How to prepare for a new puppy

Puppy checklist

Bringing a puppy home for the first time is exciting, wonderful, and crazy. Before you do, though, it’s always a good idea to prepare the best that you can.

Before getting my goldendoodle puppy Wally, I scoured the internet for advice. I didn’t know where to begin.

If you’re looking for some advice and resources before adding a pup to your family, let my recent experience be a quick guide; look no further. 

Prepping for the Puppy: To-Do List

Buy the essentials

I looked through a lot of different articles and recommendations to figure out all that we’d need to welcome our pup home. This is the main gist of what you’ll need (and my recommendations), right away. 

  • Crate/cage
  • Puppy food
  • Puppy treats/training treats
  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Puppy shampoo
  • Toys of all kinds
  • Waste bags
  • Odor-eliminating sprays and cleaners
  • Dog pen
  • Travel cage (if crate is too large to travel with)

If you’re interested in my specific purchases, I listed them out in this post

Keep in mind: you can always buy the essentials upfront, and then save other items for later, as they come up. For example, Wally is going to be anywhere close to 80 pounds. For now, he has a small dog bed. Later, as he grows, I’ll invest in something larger. It’s not a necessity until down the road. 

Lock down a vet

And while you’re at it, decide on the other pet services too, like a groomer, kennel (especially if you have upcoming travel plans), or training service. Puppy classes, especially, should be on your radar for down the line. 

Try to schedule a vet appointment for the first couple days you have your pup. They’ll look him over and do a puppy wellness checkup, and administer the first set of vaccines. 

Prep the home

You don’t necessarily have to change the whole layout of your home, but keep in mind: your puppy will get into less trouble if you set them up for success. Keep chewable items in places where the puppy can’t get to them—a closet for shoes, hats on top of dressers, cords tucked away.

Your puppy is curious and will definitely go places they shouldn’t; try to restrict access and limit those opportunities. I highly suggest puppy gates and closing doors where applicable. 

Study up

It’s always a good idea to prepare yourself. I highly recommend searching for articles on your specific breed, checking out dog training blogs and sites, and to invest in a few books. I read “The Happy Puppy Handbook” by Pippa Mattinson, and it was wonderful. 

Embrace the excitement

You’re getting a puppy! You’re allowed to be excited, jittery, and a little nervous. Embrace those feelings and get ready for a thrilling ride. You will absolutely love this new member of your family.

Take lots of pictures! From what I hear, puppy-hood goes by quickly. 

Post-puppy arrival: tips and tricks

Though I’m not a trainer, I have some tips and general advice. It can be quite overwhelming when you bring home your puppy, so here are a few things that stood out to me. 


The most important part of raising a happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog is to socialize them. Let them experience a range of people, places, and things so that they do not fear them as adult dogs. They need to experience the world as much as possible. (Tricky during COVID, I know.)


Your pup will need shots to stay healthy. There will be three different vaccine appointments: he’ll get them at the first vet appointment, then likely three weeks after, and three weeks after that.

Keep in mind: they won’t be fully protected until the last round, which means that you have to be careful with your puppy. Avoid high-traffic dog areas, spots where there’s lots of urination, going on walks, and other non-vaccinated puppies. Some vets say “don’t go outside at all!” but most will advise extreme caution while also allowing your puppy to experience people, places, and other dogs.

Adjustment period

It’s good to note that puppies take a few days to adjust to their new homes. They might cry a lot (especially at night or in their crate), or act like little sweet angels. It probably won’t last. When they get comfortable, they’ll start acting more like the playful and curious puppy they are. 

Crate training

Do it!

Here’s more information if you’re interested:

Feeding times

I highly recommend feeding your puppy at least three times a day. Feed them in the crate if possible, to create a positive connotation to the space. 

Pro-tip: do some training during this time! We taught Wally how to sit by using one piece of kibble at a time until he caught on. The repitition was key.


Creating and sticking to a schedule is super helpful! Have them wake up, eat, nap, and go to bed at the same times every day. This helps them to establish a routine and build good habits. Designated crate time for naps also helps them to get more rest, which is a plus. 


The first couple nights with a puppy are rough. You’ll have to take them outside several times to eliminate.

My best advice is to set your alarm, so that you don’t respond to whining and crying to take them out of their crate (that will only teach them that whining gets them what they want).

We put the pup to bed at 10 p.m., then set our alarms for 12 a.m., 2 a.m., 4 a.m., and 6 a.m. Every day, we pushed the alarm back 12 minutes. Within no time, he only needed to go once in the night. Three weeks later, he can make it through the whole night. Hang in there. 

Ready, Set, Go

Truth be told, as soon as you get your puppy, you’ll figure things out. Even if you feel overwhelmed or very new to the experience, you’ll quickly realize what works and what doesn’t, and your puppy parent actions will soon feel natural and second-nature.

You can do it! Feel free to pop by and post a puppy picture here in the comments, if you’d like! 🙂

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