Get Ready For A Puppy

• Puppy checklist •

Puppy Checklist

Few things are as exciting as getting a new puppy! It is easy in all the excitement of getting a new puppy to forget some of the important things you may need for the new addition to your household. It is also easy to get confused with the sheer volume of pet products there are out there to choose from, what do you really need and what can you skip? Hopefully our guide on the things you need before you bring your new puppy home will help you with this process.

Veterinarian: There is currently a shortage in Canada of veterinarians. Make sure you will have a veterinarian for your puppy before you bring them home. This may mean asking your current veterinarian if they can take a new puppy as a client or if you don’t currently have any pets forming a new relationship with a veterinarian. You may need to be on the waitlist at a veterinary clinic, so it is wise to start your search for a veterinarian as one of the first things you do before you get a puppy. Once you are a client with a veterinarian, it is recommended to set up a veterinarian appointment within 72 hours of your new puppy coming home for a health exam. Depending on how busy your clinic is, it might also be advised to book your puppy’s vaccinations ahead of time as well.

person carrying and feeding brown toy poodle
person carrying and feeding brown toy poodle

Groomer: Just like veterinarians, dog groomers are in demand! If you plan on using a dog groomer instead of grooming your dog yourself, it is good to find a groomer and get your puppy in for grooming. Your puppy should go in for their first grooming appointment in 7-14 days of their third set of puppy vaccinations. As soon as you know when the date of those vaccinations will occur, that is the time to contact a groomer and book an appointment. We recommend that puppies go in often for their first few appointments, once a month for the first 3-4 times is what we recommend. Grooming is something your dog will need to do for the entirety of their life, and it really does pay off to give them those extra grooming experiences while they are young so they will be comfortable with grooming for their lifespan.

Dog Trainer: We strongly recommend all puppy owners sign their puppy up for a puppy class. Look for a class that places an emphasis on positive reinforcement, socialisation and engagement with the handler. Even if you’ve had dogs before and know how to train basic obedience, a puppy class is still important for the valuable life experience, socialisation and exposure to new experiences your puppy needs to become a well-rounded adult dog. Dog trainers are in demand so book your puppy in puppy class before they even come home.

Dog Crate/Containment: The biggest potty training mistake new owners make is not controlling the environment of the puppy when they come home. Most dogs love it if introduced to the crate correctly. Crates not only provide a puppy with a place of safety but also help keep them secure when you are out of the house or too occupied to watch them. Dogs do not like to soil where they sleep so crate training is a great way to make house training easier.

Hard sided plastic crates are easy to clean. Wire crates are another option, they offer good ventilation and can collapse flat. Look for a crate that is easy to use and large enough that your puppy can stand up and turn around, but not so large that they will be able to use one side for a bathroom and the other side to sleep. Another advantage of wire crates over hard sided is that you can buy one that comes with a divider so you can make the crate smaller and expand it as the puppy grows.

Never leave a dog or puppy in a crate with any treats, bedding or toys that they can chew or destroy to a size that could be choked on. Never leave your puppy in a crate while they are wearing a collar or a harness. The collar or harness can get caught on the crate and strangle your puppy.

Baby Gates and Exercise Pens: A gate and a playpen can come in handy and help you with house training and supervising your puppy. The number one reason for house training difficulties is allowing the puppy too much freedom too soon. A gate or gate(s) prevents your puppy from entering rooms you don’t want them to have access to, while a playpen allows your puppy to run and play in a confined and safe area. Gates are also essential for blocking staircases, a major source for injury in young puppies.

Food: We give everyone a sample of the food your puppy has been eating, enough to last you a couple of days. If you plan to switch to a new diet upon getting home, you will want to buy a small bag of the food your puppy was eating so you can slowly transition your puppy to the new food of your choice over a period of 7-14 days.

Treats: You will go through a lot of treats in the training of your puppy. If you feed kibble, we recommend setting aside half (or more) of your puppy’s daily food allowance for using as treats for training. When you go to different settings to train, you may find you need more alluring treats to use for training. Such as soft, stinky treats. You want the treats to be a small size so your dog can swallow the treat quickly and be ready for the next training exercise.

A Collar and Harness: Your dog will need a collar to hold their identification tag. Your puppy comes to you microchipped, don’t forget to update your microchip with your information and remember to update it if you move or change your phone number. We recommend a martingale style collar for walking and a flat buckle collar for wearing at home. The martingale style collar is great in case your puppy gets spooked on a walk, it will tighten (not to the point of choking) so that your puppy cannot slip their collar and bolt. Harnesses come in many different styles. Make sure the harness is properly fit and fits snug. A puppy can back out of an ill-fitting harness in seconds. We don’t recommend front clip harnesses; they interfere with the dog’s correct movement of their shoulders and limbs and can cause stress in their body and joints.

A few words on collar safety: take your dogs collar and harness off when they are inside a kennel or crate. It can get caught on the crate and become a strangulation risk. Don’t leave dogs loose together wearing collars, sometimes when dogs play, they can get their collars stuck on the others jaw and it becomes and strangulation risk.

Bowls: Your puppy will need at least one bowl for water and one bowl for food. It is recommended to have multiples so you can wash them and swap out dirty bowls for clean ones. We recommend stainless steel for water and slow feeder dishes for food. Slow feeders slow the eating of your puppy/dog and reduce the chance of bloat.

Leashes: Puppies like to chew, and the leash is a prime target. You may want to buy an inexpensive leash at first in case your first leash gets destroyed by your puppy. Your leash doesn’t have to be expensive, if it is well stitched and has a good quality snap, that is all you need. I recommend you stay away from retractable leashes especially with puppies. It is hard to train good leash manners with a retractable leash because you don’t have as much control. The thin cord/tape means your puppy could chew through it in an instant. Not to mention that the thin/cord tape can cause some serious injuries to the handler if it gets wound around an arm, leg or finger.

A Training Leash: You’ll want a 15-25-foot-long training lead for training. It’s very handy for teaching re-call and allowing your puppy some freedom to explore and sniff while still being under control and avoiding the risks associated with retractable leashes. We like training leashes made from biothane. Since your leash will be dragging on the ground a lot, biothane makes it easy to wipe clean and they don’t absorb odors.

Towels: You’ll want some dog dedicated towels for things like baths, wiping off feet and cleaning messes. You don’t need to buy special dog towels, older towels in your home or from a thrift store will work just fine.

Treat Pouch: You will want to bring training treats with your everywhere you go with your puppy because every outing is a training opportunity! There are a lot of treat pouches out there, choose one you like that is easy to use so you are more likely to use it. Some come with multiple pockets you can store poop bags in there as well as treats!

Cleaning Supplies: If you have a puppy, there is going to be accidents. Make sure you have pet safe cleaning supplies to clean up accidents. We like the Nature’s Miracle or Scouts Honor brands of pet safe cleaners. They have multiple options for different kinds of surfaces in your home.


Choosing toys for your puppy is probably one of the most fun things you can do for your puppy! It is easy to go overboard purchasing toys for your puppy. We recommend choosing one toy from each category so you can learn what your puppy likes before buying more.

Chew Toys: Puppies explore the world with their mouth, and they have a strong desire to chew especially when they start teething. Chewing gives satisfying sensory feedback to dogs and especially puppies. It works their mind and 10 minutes of chew time will take more energy out of your puppy than a walk will! If you don’t have appropriate objects for your puppy to chew, they will start chewing on things that you don’t want them to chew on! We really like Kong brand toys, Nylabone, Benebone, and West Paw, they come in a wide range of sizes and hardness to suit your puppy at every developmental stage. The bonus of these types of toys is they can be stuffed with different foods and frozen to keep your puppy busy for longer.

Edible chew toys like bully sticks and Himalayan yak cheese sticks are great for chewing puppies. Don’t let your puppy eat the whole thing in one sitting or they might get some gastric upset. Take away the chew toy when they have chewed it to a size that could be a choking hazard. When taking away a valuable chew toy, offer the puppy something delicious in trade, such as some chicken or hot dog. Toss some to your puppy and as they become interested toss some more until they have walked away from their chew toy, and then reach down and take their chew toy before rewarding them with more of the “trade” snack. This will teach your puppy that when you approach them when they have a chew, you are bringing them something delicious, not just taking something away.

Inspect your puppy’s chew toys often and throw them away when they have been chewed too small or pieces are breaking off.

Never feed your puppy rawhide or even those “no hide” rawhide. Rawhide and imitation rawhide is a huge risk for potential intestinal blockages and we have heard of so many dogs getting foreign body surgery or choking on rawhide that we believe the risk is just not worth it. Don’t feed rawhide.

Squeaky Toys: Squeaky toys are really fun for puppies. We consider these types of toys to be interactive toys only. So that means only let your puppy play with these types of toys when they are actively engaged with the handler and under supervision. These toys are be made of rubber or the squeaker might be inside a stuffed animal of some sort. The puppy will get exciting feedback from this type of toy when they bite the toy and it squeaks, just like a prey animal might squeak. These toys let puppies practice “hunting”, biting, shaking and shredding. Destroying toys is normal, but this is why it is so important to watch your puppy when they play with these kinds of toys so they don’t ingest pieces and end up at the veterinarian office.