Puppy Tips

Checklist for New Puppy Owners: A Guide to the essentials

Are you a new puppy owner or about to be one? You’ve come to the right spot!

Adding a furry family member – especially a puppy – can be equally exciting and nerve-wracking. Puppies are energetic, curious, and playful. There’s nothing better than becoming a new dog parent. What exactly do you need to be ready for the arrival of your new four-legged friend?

Before welcoming them into your home, there are certain things all new owners should have and steps that you can take to make becoming a dog parent less stressful for you and your new pup! Here we will discuss what to buy, ways to prep and things to know as a new puppy owner.

What should I buy beforehand?

There are a few things you should have at home when your pup arrives so they can start off happy, healthy and ready to be trained.

Here’s a checklist of supplies – and information about their benefits – to have beforehand so you can focus on your new puppy when they come home.

  • Appropriately Sized Crate – Most veterinarians and dog owners recommend keeping your new puppy in a crate at night and at times during the day when they first come home. Crate training can facilitate a good sleep schedule, allow you to leave the puppy unsupervised without worrying about an accident and give them a safe space in your home.Dogs love to have a cozy hideaway where they can rest, recharge and relax. Additionally, dogs instinctively like to keep the areas where they sleep clean and will rarely go to the bathroom in their bed. The crate helps teach bladder control as it strengthens their bowel muscles and shows them that the time to go to the bathroom is when they are let out. Teaching these lessons right off the bat will make house training your pup less difficult. The crate will help you and your new dog as it gives them a place of their own, reduces accidents in your home, and provides you with freedom when you know your puppy is safe in their crate.

  • What size crate should I get? –Choosing a crate size depends entirely on the breed and age of your new puppy, but there are some general rules when deciding. The crate should have just enough room for your pup to stand up and turn around but not enough room for them to walk around. Too much space can increase the risk of accidents inside the crate. It’s good to have a bed or padding at the bottom to make it as comfortable as possible. After all, your puppy will spend a lot of time there. They will sleep better and be happier in a cozy space. Owners should beware items in the crate might become your pup’s new favorite chew toy. Keep it comfortable enough but avoid too many things your dog can eat or tear apart.

  • Chew Toys – Puppies are naturally playful and love to explore, but sometimes their curious nature can lead them to chew on your personal or household items. A puppy can easily mistake a shoe for a chew toy. It is good to have toys for your pup to play around with and chew on to avoid this damage and stress. If you ever catch your pup chewing on something around the house, replace it with a proper toy to show them that only toys are for gnawing. Having toys can be used to deter your pup from ruining your favorite sneakers. Toys that you can fill with peanut butter or treats are a great way to keep your puppy busy. Additionally, there are multiple health benefits associated with chew toys for young dogs. They can improve dental health, reduce anxiety, provide mental stimulation and help with teething pains.

  • Food & Water Bowls – Having these two things is crucial as eating enough and drinking water is vital for your pup’s health and happiness. Using stainless steel bowls is recommended as it gathers less bacteria than plastic. Even further facilitating a healthy diet for your pup from the beginning can help reduce medical issues and ensure good nutrition. The specifics of what, when, and how much to feed your puppy depend on your pup’s needs and require some research to find the perfect routine. But there should always be a full water bowl nearby, and puppies typically need to eat three times a day.

  • Leash and Collar – Having a leash and collar around will help get your pup accustomed to wearing them so they will be comfortable when they are old enough for longer walks. It can even be helpful to put the leash and collar on your pup at home in the early days, so they are familiar. Daily walks throughout your dog’s life are great for exercising, mentally stimulating them and reducing anxiety. You might ask, at what age should I start walking my puppy? Depending on the vaccination schedule and age of your puppy, it is generally recommended to start walking them around 16-18 weeks old, but only if your vet has confirmed that they are protected.

  • Carpet Cleaner or Stain Remover – A part of being a new puppy owner is dealing with accidents while working your pup toward being housebroken. To reverse the stains from likely mishaps, having a cleaner around can be carpet-saving, specifically enzyme sprays. Cleaners with enzymes work to deter your pup from marking again in the same spot by targeting the odor and the stain.

  • Treats – Having little treats is a great way to start training right away. Using them as incentives or rewards can reinforce good behaviors and slowly build an understanding of which behaviors are encouraged. Experts say to only use treats when training or giving commands because treats at other times might confuse what is good behavior and what is just a special snack.

  • Name Tag with Contact Info – Having your contact info on your puppy’s collar – and your dog’s name – is a great way to ensure that if there is ever an instance where they run away or get free from their leash, they will be able to be identified. A name and number tag can be crucial for your dog’s safety.

How should I prepare my house?

Bringing a new pup home can be an adjustment; welcoming a furry friend means sharing your home with a dog who might have accidents, be mischievous, or chew on your things. Although this is almost inevitable, there are a few simple but beneficial steps you can take to make the transition seamless and reduce any messes.

  • Move Valuables Out of Reach – Just like you would with a young child, it is good to move nice or fragile things away from where your pup might have access. They will want to explore, and moving things that could break, be torn apart, or eaten can reduce the possibility of any damage.

  • Prepare a Space for Your Pup – Like with the crate, it is good to give your puppy a specific place in your home – even just a corner where their crate is – to have a place to relax and feel comfortable. It is a convenient place to keep their toys and blankets and somewhere they know they are free to play. This area can also be good to isolate your pup from any areas of your home you don’t want them going to just yet.

  • Choose an Easy Bathroom Spot Outside – As a puppy owner, late-night bathroom breaks are unavoidable in the first few weeks. Your young pup does not have the same amount of bladder control as a mature dog; they probably will not make it through the night without having to go. Having a convenient and consistent spot outside that they know is for going to the bathroom can create a routine and shorten the night-time potty breaks.

  • Move Poisonous Houseplants – You may have some poisonous houseplants around your home that you don’t even know are a threat to your puppy. It is good to look into whether any of the plants you have are harmful and move them out of reach.

  • Secure Trash Can Lids, Toilet Lids, and Doors – The curious nature of your pup might lead them to the trash or even the toilet, so it is good to keep these things closed off. Doors should also remain closed to keep your puppy secure inside and ensure they don’t make their way outside without you.

  • Tuck Away Electrical Cords – A plugged-in cord could easily look like a rubber toy to a puppy, so it is best to tape them up, unplug or remove any excessive cables to avoid any chewing on electronics.

  • Put Away Small Items – Even a little paper clip or penny can be a choking hazard, so it is best to keep small objects away to prevent your puppy from trying to eat them.

What about medical care?

It is good to find a local veterinarian for your puppy to get them up to date on vaccinations and have someone to go to if they ever need medicine, a check-up, or emergency care. Your pup is bound to need lots of vet visits, so it is good to be prepared with a vet you trust and pet insurance you can rely on!

Vet bills for your dog’s accidents and illnesses can add up, but with dog insurance plans provided by Spot, you can get eligible vet expenses for accidents and illnesses reimbursed. You can also add preventative care coverage to your plan for an extra cost.

Welcoming your new puppy requires you to make space in your home and your heart and is guaranteed to be a fun and exciting journey! Following these steps will make the process easier and make your home safer for your pup. Our pet insurance plan experts encourage you to check out our video detailing the checklist for new puppy owners as well!


  • How to Potty Train Puppies: A Comprehensive Guide for Success | (akc.org)

  • The Many Benefits of Chew Toys For Dogs – Furtropolis

  • Best Dog Food: How to Know What’s Right for Your Dog | (akc.org)

  • Puppy Feeding Fundamentals | (akc.org)

  • 8 Houseplants That Could Harm You and Your Pets | (akc.org)

  • New Puppy Checklist | (myvetanimalhospital.com)

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