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New Dog Checklist: Everything You Need to Do & Buy

Congratulations! You’ve decided to add a new dog to the family. Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or seasoned expert or whether you’re adopting or working with a breeder, there’s lots to be done when adding a puppy or dog to the household.

“Adopting a new pet is exciting for the whole family,” says Jessica Arnold, manager of Petfinder Shelter Partner Engagement. “Preparing your heart and home in advance will help make the transition smoother for everyone involved.” 

This new dog checklist will help you prepare for your new BFF’s arrival.


What To Do When You Get a New Dog 
No new dog checklist would be complete without the things you need to do before bringing your new puppy or dog home. Buying a bunch of supplies is a great start, but there’s more to bringing home a new dog than having a leash and food on hand.


Dog Proof Your Home
Before your new dog steps foot in your home, you must make sure it’s safe for him or her. This is doubly true for puppies whose curious nature can get them into all kinds of trouble.

Have any chrysanthemums in a flower pot? Get rid of them. Same goes for mistletoe, lily of the valley, and tulips. (Find a full list of plants that are toxic to dogs on PetMD.)

Keep any cleaning supplies or insect poison in the garage or a cabinet that’s easy to pry open? Move them. Dogs don’t know what’s bad for them. You don’t want your first visit to the vet with your new pooch to be because he got into something dangerous.

If you’re bringing a puppy home and you’ve got stairs, you might want to install a baby gate to prevent accidents.

Finally, move anything chewable that you value. Those Louboutin heels and Ferragamo loafers make great chew toys for a teething puppy. (See “Toys” on the new dog shopping list below.)


Find a Vet
Finding a vet should be at the top of any list of new dog essentials. A vet is your partner when it comes keeping your new puppy or dog healthy throughout her life.

You don’t need to wait until your new pooch is home to start looking for a vet. If you’re a new dog owner, start by asking dog owning friends who they use or look at online reviews.


Set Up the Essentials
You’ll find a new dog shopping list, along with the specific supplies needed for a puppy below. You don’t need to buy all of them right away. (Items with an asterisk are those you need immediately.) But there are a few items that should be set up before you bring your new BFF home.

Food, of course. If you can, find out what food your new puppy or dog has been eating at the breeder, shelter or foster home. It’s better for everyone to transition a dog from a previous food to a new food over a period of time. Sudden changes can lead to messy digestive issues.

Put the food and water bowls in their “spot” before your new dog arrives.

If you’re getting a puppy and plan to do crate training, you’ll want to have that set up before his first night. Same goes for an older dog who has already been crate trained. Don’t need a crate? Have a dog bed set up where you want it to be.

Now that you know what to do when you get a new dog, here’s what you’ll need to buy.


New Dog Shopping List (All dogs)

  • Food & water bowls* – Choose a size that corresponds to your new dog’s breed. You can find bowls that are made for small and large dogs, and even dogs with floppy ears.
  • Food* – As mentioned above, if you can, start with the food your new puppy or dog was already eating. Then transition to new food. Most dog owners feed their dogs both dry and wet food.
  • Dog treats
  • Collar, ID tag & leash* – Choose a collar size that corresponds to your dog’s neck size.
  • Harness
  • Crate & crate mats* – The right-sized crate should let your dog turn around comfortably and lie down. It should have extra head space even when he’s sitting or standing.
  • Dog bed*
  • Toys* – (balls, chew toys, tug-of-war ropes, puzzle toys)
  • Grooming tools (comb or brush, de-shedder, shampoo, conditioner, nail clippers, ear cleaner)
  • Waste disposal* – Unless you’ve got an endless supply of plastic grocery bags, you’ll need to invest in disposal bags. Some dog owners also prefer to use a pooper scooper rather than scooping with their hand.
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Flea, tick & heartworm prevention –You’ll need to make this a priority if your new puppy or dog is arriving in the spring or summer.
  • Vitamins & supplements
  • Dental care (doggy toothbrush & toothpaste, dental chews)
  • Training aids
  • Doggy seatbelt or car seat
  • Pet insurance

Puppy Shopping List

In addition to everything above, here are a few new puppy essentials.
  • Collar* – Puppies outgrow collars quickly. Start with a collar that expands, but know you’ll most likely have to buy a new one in a few months.
  • Crate & crate mats* – As with collars, many puppies will outgrow their crates if you buy one based on their puppy size. Look for a crate with moveable dividers so you can expand the interior space as your puppy grows.
  • Potty pads*
  • Toys* – Chew toys are especially important for puppies… unless you’re ready to sacrifice a shoe or two.