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New Puppy Checklist: All You'll Need When Getting a Puppy

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.


New Puppy Checklist

Congratulations on making the decision of getting a new puppy, but make sure you don't get caught unprepared when you first bring your puppy home. A new puppy checklist is a must so that you are good to go on your new adventures and you are more than likely to succeed in helping your puppy learn and grow to his full potential.

Why You Should Buy Supplies for Your Puppy

Let's face it, if you are a parent, you have most likely spent loads of time preparing for your newborn baby's arrival: the nursery room was decorated in advance, you stocked heavily on supplies ensuring to never run out of diapers and wipes and you have likely spent hours on end on shopping for onesies, baby bottles and cribs.

The same goes for weddings: You likely have spent evenings shopping for the best wedding dress, cake toppers and you may have even sent out oodles of invitations. You likely have also worked hard to ensure your new home had all the essentials to make your life and the life of your new spouse as cozy as possible.

But what about preparing for the arrival of a new puppy? Many novice puppy owners miss so many things that would have made life with their pups so much easier. Don't make this costly mistake which can lead to frustration and even resentment, especially in the potty training department.

For instance, I often encounter new puppy owners who have no clue about using the right products for cleaning up puppy messes. Failure to use the right products leads to much frustration as some products are known to work as "attractants"—evoking the pup to go pee and poop on the areas recently cleaned with these products. How frustrating is that?

Not to mention the importance of management tools. A crate, exercise pen, or baby gate can make a world of difference and aid in preventing the rehearsal of troublesome behaviors that many new puppy owners may find unnerving.

The wise prospective puppy owner will, therefore, know the importance of advance preparation and will make sure to not miss anything on his/her new puppy checklist.


New Puppy Checklist: Potty Training Supplies and Equipment

Before opening your heart and home to a new puppy, you'll need several supplies. While this checklist may seem like lots of stuff at first, you'll be thanking me later on and your puppy will be much more comfortable and happy compared to your neighbor's pup who has still not been potty trained 6 months later. Following is an important checklist to help your pup adapt to his new living quarters and get started in successful potty training.


A crate is a short-term confinement area. It is not meant to keep your pup parked in for hours on end. Pups are social creatures and isolation leads to problems. A crate works best if you are home most of the day and you can monitor your puppy.

Your puppy will need to be taken out of the crate very often to eliminate and you will need to become acquainted and watchful for signs of your puppy needing to go potty. Very young puppies may need to be taken out to potty every 1 to 2 hours when awake and at least 2 to 3 times a night/early morning.

A crate facilitates your puppy's potty training because it works with a pup's instinct to avoid soiling the area where he sleeps. Now, this instinct is strong in most pups raised by a reputable breeder, while it is very weak in puppy mill dogs and pups sold in pet stores.

In order to work well, the right choice of a crate is important. Make sure the crate is large enough that your pup can comfortably stand, turn around, and stretch his legs when sleeping, but snug enough that he can't potty in one corner and rest comfortably in the opposite end.

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A crate also helps keep your puppy safe when you can't actively supervise him. A crate should never be used for punishment, as we want the pup to love being in there and never dread it. You can use a crate for time-outs for when your pup misbehaves or is cranky: just calmly and matter-of-fact lead your pup in the crate with a treat and a chew toy and let him calm down.

Your puppy will be invited into the crate from day one. Make sure you keep the door open and place some toys and treats inside. Praise your pup for exploring it. Encourage repeat visits and praise lavishly.

When nighttime comes, you will have your pup sleep in the closed crate in your bedroom. You pup needs your reassurance during this time as he'll miss his mom and siblings and may feel lonely. If your breeder supplied you with a blanket or stuffed animal that smells like his previous home, let your pup sleep next to it.

As your pup starts adjusting more and more to you and your new home, if you wish, you can start moving the crate a little bit more each day towards a destined area, but you still want to be able to hear your pup should he be asking to be taken out to potty at night and early morning.

If you plan on having your pup sleep in the crate at night in your bedroom indefinitely, you may find it more feasible to purchase two crates, one for the night and one for the day in the living area so that you won't have to lift a heavy wire crate each day.


Also known as an exercise pen, an X-pen is a long-term confinement area that works best for those folks who are potty-training a puppy when working all day.

Inside the x-pen, new puppy owners can place, on one side, puppy pee pads or newspapers if they are planning on newspaper training their puppy, and on the opposite side, the food and water bowl strategically placed on one end with the pup's bed in the other end.

Keeping the potty area away from the area where the pup eats, drinks, and sleeps is due to a pup's instinct of not soiling near his eating and sleeping areas. In this case though, unlike the crate, the pup is encouraged to eliminate when he needs to by using the newspaper or pee pads.

On top of this, an x-pen gives the puppy more room to stretch and play. Pup owners who do not wish to use a crate can use an x-pen. The main disadvantage is that, since the pup has learned to eliminate whenever he wants indoors, this can confuse the pup when later on, he's expected to learn to hold it and go potty outside.

Enzyme-Based Cleaners

When it comes to cleaning products, the right products can make a whole world of difference. If you use ammonia-based products, these are a big no-no. Since urine has ammonia in it, ammonia-based cleaning supplies will encourage your puppy to soil over and over again in the areas you have cleaned up. This is because to a puppy, previously soiled areas or areas that smell like urine, attract him and tell him "this is your bathroom."

Instead, you want to invest in enzyme-based cleaners because these products contain enzymes that break down and neutralize odors. Popular cleaning products for puppy accidents include Anti-Icky Poo, Nature's Miracle and Urine-Off.

Black Light

Although you may think you are judiciously cleaning up all your pup's accidents, sometimes you may miss some. This is often a problem with pint-sized pups such as toy and teacup puppies, runts of the litter or simply small-breed pups. These pups are hard to monitor all the time because they can easily sneak behind a table or couch and their pee accidents are teeny which makes them easy to miss. The issue of eliminating out of sight under tables and behind chairs is also common in puppies who hide to pee and poop because they have come to associate their owner's presence with punishment.

A black-light can, therefore, come to the rescue here. In order to use it, you will have to turn off all your lights and shine it around the house looking at carpets and other surfaces such as couches, walls and bedspreads. The blacklight will make urine glow so that you can clean them properly, preventing your pup from soiling over and over these areas since once clean, they will no longer smell like "bathroom."

More training Supplies You'll Need

  • Paper towels to clean up messes.
  • Puppy pee pads if you plan on using a long-term confinement area.
  • Newspapers if you plan on newspaper training your puppy.
  • Pooper scooper to easily clean up outdoor poop from the yard.
  • Dog waste bags: to pick up poop in public areas.

Of course, your growing puppy will need to eat in order to grow into a healthy and happy puppy. While these items may sound quite obvious, many new puppy owners make some deleterious mistakes when feeding their puppies and these mistakes can cause short-term of even long-term problems.

Dog Food

If you are planning on feeding a different food from the one your breeder was feeding, make sure that you transition your puppy gradually to prevent annoying tummy upsets which will put a dent in your potty training process. Read the label for info on how quickly to transition your new puppy to the new food.

You may be amazed as to how much puppies need to eat! This is because they are at the peak of their growth and need all the nutrients they can get. Those growth spurts sure need fuel! Speaking of nutrients, there are some things to be aware of at the delicate puppy stage.

You will find that there are many puppy food choices when you visit your store, so it helps to do a bit of homework beforehand, so to narrow them down. You want to stick to dog foods that adhere to strict quality control standards and are labeled as complete and balanced, meeting AAFCO minimums and maximums.

Caution is needed when picking foods for large breed puppies. Some dog foods may be dangerously high in calcium which makes them not suitable for large breed puppies.

Veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Deborah E. Linder, suggests that owners of puppies expected to be close to or above 70 lbs as adults should look for look for puppy foods that specify to have a more narrow range of certain nutrients. The food label should specify something along these terms "[Pet Food Name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth/all life stages including the growth of large-size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult)."

Finally, what your pup eats has to come out, which translates into many potty trips. Yes, puppies are quite some pooping machines! Keeping your puppy on a feeding schedule, versus free-feeding your puppy with access to food all day, helps your pup have "predictable outings" which means you'll have an easier time in potty training.

Food Bowl

There are many makes and models of food bowls nowadays. For ease of convenience, you may want to pick a food bowl that is less resistant to being flipped over and moved around. Look for one that has a rubber base to reduce noise and skidding, while also protecting your hardwood floor from scratches.

The material of the food bowl also counts. If possible, skip the cheap plastic food bowl as it has known to cause skin contact dermatitis around the dog's chin and possibly the face and it is known for leaching contaminants. Puppies may also want to chew on the plastic, which creates ridges that hold bacteria.

Interestingly, a research report delivered at the 69th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science at Dubrovnik, Croatia found that, when compared to ceramic and stainless steel bowls, plastic bowls had the greatest bacterial count.

A stainless steel bowl so far appears to be the best choice considering its ease of cleaning and the fact that it is heavier and less likely to be knocked over. Choose a bowl that is tailored to your pup's size.

Water Bowl

Your puppy will also be quite an avid drinker. Use the same criteria when picking a water bowl. Skip the plastic, the ceramic and opt for stainless steel. And don't just assume a simple rinse will suffix to clean it out. Stanley Coren suggests at a minimum, cleaning the water bowl with antibacterial dish soap and hot water before filling it up each day, or placing it in the dishwasher to give it a good sanitizing wash.

Other Items That Come in Handy for Your Puppy

  • Dog food bowl and water bowl mats/trays to prevent messes.
  • Pet food scoop so as to accurately measure your pup's daily ratio.

Puppy Checklist: Training Equipment

And of course, your puppy will need training equipment, to get your puppy on a good start. In the past, puppies were usually trained starting at six months, but the truth is, you can start training your puppy as soon as he comes home, yes, even starting at 8 weeks!

Of course, we won't expect pups of this age to do long attention heeling or long stays as they have the attention span of a toddler, but some easy-peasy exercises such as a "sit " using gentle training methods can come in handy already. Also, you want your pup to learn to get acquainted to training equipment and create positive associations with them.


If your pup loves his kibble, there's good news for you: you can use that for reinforcing desired behaviors. This is a great option because it means less calories, as you can use a generous portion of your pup's daily meal to put your puppy to work for it.

However, you may sometimes need something that is higher value than kibble when there are distractions or you want to leave a significant impact for a behavior your pup has learned so well. You can also use treats to stuff some interactive toys listed below to keep your pup busy and his mind stimulated.

Dog treats should be given in moderation to prevent tummy upset and should never be used as a replacement for dog food considering that they are not nutritionally balanced. Treats should not surpass more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake. When using treats for training, I like to split a treat in several bite-size pieces so to reduce calories. These still work very well to make the point of a job well done!