Puppy Checklist: Getting off to a Great Start

Jessica Vogelsang, DVM
By Jessica Vogelsang, DVM on Sep. 25, 2012

Buying the Right Puppy Supplies

By Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Few events are as exciting in life as the addition of a new furry friend. With a new pet comes great responsibility, and great mountains of puppy supplies. Preparation is the key to a successful transition — having some of the items you know you will need ready to go before Fido arrives will make the process go much more easily! Make sure you have these puppy checklist items on hand before you’re distracted by a licking, happy ball of fur in the house.

VIEW SLIDESHOW: 10 Puppy Supplies to Add to Your Checklist


Dog Toys

Teething puppies have an intrinsic need to chew. If you don’t have an adequate supply of chew toys on hand, you can kiss your shoes, purses, and furniture goodbye. Inappropriate chewing is annoying, expensive, and possibly even dangerous, so set your puppy up for success with dog-appropriate chew toys.

There are plenty of age-specific dog chew toys on the market. Those designated for puppies are a little smaller and softer than the adult toys, because puppy teeth are more prone to fracture. They are still durable enough to handle aggressive mouthing. Chew toys that are quickly ripped up may be ingested by a curious puppy, so monitor your dog during playtime and remove any destroyed toys immediately.

Dog Treats

Dog treats are the highlight of a puppy’s day. They can make dog training a snap and improve the human-puppy bond through a positive reinforcement program. Because it’s easy to overdo, make sure dog treats are small enough to be a tiny bite of flavor, not a meal replacement.

Dog Food

Growing dogs need a food that is appropriate for their developmental stage. Optimal nutrient profiles are especially important for large breed dogs, who can develop painful bone conditions when they are allowed to grow too quickly.

Puppy foods are designed to provide adequate nutrition for the rapid growth phase without overdoing it on the calorie count. These age-specific foods are found at all major pet food retailers; make sure to review diet recommendations with your veterinarian to ensure the food you’re using is the right choice for your dog. They’re only puppies once!


Dogs should have a safe, comfortable, clean spot to sleep in. Many owners find crate training an indispensable tool in the house training process, and this solves the problem of both house training and a designated slumber spot. A large crate with a soft cozy crate pad is just what puppy needs for a secure place to lay his busy head.

Cleaning Supplies

If there is one thing you want on hand BEFORE it becomes a necessity, it’s cleaning supplies. Puppies are messy, no two ways about it. They rip things up. They have accidents. They sometimes vomit on the rug. A good supply of cleaning supplies is indispensable.

There are plenty of cleaning supplies on the market depending on your flooring and your preferences. Cleansers designated “pet safe” are a good way to ensure that even if Fido sneaks a lick, it won’t be a problem for him or for you. Enzymatic cleaners, which specifically break down proteins such as the ones found in urine, are very helpful for those house training incidences.


Dog Grooming

And while we’re talking about cleaning supplies, don’t forget the actual puppy. They will certainly be in need of a bath at some point. While you don’t need a shampoo specific to puppies, you will need one specific to dogs, as their sensitive skin is easily irritated by the stripping cleansers in shampoos designated for people.

Have a good brush on hand as well to get your puppy used to being groomed and to keep their puppy coat in tip top shape. Brushing helps keep the coat shiny and healthy by spreading the oils in their skin through the coat.

Dog Leashes and Collars

Dogs aren’t born knowing how to walk on a leash. Training them to get used to a leash and collar early is an essential socialization skill. For young dogs still learning manners, make sure your leash is short enough that they will be in your control and save the long leashes for when they are a bit older. If you have a small dog — under 20 pounds — you may also want a travel carrier.

Collars should be snug enough that a dog can’t back out of them, but large enough for 2-3 fingers to slip comfortably underneath. Remember, a growing dog will need a new collar several times during the puppy stage as he or she gets bigger.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a doggie seat belt. The leading cause of death in pets during car accidents happens not during the accident itself, but afterwards, when a panicked dog runs into the road. Seat belts can slip onto an existing harness or carrier. Some states are considering a dog seat belt requirement, so better to be prepared now!

Finally, and most importantly, before you bring that new puppy home, make sure you have established a relationship with a veterinarian. Your new four-legged bundle of fur will require ongoing care and advice from a veterinarian. Your pet needs to be examined at least yearly by a vet even if it appears healthy, as many diseases are hidden and not apparent. Remember it is much cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it!

Have fun shopping! And remember, puppies shouldn’t go to public places like pet stores until they have several sets of vaccinations under their belts, so let them enjoy the fruits of your labors from home.

Explore More at petMD.com

Top 5 Common Pet Owner Mistakes

Jessica Vogelsang, DVM


Jessica Vogelsang, DVM


Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, is a person who loves too many topics to be able to stick to one descriptor: writing, dogs, communication, cats,...

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health