Skip to content

Save 20% on your first AutoShip with promo code FAMILY20!Learn More

How To Prepare for a New Puppy

If you’re planning to welcome a new puppy into your family this year, there are many things to consider before the exciting day that they come home with you arrives.

From puppy-proofing your home and gathering supplies, to knowing what to expect at your first vet visit, we’ve got you covered. Follow along as we go through some of the key ways you can prepare for your new furry bundle of joy.


Puppies are curious by nature and can easily get themselves into trouble if placed in an environment that hasn’t been properly prepared. This includes both indoor and outdoor spaces. Below we will detail the most important things you can do to make sure your home and yard are safe for your new canine pal.

Indoor Puppy-Proofing

  • Medications: Human medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (along with veterinary medications for that matter), should be stored in places where your puppy cannot access them. Ideally this means storing them in secured drawers or cabinets, or up high where they cannot be reached or knocked down.

  • Table Food: Avoid feeding your puppy table food. Table scraps generally do not contain a good balance of nutrients for your puppy and can upset their stomach. Further, there are many human foods that are toxic to dogs: like grapes, chocolate, onions, and sugar-free gum being just a few examples. 

  • Electrical Hazards: Puppies are known to chew electrical cords, so make sure to put any cords that aren't being used away, and to conceal or secure cords that are in use. Chewing cords isn’t just a hassle that leads to broken electronics, but is a risk to your puppy as they can be burned or electrocuted. 

  • Trashcans: Garbage cans (or more so their smells) are intriguing to puppies, and the contents inside can be very dangerous. Rotten food can make them sick, ingesting non-food items can cause obstructions, and some items may even be poisonous to dogs. Make sure that all garbage cans in the home are secured.

  • Houseplants: It is important to be aware of which plants are toxic to dogs so you can keep them away from your puppy. Oleander, some varieties of lilies, Mauna Loa plants (aka peace lilies), sago palms, weeping fig, snake plants, and ZZ plants are some common houseplants that could harm your pet if ingested.

  • Cleaning Supplies: Cleaning products (such as bleach, toilet bowl tablets, disinfectant sprays, etc) are a common poison risk to both puppies and adult dogs. Make sure cleaning supplies are secured in cabinets that are either up high or secured with child-proof latches.

  • Sharp Objects: Just as you wouldn’t want to leave knives, scissors, or other sharp tools out around toddlers, you should also make sure they’re stored safely out of reach of your puppy. 

  • Choking Hazards: We know choking is a serious danger for babies and children, but it is also a concern for puppies (and dogs in general). Keep small objects away from your curious pup and ensure that toys and treats are an appropriate size.

  • Toilets: Always close toilet lids to keep your puppy from drinking toilet water or accidentally falling in.

Outdoor Puppy-Proofing

  • Containment: If you let your puppy out into the yard, ensure that it is fenced and that said fence is in good condition (no holes or loose panels). You’ll also want to make sure the fence is high enough that they can’t jump over it.

  • Weather: Be aware of the temperature, and do not keep your puppy outdoors for extended periods during heat waves and cold snaps. When it’s warm out, make sure your puppy has plenty of water and shade. 

  • Pools: If you have an in-ground pool, it is a good idea to ensure that it is fenced to avoid a tragic accidental drowning. Dogs can also be trained in water safety, so it is never a bad idea to work with a trainer on these skills. 

  • Plants: Just as certain houseplants can be toxic to pets, many plants used in landscaping can be dangerous as well. Some plants that are commonly used in landscaping that can be poisonous or toxic to dogs include amaryllis, azalea, oleander, hydrangea, sago palms, Lily of the Valley, English ivy, Japanese yew, eucalyptus, castor bean, Autumn crocus, tulips, rhododendron, and daffodils. Take some time to browse lists of toxic plants with photos and take inventory of the plants in your yard. 

  • Lawn Care: Keep your lawn mowed and managed. An overgrown yard can pose a risk for puppies as they wade through deep vegetation where hazards like ticks and snakes can be waiting. Use caution when using products like fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Keep your puppy away from recently treated areas. 

  • Supervision: It is always a good idea to supervise your new pup while they are very small and while they get used to their surroundings. This not only gives you a chance to observe your pet and look for additional hazards, but also provides extra protection from predators like birds of prey and coyotes.

  • Waste Control: Be sure to clean up after your pet promptly. Not only will it keep your yard more sanitary, but it will also prevent your pup from snacking on their own waste.

Recommended Supplies

There are many supplies you’ll want to obtain to help you care for your new puppy. Check out this handy list to help you get organized!

  • Collar & Leash: In order to safely walk your puppy, they’ll need a properly fitting collar and a leash. It is recommended to avoid retractable leashes as they can be a safety hazard and do not offer the same control as a standard leash. You’ll also want to obtain tags for your pup’s collar that include your contact information. 

  • Dog Crate: A crate is a great way to give your pet a comfortable space where they can rest and feel safe. It is also a great way to help your new pup stay out of trouble if you need to leave them alone for a short period of time. There are several resources available on crate training puppies and the benefits that this provides. Make sure that you choose the proper size for your dog; it should give them enough space to stand and turn, but should not be overly large.

  • Dog Bed: Your pup will need their own comfy place to rest and sleep, so make sure to have a dog bed ready for your new pal. You can start training your puppy that this is their special place to relax from the start. 

  • Feeding Supplies: You’ll want to select food and water bowls for your puppy and make sure that they are cleaned regularly. You’ll also want to choose a well balanced diet for your new pup. There are many foods designed just for puppies; you can talk to your vet about their recommendations. Hill's Healthy Advantage Dry Puppy Food is an example of a premium puppy diet that your vet can prescribe.

  • Cleaning Supplies: Puppies are going to have accidents, so it is a good idea to be prepared with some cleaning products. Anti-Icky-Poo Original Odor Eliminator Spray is a solution that contains enzymes and live bacteria to permanently remove organic odors like urine and feces from a wide variety of surfaces in your home. Don’t forget to have some extra paper towels and cleaning cloths on hand too!

  • Toys: Playing with your puppy is great for bonding, and toys can also give your pup something safe to sink their sharp little teeth into. Enjoy a game of fetch with Air Kong Squeaker Balls for Dogs or a round of tug-o-war with a Kong Tugga Wubba.  

Vet Visits & Wellness

You’ll want to schedule a veterinary appointment for your new pup to get them an overall checkup right away and to ensure they stay on schedule for their puppy vaccinations. Having an immediate appointment is even more important if your puppy was rescued and their health history and previous exposures are unknown. 

Some things that your vet may discuss at your puppy’s first visit include:

  • Vaccine Schedule: Your pup may or may not have received their first shots before you take them home, but even if they came to you vaccinated, they will still need vaccine boosters and additional shots. Typically, puppies receive their first set of shots at 6-8 weeks, their second set at 10-12 weeks, their third set at 14-16 weeks, and then boosters annually or every 3 years depending on the vaccine. Your vet will provide you with information on which vaccines are recommended and when. 

  • Common Breed Issues: Some breeds are predisposed to certain health conditions. Your vet can help you learn about things to watch for based on your new pup’s specific breed.

  • Microchipping: A microchip is a small device that your vet can insert beneath your dog’s skin. It contains your contact information and can be scanned if your pup ever gets lost. The process is easy and only takes a moment, and your pet will have a permanent ID that won’t fall off or fade over time as tags can.

  • Flea Prevention: When it comes to fleas, prevention is key. Your vet may recommend a preventative treatment to keep your puppy free of these pests. They may also recommend a treatment to prevent heartworm disease. Revolution Topical Solution Cats & Puppies under 5 lbs protects against both fleas and heartworm disease, and can be used on even very small puppies so long as they are 6 weeks or older. If your pup is over 5lbs, Revolution Topical Solution for Dogs is available for various weights and can also be used on puppies 6 weeks and older. Please consult your veterinarian. 

  • Grooming: Different breeds have different grooming needs. Your vet can help you set up a grooming routine to help your pup stay clean, happy, and healthy. 

  • Spaying/Neutering: There are several benefits to having your pup spayed or neutered, including preventing unwanted litters of puppies, reducing the risk of certain health conditions, and curbing certain behaviors. Your vet can help guide you in this decision and discuss the best age for the procedure.

Rules & Expectations

Take time to consider what your expectations will be for your dog’s behavior and begin implementing these rules and routines from the start. 

Some examples may include not letting your puppy chew on your hands during play, showing your puppy when and where their food is served, teaching them how to walk properly on a leash, or training them to lay down on their bed rather than the couch if you plan to keep your dog off the furniture in the future.

Knowing what rules you’d like to implement, and being consistent from day one can help your puppy avoid confusion in the future.

Meeting the Family

When your puppy first comes home, it is important to introduce them to their new environment gently. Take time to show them around. This includes the house and yard, along with the locations of their food and water, potty place, and crate/bed. Supervise them while giving them time to explore their new surroundings.

If there are multiple family members living at home, introduce them to the puppy one at a time. This can help your puppy acclimate without being overwhelmed.

The same goes for other pets living in the home. Introducing your puppy to their new furry siblings should be done slowly and with care to avoid conflict and aggression. 

If your puppy is anxious, there are products available such as the Adaptil Junior Collar for Puppies, which contains pheromones to help comfort your new pup. 

With proper preparation, you’ll be on the right track for a wonderful life with your new furry family member. Visit to have your pup’s medications, veterinary diet, supplements, and supplies delivered to your door with the personalized customer service that is unique to a small, family-owned business. 

Previous article The Importance of Heartworm Prevention for Dogs and Cats
Next article Common Poison Dangers for Pets and How To Avoid Them