From vaccinations through to basic training, the first few months of puppyhood can certainly be action-packed! Here’s our guide to help you give your puppy the best possible start in life...
New puppy equipment checklist
To make sure your new buddy is as comfortable and cosy as possible, here are the items that should be on your essential kit list. Get hold of these before your puppy arrives - as you’ll need many of them from day one...
- Bedding. The bed needs to be big enough for your pup to grow into. Sometimes they’ll curl up in their sleep; other times they stretch right out. So make sure it has enough room and support for them to sleep in all positions. Tip: opt for specialist, machine-washable pet bedding (Vetbed, for instance) as it’s easier to keep the bedding area dry, warm and hygienic.
- Food bowls. They’ll need separate bowls for water and food. Always make sure your new pup has fresh water that they can reach whenever they want to.
- Collar and leash. Get an adjustable collar, suitable for the breed. Pups can grow quickly, so you’ll need to check for sizing at least a couple of times a week. There should always be just enough space to fit two fingers between the inside and the collar and your puppy’s neck. The lead should be long enough to give your pup some freedom to explore, but short enough for you to pull him out of harm’s way.
- Puppy crate. The crate can double as a useful tool for house training and a den for when they get stressed. It can also be handy as a travel carriage. Read more about crate training and choosing a crate here https://www.everypaw.com/all-things-pet/how-to-crate-train-a-puppy.
- Grooming equipment. For dogs with a short, smooth coat (Chihuahuas and Pugs, for instance), you’ll need a soft to medium bristle brush. For Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and other dogs with coats that are prone to matting, you’ll need a medium to wide-spaced bristle brush, along with a slicker brush for dealing with tangles. If your dog breed is prone to seasonal moulting, a de-shedding brush is useful for picking up loose hair. Dog toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo and nail clippers should also be on your list.
- Toys. Chew toys provide comfort and allow your pup to exercise their jaw, while helping to keep their teeth clean. Balls on ropes, frisbees and squeakers are great for mental stimulation, a workout - and fun!
How to puppy-proof your home
Here’s how to create the right environment for your pup to explore in safety…
- If it can be swallowed, keep it out of reach. This includes pills, cotton swabs, soap, tissues, coins, jewellery, lego, coins, hair ties and lots of other ingestible items. Make sure you and the rest of the family get into the habit of keeping their clutter out of reach.
- Protecting curious pups. The toilet lid should be kept down - as it’s not unknown for playful pups to jump into the bowl! Child safety latches on floor-level cupboards are also a good idea.
- Electrical safety. As far as you can, ensure that electrical cables are not exposed. For any wires in reach of your pup, pet-proof cable wrap is recommended.
- Garden safety. For safe playtime in the garden, it’s worth checking for and removing any potentially harmful plants and other nasties. To help you with this, Dogs Trust has a handy list of poisonous plants, garden and household substances.
Puppy microchipping and tagging
It’s illegal for a dog older than eight weeks not to be microchipped in the UK. You can get the full lowdown on why this is so important and how to go about it in our guide to microchipping your pet https://www.everypaw.com/all-things-pet/the-lowdown-on-pet-microchipping.
It’s also a legal requirement for any dog in a public place to wear a collar with the owner’s name, address and postcode on it - or engraved on an attached tag.
Registering your puppy with a vet
A visit to the vet is one of the very first things to arrange as soon as your new pup arrives.
The vet will make sure you stay on top of all the vaccinations your puppy needs. They will also give you advice on things like diet and exercise (this can vary quite a lot depending on breed). Your vet should also tell you when the time is right to neuter your young dog.
Beyond the medical essentials, some vet surgeries also run puppy clubs. For owners, these provide the opportunity to pick up hints and tips on things like training and feeding. For pups, they are a fun, safe way to meet new friends and to help with socialisation.
If your pup gets into a scrape, or if they develop a medical problem, you want to be able to access the right treatment quickly, with no fuss - and preferably without being hit by a huge vet bill! This is why so many dog owners opt for pet insurance.
If you hang on until after your dog develops a problem, you may find that your insurance options are a lot more limited. That’s why puppyhood is the ideal time to take out pet cover for the first time; you’ve a much greater chance of securing the policy that best suits your needs - including lifetime cover if you want it.