A Guide To Preparing For A Puppy

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Almost everyone agrees that puppies are among the most adorable creatures on earth, and that bringing home a new puppy is a joyful, exciting event for the whole family. Give your new arrival a happy and safe welcome with some basic supplies and preparation.

Puppy Essentials

All puppies need some basics for their safety and survival. No matter how much you plan, you'll probably be making lots of trips to the store for puppy supplies. Here are some things to be sure you've picked up before bringing your new puppy home.

  • Clean food and water bowls
  • Puppy food
  • A measuring cup of scoop to measure puppy food
  • Collar that fits your puppy
  • Identification tag
  • Plastic waste bags
  • Training treats
  • Newspapers for training
  • Cleaning supplies for inevitable accidents
  • Leash.

Puppy Play Area

In addition to feeding, training and walking concerns, your puppy needs a space where he can be safely contained. No matter how enchanting he is, you won't be able to supervise him 24 hours a day, and you'll need to know that he isn't endangering himself or destroying your home. Depending on your available space and your puppy's personality, try one of these strategies to create a safe puppy space:

  • Crate or kennel: Since dogs are naturally den animals, many of them like being contained in a small, cozy space. The added bonus is that dogs often have the instinct not to soil their den, so crates can aid in housebreaking training. Be sure the crate is large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around. Keep a soft blanket or pillow in the crate to make it a welcoming space rather than a cage.
  • Contained area: For dogs that dislike or are frightened of crates, or if you just want to give your puppy a little more freedom, use baby gates or a puppy play yard to contain your puppy in a safe section of your home. Choose an area with hard floors for easy accident cleanup and make sure the puppy has no access to anything hazardous inside the gates. Your puppy will appreciate a blanket or dog bed in her area.

A Place to Sleep

Where do you want your puppy to sleep? Until she is housebroken, you'll probably want her to bed down in her kennel or contained area for the night. During naptimes and when she gets a little older, she'll be spending more time sleeping in other areas of your home. Depending on your preferences and puppy parenting styles, you'll want to have:

  • Dog beds: Have them in multiple rooms so your puppy will have alternatives to jumping up on your furniture.
  • Soft rugs: If you have hard floors, they may be uncomfortable for your puppy to lie down on. Attractive area rugs compliment your décor and encourage her to stay off the furniture by offering a soft space to rest.
  • Puppy blankets: If you love cuddling with your puppy up on the couch, covering upholstered furniture with soft, inexpensive blankets will keep it looking newer longer.

Puppy Toys

Like all children, puppies love to run and play! Also like children, they love to put things in their mouths, especially when they're teething. Enrich your puppy's environment by having some or all of these fun things on hand:

  • Balls: If your puppy likes to fetch, a ball is much safer than a splintery stick. Just be sure it is too large to fit down his throat and present a choking hazard.
  • Stuffed animals: Your puppy may enjoy snuggling with these or playing hunting games.
  • A Kong: This uniquely shaped toy fascinates most puppies and dogs because its shape makes it bounce in unpredictable ways when you toss it. Use if for an interesting game of fetch, or add another dimension of fun by filling the hollow area with a tasty snack.
  • Squeaky toys: Some puppies absolutely love biting down on these and hearing them squeak.
  • Tug toys: Have a friendly game of tug-of-war with your pup.
  • Pigs' ears and other dog chews. Hard chews provide lasting entertainment for puppies and dogs. Ask your vet which chews are right for your puppy.

Puppy Proofing Your House

Your puppy is curious and has no idea that the things she explores might be dangerous. This is why puppy proofing before you bring your little friend home is so vital. Here are a few areas to address when puppy proofing your home:

  • Always supervise your puppy or contain him in his safe place.
  • Lock cabinets where cleaning supplies, insecticides, medications, cosmetics, art supplies, sharp knives or plastic bags are stored.
  • Keep paint, chemicals, tools, anti-freeze and motor oil in garage out of puppy's reach.
  • Check for and remove hanging cords from window treatments. Never leave cord hanging from hot or heavy items such as an iron.
  • Secure or remove unstable heavy items that your puppy could knock over.
  • Put delicate items your puppy might break and injure himself on out of reach.
  • Secure garbage can lids or store garbage out of puppy's reach.
  • Many common house and garden plants are poisonous. Do the research to find out if any are in your home and remove them.
  • Keep dangerous recyclables such as sharp metal cans and glass bottles where puppies can't get to them.
  • Keep electrical cords as out of sight as possible, tape them down or cover with protective cord guards. If your puppy is intent on playing with cords, spray them with bitter tasting spray.
  • Close the toilet lid.
  • Clean up any choking hazards such as paper clips, buttons, string or rubber bands.
  • Don't give your puppy bones that could splinter and injure his digestive tract.

The time you spend getting your house ready for your puppy will help him spend many long happy years with you.

Last Updated: July 8, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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