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“I’m getting a new puppy, what do I need? Do you have a new puppy checklist?” –C.M.
On January 7th, 2005, I asked those questions to the employee at the local pet store…wait for a second, let’s rewind…
That morning I didn’t know it, but in the afternoon I’d be bringing home an adorable, little Aussie mix puppy named Linus.
Actually, we almost named him Maximus Decimus Meridius (I must have just watched Gladiator the night before). Today, I can’t imagine him being anything other than Linus.
Did I mention I didn’t know I’d be bringing home a puppy that day? I read puppy books, researched websites, talked to friends and family about dogs and puppies.
Heck, I even raised my roommate’s dogs in college, but I was still in the research phase when we found Linus.
I had ZERO puppy supplies. I was not prepared, but he was perfect so we said “I do” and the shelter told us they needed to microchip/vaccinate him and to come back in an hour and we could take him home.
One HOUR to get all the supplies we needed for our new puppy!
So that brings us back to our question:
“I’m getting a new puppy, what do I need? Do you have a new puppy checklist?”
QUICK ACCESS: If you’re having puppy training problems then you should join our Puppy Training Tips email list and get instant access to our New Puppy Owner Checklist PDF. To get started CLICK HERE.
New Puppy Checklist
I filled out and signed Linus’ adoption paperwork then rushed over to the local pet store. I had one hour to find what I would need for Linus for the next few days/weeks/months/years.
I didn’t need everything for a new puppy just the essentials.
New Puppy Essentials Checklist
“Our” New Puppy Checklist should apply to all puppies, but keep in mind that I raise mostly Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and of course Linus was an Australian Shepherd mix puppy, other breeds can have different specialized needs that aren’t reflected on this list.
Our New Puppy Essentials Checklist are the items we recommend you have the day you bring home your new puppy.
QUICK UPDATE: We are only recommending one product (our favorite) per category. It was difficult to always pick the best/favorite so please do your own due diligence and find what works best for your puppy
1. Dog Toys
We recommend getting lots of different textured toys to help when your puppy starts teething/chewing. However, we think it’s especially important to get a plush toy to rub on littermates and mama that way you can bring the scent of your pup’s family back home with you. Check out the Snuggle Puppy which also includes heat pads and a ticking heart to help your puppy sleep at night.
2. Dog Crate
We like Midwest Life Stages Crate
We crate train all of our puppies and if you’re bringing your puppy home by yourself it’s important to have something to contain your puppy. We love and still use the same Midwest Life Stages Crate we bought for Linus over 14 years ago.
We like: Best Bully Sticks
If you never had a puppy then get ready for some unwanted chewing of among other things furniture, clothes, shoes, hands, and feet. A good dog chew will help redirect this unwanted behavior until your puppy matures and sheds his puppy teeth. Our favorite dog chew for both our puppies and older dogs are Bully Sticks
4. No Chew Spray
We like Grannicks Bitter Apple Spray
Puppies like to bite and chew anything and everything. Bitter Apple Spray will help deter your pup’s nibbly behavior.
We get two leashes for our puppies:
- A short drag line which is a light weight 4 or 6 foot nylon leash (we usually get the “small” 6 foot leash or the “medium” 4 foot leash)
- A leather training leash – we like these convertible leather leashes we’ve been using since raising our first guide dog puppy.
We like: Nylon Buckle Collar
We don’t get too fancy with our puppy collars. A simple nylon buckle collar does the trick. After all they’ll out grow their collar in no time.
We like purchasing our tags from our local pet store, but if you can also order Pet Tags online.
You can order tags online ahead of time or your local pet store can likely make a tag for you the same day. The two essentials we include are the puppy’s name and phone number. Also, make sure you get your puppy microchipped just in case he loses his collar. Our shelter microchipped Linus before they sent him home with us.
8. Puppy Blanket
We like: Snuggle Pet Blanket
We also bring a blanket to rub on our puppy’s litter mates then we put the blanky in the crate so our puppy feels a little more comfortable his first few nights in his new home. We use the same snuggle pet blanket from our Snuggle Puppy Starter Kit.
9. Puppy Food
We like Wellness Core Puppy Food
We feed our puppies premium dog food. Our puppy food of choice is Wellness Puppy Formula. We soak ours in warm water for about 10 minutes when we first bring home our 8-week old puppies.
10. Dog Bowls
We like basic Stainless Steel Dog Bowls
A simple stainless steel food and water bowl will do the trick. We got these basic ones when we first brought home Linus (the rubber pads have long since worn out). One thing we like about these simple bowls compared to others is it’s difficult for your puppy to accidentally flip them over.
QUICK TIP: Make sure you get the right size bowl for your puppy. We get the 8 cup bowl for our Labs and Goldens.
11. Stain & Odor Remover
Guess what? Your puppy is going to have accidents in the house. Even if you stick to a strict potty training schedule there will always be a miscue. Never fear Rocco & Roxie makes a great stain & odor remover that we use with our puppies.
QUICK TIPS: Always use an enzymatic cleaner that will completely eliminate the smell of urine. Your dog’s sense of smell is thousands to millions of times better than yours so make sure you have a cleaner that does the job right like Rocco & Roxie.
We like Happy Howie’s Dog Treats
When do you start training your puppy? The day you get him! Whether or not you decide to train your puppy with treats it’s still important to have treats for your puppy. We discovered Happy Howie’s at last year’s SuperZoo Trade Show.
13. Dog Brush/Comb
We like… there are lots of them, see below
Depending on the breed you may need specialized brushes and combs to keep a well-groomed coat. If not, your dog’s fur can get knotted in a short time (not really an issue with the Labs). We have 5 brushes/combs we use with our Goldens and Labs:
- Basic Two-Sided Pin Brush – we got for Linus, but have used with all of our dogs.
- Slicker Brush – for removing mats and tangles our Golden Retriever, Raven’s long coat.
- Zoom Groom – mostly used with our Lab, Stetson.
- Flea Comb – every once in a while we use this comb to check for fleas.
- Furminator – we’ve had ours for years and use it with both our Golden and Lab to help reduce the amount of fur flying around the house.
14. Puppy Shampoo
We like Burt’s Bees for Puppies
You don’t want to use harsh human products or even a dog shampoo might be too much for your puppy’s delicate skin. Linus came from the shelter and desperately needed a bath when he got home. Stetson came from the Guide Dog school and had a bath right before I picked him up. However, he had an accident on the car ride home and needed a bath again once we were home.
We like Weruva Pumpkin Patch Up
When we brought home Elsa her breeder gave us a basket full of puppy products. One essential product we originally did not have on our new puppy checklist was pumpkin. If your dog never has an upset stomach or loose stool then she will most likely not need pumpkin as a supplement. On the other hand, if your puppy has mushy poop then Weruva Pumpkin Patch Up is a godsend as it helps make for more solid poopies.
Elsa had some loose poops and we used the Weruva Pumpkin Patch Up. However, if you need more than a few packets then I’d recommend buying a can of 100% pure pumpkin (we buy Libby’s) from the grocery store. It’ll save you a bit of money. Make sure the only ingredient is pumpkin.
If your puppy has loose stool you’ll want to take her to the veterinarian to make sure she’s not sick.
16. Rags / Towels
We like whatever we can find around the house 🙂
Our second Guide puppy Derby had several accidents on the car ride home and made a little mess on the seats and floor mats. Ever since then we always have rags on hand to keep the car and all areas of the house clean of puppy pee, poop, and vomit.
17. Paper Towels
We like to grab a roll of paper towels from the garage 🙂
We used a combination of rags and paper towels to keep things clean around the house.
“Not Quite As Essential” New Puppy Checklist
These items are not quite as essential or you probably have an alternative you could use temporarily at your house. Basically, you’d probably want to pick up most of these items during your first weeks with your puppy, but you probably don’t need them the day you bring your puppy home.
We like this Basic Pet Bedding for the crate
We don’t always have bedding for our crate and find that blankets, towels, bedsheets can all be a good alternative. We even had one friend build us bedding for our crate using those egg crate foam. A word of warning: not all, but many of our puppies have decided the pet bedding would make a good chew and shred toy.
19. Dog Bed
We like the Sofa Style Dog Bed
Again blankets, towels, bedsheets, and even pillows can be used as a dog bed. Several of my puppies have loved the sofa-style dog beds. Actually, Stetson has taken over our sofa. 🙂 One thing we’re looking for in our next dog bed is one that is easily washable. As you might imagine, puppies often have accidents on their dog beds.
20. Puppy Pee Pads
We like Wee Wee Pads
We train all of our puppies to potty outside. However, I know that potty training outside is not always an option. So, when do we use pee pads? We use them when Raven has a litter of puppies.
21. Poop Bags
We like Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags
We don’t use them as much now that we have a large backyard and pooper scooper. However, whenever we’re out and about with Stetson or Raven we grab our favorite Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags. Remember to always have something to scoop the poop when out in public.
We like Regalo Baby Gate
Gates are a great way to keep your puppies confined to only certain rooms in your house. We actually purchased this Regalo Gate many years ago to keep Stetson and Linus out of the kitchen. Guess what? Many years later we can now use it as a baby gate!
We like Carlson Portable Pet Pen
Not essential, but if you can’t keep a close eye on your puppy and you don’t want to crate him then take a look at the Carlson Portable Pet Pen. An ex-pen would also work well in the house.
Our Carlson Portable Pet Pen came in handy when Raven had her puppies.
24. Nail Trimmer
We like Dremel Cordless
We don’t recommend cheap pet nail trimmers. We even tried a “Pet” nail trimmer made by renowned brand Dremel, but we felt it did not think live up to the Dremel standard. However, we love and use this cordless Dremel with all of our pups. We’ve also tried several nail clippers, but prefer the trimmers/grinders to the clippers.
25. Travel Kennel
We like Pet Nation Porta-A-Crate
We got a travel kennel for when we take our dogs on the road. We mainly wanted something that was collapsible and easier to carry than our regular crate.
QUICK TIP: Be careful with a travel kennel especially if your puppy is not yet crate trained because they may decide to chew through the mesh lining destroying your expensive investment.
26. Dog Toothbrush & Paste
We like Arm & Hammer Toothbrush Set
We like getting our pups used to the toothbrush and toothpaste, but usually don’t introduce them on day one. When we get a new puppy we always buy the toothpaste/toothbrush/finger brush combo pack for our pup.
27. Flea & Tick Meds
We like Frontline Plus for Dogs
Linus was loaded with parasites when he came home. Make sure you talk to your vet before applying any flea/tick meds to your puppy.
QUICK TIP: We’ve actually gone back in forth between Frontline Plus and Advantage II. At one point the fleas became immune to the Frontline Plus so make sure and consult your vet and find the best option for your puppy.
28. Heartworm Meds
We like Heartgard Plus
Heartworm can be a deadly disease. Make sure you talk to your vet about heartworm prevention.
29. Long line Leash
We like Four Paws Training Lead
We use these to allow our puppies a little more freedom without losing control. We have 10, 20, and 30 foot long lines which work great when working on recalls.
Since our days with Archer, we started using the no-pull harness to help puppies that like to pull on walks. The Easy Walk Harness has been one of our favorites.
31. Gentle Leader
When we raised Adelle for Canine Support Teams they had us start her with the Gentle Leader when she was a wee pup. The Gentle Leader is a great tool if you have a puppy who pulls on a leash.
We like FRISCO Dog Training Clicker
We have dozens of clickers. We prefer our clicker to have a wristband so we can let it hang freely when working with our pups.
QUICK TIP: While we recommend this FRISCO clicker we also recommend having a variety of clickers. Box clickers are usually fairly noisy and you’ll also notice there are very quiet clickers for sensitive dogs. Depending on your pup he/she may respond better or worse to different clickers.
For the past eight years, we’ve been clicker training all of our puppies. It’s a very effective way to train and communicate with your puppy, but if you want to clicker train you’ll need a clicker and a….
33. Treat Pouch
We like PetSafe Treat Pouch
Tried and true. We love the hinge that holds the pouch open for easy access to treats. However, we also hate the hinge because once it breaks we have to get a new treat pouch.
If you’re going to clicker train your puppy then get a treat pouch. We tried using our pockets a few times and it gets messy and guess what? One time I left a few crumbs in my pocket and Stetson chewed through the fabric to get those last few niblets.
34. Food Container
We like Airtight Pet Food Container
We like having a food container to keep our dog food fresh. Our container is a little dated and I’m not so sure it’s still airtight. I think after 10+ years that happens. I’m on the search for a new improved dog food container…stay tuned…
QUICK TIP: Did you know that it’s a good idea to keep your food in the original bag? The bag is made specifically to store dog food for long periods of time. You’ll also be able to maintain the instructions, expiration date, and if there’s a recall you’ll know the lot number of your bag.
We like Puppies for Dummies
Learn everything you can before, during, and after bringing home your puppy. We have stacks of books on training puppies, dogs, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and every bit of information we can get to learn how to have a better relationship with our dogs and puppies.
Puppies for Dummies is a great starter book and will give you a solid foundation in puppy training basics.
36. Online Puppy Training
We like Our Blog or Doggy Dan’s Online Dog Training
We’ve shared all of our experiences raising and training service dog puppies for over 14 years now! Our blog is a great resource for new puppy owners.
Unfortunately, we know our blog is not terribly organized. We plan on getting everything into a concise puppy training program including a handbook, video lessons, and a workbook.
One dog training program we like and recommend is Doggy Dan’s Online Dog Trainer program. If you are raising a puppy check out the Project Moses section which shows Doggy Dan training Moses from 8 weeks old to 1 year. Definitely worth the price of admission.
37. Pooper Scooper
We like 4Paws Pooper Scooper
We never had a pooper scooper living at the condo because the pups always went potty on their walks and we’d pick up with poop bags. At our house with a backyard the pooper scooper is essential.
38. Baby Wipes
We like Kirkland Baby Wipes
We buy Kirkland Baby Wipes in bulk for Emma and the twins. Honestly, I didn’t have baby wipes in the early days. Now that I have babies I can’t imagine what I’d do without baby wipes for puppies and babies.
Bonus Checklist #1
These are not puppy products, but instead a list of a few contacts you should have before or shortly after you bring home your puppy.
39. Veterinarian/24 hr Emergency Vet
Hamilton Animal Hospital was our go-to vet from day one with Linus. We liked the vets and staff and continued to take him there even after we moved to a different city. Also, make sure you have the phone number and address for your closest 24 hr Emergency Vet Office.
40. Dog Trainer
Before we brought home our first puppy Linus we knew he would be going to local pet trainer Sue Myles. It’s a good idea to have a training plan and a good dog trainer ready to help you when your puppy is not being an angel.
QUICK TIP: Even though we’ve been training puppies for over a decade we still take our pups to group training classes. It’s important for your puppy to not only learn obedience but to learn how to properly socialize with other puppies.
41. Pet Sitter/Walker
Sometimes it just takes talking to friends, family, and neighbors about getting a little help when you’re at work or need a break from your puppy. If those aren’t options there are online services, individual pet sitters/walkers, or even check with your local doggy daycare facility.
We’re lucky when raising guide dog puppies we have the option to board our pups at the school free of charge. However, there may be a time when you need to board your puppy. Start researching facilities in your area or start checking with family, friends, and neighbors to see if they might be able to board your puppy when you need a vacay.
QUICK TIP: If you’re working a full time job then you may need to make an alternate plan for your puppy. Your puppy could end up with behavior problems if you leave him home alone for extended periods of time during the day.
43. Pet Insurance
We like Healthy Paws Pet Insurance
We did our due diligence and researched many different pet insurance companies and narrowed our search down to Healthy Paws. Why? Our close friends rang up bills of over $50K for their current puppy. If not for Healthy Paws they would not have been able to afford the bills and the puppy would have been put down.
Bonus #2: Luxury Items
44. Dog Camera
We like Furbo Dog Camera
Several years ago we got a Furbo Dog Camera and it’s been love since we first unboxed it. Simple to set up and use, we even sometimes use it to watch the kids when they’re playing in our bedroom. Although the kids don’t respond when we toss them a dog treat 🙂
Our favorite feature on the Furbo Dog Camera is the bark alerts. We always know when our puppy is at home barking in his crate.
What To Bring With You When Picking Up Your Puppy
The day I brought home Linus I thought I was just taking a trip to the local shelter to visit puppies I came across on PetFinder.com. Needless to say, I was not prepared that day.
By the time I picked up my fourth puppy, Dublin I was a puppy-raising veteran. I knew exactly what I wanted to bring before picking up my puppy.
Now that you have (or know what to get) from our new puppy checklists above. Here’s what you should bring with you the day you pick up your puppy.
- Camera – It’s funny to think about today, but back in 2005 my phone did not have a camera, so we have zero pics of Linus or his sister at the shelter. Today most people have smartphones with built in cameras. However, if you really want to capture the moment then bring your fancy pants DSLR or mirrorless camera to get the best pics of your puppy and his litter mates. Don’t forget to take as many pics of your puppy as possible today and everyday. They grow up way too fast.
- A Friend or Family Member – You need someone to document the moment: a photographer, videographer, and someone to share the moment with. When I picked up Stetson it was only me. No one to take pictures. No one to help me on the car ride home. No one to share the memories with and I only have one picture from the pickup day. 🙁
- Plush Dog Toy and Puppy Blanket – Make sure you have a plush toy and puppy blanket and rub it all over your pup’s litter mates and mama. This way when you get home you can put the toy and blanket in his crate so he’ll smell the scent of his litter mates and mama when it’s time for bed.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We really like the Snuggle Puppy w/ Heartbeat & Heat Pack to help your puppy during his first night home away from his littermates. They also have a starter kit that includes the Snuggle Puppy, blanket, and a few other extras.
- Chew Toy – It may be your puppy’s first time in the car or he may just get antsy. Having a chew toy like a Bully Stick could help ease anxiety and occupy his time.
- Rags / Towels / Paper Towels – From experience, I’ve had puppies throw up, poop, and pee on the car ride home. It’s a good idea to line your car and yourself with towels / rags and have paper towels handy for quick cleanups.
- Old Clothes – You might get pooped on so don’t wear your Sunday Best.
- Crate or Box [OPTIONAL] – When we had Linus we had him sit in a small box on the car ride home. This is a good way to keep yourself and the car clean. If you’re bringing home your puppy in the car by yourself like I did with Stetson then you should probably crate him so he’s not bouncing around while you’re trying to drive. I borrowed a small plastic molded crate and he did have an accident on our car ride home. If you have #2. Friend/Family on our list then you probably don’t need #7. Crate/Box.
Checklist For Our New Puppy, Linus
Back to our story…
So, what happened with our first puppy, Linus?
If you recall we decided to bring home a puppy (Linus) from the shelter and had one hour to get puppy supplies for at least the next day or two.
What did we do? We went with all the recommendations made by the employee at the local pet store which happened to be one of the large pet retailers.
While not a horrible decision also not a great decision. This pet retailer also had its own line of products and at the time we didn’t know it, but the employee pushed all of the pet retailer’s products.
Not everything was terrible. We still use the stainless steel bowls and the Midwest Crate we purchased over 14 years ago.
However, today we always heavily research any new puppy products before making a purchase.
There’s a lot of information right at your fingertips. Don’t just take my word for it. Do your own due diligence and read others’ opinions and experiences by searching Google and check out Amazon or Chewy for product details, descriptions, reviews, and ratings.
New Puppy FAQ
A new puppy checklist won’t answer all your questions. Here are a few answers to some common questions for new puppy owners:
Where Should Your Puppy Sleep The First Night?
We raise and train all of our service dog puppies to sleep in a crate beside our bed. Basically, our nightstands are wire dog crates.
For our Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever puppies, we use 36-inch Midwest Life Stages Dog Crate. The Midwest crates come with a wire divider that allows you to resize the crate as your puppy grows.
If you’re Lab or Golden is a little larger you might need the 42-inch crate. We needed the 42-inch crate with Apache.
One essential item we put in the crate with our puppies on the first night is the Snuggle Puppy with Heartbeat and Heat Pack. This has helped many of our pups sleep through the first night without a peep.
What Should I Do The First Week With A New Puppy?
As service dog puppy raisers we follow the rules the school has laid out for new puppies for decades. When it comes to the first week the service dog school asks us to take it easy and let our puppies get used to their new home.
That being said here are some of the things we do during the first week with a new puppy:
- Get The Puppy Essentials – While you can look at the above list I’d like to mention the importance of collar and pet tags. We’ve heard of puppies getting lost on the first day and without a collar and tags they may never find they’re way back home.
- Good House Manners – Don’t let you puppy get away with any of the cute stuff just because he’s cute. Stop the jumping, scratching, nibbling, pulling while he’s young otherwise you’ll have to deal with an unruly adolescent.
- Potty Training – This is number 1a on our list of things to do. PRO TIP: Keep a schedule including every time your puppy poops, pees, or eats. You’ll notice a pattern when it comes to his potty schedule.
- Crate Training – This is number 1b on our list. PRO TIP: Associate as many positive things with the crate before bedtime including but not limited to: meals, treats, toys, stuffed KONGs, chews, bully sticks, etc.
- Puppy Socialization – We keep it quiet the first week, but we do like our whole family to interact with our new puppy. Our most recent puppy, Elsa got to meet a few close friends and family the first week, but I wouldn’t recommend too much more than that.
- Basic Obedience – You don’t need to start obedience training. It’s easy to teach when your puppy is a little older. With Elsa we only introduced the clicker, but that was about it.
Take it slow the first week. Remember it’s your puppy’s first week away from his home, away from his mother, away from his siblings. It could all be very traumatic. Take it slow and enjoy your little puppy without overwhelming him.
What Is The First Thing You Should Train Your Puppy To Do?
Potty training and crate training are the first two things I teach my puppy.
It’s imperative that our service dog puppies do not have accidents in the house or any indoor establishments since they will be out and about in the public with their owners/partners.
A crate is an essential tool for all puppies. It’s a place where your puppy can go and feel safe. It’s also a place you can have your puppy go to give yourself a break.
Can An 8 Week Old Puppy Sleep Through The Night?
The short answer is yes.
The longer answer is maybe. We’ve raised over a dozen puppies and some have slept through the night at 8 weeks old and some have not.
Some puppies didn’t sleep through the night at 8 weeks then didn’t sleep through the night at 9 weeks….all the way until 12 weeks. Yep, I’m talking about you Stetson. It took him a month before he slept through the night…UGH!
Most 8 week old puppies we’ve raised do not sleep through the first night. Most of our puppies do sleep through the night after about a week at home with us and are usually sleeping through the night by the time they are 9 weeks old.
Elsa did not sleep through the night on her first night home when she was exactly 8 weeks old. She did sleep a solid 8+ hours by the fourth night.
So, Elsa slept through the night when she was 8 weeks and 4 days old.
The Ultimate Checklist For New Puppy Owners Printable PDF
If you count the essential and non-essential items on our new puppy checklist then you have a whopping 42 items to buy on your next trip to your local pet store!
WOWZERS! THAT’S A HULKING LIST!
Not to worry, I put together a nice Printable New Puppy Checklist in PDF format so you can print or save it to your smartphone.
Sign up for our puppy training tips newsletter and we’ll send you our FREE New Puppy Checklist PDF.
You won’t need everything on this list. At the bare minimum make sure you bring home or have the first 17 items on our New Puppy Essentials Checklist.
The New Puppy Essentials Checklist is a great starting point for your puppy and should get you through the first week or two, but beware, you’ll definitely have to purchase other products as your puppy grows and develops.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think?
Am I missing anything on my new puppy checklist?
In your experience what essential puppy supplies do you get before bringing home a puppy?
Tell us your thoughts, questions, and answers in the comment section below.
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UPDATE: This post was originally posted on Feb 28, 2019. It has been updated with new information based on our most current adventures and experiences.
Top Picks For Our Puppies
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Best Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.