Bringing a new puppy home is a thrilling experience, but if you don't have everything in place when you welcome her to your home, you’ll be scrambling to get the stuff you need. Here’s a checklist of items you may already have on hand, and a few that you should definitely make sure you get ahead of time.
1. An appropriately sized crate.
Dogs are den animals, and they love the comfort and security offered by a snug space of their own. Ideally, the crate will have three "walls" and a front gate your dog can see through.
It's important to find a crate that's just the right size for your puppy. Dog crates for puppies should not have too much room, because then the puppy is likely to have an accident inside of it. You should size the crate so that your puppy has just enough space to stand up, turn around and lie down. Provide comfortable bedding for your puppy, but be aware that a soft plush bed can become a chew target.
2. Wire playpen.
Dog pens with wire panels can be configured to any size or shape you might need. They can also be used to block doorways to rooms you'd like to keep off-limits.
3. Dog chew toys.
A new puppy will chew anything in her path—your shoes, furniture and even throw rugs. Make sure you have plenty of dog toys for her to chew instead, and always offer a toy when you catch her chewing on something else.
We recommend starting with a variety, as different breeds and individual puppies gravitate toward different toys. It will take some trial and error to figure out what your new puppy likes best. Start with a variety hard rubber busy toys that can be stuffed with dog treats or fillings like peanut butter. These can help keep your puppy occupied.
4. Leash and collar.
Introduce your puppy to her dog leash and dog collar or dog harness, and get her accustomed to wearing it by letting her wear it in the house prior to taking going outside for walks. Don’t drag your puppy as she acclimates to the sensation; allow her to move at her own pace. One pet parent favorite is the no-choke Puppia harness.
5. Bitter apple spray.
After puppy-proofing your home, there may still be a few items you can't just place out of puppy's reach, like your furniture. Bitter apple spray, like can be applied to most household items. Humans can’t smell it, but it’s unappealing to dogs, so it keeps their curious mouths away.
6. Puppy food and bowls.
Puppies need to eat about three times a day and require a bowl of fresh water nearby. Purchase high-quality pet food recommended by your vet or breeder, and serve it in a stainless steel dog bowl (steel collects less bacteria over time than plastic).
7. An enzyme cleaner.
Even the best-trained puppy will have an accident at some point, and it should be cleaned up within seconds, when possible. The difference between enzyme cleansers like Nature’s Miracle cleaners and your regular household spray is that the enzymes will eliminate odors that only your dog can smell, reducing any reminder that she's gone potty in any particular part of your house. Avoid any cleaning agent that contains ammonia—the chemical smells just like pee to a dog, and dogs love going where they've gone before.