why so many professionals recommend it. It can help decrease the birth of unhomed litters, curb behavioral problems associated with mating, as well as protect against certain serious medical conditions. The cost of the surgery, as well as any antibiotics for recovery, is a one-time cost that can reap a lifetime of benefits.
  • Preventative medications: Preventative medications, such as those for heartworm or flea and tick treatments, are important to maintain a dog’s health. These medications will likely be a cyclical part of your dog's life, as well as your pet health budget.

Your vet can give you a complete rundown of what medical commitments you should expect in the first year more specific to your puppy’s age and breed. They can also help you understand any genetic predispositions your dog may have because of their breed, which can help you prepare for the future.

Additional Resources for New Pet Owners

There are other places you can find support, both informational, social, and financial as a new pet owner. Pets are a large responsibility, so if you feel like you need help, be sure to reach out to the organizations available to you.

General Resources and Organizations

These organizations can help you learn more about being a successful pet owner:

  • ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a non-profit that offers current pet owners and those looking to rescue their “furrever friends” with several resources. You can view their adoption listings, become an advocate, and learn about how to identify and prevent animal cruelty.
  • American Kennel Club (AKC): The AKC is another non-profit that provides pet owners with informational and care resources. They can connect you to dogs that need homes, provide DNA and health testing, and offer expert advice on all things pet life.
  • Dog Forums: The dog forums website is a great place to connect with other pet owners. Whether they be first-timers like yourself, or seasoned pet parents, the forums hosted by this website can help you answer questions, connect with local dog owners in your area, and provide social support from the puppy stage and onward.
  • Bring Fido: Bring Fido is a directory that lists hotels, restaurants, events, and other dog-friendly places. This is a great resource to use when planning a vacation, or looking for new adventures to take with your pet. Their blog also offers coverage on interesting pet activities and information.
  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): The AVMA is a non-profit made up of medical professionals and advocates in the veterinary field. They offer several informational resources for all stages of pet life, including original research on important pet topics. This is a great place to get authoritative information on pet health.

Financial Aid Resources

There are organizations designed to provide financial support to pet owners as well. These organizations can help you pay for medical treatments, daily care, medical equipment, and other necessary expenses, depending on your situation. They include, but are not limited to:

  • The Mosby Foundation: This is an emergency fund for limited-income pet parents whose pets need unforeseen medical care.
  • Fetch a Cure: This organization provides financial relief for families with pets living with cancer.
  • Handicapped Pets Foundation: This organization provides equipment and other accommodations for low-or-no cost to pets with handicaps.
  • The Humane Society: The Humane Society offers general financial assistance resources to those who are having trouble caring for their pets. This includes help with food, shelter, vet bills, and so on.

These are some national organizations — you can also find regional or local organizations through the Humane Society website. You can find more about the eligibility requirements of each of these organizations on each of their websites.


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