Updated: Apr 5, 2021
Image courtesy of @kobebabybear
Once you've decided to get your puppy, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget what a big impact your new arrival is about to have on your life.
We pick up our puppy Nacho on 6th April and although we already have Archie, it's been almost 11 years since he was a puppy and we realised we'd forgotten how challenging those first few weeks/months were.
We also realised just how much preparation is needed. If you have a dog already, you may be lucky enough to have things he can share (albeit reluctantly) with the new arrival and some things you can recycle (we still have every collar Archie ever wore). But there are some things you will still need to get before your puppy arrives at his forever home.
Here are the main things you need to get organised and then you can relax and focus in on that excitement again.
Set Up Insurance
The minute the breeder hands over the pup to you, he is your responsibility so insurance needs to be set up in advance with that date as the policy start date.
You will be extremely lucky if your dog doesn't have at least one major health problem or accident during their life and vet fees do not come cheap. Archie has had 2 fatty lumps removed in the last 2 years and each time that was over £700. He also spent 3 nights at the RVC when he was 3 as he had suspected meningitis. Luckily it wasn't but the bill was still over £2,000.
We never wanted to find ourselves in a position where we had to think about the cost of taking care of any health issues Archie (and now Nacho) has and that is why we will always have insurance.
And it's not just health issues you need to consider. Dogs are also very accident prone and if yours has an accident like being hit by a car, you may not just have a vets bill but also a claim for damage/injury to the car owner. All pet insurance policies include third party liability cover up to £2,000,000.
Image courtesy of @canecorsolondon
Find a Vet
You will need to register your pup with a vet as soon as possible and get him in for a full health check within his first 2 weeks home. The vet will also give you his vaccination schedule and tell you about flea and worming treatments.
Many vets now have monthly payment plans which cover the cost of these treatments and consultations so you can budget throughout the year.
Most people will choose the vets nearest to them which is wise in case of emergency or you may want to choose a vet recommended to you by a friend. You can also find a list of UK vets here.
It is important to find a vet you trust and who you feel understands your dog.
Buy the Essentials
This could be a very long list depending on what you class as essential for your pup but let's put that diamond studded collar to one side for now and concentrate on the true essentials you should have before you collect your puppy.
You will need:
- 2 bowls - one for food and one for water. We recommend Hero bowls by Hownd.
- A bed and/or crate - depending on where you decide your pup is going to sleep. Your pup may chew their first bed so probably wise not to spend too much on it.
Toys and brain games - to begin with, just enough to keep him entertained. We recommend K9 Connectables.
- Food - see our blog post "What Should I Feed My Dog" for suggestions.
- Treats - small puppy treats for training. Visit Be Kind Treats for a selection of puppy treats.
- Puppy Pads - for those inevitable accidents! (If you don't have a garden we recommend a Piddle Patch)
- A brush - get your pup used to being brushed from an early age to avoid problems later. We recommend the Pet Teezer puppy brush.
- Puppy Shampoo - bathing is another thing to get them used to as soon as possible. We recommend Playful Pup by Hownd.
- Puppy Collar - we recommend you get your pup used to wearing a collar around the house before you go out walking. Be sure to remove it whenever your pup is left unsupervised in case it gets caught on something.
To Crate or Not to Crate?
That is the question!
When I got my first dog 30 years ago (showing my age here), I had never heard of crate training but now it seems to be accepted as the way to go. It did work well with Archie and we will be doing it again with Nacho.
If you are still undecided as to whether crate training is for you, look out for our upcoming blog about puppy training at home.
Decide on Some House Rules
You may want to keep your dog out of certain rooms in your house or not want them on your bed or sofa. For example I keep Archie out of the kitchen while cooking as I believe that is an accident waiting to happen!
Whatever you decide for your own home, the key thing is to have everyone in your home on the same page. There is nothing more confusing for a pup to be encouraged on the sofa by one human, only to be told off by another.
Image courtesy of @barneycockapooadventures
Puppy Proof Your Home
Your pup will be immediately inquisitive about his new surroundings when he arrives home and there are certain items you will need to protect from potential destruction and others you will need to remove for your pup's safety.
If this is your first dog, check out this list of hazardous items some of which can be fatal to dogs. This is includes plants, food and chemicals.
Puppies also love to chew, especially until the get their adult teeth (around 30 weeks old) so you will need to remove anything precious or potentially dangerous such as electric cables. Make sure your pup has plenty of interesting chew toys to keep him occupied and keep his eyes off your designer shoes!
The PDSA have a full guide on puppy proofing your home here.
Book Puppy Classes
We highly recommend you take your pup along to classes even if you've had dogs for years and are confident in your training abilities. Puppy Classes will help you with basic training but they are also a great place for your pup to socialise with other dogs, humans and children.
Good puppy classes with reputable trainers such as Lady and The Hound get booked up quickly so you will need to get your pup signed up in advance.
Puppy classes are generally for pups up to 20 weeks old.
We look forward to sharing our puppy journey with you. Please tell us in comments if there is a particular subject you think we should cover.