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The New Puppy Checklist: Preparing For a New Dog

The new puppy checklist

March is well known for its unpredictable weather and early spring blooms. What you may not know is that lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, founded National Puppy Day. It celebrates the joy and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives—and reminds us that many puppies that are homeless or in shelters need our help to find forever homes.

One great way to celebrate the spirit of National Puppy Day year-round is to consider puppy adoption. We understand that bringing a new pup into your home is a big responsibility. So, to make the process easier, we created this checklist of puppy essentials.

Feeding and Nutrition For Your Puppy

Quality Food. We all want our pups to eat nutritious meals that will help them grow and thrive. If you’re adopting from a shelter, ask what kind of food your pup has been eating—then do a little research to see how it stacks up against the competition.

Generally speaking, you want to select a kibble that’s rich in protein and light on cereals and fillers. If your pup’s current kibble doesn’t measure up, find one that does. Your vet can also recommend a brand, and will help guide you in when to transition your puppy to adult food.

Food and Water Bowls. Your pup is going to need separate bowls for its food and water. If your pup is a messy eater, you may want to choose something spill resistant. Also, if your puppy tends to gobble food or overeat, your vet may recommend a special pet feeder to pace food delivery.

Treats. Pups love treats, and healthy snack can be a great training incentive for young dogs. Just remember that treats are not an ideal primary nutrition source, so use them in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Exercising Your Pup

Collar and Leash. Exercise is essential to helping puppies develop strong healthy bodies. It also burns off a lot of that puppy energy that can all too easily turn into chewed shoes and gutted pillows. So be sure your pup has all the equipment needed for safe walks. Collars should be loose enough for your pup to move, breathe, and eat comfortable, but secure enough that your pup can’s slip out and run off. For reluctant walkers or leash biters, a gentle leader might be the most appropriate choice.

ID Tags and Microchips. If your pup gets loose, you’ll want a way to locate it quickly, before it’s injured or wanders too far from home. Pet ID tags are a great way to help a Good Samaritan contact you if your pup is found. You may want to go the extra mile and get your pup fitted with a microchip—that way, if your pup is turned in at a vet’s office or shelter, a quick scan can ID you as the owner.

Toys. Puppies love to play, and play is a wonderful form of exercise. So, stock up on toys that your pup can chase, chew, and cuddle!

Poop Bags. If you have a dog, picking up poop is a big part of your life. It’s also just part of being a diligent owner and a good neighbor. So stock up on handy disposable bags.

Dog Bedding, Crating, and Grooming

Bedding. There’s no substitute for a warm confortable bed. Be sure your pup has soft dry place to curl up at the end of a busy day. You can buy a dog bed at a store or make one from old sweatshirts and blankets. Just be sure it stays clean and accessible.

Crating. Some owners find it helpful to crate pups overnight or when people aren’t at home. Remember, dogs in nature are den animals, so crating actually gives them a sense of security. And because dogs are inclined not to soil their sleeping space, crating can be a great help in potty training. Just remember not to use crating as punishment.

Grooming. Whether your pup has long or short fur, regular grooming is essential to a healthy skin and fur. Grooming removes mats, helps shed dead fur and skin, and alerts you to the presence of any parasites like fleas or ticks. Most pups also love the attention. A brush and a flea comb ought to do the trick. Your vet or a local groomer can recommend any additional brushes and shampoos for shaggier breeds.

Puppy Vaccinations And Wellness

Vaccines. There are several vaccines that are considered core vaccines for dogs. These include inoculations against rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus. There are also several important (but non-core) vaccines that guard against canine influenza, parainfluenza, Bordetella (a bacterial illness), leptospirosis (a rodent-borne disease), and Lyme disease. Your vet can answer any questions you may have about the timing and cost of all vaccines.

Wellness Exams. Wellness exams can help detect even the mild changes in your dog’s health, aiding in early disease detection. This can relieve unnecessary discomfort for both your pet and your budget. As a new dog owner, you may be unaware of what to expect at your puppy’s first wellness exam. So, here are some things to keep in mind when taking your puppy to the vet.

We hope this checklist helps you provide the best possible care for your new puppy!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in exploring puppy training ideas, visit this blog on five basic puppy commands to teach your pup. And here are everyday cleaning tips and hacks for puppy parents.


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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