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New Puppy Checklist: Battle-tested Items You Need For The Early Stages

By Aviram K.
Updated at November 7, 2021
15 min read
New Puppy Checklist: Battle-tested Items You Need For The Early Stages
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.
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Congratulations on your new puppy!

Getting a new puppy is a thrilling experience. However, it is not without its drawbacks and hard times. A new puppy is just like a human baby, requiring a lot of attention and care in the beginning.

Knowledge is not enough for success with a new puppy, though. You also need some essential supplies.

Fortunately for you, I have been through this process with my own puppy and survived to tell the tale.

The items I included in this checklist are the ones that were the most practical and useful in my own experience and in-depth research. Those items that I marked as essential will cover almost all aspects of dealing with your puppy in the early stages in the most convenient way I found.

Here are the stuff you absolutely need to get, as well as stuff you may want for some extra convenience and joy for you and your new puppy:

Item TypeRecommended Item
Dog CrateMidWest Double Door Crate with a Divider
PlaypenMidwest Exercise Pen
Dog FoodTaste of The Wild Pacific Stream for Growing Puppies
Food BowlMlife Stainless Steel Dog Bowls
Water BowlUPSKY Dog Water Bowl
HarnessRabbitgoo Dog Harness
LeashBAAPET Strong Dog Leash
Puppy PadsAmazon Basics Puppy Pads
Puppy Pad HolderRichell Paw Trax Mesh Training Tray
Enzyme-based DeodorizerSimple Solution Pet Stain and Odor Remover
Paper TowelsBounty Paper Towels
Grooming WipesEarth Rated Dog Wipes
Dog BedFURTIME Durable Dog Bed
KongKONG Classic
Chew ToyPetstages Deer Antler
Dog Brush*Hertzko Self Cleaning Brush
Dog Nail Trimmer*Dog Nail Clipper By Boshel
Tug Toy*BESWIT Dog Rope Toys Pack
Poop Bags*Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags
Dog Shampoo*Wahl Gentle Puppy Shampoo
Training Pouch*Paw Lifestyles Dog Treat Training Pouch
Clicker*Ehunt Dog Training Clicker
Comfort Aid*SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Toy
Crate Cover*HiCaptain Polyester Dog Crate Cover

* Optional.

Besides the supplies, you also need to find the right vet and puppy-proof your house, preferably before physically getting your puppy.

Let’s understand why I chose the items for this checklist in detail and give you some more tips regarding each one.

Table of Contents

01

The Essential Supplies

02

The Optional Supplies

03

Puppy Proofing Your Home

04

Preparing the Puppy Area

05

Finding the Right Vet for Your Puppy

The Essential Supplies

These are the items that, if you don’t get, you’ll just miss. Either by causing you more discomfort or not being able to effectively and safely handle your puppy.

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Dog Crate

A crate gives a comfortable, quiet, and safe place for your dog, just like a crib does for human babies. It can also act as an essential tool in preventing unwanted behaviors around your house and help you when traveling with your dog.

When choosing a dog crate, you’ll want to make sure that it’s in the right size. The puppy should have enough space to stand up, turn around, lie down and stretch the legs. It is also essential that it is not too big, as this can increase the likelihood of having accidents.

Because your puppy will be growing at a rapid pace, the crate will soon be too small for him. For that reason, I recommend you choose a wire crate with a divider. That way, you can easily adjust the divider to keep up with the puppy’s size.

Plastic crates can be okay too. They are a little more comfortable and easier to transport, but some dogs seem to be allergic to them.

I recommend getting the MidWest Double Door Crate with a Divider. It is durable, carriable, and allows for safe travel. Get a size that will fit the adult version of your puppy.

Playpen

Puppies are curious creatures that will try and chew up everything in their path. If you don’t keep your eyes 100% on them, they can very quickly get into trouble and swallow something dangerous.

That’s what playpens are for. They can help you keep your puppy (and your home) safe when you can’t fully watch over the puppy.

You’ll want to keep your puppy in there with water, chew toys, and a potty spot when you go to work or sleep, for example.

With time and the right approach, your puppy will love his pen and even go in there independently.

I recommend getting the Midwest Exercise Pen. It is durable, easily foldable, with a door for easy access. Get a pen that is at least double your dog’s final height so he can’t jump above it.

Dog Food

You’ll need to research what type of food works best for your specific puppy’s breed and age, as each breed’s needs are sometimes a little different. Puppy food is also a bit different from adult food in composition.

I advise starting with puppy dry dog food, as it can be more convenient, with some claiming it’s better for your puppy’s teeth.

As a good starting point, and if you are struggling to find the right dog food for your puppy, I recommend getting Taste of The Wild Pacific Stream for Growing Puppies. It is rich in probiotics that help your puppy digest food better and is also chicken and grain-free—two common allergens for dogs.

To learn more about how to choose the right food for your puppy, read this article.

Food & Water Bowls

As I’ll point out later, I recommend serving food in Kong most of the time. But, having a couple of good bowls is an excellent option as a backup.

Stainless steel or ceramic bowls are better than plastic bowls. Plastic bowls are easily scratched or chewed on by puppies. This can cause unwanted bacteria to form, leading to potential health problems. Plastic can also cause allergic reactions in some dogs.

I recommend getting a couple Mlife Stainless Steel Dog Bowls. They are easy to clean, safe to use, and hard to tip over, unlike regular bowls.

Since water can easily spill from regular dog bowls, I recommend getting the UPSKY Dog Water Bowl. This bowl is designed to prevent the water from spilling over. It’s great at controlling water intake, which keeps your dog from wetting large areas of the floor, and is easy to clean.

Harness

For your walks together, and to have better control of your puppy around your house in case you need to, you’ll need either a harness or an adjustable collar.

A harness is recommended over a collar pretty much universally for all dogs. Here are some advantages a harness offers over a collar:

  • A harness prevents choking and damage to the neck. Especially when the puppy is tiny
  • A harness stops the movement of the puppy entirely if he pulls. On the other hand, a collar doesn’t, which rewards the puppy for pulling since he does move a bit forwards if he pulls.
  • A harness is harder to escape from.
  • A harness doesn’t cause any discomfort.

I recommend getting the Rabbitgoo Dog Harness. It has a front attachment for easier steering during walks should the puppy pull, easy to take on and off, and is affordable. Make sure to get the right size for your puppy.

Leash

To guide your puppy during walks or training sessions, you’ll need a standard 4’-6’ leash to attach to your puppy’s harness.

A retractable leash is not recommended in the beginning since it is only suitable for well-behaved dogs that don’t pull a lot.

I recommend getting the BAAPET Strong Dog Leash. It is durable, comfortable to hold, and easy to attach.

Puppy Pads

Although they are not recommended over the long term, if your puppy hasn’t received all of his vaccinations yet, you shouldn’t take him outside to pee or poop.

You’ll have to rely on some indoor alternative or a safe spot in your yard for that.

Puppy pads offer a convenient alternative during this unvaccinated phase.

I recommend getting the Amazon Basics Puppy Pads. They are very absorbent, convenient, and affordable.

Puppy Pad Holder

You’d think that puppies would just pee and poop on the puppy pads and leave them alone afterward.

Well, unfortunately, if your puppy is like mine, he’ll love playing and chewing them up.

He’ll mess up the pad and possibly smear the poop all over the floor.

For that reason, you also need to get a pad holder that will keep that pad glued and discourage your puppy from playing with it.

I recommend getting the Richell Paw Trax Mesh Training Tray. It includes a mesh tray to prevent your puppy from pulling on the pad while inside. It’s easy to clean and easy to replace the pads.

One caveat: you may need to fold the puppy pads’ edges before you place them in the tray if you got the square ones I recommended earlier. It’s what I personally do.

Enzyme-based Deodorizer

An enzyme-based deodorizer is a cleaning product that will help remove the awful smell that’s left after your puppy has an accident inside the house.

Your puppy will be able to detect the scent of his pee residues even if you can’t. If you don’t use a product that neutralizes the smell properly, your puppy will then tend to do his business in the same spot again in the future.

I recommend getting the Simple Solution Pet Stain and Odor Remover. It comes in a convenient spray form that is easy to use and destroys the ammonia in pee, preventing repeat peeing on the same spot. You can use it on all kinds of surfaces, including carpets and clothing.

Paper Towels

No matter how hard you try to train your puppy to use the pads, he’ll almost always have some accidents around your house in the beginning.

I recommend getting the Bounty Paper Towels. Those are very absorbent, soak liquid up quickly, and don’t break easily.

Grooming Wipes

Those accidents that your puppy will inevitably have sometimes will allow him to soak his tiny feet with pee and poop.

Also, poop will sometimes get stuck beneath your puppy’s nails, which is super gross.

Assuming you want your puppy to stay clean and healthy by cleaning him up after such accidents, using grooming wipes is convenient.

Showering your puppy is not really needed for most puppies initially. It is a big task that requires preparation and some training to get through with new puppies. You can just locally use some dog-friendly wipes to clean your puppy up.

I recommend getting the Earth Rated Dog Wipes. Those are made for sensitive skin, don’t tear easily, and are very convenient to use.

Dog Bed

Some dog trainers will not recommend giving your dog a comfortable bed in the beginning since dog beds can be chewed up by puppies and become a hazard.

However, based on my personal experience, I found it’s okay, as long as you take the right precautions. You should get a very durable and comfortable bed and introduce it correctly to your puppy.

You’ll have to use your own judgment here and maybe get the bed only after you see if your puppy is an extreme chewer or just a regular one.

If your puppy tends to destroy everything in his path, maybe skip that one.

But, I found that a bed helped keep my dog calmer during those first few weeks home that are very tough for him and provide him with a safe spot that he loves.

I recommend getting the FURTIME Durable Dog Bed. It is durable enough for light chewers, very comfortable, and washable, in case your dog has some kind of accident on it. Make sure to get a bed that is not too large nor too small.

Dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep and hang out. Too large a bed will encourage your puppy to have an accident on it.

Kong

While a Kong is considered a puzzle toy, it is also a food bowl for my puppies.

I highly recommend using a Kong for feeding your puppy.

A lot of puppies tend to eat so fast that they end up vomiting. A kong will help them eat the meal more slowly and provide them with more needed mental stimulation.

It is also a fantastic training tool.

I personally always feed my puppy using a Kong that I place inside his playpen or crate. This makes the puppy love his crate or pen and helps with whining and isolation distress in most young puppies initially.

I recommend getting the KONG Classic. Kongs don’t usually fit a lot inside, even though they seem huge. Think about a safe size for your puppy to use, and then get the next size up.

Chew Toy

Chew toys are a must for a young puppy. He’ll be going through a teething phase very soon, and those help him alleviate some pain that occurs during this period.

They also provide great mental stimulation for your puppy. This will keep him from chewing up other stuff, give him something to do when he is in his playpen or crate, and help reduce his isolation distress when left alone.

I recommend using a Deer Antler as a chew toy. It is safe to use and very durable. Make sure to not get a too big one, as your puppy might not be able to fit it in his mouth.

The Optional Supplies

These items are not strictly necessary to get but may bring you and your new puppy a little more comfort and joy.

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Dog Brush

Brushing your puppy will remove dead hair and will help promote a healthier coat.

If you have a breed with a thick coat that sheds a lot like a Labrador Retriever, for example, you’ll need to be even more vigilant with the brushing.

Start brushing your dog as early as possible to prevent future problems and help your puppy get used to it.

Each dog’s coat is different and therefore needs a slightly different brush. But, I will recommend a general brush that can be an excellent option for most breeds.

I recommend getting the Hertzko Self Cleaning Brush. It is a decent option for all dog sizes and coat types, super easy to clean, and easy to use.

It is a general recommendation, though. Make sure to research what the best type of brush is best for your puppy’s coat before buying, though.

A dog brush is optional because it’s up to you how clean you want your house. Without brushing, you will get tons of hair around, much more than with brushing.

Dog Nail Trimmer

Your puppy’s nails will naturally get shorter if you go on frequent and long walks with your puppy.

However, if you don’t, or if your dog is mainly a house pet, his nails won’t get enough natural tear and wear.

They will scratch you at times.

Long nails can also cause an injury to the puppy by getting stuck on a piece of furniture or carpet, for example.

For that reason, you’ll want to trim your dog’s nails when they get too long.

As a general rule, the dog’s nails are too long when you can hear them when he’s walking. You can learn more about how to trim your dog’s nails here. It’s essential to do it the right way.

While there are many types of trimmers and even grinders of nails, I would recommend sticking to the regular non-guillotine clipper. This type is the easiest to use and has the most precision.

I recommend getting the Dog Nail Clipper By Boshel. It’s easy to use, cuts the nails easily, and has a safety blade that reduces the risk of cutting too deeply.

A dog nail trimmer is optional since most dog groomers and vets can usually do it for you if you ask. For those of you that want to keep your dog’s nails in tip-top shape whenever you want, get a clipper for yourself.

Tug Toy

Ropes and other interactive toys help strengthen the bond between you and your puppy.

Those are fun for both parties.

I recommend getting the BESWIT Dog Rope Toys Pack. This pack includes many kinds of rope toys at an affordable price and a frisbee, which is useful for getting your dog some more exercise.

A tug toy is optional since you and your dogs will be just fine without it. It’s just another way to have more fun together.

Poop Bags

Unless you or your dog has a physical disability that prevents you from going outside, you should be getting your puppy to poop outside after he’s fully vaccinated.

Once your dog poops outside, you’ll need to pick that poop up. That’s what the bags are for.

It’s actually illegal in most places to leave your dog’s poop lying around. It’s your responsibility.

I recommend getting Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags. Many bags for a reasonable price that block smelly odors and don’t leak.

Poop bags are optional since you have the option to keep your dog pooping and peeing on puppy pads. Although it’s not recommended, sometimes it’s necessary.

Dog Shampoo

If you wish to shower your puppy, you cannot use human shampoo.

Dogs’ skin has different requirements from humans’.

For puppies, I recommend getting the Wahl Gentle Puppy Shampoo. It is allergy-friendly, great for puppies’ gentle skin, and suitable for all ages, including adult dogs.

Dog shampoo is optional since you can go to a dog groomer to get your dog bathed. It is also not a strict requirement to shower your dog. You can just wipe him with anti-bacterial wipes in the first months of his life.

Training Pouch

Treats and dog food is an excellent incentive for dogs to follow your commands.

When training your dog, and especially outside, walking around with dog food is not convenient.

That’s what a training pouch is for. It can serve as a holder for that food, as some of them also have a special pocket for those poop bags. Very useful for your walks together.

I recommend getting the Paw Lifestyles Dog Treat Training Pouch. It easily carries treats and food and has an extra pocket for the poop bags for extra convenience. It also easily attaches to you or your belt to save you the trouble of carrying it around.

A training pouch is optional since you can do fine even without training your dog with treats. But even if you do wish to do that, you can carry those in a bit less comfortable way in a bag or something similar.

Clicker

Some dog trainers swear by the use of clickers for training your dog.

By pairing food with clicking, you can teach your dog to love the sound of the clicker and save yourself some money and your dog some calories.

Why not just use your voice instead? Well, your voice isn’t always consistent. A clicker is. It also can be used from afar, unlike food.

Using one will ensure your dog more easily understands the cue.

I recommend getting Ehunt Dog Training Clicker. It is affordable, attaches to you or your belt, and easy to use.

A clicker is optional since you can just use treats if you feel like it. It’s just a more convenient way to train your dog.

Comfort Aid

New puppies, and mostly very young ones, will have a hard time in the first few weeks.

They will bark and cry a lot and experience isolation distress.

You can comfort your puppy a bit by providing him with a comfort aid.

I recommend getting the SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Toy. It is a durable plush toy that comes with an artificial heartbeat device that will mimic your puppy’s mom or littermates’ heartbeat and help him calm down.

The comfort aid is optional since you can just wait it out. Without this is may take slightly longer for your puppy to adjust, but he most likely will with time.

Crate Cover

Puppies sleep better without many distractions and too much light.

Covering your puppy’s crate can help him feel more comfortable and secure and help him sleep better.

A crate cover is specific to the crate you got. Still, if you got the crate I recommended earlier, I recommend getting the HiCaptain Polyester Dog Crate Cover. It looks pretty, opens from both sides so you can control how much light enters the crate, and it’s very durable in case your puppy somehow chews on it.

A crate cover is optional since you can just put a slightly bigger board than the crate on top of the crate and a blanket on top of it to achieve similar things. Although, that doesn’t look as pretty. You can also just leave it open.

Puppy Proofing Your Home

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Now that you have all the supplies you need for your new puppy, you need to make sure your home is suitable for him.

Anything that your puppy can chew on near the floor level or low tables should be put out of the puppy’s reach somewhere high in cabinets or closed doors. This should be done both inside and outside if you have your own yard.

Here’s what you need to do to prepare your home:

  • Secure all electrical cords.
  • Move all medications away.
  • Remove all sharp objects like scissors, pencils, or knives.
  • Remove all small items like toys and other accessories.
  • Secure curtains.
  • Remove toxic houseplants.
  • Keep toilet lids closed.
  • Secure trash cans.

Here’s what you need to do to prepare your yard:

Preparing the Puppy Area

New puppies can’t know your house rules from the get-go.

For that reason, they can’t be trusted in the first weeks and months and need to be closely supervised to make sure they don’t get into trouble and don’t destroy your home.

It is a good idea to keep a separate space, preferably enclosed with a playpen or a small puppy-proofed room, to keep your puppy in when you can’t keep an eye on him.

This space will likely contain his bed and/or crate, a water supply, a few toys, and a place to poop and pee.

Here are the steps for setting it up:

  1. Select an area for the puppy to stay: Dogs are social animals, so you want to select an area with some human or other pet activity.
  2. Set up and secure the playpen: Place the pen beside a wall and place heavy objects around it to support it. Make sure your puppy can’t knock it down and escape.
  3. Set up the crate inside the playpen: Choose one edge of the pen for this, and keep the entrance open. This has the added benefit of getting your puppy used to the crate if you need to do some traveling.
  4. Place some chew & puzzle toys inside the crate or open area: Your puppy will need something to do while he’s inside. Make sure the toys are not soft and destroyable.
  5. Place the water bowl inside the playpen: Place it at another edge or nearby to the crate.
  6. Place the potty pad inside the playpen: Place it on another far edge, away from the pen’s sleeping area and water area. Dogs don’t like to go potty close to where they eat, so keep it at a distance. This will help prevent accidents while your puppy is inside.
  7. Make sure the pen isn’t too spacious at first: Making it too big will give your puppy more room for accidents. When your puppy is more consistently hitting the target (pad), you can expand this area a bit.

Finding the Right Vet for Your Puppy

Occasionally, you might need the help of some professionals for various reasons. It’s best to scout them ahead of time and save their contact information.

A vet is the most essential professional to connect with. It’s vital to pick one with comfortable operating hours, experience, and compatible methods.

Make sure to select a vet with decent working hours and off-hours options if your puppy ever needs to visit the vet late at night for some reason.

Here is a useful guide about how to select the right vet for your puppy.

Some vets also offer plans that cover expenses and treatments that will save you money in the long run. Be sure to ask about them when you visit a clinic.


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