How to prepare your home for a new puppy

Get ready for your new buddy to come home by getting the right products, re-organizing your living space and making plans ahead of time for care and training.

by Good Dog

Bringing home your new pup will feel very similar to bringing home a young child. They can’t quite control their bladders yet, rely on you to provide food and water, and need your full concentration and attention — if only to keep them out of trouble.

Here are a few ways to make sure your home is ready for your brand new family member.

1. If you’ve decided to crate-train your puppy, set up that area. You’ll need a crate (either plastic and covered, or an open wire frame) big enough for them to stand up and turn around when inside. Get a soft bed or towels to fit inside the crate for them to sleep on.

2. Consider using potty training pads in key areas in your home. While these pee pads may visually encourage accidents inside at first, having them on-hand for your puppy’s first few nights may be helpful. Discuss with a trainer how to best potty train your puppy.

3. Relatedly: get a cleaning spray that’s safe to use around animals. Make sure you have cleaning products on hand that are safe for your puppy.

4. Create a handy location for your dog’s leash, harness, poop bags, and anything else you’ll need for their walks. You should discuss with your breeder what kind of collar or harness is best for your dog’s breed when you go for a walk. Additionally, if you live in a colder climate, you’ll need to get a well-fitting coat and booties to protect your dog from the wintry elements. While if you live in a warmer, sunny climate you might need to get your dog paw protectors from hot asphalt!

5. Curious pup? Get child-proof locks for drawers and cabinets, especially if they have a knob. Some breeds are nosy-er than others and will easily get into things they’re not supposed to. This is especially necessary for storing cleaning chemicals or any substances that are dangerous for animals.

6. You may need extra (human) food storage or to re-arrange your kitchen. Is your food stored in open shelves or cabinets? Do you keep any kind of chocolate low to the ground (many kinds of chocolate can be toxic to dogs)? Before your puppy comes home, take a look at your kitchen and other food storage areas and minimize the risk your puppy faces there. Put easily penetrable packages up high, or start using cabinets that fully close to prevent as many accidents as possible.

7. The basics: food, treats, and toys. It may help your puppy’s transition into your home if you start feeding them the food they were eating at their first home, so talk with your breeder to determine the best brand. If your pup enjoys a certain kind of toy over others (i.e. they don’t like toys with squeakers in them or maybe they prefer bouncy toys), have a few on hand for enrichment/development purposes. Additionally, treats will be used for training and positive reinforcement, and should be small enough for your puppy to safely enjoy.

8. Soft places to sleep. Be sure to have a few soft beds or blankets around for your pup to sleep in and with. Puppies require lots of sleep thanks to their active lifestyles and will benefit from designated places to crash.

9. Change your perspective to your puppy’s point-of-view, and clean/remove items that are on their level. It may feel silly, but try crawling around on your hands and knees to view your home from your dog’s level. See anything that needs tidying up? Need a new place to store your shoes so they don’t get chewed on? Take some time to imagine being your puppy in your home to see if anything needs fixing.

10. Consider using an exercise pen in your home. It can be difficult to keep an eye on your pup at all times, especially if you need to use the restroom or make food for yourself. Getting an exercise pen, typically an enclosure that’s bigger than your dog’s crate but made of the same material and with an open top. The idea here is to be able to contain your puppy with some of their toys and maybe a bed in a safe and confined space so you can watch them while you do other things.

11. Have other pets or small children? Have a plan for introducing them to the pup when they’re all ready. Your puppy will likely be excited to meet everything and everyone, but too much excitement or over-stimulation can lead to frayed nerves and bad experiences.

12. Agree on the plan and the schedule for your new puppy. It may take a while to get your puppy on individual potty and sleep schedules because they’re so young, but you should have already discussed with any other members of your home how your puppy’s day will go. Check with your breeder if there are any specifics you need to keep in mind, but generally: take your puppy outside to potty soon after eating or drinking anything, and then about every 1-2 hours during the day. (Hint: the rule is that puppies can hold their bathroom urges for 1 + # of months old they are. So if you bring your puppy home at 8-weeks-old, they can likely be taken out to potty about every 3 hours. It’s not a perfect science, but keep this in mind when you bring your dog home.) Additionally, you should be prepared to enroll your puppy in obedience class at some point, and potentially doggy daycare. These are all considerations to be decided on before you bring your puppy home so there is no confusion.

All in all, there are lots of criteria you need to keep in mind in order to fully prepare your home for a new puppy and these are just some of the basics. When you get to a pet supply store, it can get even more confusing thanks to the many brands available to you. If you get overwhelmed during the preparation stages, reach out to your breeder who can help guide you along the way; additionally, the other trainers and professionals you’ll be working with can help give you advice.