What do I need to prepare for my new puppy?

Expecting a new puppy and not sure what you'll need? This article provides all the information you'll need to contain, clean, transport, train, feed and keep pup healthy.

Welcoming a new puppy into your life and home requires preparation! Don't get caught out, make sure you have everything you need for the following four areas:

#1 - Containment & clean-up: Learn what you'll need to keep pup physically safe and contained; and how to prepare for toilet training clean-up.

#2 - Safety & training: Learn about the gear you'll need to prevent pup from getting lost and to kick-start his/her training regime.

#3 - Food & feeding: Learn what kind of treats, food and supplements pup will need for optimal health.

#4 - Health & wellbeing: Learn about all the tools and toiletries you'll need to keep pup's coat, teeth and body in good working order!

We also offer a supplementary easy-to-use shopping checklist + specific product recommendations on our Friends & Resources page. This checklist is a great supplement to the information provided below - and best of all, it's free to access and download.

Containment & clean-up

Keeping pup safe and contained is important (and challenging!). And depending on how quickly pup learns, it’s likely you’ll be cleaning up a fair amount of poop & pee!

  • Crate & crate cover: A crate will help to contain pup when you can’t supervise him/her. It’s also a useful tool to support toilet training. The crate needs to be large enough for your dog to stand, lay down and turn around. But it shouldn’t be so big that he/she can get away with toileting on one side and sleeping on the other. Depending on your pup’s chewing tendencies, a crate cover can be a nice addition to help make pup feel safe in his/her ‘cave’.
  • Pen: It’s impossible to supervise pup 24/7. A pen will provide a safe and secure place that pup can be left unsupervised for periods of time. Most pens are collapsible for ease of use and storage. You may also wish to attach your pen to pup’s crate.
  • Travel crate (or harness & seat belt): To ensure your pup can travel safely in your car, you should either have a hard plastic travel crate; soft material travel crate; or a harness + seat belt attachment. If pup is still toilet training and/or a small breed, we recommend you choose a crate. Most back-attachment harnesses are suitable for use in the car, but you’ll also need a seat belt attachment (ideally an adjustable one).
  • Mattress or blankets: Pup will need something soft to sleep on when in his/her crate. You may choose to go for a mattress and/or blankets/towels. While pup is still toilet training, we suggest a waterproof mattress and blankets/towels that are easily washed.
  • Towels: Pup will need towels for travel (in the crate) and for bath time. These don’t need to be beautiful or new. Buy yourself some new towels and donate the old ones to pup.
  • Dog bed/s: A dog bed gives pup another designated spot that he/she can sit or sleep. A raised dog bed is great for training the ‘place’ command as it’s obvious to the dog when he/she is either on or off the bed (unlike a flat mattress on the floor). A dog bed can be used in conjunction with a crate – or you may find that your dog prefers one or the other over time.
  • Poop bags and holder: Poop bags + a bag holder are essential extras to carry when walking pup in public. It is a widely accepted convention (and the law in some places) to pick up your dog’s poop. Further, for hygiene and disease prevention, you should also pick up your dog’s poop from your own garden/yard daily. Check out the Led & Collared Poop Bag Dispenser.
  • Paper towel and pet odour remover: You’ll need lots of paper towels to mop up pup’s pee and poop! You’ll also need some sort of odour eliminating spray so that pup doesn’t keep returning to the same corner of your home to do his/her business!
  • Child gates: For the times when pup has some freedom in the house, you’ll likely want to keep him/her out of certain rooms. Removable pressure mounted child gates are the perfect solution.

Safety & training

In addition to pup’s microchip, you’ll need to ensure he/she can be easily identified if lost. You’ll also need the basic tools to start outdoor leash walking and training.

  • Adjustable collar: A collar provides a mechanism to attach identification to your pup. But it’s also super useful for holding back or restraining your puppy (and there are many times you will need to do this!). Your chosen collar should be well fitting and adjustable. Check out Led & Collared for a range of adjustable, waterproof, hypoallergenic and beautiful dog collars made from BioThane®.
  • Identification tags (or similar): Identification tags provide an easy way for other people to find and contact you if pup gets lost. There are many different types of identification tags available (made from different materials). There are also good alternatives such as personalised collars or built in name plates (where pup’s name and your contact details are either printed directly onto, or built into, the collar itself). While specialist GPS dog tracking devices are very handy – these are more suited to adult dogs. We DO NOT recommend use Apple Airtags or similar devices to track your dog. They are not designed or effective for this purpose!
  • Harness: While your pup is young and hasn’t yet learned how to walk on the lead without pulling – a harness is a great option. Harnesses are harder to slip of out than a collar and are less likely to damage a dog’s throat if they pull on the lead. You may decide to continue using a harness long-term, or you may decide to switch over to a different collar/lead combination when your dog is an adult (this choice will depend largely on your dog’s behaviour). Check out Led & Collared for an adjustable, waterproof, hypoallergenic and beautiful harness made from BioThane®.
  • Lead (short and long): You will likely need a couple of different length leads for your pup. A short lead (1.2m or 4 foot) is ideal for walking, especially in urban areas; and a longer lead (1.8m or 6 foot) is needed for training. You may also choose to use a ~5m long line for training. Retractable leads have a place when training specific commands – such as recall. But we strongly urge you not to use a retractable lead for everyday walks. They have poor control and put your dog (and yourself) at risk of injury if pup runs off at top speed and hits the end of the lead with force. Check out Led & Collared for a range of waterproof, practical and beautiful leads made from BioThane®.
  • Clicker: A clicker is a small handheld device that you as a ‘reward marker’ in training (where one pairs a noise with a reward such as a treat to reinforce good behaviour). The benefit of clickers is that they provide a consistent noise each time. Alternatively, you can just choose a marker word, such as “yes” (but it can be any word – we use “chip”).
  • Rain jacket: A rain jacket is not essential, and some dogs hate them. But if you live in a wet climate, you might like to consider a rain jacket for when you take your pup out walking on rainy days. It will keep pup warmer & drier – and it will also make clean-up easier for you when you get home!

Food & feeding

Your pup needs to eat and drink! You’ll need to decide on your feeding and supplementation philosophy. And you’ll need to serve pup’s food and water in safe non-toxic bowls.

  • Food & water bowl: Pup needs to eat. So, he/she will need a couple of food bowls that are robust, durable, hygienic and non-toxic. We recommend food grade stainless steel bowls. Glass, silicone and bamboo bowls are also possibilities. But we do not recommend plastic, ceramic, melamine or aluminium (see the Led & Collared Blog Article: The bowl is just as important as what you put in it – as assessment of different types of dog bowl).
  • Travel water bowl & bottle: If you plan to go out adventuring with pup, it’s likely you’ll need to provide him/her water at some point. So, it’s handy to have a travel-friendly water bottle and bowl on hand. For a travel food bowl, we recommend food grade silicone bowls. These are lightweight and usually collapsible. For a travel water bowl or bottle, we recommend a stainless steel bottle (rather than plastic). This removes the risk of the plastic leaching chemicals into the water (especially important if you leave the bottle in the hot car).
  • Food: The kibble vs. fresh food is a contentious and highly debated topic. We strongly believe that dogs should be fed a fresh, natural and species appropriate diet (noting that dogs are primarily carnivorous). As such, we subscribe to the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet. The BARF diet consists of raw meat & organs (including green tripe), fish, bones, eggs, vegetables and fruits. You will need to do some research on how to create a balanced BARF diet for your dog (but please don’t let this scare you off – it really isn’t that difficult!). If needed, fresh foods can also be lightly cooked, some dogs do better on lightly cooked food (except bone – never cook that!). Dogs also need to chew to keep their minds busy and maintain their dental health. Most raw fed dogs can cope well with bones (of an appropriate type/size). But kibble fed dogs are not always able to digest bone well (so you will need to give them other chews and ensure you do a good job with the toothbrush).
  • Training treats: Training treats are essential – as you will need an effective way to encourage and reward pup for good/desirable behaviour (noting that not all dogs are food motivated). Ideally, your training treats should be small – about the size of a fingernail. One option is to just use pup’s dinner for training purposes (but this can get a bit messy, especially if you feed raw).
  • Treat pouch: Training is often done when you are on the move. This means you’ll need a way to easily carry and access your training treats. Of course, you can always use your pocket, but this isn’t always pleasant or convenient (especially if the treats are messy)!
  • Supplements: If you subscribe to raw feeding (but even if you don’t), you will need to add at least some supplements to your dog’s diet. Some of these can be found in natural/fresh food (such as medicinal mushrooms) – but others can only be accessed in supplement form. To really understand the world of dog supplementation, we recommend you read some relevant books (such as The Forever Dog). But to get you started, we include a list of the supplements (and some recommended brands) that we cycle through for our own dogs (noting that this is not a complete or exhaustive list). One of the core supplements is omega 3 oil. If your dog doesn’t do well on fish or fish-based supplements, opt for algae oil instead. Probiotics are best used if your dog has been unwell, finished a dose of antibiotics or has gut issues. Milk Thistle, Chlorella and Bentonite Clay are excellent for detox and gut support – they can be cycled through the diet as a matter of course; but you should also use them after antibiotics or commercial deworming or flea/tick treatments.

Health & wellbeing

You’ll need the basic tools and supplies to keep your pup’s coat and teeth clean and tidy; prevent parasites; and to address any minor scrapes, itches or cuts. Pup will also need some toys for entertainment.

  • Brush: You will need to brush your dog’s coat frequently. For medium, long, wire and curly coated pups, we recommend the slicker brush (it has a flat rectangular head with bent brush pins). The slicker brush is great at detangling and removing loose fur. For very short coated pups, a combination pin and soft bristle brush is best. If you have a wire-coated dog, you may also like to consider a ‘rake’. Rakes are used as the first step in stripping the coat (you will need more tools if you plan on hand stripping pup yourself). If you have a medium, long or curly coated dog, you may also like to consider an electric clipper (but you can also leave this job to the professional groomers if you prefer).
  • Nail clipper or grinder + styptic powder: You will likely need to cut pup’s nails every few months (unless you also leave that to the groomers). There are various tools available; we recommend use of both a nail clipper and grinder. Some dogs struggle with the noise and sensation of the grinder, so it’s best to introduce it as early as possible. To be safe, we suggest having some styptic powder on hand in case you cut pup’s nail quick (it bleeds extensively).
  • Toothbrush: In combination with chewing, brushing your dog’s teeth will help to keep them clean, strong and healthy. You don’t necessarily need to do this daily – every second day or so is more than adequate. Dog toothbrushes have a slightly different shape to those intended for humans – but you could really use either.
  • Dog toothpaste: You can’t use human toothpaste on your pup. You will need to either buy special dog toothpaste or make/buy a natural version (made of ingredients such as baking soda, organic coconut oil and spearmint essential oil).
  • Toys (for playing and chewing): There are so many dog toys available! It can be overwhelming to choose. So, here are a few basic principles: (a) Avoid plastic chew toys – these tend to leach chemicals (especially when consumed!). For chew toys, choose natural materials (including animal products such as bones, horns, hooves, dried bits etc.). Just make sure pup is ready for these and that you supervise him/her when chewing. (b) Soft toys are usually ok when pup is very young. But it’s best not to leave these with pup unsupervised. And as pup gets older – these will get unmercifully shredded. So, don’t waste your money! (c) Balls and ropes are great for active playtime between pup and human parent. (d) Interactive enrichment and problem-solving toys are excellent! These usually involve some variation of hiding food for pup to find. (e) As a general rule, don’t leave toys out for pup. Toys should be associated with human + fun times. They will lose their allure & value of they are always available.
  • Bath: There are many ways to wash pup – you can do it outside with the hose (might be a bit cold though); you can put him/her into your own bath; or you can even do it in the shower if you have a handheld shower head. Alternatively, you can use a custom-made dog bath (either your own or at the local pet shop)! 
  • Dog shampoo: Pup will get stinky and dirty – so you’ll need to wash him/her every couple of months (approximately). And aside from being stinky, a semi-regular bath is a good way to wash away any allergens or toxins that might have built up on pup’s fur/skin. But on the flip side, be aware that overly frequent bathing will wash away pup’s natural oils and could also create itches and/or allergies. Some dogs have sensitive skin and react to shampoos – so we always recommend natural shampoos designed for sensitive skin.
  • Parasite prevention*: Talk to your vet about appropriate parasite prevention. But be aware that you probably don’t need to dose pup with toxic commercial flea/tick/worm treatment pills every few months “just in case”. In our view, there are better and safer ways such as use of natural homeopathic worm prevention and things such as food grade Diatomaceous Earth (ground up fossils) or apple cider vinegar for flea prevention! Be aware that your approach to parasite prevention and treatment will depend somewhat on where you live and the extent to which pup comes into contact with other dogs and animals. Never give a sick or compromised dog commercial dewormers or flea/tick treatments without first consulting with your vet. These could literally kill them.
  • Liquid iodine and basic first aid kit: Let’s face it, puppies can be clumsy goobers and get themselves into trouble! A dog first aid kit need not be complex or expensive. Some essentials to include are liquid iodine (excellent non-toxic antiseptic); alcohol swabs & antibacterial gel; saline solution; bandages & dressings; scissors; tweezers; gloves; and emergency contact numbers. Giving your pup a quick, but frequent, paw soaking in liquid iodine and warm water will help to wash away toxins and avoid issues with itchy paws.

*This is not official veterinary advice

- December 2023

Author: Lorna Brennan, Managing Director, Led & Collared®

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