Adding a new puppy to your family is an exciting time, but planning for the addition of your new companion is just as important. Once you’ve researched your which breed of puppy is best suited to your household and needs, planning for how you can get them off to the best start in life with the right things like training, toy selection, and food specific to their breed, is vital.
Here’s our new puppy checklist to make sure you’ve covered the basics before your new family member arrives home.
Puppy crate and puppy gates
Being very small and moving into your new home can be a daunting experience for a small puppy. A crate gives your puppy a safe space where they can go to have some down time when they may be tired or overwhelmed. The crate should have enough room for your puppy to stand up in, as well as comfortably move around. When buying a crate, also consider the size of your puppy when they’re fully grown. Some crates come with removeable compartments, so you can expand the size of the crate as your puppy grows. A crate should always be used as a happy space and never used for the purpose of punishment.
Puppies also learn and experience the world though play. Having some puppy gates set up inside to separate a play area just for them creates a zone for them to play independently with their own toys. It can also help keep them away from hazards like foods toxic to dogs.
Puppy collar, lead and harness
Collars are essential for all dogs, so that they can have a tag with their name and your contact details. The collar should be snug, but loose enough so that you can fit two fingers underneath it.
If your puppy is inclined to pull on their lead, consider a no-pull puppy harness to use when you’re out walking. A regular harness can encourage pulling, as your dog can lean into it with their shoulders to drive forwards. A no-pull harness help to prevent strain on their neck and back.
There are various types of leads available, from standard leads that are a fixed length to retractable leads. Retractable lead may be popular, but they can offer less control over your dog, especially in dangerous situations that can arise quickly, like unexpected aggression from another dog in the dog park.
Food and water bowls
Separate food and water bowls are a must for your new family member. Stainless steel bowls are durable and chew-resistant (and conveniently dishwasher friendly), but keep in mind that they can heat up their contents if sitting in the sun. Ceramic bowls are great for water, they are heavier and don’t topple over easily. Look for bowls with a non-slip coating on the bottom so they don’t slide around. If your puppy is one that will grow into a larger breed, consider bowls that you can add to a raised feeding platform, to help keep strain off their head and neck when they’re older.
Puppy wormers, treatments and vaccinations
Ticks, fleas, intestinal worms and heartworms can create serious health problems for your puppy. Ensure you’ve got the appropriate puppy wormer and puppy flea treatment at home and keep up with the required doses.
Work with your vet to stick to your puppy vaccinations schedule to ensure they’re protected against conditions like parvovirus, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica (canine cough).
Puppy pads for toilet training
Make sure you’re equipped with puppy pads for puppy toilet training, which give your puppy a designated area to be toilet trained, as well as helping to keep your house tidy.
Puppies needs ways to burn off their boundless energy! When choosing puppy toys for them, make sure the toys are puppy-specific. Also think about some variety in what your dog will play with. Rotate the toys every day or two and try to supply a few different textures each time. Interactive toys like KONG are great for intellectual stimulation to find treats inside. Rope toys can be fun for bonding with your pet through friendly tug of war games.
Whichever toys you use, make sure pieces are not easily broken off that can be swallowed.
And to keep things clean and tidy, toys that can be cleaned in the dishwasher or washing machine are helpful ones to go for.
Car safety for puppies
Puppies need be safely restrained while they’re traveling in cars, so they don’t distract the driver and so they’re protected in the event of an accident. This is easiest done with a travel crate for a puppy that’s easy to lift into your car.
Puppy food: wet, dry or homemade?
There are many options available for puppy food. Whether you choose a wet or dry food, the most important thing to remember is that the food should be specifically made for puppies, as they have different energy and nutrition requirements to support their rapid growth! You may even be able to find puppy food specific to your breed. Ensure the food is complete and nutritionally balanced. This can be more difficult if you’re making your puppy’s food. It is worth consulting an animal nutritionist if you want to provide homemade meals to your pup.
Puppy supplements may be helpful
To make sure your puppy isn’t missing any vitamins and minerals (especially if you’re making your own puppy food), consider a puppy probiotics supplement. ZamiPet Best Start Puppy Multi has been formulated to support brain, bone, joint, skin, immune and gut health during the high-growth puppy phase.
Puppy dental health
Dental health is one of the top five health concerns for new Pet Parents. For puppies, it’s important to form good oral hygiene habits from an early age to ensure their teeth and gums remain healthy and strong. Preventing plaque build-up will also inhibit bacteria which causes bad breath. Some baby teeth can also be retained too long, and the adult/permanent tooth grows out alongside the baby tooth, potentially causing misalignment issues. Chewing ZamiPet Dental Sticks Puppy can help prevent this from occurring.
While you are getting to know each other, it’s a great time to start thinking about puppy schools near you. It's very important to socialise your puppy with different people and dogs. Once all your puppy’s vaccinations are complete, they’re ready to start socialising and learning great habits and discipline that will see you all getting along happily for many years to come.
You might intend to visit a groomer in the future, but having a few puppy grooming tools at home can help you do some of the basics in between professional treatments. Consider investing in a quality brush, suited to the type of your puppy’s coat. Nail clippers are also useful, as is slowly introducing your puppy to them, so they are comfortable with them into their adult life. Start playing with your puppy’s feet from an early age so they are used to it by the time they need their nails clipped.
Once all puppy vaccinations are complete, you’re free to head to the groomer. To ease into this new experience, your groomer may initially recommend a short stay for a bath, face, feet and tail tidy as an introduction.
Puppy shampoo and conditioner
Washing your dog is a lovely opportunity to bond with them (especially if they’re bribed into the experience with a little dog-safe peanut butter on the side of the bath!). Look for a puppy shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for dogs and take into account if they have sensitive skin. There is no need to constantly bath your dog, just bath them just when they get smelly. Remember to be gentle around their face – a face washer is a nice way to introduce them to washing around their face and eyes.
Last, but not least, your new family member needs a name! While the options for names of your new family member are endless, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Shorter names, of one or two syllables, are easy for your dog to understand
- Try not to pick something that sounds like a command or rhymes with another word often used in the house which might confuse your dog
- Pick a name that’s different from your other pets, to avoid confusion
- While humorous names might seem funny, be sure that you’ll be comfortable calling this name out at the dog park or the vet!
The information in this article was checked by ZamiPet Veterinarian and General Manager Dr Andrew McKay, BVSc, University of Melbourne, 2000. Vet Registration No: V3985
Disclaimer: This information is general advice only. Before starting any treatment or supplement with your pet, please consult your vet first for the best approach to getting your pet back to their best health.