Before the big day, there are some important pre-puppy tasks that will set you up for success with your new friend


It is best to go shopping and have important puppy items in place before you bring puppy home – you will feel better prepared and more focused on your new family member. These items include food and water bowl, food, chew toys, brush, bed, crate, collar and leash, ID tag, gate if applicable, and an odor neutralizing spray.

Having a puppy is like having a human toddler in your home – you need to puppy proof to keep puppy safe and keep items you care about intact!  Store household chemical on high shelves, remove plants, breakables, and rugs from puppy’s area.  Clean up socks, shoes and children’s toys that your puppy might chew on.  Set up the crate and install a gate if necessary. Tape loose electrical cords to base bords, close pantry doors and move food up high, including dog food, or store in a sturdy, sealable container. Once you think you are done, get down on your hands and knees or lie on the floor and take a look around from your puppy’s view point to make sure there isn’t anything that you have missed.

Your puppy is going to have a lot to learn and from the beginning, and consistency is key. You will have the best success communicating with your puppy if everybody uses the same language. Sit down with your family and come up with a list of words that everybody will use with puppy. For example, when puppy jumps on people, decide on whether you want to use ‘down’ or ‘off’. This will help your puppy understand what you want more quickly and will also help anybody else raising the puppy, such as dog walkers, day sitters, or nannies. I recommend reading ‘The Well Loved Dog’, by Tamar Geller for more training tips.


Talk with the breeder, rescue organization or shelter worker you acquired the puppy from about his or her feeding schedule and what he or she is fed, and replicate that schedule and type of food for at least a couple of days to prevent stomach upset. If you are switching foods, do so over a period of 5 days, mixing the food and slowly transitioning from one type of food to another. If your puppy develops vomiting or diarrhea after you bring him home, schedule an appointment to see your veterinarian immediately, aspuppies can get dehydrated quickly.

From the first day your puppy will need short periods of solitude in a crate or gated off area. This may be a new experience for puppy, so don’t be surprised if puppy makes some noise.  Start with 5-10 minutes alone in the crate, and don’t give in if puppy vocalizes – after a period of time puppy will get used to his new digs and settle in. Give lots of positive rewards for good behavior when you are around your puppy.

Puppies are usually brought home at about 8 weeks of age. At this age, your puppy will need to urinate or defecate every 2-3 hours, so make sure to take puppy out or provide training papers. Puppies will need to go out during evening hours as well. Schedule your first veterinary visit within a 2-3 days of bringing puppy home. At this visit, your puppy will get a full checkup, most likely get checked for intestinal parasites, receive deworming medication and possibly a vaccine. Bring your puppy’s shot record with you as well as any other paperwork, and that should help your first veterinary go smoothly. Best puppy wishes to you!

By Dr. Claire — Staff Writer