For those of us who love dogs, there is almost nothing more exciting than adopting a new puppy. They are possibly the cutest creatures on the face of the earth. Those of you who have been through this before may agree, however, that the anticipation of having your own fluffy, wriggling, chubby ball of adorableness outshines certain realities. Having a puppy involves a lot of work and very little sleep, at least in the early days. It helps to be prepared. Not only is it crucial to manage your expectations, having a few key puppy supplies on hand will go a long way toward easing the transition to life with puppy, as well.
Before the big adoption day, make a new puppy checklist which should include the following:
● Collar – Her first collar needs to be puppy-sized, so it won’t be bothersome to her, tempting her to chew it off. If you’re lucky, this will last a few months. Depending on her breed, you may need to get her a bigger collar several times before she is full-grown.
● Harness – A safe, secure way to take her for an outing. A harness is much more difficult to slip out of than a collar and won’t harm her neck or trachea if she is a strong leash puller.
● Identification Tags – Make sure she has a small tag with your name and cell phone number on it, at the very least. In addition, your town or municipality will require that she be licensed. (Wait until after she has received her first rabies vaccine.)
● Leash – A short, light leash will do for the first six months or so. You shouldn’t have any illusions about how well a leash will work initially, in the absence of training.
● Dog bed(s) or mats – There is a plethora from which to choose. You will want more than one to place strategically around the house and will have to replace them periodically over the course of your dog’s lifetime. Choose dog beds that are washable (or have removable washable covers) and sturdy enough to survive rough puppy treatment.
● Food & Water Bowls – Heavy dog bowls or bowls with a non-slip base work best. Ideally, these should be puppy-sized to making eating easier, particularly dry food.
● Food – Ask the breeder or vet for a recommendation. High-quality puppy food formulations are very important for healthy growing bodies. Some puppies are very picky eaters which means you may have to try a few different brands before you find one she likes (which means you shouldn’t go out and buy a huge supply, initially).
● Toys & Treats – Puppies love to play and they love to chew. Better to keep them occupied with interesting objects of their own so they leave yours alone! Treats are indispensable for training.
● Crate – Crate-training your puppy from the beginning will make your life much easier. Puppies should never be allowed to roam around the house unattended, as they can get into all sorts of trouble, which is where a crate comes in. Any time you’re not able to pay close attention to her, she needs to go in the crate. And, of course, you will probably want to put her in the crate at night. Ultimately, if you train her properly and don’t use the crate as a form of punishment, your puppy will feel safest in it, which will be a win-win for both of you. Any kind of crate will do as long as it’s not too big.
● Puppy Playpen or Dog Gate – You won’t need these if you have a reasonably indestructible room that can be closed off to contain the puppy, such as a mudroom. Otherwise, this is another way to keep your puppy contained and out of trouble.
● Puppy Pee Pads – For use only during the first few weeks, until she starts to get the hang of house-training. You can use newspaper instead but these are cleaner and more absorbent.
● Coat/Sweater – this is important if you live in a cold climate and/or are adopting a short haired dog. She will outgrow this quickly.
● Nail Clippers – Your puppy’s nails should be kept short for safety purposes. It’s much easier to start clipping her nails when she’s young.
Of course, there are additional important puppy supplies you will need at some point, such as a brush, dog shampoo, as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste, but they can wait until necessary. Note that good dental hygiene is important once your puppy’s baby teeth fall out and her big teeth grow in. She will be more inclined to accept having her teeth brushed when she’s young.
Taking your Puppy Home
Think about what you will need to take with you when you pick up your puppy, whether it be from a breeder or a community shelter. Most importantly, you are going to need a way to transport the puppy home safely. Having a family member or friend along will allow one of you to hold her and provide comfort during what is bound to be a stressful, unfamiliar trip in the car. Beware, however, that you may not make it home unscathed by puppy bodily fluids, so be prepared. Bring along rag towels and wipes to clean up potential messes, and leave extra supplies in the car—you will need them going forward. Dogs can be messy car travelers.
If no one is available to accompany you to pick up the puppy, bring a crate to secure her safely in the car while you’re driving. Ideally, this will be a small travel crate that won’t overwhelm her. You don’t necessarily need to buy a new crate for this purpose, as she will outgrow it before too long; you could borrow one from a friend or neighbor. Unless you’re getting an older or giant breed puppy, a cat crate would work just fine.
One last recommendation is to bank some extra sleep before the puppy comes home. Though you may get lucky and find a new little companion who sleeps through most of the night, that’s the exception and not the rule. Take heart, as it’s just a phase that will pass soon enough if you make an effort to weather it with patience and good humor.
Raising a dog from puppyhood is one of life’s great pleasures. While it’s true that dealing with a puppy is not always easy, if you remain calm and consistently show her love, rest assured she will develop into a great dog who will enrich your life for many years to come.