OMG, you’re getting a puppy! 🐶 That’s crazy exciting. And daunting. This guide covers all the steps, milestones, and information you need to prepare your house and home for a furry new addition.
Should I get a puppy during COVID-19?
Life’s a bit uncertain right now. But for some of us, it’s the perfect time to introduce a new puppy into the family. Ask yourself three questions to determine whether now is the right time for a puppy:
- Were you prepared for a new puppy before COVID-19?
- Can you afford to pay for puppy supplies and regular vet appointments?
- When things go back to normal, will you still be able to care for your dog appropriately?
If you answer all three with a “yes,” you have the betterpet blessing!
Note: Responsible breeders and shelters have always practiced next-level safety and sanitation measures. Some are willing to hop on Zoom to meet you and transfer the puppy from a safe distance.
Preparing for your puppy’s arrival
Ideally, you have a few days to prep for the transition. But if you already got your puppy and you’re playing catchup, that’s OK too. Hang in there!
✅ Puppy-proof your home
✅ Get stocked up
✅ Do your homework
✅ Add the nearest pet emergency clinic to your phone
Puppy-proof your home
First things first… you need to get your home in puppy shape.
Go into puppy mode — Get on all fours and scan your house. (And vacuum under the couch please)
Tidy chemicals and cords — All chemicals should be kept behind locked doors, and electrical cords should be hidden away under or behind furniture.
Hide yo stuff — Move shoes to the closet and your POP! figures to a shelf out of reach.
Switch to lidded garbage cans — It doesn’t matter if your trash can is 4 feet tall and he’s a Chihuahua. Puppy’s don’t need the extra temptation.
Establish the puppy zone — This is a as much for safety as it is for behavior training. Get a baby gate or pen of some sort to keep your puppy confined in a small area. Your puppy shouldn’t be allowed to roam free until housetraining is complete.
👉 Finally, read our exhaustive list of literally everything in your home and yard that could be harmful to your new puppy.
Your pre-puppy shopping list
This list will cover you for the first 24 hours, which includes your first foray into potty training. Pee pad training is just one of three proven methods for housebreaking your dog. We recommend trying all three, but peed pads are an expensive way to get started.
- Puppy blanket or bed
- Puppy food
- Food and water bowls
- Stain & odor remover for accidents
- Pee pads
The next 29 days
- Dental chews
- Adjustable puppy collar
- Paper towels
- Baby gate / indoor fencing
- Training clicker
- Chew toy
- Nail clippers
The first 24-hours
Day one is exciting, but try not to overwhelm your pup. The first 24 hours are about introductions, firsts, and a smooth transition.
✅ Introductions to friends and family members
✅ Your first pee-pee adventure
✅ Reinforce verbal cues and house rules
Give the grand tour. Show your puppy where to find food and water; and where they should go to the bathroom. Let them smell things. Let friends and family have short, supervised cuddles, but don’t push your puppy too far. If they’re falling asleep, take a break. It’s all about letting your puppy become comfortable in the house.
Here’s where our guide to housetraining your puppy comes into play. There are three different methods we recommend. If one isn’t working, try another. Accidents will happen. The best thing that you can do is to remain patient, consistent, and reward your dog with positivity (and a snack) when they poo where they’re supposed to.
Establish house rules
Use your puppy’s name a lot, especially when you take your puppy outside to go to the potty. They obviously won’t know what to do yet, but it’s important to start establishing key verbal cues. In the same way, boundaries are important too. Decide what furniture your puppy is allowed on ahead of time and discipline with a firm “no” consistently.
The first 10 days
Good, you’re starting to get the hang of this. 👏 By now your little furball should be pushing the limits, chewing on everything, barking, and crashing after a fierce playtime. It’s also likely you’ve discovered a few accidents in the house. 💩
🚨 A note on socialization
Many guides recommend socializing your puppy early on. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it does increase the likelihood of puppy illnesses. We recommend you keep your pet’s (vaccinated) playmates to a minimum until their shots and boosters are complete.
✅ Normal pee and poo
✅ Register your puppy
✅ Brush teeth for the first time
✅ Schedule your first vet visit
Check for normal pee and poo
Criteria for normal puppy stool
- Color: It should look brown. This indicates that your puppy’s absorbing nutrients like they should.
- Frequency: 2-4 times a day is an acceptable range. The key is that your dog should be consistent from day to day.
- Makeup: There shouldn’t be any foreign objects in your puppy’s poop
🚨 If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call your vet immediately.
Schedule your first vet visit
If you haven’t already scheduled your first vet visit, now is the perfect time. Remember: vaccinations are due at 6-8 weeks old.
Register your puppy
If you have a purebred puppy, register with the American Kennel Club. (Your breeder might have already done this.) Registration is for life, and you’ll get access to the AKC’s Canine Care packages.
For mixed breeds
If you have a mixed breed, register with the AKC Canine Partners program. This allows your furry pal to someday participate in AKC dog sports and win trophies. You’ll be so proud. 😭
Brush those teefers
Puppy breath doesn’t last forever. Brush your dog’s teeth every day, and never use human toothpaste.
Periodontal (gum) disease is the leading health issue in dogs. Not only that, but it can also lead to other more serious health conditions if left untreated. It’s never too early to get in the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth. Every single day. A good rule of thumb is that when you do it, so should your pup.
The first 30 days
Congratulations, you’re now a battle-hardened puppy owner. There are just a few more firsts left.
If you have multiple dogs and they aren’t quite friends yet, don’t worry. The bonding process can take much longer than 30 days — especially if one of your dogs is older. Try rewarding your other dogs when they’re near the puppy if things remain tense. This practice will help create a positive association with that annoying new fluffball.
✅ Prepare for your first vet visit
✅ Find a groomer
Prepare for your first vet visit
Puppies need their first vaccinations at 6-8 weeks old, but that’s not all that happens during the first visit. In addition to a generalized check-up, there are a few topics your need to cover with your vet: spaying, neutering, microchipping, and preventative medication. Also, you’re gonna have to bring some poop along.
👉 Read our guide to prepare for your first trip to the V E T
Find a groomer
Depending on your dog’s breed, this might not be as important. But now is a great time to start scoping out groomers to get a sense of price, quality, and personality.