Life with a new puppy is an adventure! I remember when my husband first brought Tank home. He was a pretty fun, easy chunk of a yellow lab. 

Things we already got and/or had on hand to start including him into the day to day life around here.

A comforting crate

Your new dog can appreciate a cozy den of their own at every stage of their life. Crate training is important because it should be their nap and comfy space. It should also be their safe space that no one bugs them in. 

Even if your grown dog’s crate can be tucked away because they choose a different safe-space, their early crate training will make visits to the groomer or overnight veterinary care so much less stressful. Look for a sturdy crate that – for larger breeds – has a divider so it can grow with your puppy. To make the den fun and comfy, I suggest adding and testing things your puppy might like. For Tank, he had a few, large toys and blankets. We also attached an ex-pen to the outside of the crate so he had space to be outside of the crate but still was safe and we knew where he was.

Engrossing chew toys

Puppies love to chew! Each pup has their favorite. Besides the boatloads of positive mental stimulation, chew toys are so good for puppies because they keep teeth and gums healthy as well as when adult teeth are coming in, giving your puppy an appropriate place to have chew time. It’s a great thing to let them do when they are tired to help them take a nap. To keep your pup busy, try a puppy-safe rugged toy that can be filled with their favorite wet and/or dry dog food or other yummy treats like peanut butter or cheese. We also made a toy mobile that the toys got changed out so Tank would learn to play and entertain himself as well.

Leashes for training and safety

Pick up a few leashes for both play and training with your new pup.I like leashes that are 6 to 8 feet long. Make sure to get a size that won’t weigh your puppy down, (you can always get a larger one if needed). So that puppy can get used to having something behind them. I also recommend avoiding retractable leashes for training and walking. Your pup can quickly zip out of control, get tangled in the legs and leashes of other dog walkers, or swerve unexpectedly into traffic. Retractable leashes take precious long seconds to reel in when your puppy is in danger, especially if you are in a panic, too!

A harness 

We started Tank with a harness the first day we brought him home, at the beginning it was on him day and night. It’s a great start for the puppy to get used to wearing it, grabbing it, moving the puppy with it, clipping the leash on and off as well as tethering the puppy when needed. (All things we did with Tank) As he grew and started playing more we started to take off and put on the harness for day to day living, walking, training, etc.   

Poop bags and bag holders for the daily “doo-ty”

Picking up poop is NO ONE’S favorite puppy chore. Second nature once you build the behavior. It’s a habit you’ll want to establish right away, since you’ll need to do it regularly while out and about, and you don’t want your yard filled with dog doo landmines. Besides, picking up after your pup is part of owning a pup.

Pet or baby gates to manage safe spaces

Puppies aren’t bad; they’re curious!  Use gates to help keep them from being underfoot in the kitchen or to prevent them from tumbling down steep steps. I’ve needed to restrict access for my dog when it’s not safe for them or the humans in the house. Trust me, you are doing what the pup needs, limiting access and keeping them safe. Now that Tank is older, He has access to most places most of the time. Depending on what’s going on will depend on if he’s out or crated. He sleeps in his crate and if and when doors are open he’s also crated. 

Food and water bowls for frustration-free meals

Don’t just grab a bowl you no longer use in the kitchen. Puppies are developing their motor skills and need sturdy food and water bowls that stay put and won’t be mistaken for chew toys. My dogs don’t use normal boring bowls so when Tank first came home, he started the same way, we started with simply putting his food on a cookie sheet so he had to scavenge. Also, use a grippy mat under the bowl to prevent sloshing water everywhere. 

Enjoy preparing your life for a puppy

The first year (we are still enjoying it) with Tank has been such a great learning opportunity from a different point of view (a trainer) Even if the essentials on my list here turn out not to be your puppy’s favorite, they’ll make your first days and weeks together so much easier and set you up for a lifetime of love and fun.

Did I miss any essentials you think a new puppy parent needs for the first year? Let us know!