Bowls for food and water. Glass and ceramic can break; plastic is chewable. Metal is sturdy and easy to wash. You’ll need a bowl holder, too, so your puppy doesn’t learn the neat trick of pushing her dinner all around the kitchen.
A crate to serve as their den. Wire is more portable than plexiglass and allows for better ventilation in warmer climates. Since your puppy will grow, you may want to buy one that can be sectioned off to allow for expansion. Or, be prepared to buy a new one in several months.
Bedding. I purchase blankets at Value Village, and you need more than one, accidents happen, especially overnight.
A soft, adjustable collar with identification tags and a leash.
Safe toys. Don’t buy too many at first, but have enough to keep her distracted from chewing your shoes and furniture. I usually get stuffed animals at Value Village. Be sure that parts won’t break off. Avoid noisemakers, Buttons, plastic shards and small balls can lodge in her throat and block air passages.
Grooming tools. I recommend the Furminator for brushing and Nail Clippers, but also a rotary tool for smoothing their nails.
Baby gates. It will be some time before you can trust your puppy to roam the house alone. Baby gates, vetted for safety by consumer organizations, protect her and your belongings. Use them to block off stairways, carpeted rooms and other forbidden areas.
Puppy food. Ask your breeder or shelter what brand your pup is used to. Changing her diet abruptly may cause stomach distress. If you want to change foods, phase them in by mixing them with her old brand for several weeks.
Put Away Poisons and Precious Possessions. If your home, garage and yard make for a puppy wonderland of chewy sneakers, enticing power cords, sweet-smelling antifreeze, warm and fragrant flower beds, dolls with button eyes and hanging drapes with tie-back tassels, sweep through and put them away NOW. Digestive tract X-rays of sick dogs have revealed all sorts of unusual things, from ribbons, spoons and dominoes to knives with blades six inches long.
Look at your home as your puppy sees and smells it. You might want to keep your kids’ rooms off limits for a while. Close closet doors and be sure that cabinets are secured. Hide electrical cords under carpets. Put knick-knacks out of reach. Lock up anything chemical, from soaps, waxes and cleaning solvents to medicines and cosmetics. Certain human foods and plants such as English ivy and tiger lilies are poisonous, too.
Puppy-proof the contents of your garage. Put away ethylene-glycol antifreeze and other automotive compounds, fertilizers, pesticides, paint, nails and anything else that may cause trouble if swallowed.
Make sure your backyard fence is in good repair, so your puppy can neither jump over nor dig under it. Fence off flower beds and trees and check for a long list of poisonous plants, including boxwood, bulb flowers, hemlock and sage. Watch out for uninvited milkweed, poison ivy, oak and sumac, too.
Rehearse Your Family’s “Puppy Speak” . Agree on a game plan for keeping the puppy warm and calm during her first days with you. Your puppy will want to please you and will be eager to learn how, but she’ll also be nervous. Every member of your family must give uniform commands. “Sit,” “stop,” “down,” “kennel,” “come” and “stay” must have the same meaning, no matter which family member uses them.
Write up the schedule you’ll use for your pup’s first few days home. The puppy needs you to be regular and consistent. Don’t invite the neighborhood over to welcome your new dog. Brace yourself now, so you don’t yell at the pup when she soils the carpet or bites off Barbie’s head. She won’t know any better at first.
Have a Vet to Turn To . Your puppy will probably come home with medical and inoculation records. If you don’t already have a family vet, ask friends to recommend one and visit several offices to check for efficiency and cleanliness. As soon as she’s settled in, have your puppy checked over by the vet you choose. That way, you’ll be prepared for emergencies before they happen.