Congratulations on bringing home a new puppy! We’ve got a list of essentials to gather so you have what you need to get started on a happy, healthy life together.

By Lacey Howard
August 24, 2020
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Adopting a puppy is exciting, and bringing him home is a moment to remember. However, it is important you are prepared for his arrival. Here’s a new puppy checklist with a few things you definitely need on hand to get started on your life together. 

Buy or Borrow Puppy Essentials 

Some things you’ll need to buy, like a bed and a collar, and other items you may be able to borrow, like a crate and a baby gate. The basics are:

"I always encourage adopters to consider getting a crate to use while potty training,” says Abbey Weimann, Foster Coordinator at Ames Animal Shelter and Animal Control. Another helpful item is a baby gate or other way to make certain spaces off limits when your puppy is out of his crate. 

Keep in mind that puppies explore the world with their mouths. And they grow at a rate you can almost see with the naked eye. Those two facts mean your dog will outgrow his first few collars and at least one harness pretty quickly. And he will likely destroy the first few rounds of toys (especially stuffed toys and anything with a squeaker) and a bed or two. Don’t be alarmed. If cost is a concern, you may want to delay buying an expensive dog bed until your little guy is out of the destruction phase. In the meantime, a towel or blanket or even a bath mat in his crate will do. 

For food and treats, a puppy-specific blend addresses the additional nutritional needs of a growing dog. Weimann recommends shopping at a local specialty store because the staff there have more knowledge about the products, and can probably be more help to you than the employees at bigger box stores. Or better yet, shop at the shelter where you adopt. The money you spend there will go back to the shelter and support other animals, and you’ll be sure you’re buying exactly what you need. 

Choose a Veterinarian

Alex Miller, a veterinary technician at Ames Animal Shelter and Animal Control, encourages both owner and dog to build a relationship with a veterinarian. “Going to the vet with a new puppy is really important.” Vet clinics, she says, usually offer new owners a puppy health package that includes heartworm and flea/tick preventatives, vaccinations, and a fecal test, “because younger animals are especially at risk for internal parasites.” Puppies younger than a year old require multiple vet visits. “They have to build up immunity by getting multiple vaccine boosters in the first year, so you must be prepared to spend the money and make the time to go to the vet every few weeks,” she says.  

Find the Right Mindset

If you are a first-time dog owner or this is your first puppy experience, the most important thing you need is not for sale: patience. “It will always take time for a pet to adjust to a new home and no matter what you do, your dog will make a mistake,” Miller says. “At some point he will have an accident inside, or chew up your shoes or headphones, or get in the trash—it is all part of having a pet.” Mick McAuliffe, Director of Behavior and Enhancement for Animal Rescue League of Iowa agrees. “You must understand that it’s our responsibility to teach him what we want him to know. We can’t be upset if we haven’t taught him.” 

Make Time for Puppy Training 

Miller and McAuliffe also agree puppy training classes are an essential. In fact, classes are for training humans, too. Choose a class based on positive reinforcement and to help you learn to communicate with your dog. “Taking the time to go to appropriate puppy classes will set you up for success,” McAuliffe says, adding his organization published a book, For Love of Dogs, addressing behavior tips and topics for this specific reason. 

Puppies require some stuff, yes, but they really need a lot of time—time at the vet, time potty training, time teaching appropriate behavior. “They are a lot of fun and so cute but we have a responsibility to spend the time,” McAuliffe says. “You should have a support system for those tough days. But puppies are such a joy.”