Its super exciting to bring a new dog or puppy home, but it’s important to make sure that everything is ready before you go to collect them.
Being prepared and having a set of basic items ready will help your dog to settle in quicker and give you more time to play with them and get them used to your routine, without having to think about rushing around buying loads of stuff or making do until you have chance to get to the store.
This is my guide containing the basic equipment to have before you bring your new dog home. There’s many more things to get as well, but I’ve stuck to the bare essentials, after all I’m sure you’ll be taking your new dog for a shopping trip to your local pet store in no time, so there’s no point in going completely crazy.
This seems like a given, but it really does surprise me how many people I see going to pick up their new rescue dog and borrowing a lead to get the dog to the car. What are they going to do when they get home?!
Buy a standard fixed lead that’s about a metre long. It’s a basic tool that is essential for everything, walking, trips to the vets, getting your dog to the car, etc.
Even if your puppy hasn’t been fully vaccinated yet you can still start getting them use to walking on a lead in a garden, plus it’s more secure to take your puppy to the vets on their lead in case they wriggle away (or are too large to be carried).
Your dog may come wearing a collar already but it’s nice to get your own anyway. The sooner they get used to wearing a collar the better, plus you need a collar for my next very essential item. You should have visited your dog at least once before picking them up so you’ll have a rough idea about what size to buy, plus most pet stores will give breed guidelines on the various size of collars.
The law says that whenever a dog is in a public place it should be wearing a collar and ID tag inscribed with the owner’s name & address. Stick at least one or two phone numbers on there as well. How heartbroken would you be if on their first day home your new dog finds a gap in your garden fence that you weren’t aware of and escapes. But how much worse would it be if they weren’t wearing a collar and tag (because you haven’t got one yet) and they aren’t microchipped (because their vet appointment isn’t until next week) and there’s no way of anyone who finds your dog knowing who it belongs to! This could incur a costly fine from the council. Take your new collar with ID tag attached with you when you go to collect your dog and get it on them straight away. Sadly it’s not unheard of for dogs to slip away and do a runner whilst getting them out of a car as you arrive home, especially if you’re taking on a nervous rescue dog.
From May 2016 all dogs must be microchipped by the time they are 8 weeks old. Your new dog may not be microchipped so it’s important you get them booked into the vets for a health check and chip as soon as possible. If your new dog is microchipped then make sure one of the first things you do is contact the chipping company to ensure that they have your correct contact details or change the dogs details to yourself.
If your dog is a rescue it may be registered with the rescue organisation or it may be the previous owners details still on there. Get them changed as soon as possible.
Whichever food you had decided to feed your new dog have a small amount ready in your cupboard for when you bring the new dog home. It’s up to you what you feed them, be it dry, wet or raw, but make sure it’s a decision you’ve made before the dog comes home. Speak to wherever you are getting your dog from to see what they were feeding them and then consider continuing that diet or changing it. If you’re changing the food, then you will want to do this slowly over a period of time.
Don’t buy a big 15kg bag of new dog food at first in case the dog has a reaction to it.
Your dog needs to eat and drink so get a water bowl and food bowl ready for when they come home. Fill the water bowl up and place it in the chosen spot where it is going to stay, therefore the dog can get used to it being there as soon as they take their first steps into your house.
Every dog needs its own bed and like the food bowls it’s a good idea to get this ready and in place before the dog arrives. If the dog is coming with an item such as a blanket or vet bed, then place this near to or in the new bed so that it smells slightly familiar to the dog.
Crates are really handy for giving your dog a little den of their own, keeping them confined to their own space while unsupervised and travelling safely in a vehicle, so if you are planning on crate training your dog then get it ready before the dog comes home. Putting up a crate is quite loud and can be scary for a new puppy, so you don’t want to frighten them with it on their stressful first day at home and then try to get them to go in it!
Having a small selection of toys ready for your new dog will give you a chance to play with them straight away as they settle in. The first few days of getting a new dog should be all about building a relationship and having fun together, partly through play. Have a selection of soft, fleecy tug toys, puppy teething chew toys and retrieve toys. Be conscience of your dog’s size and age when looking at the toy size and materials.
Instead of buying a selection of training treats that your dog may not like, or may upset their stomach, cook some plain chicken and break up into tiny pieces. Your dog will find it really tasty and it’s more likely to agree with their stomach. Don’t do too much training with your dog on their first few days though, give them time to explore and have lots of cuddles and fun.
Be prepared for damp and muddy paws to come paddling into your house! It’s best to get your dog their own towel and have this ready by the door, instead of desperately trying to keep your carpet clean while you scrounge around looking for an old towel to use.
You gotta scoop the poop! Right from day one… so get a supply of poo bags. Depending on the size of your dog the cheap 99p packs of nappy bags do just fine.
Like I said there are lots more to buy… harness, clicker, treats, long lead, brush, coat, shampoo, bones, etc. But this is a selection of what I feel are essential to have ready before the dog even gets home.