New Puppy Checklist

12 essential items for when you first bring puppy home

There are so many products on the market. As a new dog owner, it can be quite overwhelming and difficult to know which items to buy your new puppy and what they actually need.

This is where this new puppy checklist comes in.

All of the items on this new puppy checklist are the basics that will help to make managing puppy life enjoyable and more manageable for all involved.

You will need:

  • Food and water bowl

  • Blanket from mum

  • Dog food

  • Well-fitting Collar and lead (or harness)

  • Dog tag

  • Bed

  • Puppy shampoo and a brush or comb

  • Crate and/or puppy pen

  • Chews and training treats

  • Treat pouch

  • Tug toys – the longer the better

  • Enrichment toys

Litter of springer spaniel puppies in an outside wooden pen

New Puppy Checklist

Food and Water Bowl

It goes without saying that your puppy will, of course, need food and water to survive. It’s actually one of the five freedoms of animal welfare that all animals must have freedom from hunger and first.

Your puppy should have free access to water at all times. You may hear from well-meaning pet owners that you should restrict your puppy’s access to water at night to help with toilet training, but don’t! There are other methods that can help your pup master dry nights, and denying them the opportunity to drink when they’re thirsty really isn’t the answer.

Blanket from mum

Dog’s use their noses much more that us humans. They can smell things much better than we can.

We can use this to our advantage to comfort them. Ask your breeder to provide a blanket which puppy’s mum has slept on. You can put that in your puppy’s crate or bed as soon as you get home and the smell will help puppy to feel less anxious. The blanket we also provide comfort on the travel home.

Dog Food

When your puppy first comes home from their breeder or rescue, you should be told which food they have been weaned onto. Some breeders will give you a supply of this food, or you may need to buy some yourself, but it’s important to keep their diet the same when they first come home.

Puppies’ digestive systems are sensitive, and with the upheaval of leaving their siblings and mother, they need as little added upset as possible to aid their transition. When your puppy first comes home, you may find she doesn’t have much of an appetite. With a kind and gentle approach, your puppy will relax and begin to feel settled enough to eat. If your puppy is not drinking or doesn’t eat at all, then please contact your vet for advice.

Puppies need to be fed a diet specially formulated for puppies until they around a year old. They grow at 20 times the rate of adult dogs, and their food needs to support this and ensure all their nutritional needs are met.

Your new puppy will start on four meals a day and then go down to three meals a day until they are six months old. Take up any uneaten food after a short period rather than leaving it down so they can graze throughout the day.

Well-fitting collar and lead (or harness)

If you choose to use a harness - ensure that it is a Y shaped at the front, similar to this one and doesn’t have a strap across that will restrict joint movement.

If you choose a collar, you should be able to slip two fingers between your puppy’s collar and their neck, ensuring that it’s not too snug, but they also cannot wriggle out of it!

When your puppy is at home, it’s a good idea to remove his collar, as it could be a strangulation risk if your curious pup gets themselves in a tangle.

Your puppy won’t be able to go out for walks in the big wide world until his vaccinations are complete due to the risks of parvo, distemper, and leptospirosis. Although I do recommend taking them out in the car and carrying them out in the world during this time.

While your puppy can’t yet go outside, it’s a perfect time to introduce a collar and lead and help your puppy get used to the feel of walking on the lead for short sessions at home in an environment they already feel comfortable in.


A border collie puppy sat on grass with a light blue lead

Dog Tag

In the UK, all dogs must wear a dog tag by law when they are in a public place. Legally your dog’s tag should be inscribed with the owner’s name and address of their home. We recommend putting your telephone number on the tag. This is the quickest and easiest way for you to be reunited with your dog should they ever get lost.

In addition to your dog’s ID tag, all dogs must be microchipped. Contact your puppy’s chip provider and make sure your information is accurate and up to date. Don’t forget if you move house or change your telephone number to update your dog’s microchip records.

I have some of these cute ID tags available if you are in the UK.

Dog Bed

Regardless of where you intend for your puppy to sleep, they will need a comfortable bed. You may want your puppy to sleep in a crate or in your bed, but all dogs need a space of their own and a comfortable place to relax.

Puppies need an inordinate amount of sleep, between 18-20 hours a day! And if your puppy doesn’t get the sleep, she needs you will quickly find she becomes a bit of a bitey Tasmanian devil!

Having a dog bed of an appropriate size that is comfortable and accessible is an essential part of being able to encourage your puppy to get the sleep she needs each day.

It’s a good idea to opt for a dog bed with a removable cover which you can pop in the wash.

Whether it’s toilet training accidents, mud, or dare we say it… fox poo, there will be times when your puppy’s bed could do with a freshen up. Choosing a machine washable dog bed makes life a lot easier.

A puppy lay on his back relaxing in a dog crate

Crate and/or puppy pen

A crate is such a useful tool for your puppy if introduced with patience and positivity. Your puppy will need a quiet and safe space to relax and to get their much-needed sleep. There will also be times in your puppy’s life where they will have to spend time in a crate, such as at the vets. So it pays to help your puppy to feel relaxed and at ease in one now.

You may not choose to crate your puppy at night, but a crate will prove a really valuable tool for you and your puppy, so I highly recommend investing in one.

Your crate should never be a place of punishment, frustration, or fear for your puppy. The intention is to provide a comfortable and safe space for your pup – so aim for no crying.

You can find some free crate training videos in my puppy Facebook Group.

Chews and training treats

Chews and treats for training are absolute essentials for any puppy or dog owner. They should always appear on your new puppy checklist. Edible and non-edible chews help your puppy relieve the pain of teething, calm down when they’ve become overexcited, and to relax and unwind. Chewing releases endorphins, which naturally help your puppy to settle and calm down. Most puppies don't get enough things to chew on each day. 

Not all chews are created equal. Puppies need both edible and non-edible chews offered to them each day. Avoid rawhide and big brand dental sticks, and instead opt for natural chews that are chemical-free and a healthy alternative. Your puppy should always be supervised with a chew, and make sure to check the guidance to ensure your chew is age-appropriate.

Treats will be your friend when training your puppy; there are so many new skills your puppy will be mastering over the coming months. Rewarding your puppy for the behaviours you want to see will result in a higher likelihood of those behaviours being repeated. Which leads nicely onto…..

Treat Pouch

Especially in the early days of training, you will need to have treats accessible at all times. This will help you to quickly capture and reward those puppy successes! A treat pouch can easily be clipped to your waistband ensuring that you always have treats at hand to reward your pup.

A variety of dog toys 

Puppies need a variety of different sizes and textured toys so ensure your collection includes, rope, soft, chew and tug toys. 

Playing with your puppy is a wonderful bonding experience, and tug is a favourite game for many. Tug games can be used to teach impulse control, will allow your puppy to release pent up energy. It can also be a fantastic way to redirect puppy biting.

Puppies’ teeth are sharp. Razor-sharp. And so when choosing a tug toy for your puppy, I would recommend choosing a longer tug toy like this one to put more distance between your hand and your puppy’s teeth and to stop them from accidentally practicing teeth on skin! I use double-stitched tug toys from Tug-E-Nuff.

 A large toy they can ruff and tumble with can really help with puppy biting!

Black puppy playing tug with a red dog toy

Puppy shampoo, a brush and comb

You will likely get some toilet training accidents. That’s not just puppy pees and poops where we’d rather they didn’t, but also while your pup masters their peeing stance, there are, ‘leg sprinklings.’

It’s really important to get your puppy used to grooming from a young age. Your puppy’s grooming needs will vary according to their breed and coat. All pups will benefit from being gently introduced to bathing and brushing. I recommend introducing bath time without any water in the bath to begin with. 

Use a natural canine shampoo, which is specially formulated to be gentle on your puppy’s skin.

Enrichment toys

One of the most important items on this new puppy checklist is often overlooked by new puppy owners. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise! When your puppy is small, they need to be walked for shorter stints rather than going on huge hikes. This is especially true for large and giant dog breeds.

Enrichment toys are an excellent way to encourage your puppy to engage their brains, use their nose, and keep out of mischief! If your puppy is busy solving a puzzle or snuffling for treats, then he’s not chewing your shoes or nipping at your ankles!

Snuffle mats, puzzle toys, Kongs, and slow feeders are popular choices when starting to get your puppy used to settling.

Black puppy sniffing food out of a dog snuffle mat from the new puppy checklist

Thanks for reading the new puppy checklist. I hope it helped you.

For more tips, advice, and support with your new puppy, please join the
free Facebook group, which will give you access to a community of other puppy owners to help you on your journey!

This exercise is great for helping to prevent separation anxiety.