What you should have set up at home before bringing in your pup


Getting Your Home Dog-Ready 

There’s nothing quite like the excitement that precedes the arrival of a new dog. You can envision this year’s holiday card, featuring your furry friend, and may even be considering setting up an Instagram profile for him. But before you skip ahead to the part where he’s a well-established member of the family, you need to get yourself dog-ready. 

Whether you’re welcoming an adult or senior dog from a rescue or an 8-week-old puppy, your home is about to become his too, and that means you have some shopping and preparing to do! You are responsible for your pet’s safety, health, and happiness, and you need to watch out for your own happiness too. That means buying plenty of supplies geared towards exercise, grooming, and mental stimulation, as well as taking steps and making purchases designed to protect your property and peace of mind. 

The specifics of the purchases and preparations you’ll need to make will depend upon the size, age, and health of your new friend, as a new pup has different needs from an adult or senior dog, but the information below will serve as a helpful guide.


Start by dog-proofing your house

Before you head out to go shopping, it’s a good idea to start by dog-proofing your house. This step is as important for protecting your furniture/rugs/plants/clothes as it is for your pup’s health, and if you make it your first step, you’ll be able to add the puppy-proofing items you’re missing to the list of supplies that you need. 

The two most important items you’ll need are gates and a crate.

  • Gates – In the first weeks after you bring your new pet home, dog gates will be absolutely indispensable. They allow you to quickly block off areas, either to keep your dog out of a specific area or to block him in. Gates are available in various sizes and with a wide array of features. Some can be permanently installed, while others use pressure mounting so that they can be moved as your needs change. 
  • Crate – A crate has multiple purposes and advantages. In your pup’s early days in your home you can use it as part of house training, or just to keep him out from underfoot or safely restricted while you are out of the house. Once your pup has been crate trained you will find that he chooses to retreat to it and considers it his own private place. Crates are available in different materials and sizes, including plastic kennels that are airline approved and collapsible metal pens.


Protection for your dog and for your home

It’s a good idea to get down on the ground and view your home from a dog’s-eye view. You may feel silly doing it, but that’s when you’ll suddenly see the items that have become invisible to you but that are big temptations or dangers for puppy teeth. Here is a partial list of items you’ll want to look for and consider moving or gating off:

  • Houseplants – There are few things more attractive to a puppy than a pot full of dirt for digging and sticks and leaves for tugging. While the top concern about plants is that they may be poisonous to your dog, you can save yourself the headache and heartache of having your fiddle-leaf fern turned into a fetch toy by putting it out of puppy’s reach with a tall plant stand or ceiling mounted hanging basket, spraying them with a bitter apple pet deterrent or lemon juice, or covering the soil in your plant with a plant pot grid, large rocks, aluminum foil, or pinecones.
  • Electrical wires and cords – Appliance cords have always been with us but are even more ubiquitous now as we plug in our phones, headsets, and laptops. There are several options for how to handle these, including pet cord protectors that cover cords to make them chew proof, cable ties and hooks to keep cords off of the floors and flush against the walls, and cable management boxes that store power strips, cords, cables, chargers, and adapters.
  • Trash cans – You will be amazed at just how fascinating your trash cans are to your dog. Whether it’s your bathroom can where you toss used tissues or your kitchen bin filled with food scraps and delicious-smelling empty containers, your dog is going to view it as an open invitation to topple and toss the contents. It’s a good idea to replace each open-topped trash basket with lidded trash cans that close tightly.
  • Household chemicals – If you currently store bottles of chemicals on the floor or in open cabinets, now is the time to move them to higher ground. Some chemicals are extremely toxic to dogs.
  • Children’s toys – It will take a while before your pup can distinguish between the toys you’ve purchased for him and your child’s treasured Legos or Polly Pockets pieces which present a choking or swallowing problem. Best to move those items into closed bins or a room that the dog won’t be allowed into.
  • Flooring, area rugs, and carpeting – You don’t need to refurnish your home just because you have a puppy or new dog coming, but it may take some time for them to learn their potty routine, as well as what not to chew on. You’ll definitely want to invest in some puppy pads during house training, and if you have area rugs that you want to preserve, you may want to roll them up and store them for the time being. If you choose to keep them down, bitter apple spray can help keep your pup from chewing on edges. You’ll also want to invest in an effective pet carpet cleaner for inevitable accidents or incidents – even housetrained dogs are likely to get sick on the rug at some point. You’ll also want to set aside some rags or purchase some cleaning cloths.


Your dog’s belongings

Once you’ve addressed safety, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff – all the things that you purchase to make your dog feel at home. 

  • Dog bed – Depending upon the size of your home and the way that your family moves through its day, you may want multiple dog beds in different rooms so that he always has his own spot to retreat to. Dog beds and baskets are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, including memory foam and beds with no cushioning for dogs that are destructive chewers. Different dogs have different preferences and needs, and you may want to choose something that matches your décor. Dog beds should be at least 8-to-12” longer than your dog in order to ensure comfort. Some come with side walls that the dog can lean on, others have cave-top tops which your dog can crawl under for a sense of security. Beyond size and shape, important features to look for are support (especially if your dog is a senior) and being machine washable. 
  • Dog toys – Just as is true of humans, every dog has its favorite toys and games. Some will only be interested in balls and will turn their noses up at chew toys and rope tugs, while others will revel in the joys of stuffed animals, toting them around just like children do their blankets or loveys. You’ll quickly learn your dog’s favorite, but it’s a good idea to start off with a selection. Toys keep your dog from getting bored and destructive, and also provide them with a sense of security. Plus, they make playing with your dog much more fun!
  • Water and food bowls – There’s no doubt that if you pull a couple of bowls out of your cupboard and fill them with your pup’s food and water, he will happily eat and drink. But dog bowls are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and with a wide range of special features that you might want to consider. Bowls made of plastic have the advantage of being unbreakable, but they are also vulnerable to being chewed or scratched, while ceramic bowls are attractive but can break easily. The traditional stainless steel dog bowl avoids both of those problems, and often come with a non-skid bottom to keep them from spilling or sliding across the floor when your hungry or thirsty friend gets a little too enthusiastic. (And speaking of overly enthusiastic eaters, special slow-feed bowls with ridges and valleys that stop your dog from gulping his food down and getting sick are a great solution.) 

Taller dogs or dogs that are arthritic may benefit from having an elevated bowl so that they don’t have to bend down to eat or drink, and there are even automated bowls that can be programmed to dispense food at regular intervals. If you travel you may also want to invest in collapsible bowls that are easy to stow and take with you.

  • Leash and collar – Collars and leashes are available in so many styles and colors that it is easy to get drawn in to viewing them as nothing more than a fashion statement. But beyond good looks, these are essential tools that keep your dog safe and assist you with training. Make sure that you choose a leash that is appropriate to your dog’s size and temperament: A dog that pulls may do best with a head halter that wraps around its muzzle, or a leash that serves as a harness, and you want to make sure that the collar you select fits well enough that the dog can’t slip out of it forwards or backwards, but that it isn’t so tight that it causes pain. 
  • I.D tags – Even dogs that have been microchipped should have some kind of visible identification that can be used if he gets away from you or gets lost. ID tags are easily available at most pet stores or online, and you can even order personalized collars that include your pet’s name and your contact information.
  • Medicine – Do you keep a supply of over-the-counter medications handy for your own aches and pains? Have a first aid kit? Your dog needs medicines too, beyond the vaccinations and heartworm treatment that he receives from the veterinarian. You’ll want to treat him regularly with a flea and tick preventative. These are available through your veterinarian as well as at pet stores and online retailers. You also need to be prepared in case your dog sustains an injury. Consider having a muzzle on hand, because even the gentlest dog will behave unpredictably if they are in pain, and you want to be able to treat an injury without fear of being bitten. You should keep gauze and non-stick bandages on hand, as well as adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, and antibiotic wipes. Dog wounds are best cleaned using saline solution and a  1% solution of Povidone iodine.  Pet supply stores sell special no-chew tape that has a bitter taste to keep the dog from removing it. Hydrogen peroxide (3% solution only) will induce vomiting if your dog eats something toxic, but check with your veterinarian before administering.
  • Grooming supplies – Your dog has basic hygiene needs, so you’ll need the right supplies and tools.  Depending on the size of your dog and whether or not you’re planning on do-it-yourself grooming, you may need any of the following:  Sprayers and drain covers for your tub, sink or shower; brushes and deshedding tools; special shampoo and conditioner designed for your pup’s type of hair and skin condition; a dedicated towel and dryer; electric clippers; doggie wipes for when he comes inside with muddy paws or between baths; nail clippers; dog nail clotting powder; toothbrush and toothpaste.