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What do I need as a first-time dog owner?

August 27, 2021

Are you about to welcome a puppy into your life? Congratulations! Read on to find out what you need as a first-time dog owner, covering how to prepare for your new puppy, what things you need to buy and what you can expect as you begin life as a puppy parent. 

What do I need to do to prepare for my new puppy?

Before you bring your new puppy home, here’s a checklist of things to do.

1. Register your puppy with a vet 

One of the first trips out for your new puppy will be to the vet for a health check and their first vaccinations. Puppies need to be vaccinated at eight to 10 weeks, and again two weeks later before they can be walked in public places. Read more about what vaccinations your puppy will need. 

When it comes to choosing a vet, you can use the search facility on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ website to find a vet near you. Veterinary practices come in different shapes and sizes, from small independent surgeries to larger chains. 

If you have friends with dogs, ask around to see if they can recommend a local veterinary practice. 

2. Arrange pet insurance

Some puppies are sold with pet insurance – but this is likely to be for just six weeks. Make sure you are covered to protect yourself financially in the event that your puppy falls sick. Veterinary bills can be very expensive. 

Read this story from new puppy owners Vanessa and Tina, whose puppy Yumi had to be rushed to the vets for emergency treatment: ‘We were scared our sick puppy wouldn’t pull through’

3. Book time off work

You will need time to settle your puppy into their new home, so book some time off from work. You’ll be surprised how much attention your puppy will need to begin with – even going to the bathroom alone can be challenging with a new puppy in tow, which makes leaving the house even harder. It can be helpful to have a willing puppy sitter on standby for when you need to get some work done or go out. 

4. Plan ahead for your puppy’s day care if needed

If you are likely to be away from the home for long periods of time during the day, it’s a good idea to arrange daycare for your dog, for example, doggy daycare or a dog walker. This will prevent them from getting bored, it also means they will have company and get the exercise they need while you are away. 

Before you leave your puppy alone for the first time, make sure they have been trained to spend time alone. Without this, dogs can easily develop separation anxiety.

5. Prepare your puppy to come home with you

A few days before you pick up your puppy, take a toy or blanket along to the breeder. Then bring this home with you on the day you collect your puppy. The toy or blanket will have a familiar smell, which will help your puppy to feel more settled in their new home.

What do I need to buy for my new puppy?

As a first-time dog owner, there are lots of things you’ll need to get. There are essential things like a bed, food, collar, harness and lead as well as plenty of extras that can help to make your life easier.

Your puppy will need: 

  • A nice comfy bed
  • Some food and water bowls
  • Food, which is suitable for puppies. Find out what the breeder has been feeding your puppy and stick to the same diet to begin with. Changes to your puppy’s diet should be done gradually. Get more advice about feeding your puppy
  • A collar, with an identity tag, a lead and a harness
  • A good selection of toys for your puppy to play with and good quality rubber toys for your puppy to chew
  • Treats for training
  • A grooming brush to keep your dog’s coat free from dirt and knots

If you have a car, you will also need to make sure your puppy is safe and secure when travelling. Read more about how to keep your dog safe in the car.

Are you planning to use a crate? You should buy a crate that your puppy can grow into, rather than for the size they are now. Here’s some advice to help with crate training.

Finally, if you live in a flat or an apartment, you might want to get some puppy pads to use during puppy toilet training. It’s much better if you can get your puppy used to going to the toilet outside from the first day home. This will help them to learn faster about where they should go to the toilet, and where they shouldn’t. However, puppy pads can be helpful if you cannot easily take your puppy outside at night. 

Preparing yourself for life with a dog

You are bound to be excited about life with your new puppy. But be prepared for lots of hard work, day and night, and not much sleep to begin with. In a nutshell – puppies are exhausting and a huge responsibility; the experience is often compared to the early weeks with a baby. 

Be prepared for: 

Join our Puppy Parenting Club for tips, tools and support from the early days with your new puppy right up to their first birthday and beyond.