New Puppy Checklist: Everything You Need to Know

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We joined the pet parent club in 2019 by bringing home an 11-week-old West Highland White Terrier. Our pup is named Bari White after a funny, deep-voiced polar bear character from a children’s program. As a family, we quickly settled into a new routine, made loads of mistakes, and learned a ton about raising a puppy. Since our experiences may be of value to current and prospective pet parents, we decided to compile a list of 11 essential items to help ease others into new puppy parenthood.

Here’s our new puppy checklist!


Protecting a new puppy is essential for any pet parent, and getting a microchip is the first step in the process. Microchips are the only permanent lost pet recovery device that helps identify lost and found animals. They provide shelters, veterinarians, and other organizations with a way to contact the owner in case of an emergency.

Microchipped dogs are twice as likely to make their way home, and cats are ten times as likely. Despite these benefits, only 20-30% of dogs and cats are microchipped across the US, according to 24Pet data.

Microchips are rice-sized radio-frequency identification devices (RFID) that are painlessly inserted beneath a pet's skin. They do not offer GPS services, but hold vital information about the pet and their parent.

You can discover if your pet is already microchipped through your vet or shelter. If they aren't, most vet clinics can perform the procedure while your pet is awake or under general anesthesia, likely during another routine procedure like spaying or neutering.

Leash, Collar, and ID Tag

When you’re adopting a new puppy, a leash and collar may be required for “gotcha day.” That was the case with our breeder, who was also helpful enough to provide us with the weight of our pup, so that we could purchase an appropriate collar and leash. Though walking our dog wasn’t in the cards due to his age, we also got a harness and training leash for easier, safer walks when he was ready for them.

In the time he’s been with our family, Bari White has outgrown several collars and harnesses, so it’s always best to be prepared for growth spurts. An ID Tag is also an essential item and best purchased as soon as you choose a name for your pet, since the potential for a new puppy to run off and get lost is rather high and always at the front of a pet parent’s mind. Choices abound for these types of items, so look for ones that suit your taste and your pet’s personality.

Indoor Safety

Another handy use for your leash is puppy containment and safety indoors. Due to their curious nature and physical limitation when it comes to bathroom breaks, puppies will get into mischief and often leave a mess for you to clean up. We created a puppy-specific area within weeks of bringing Bari home, which provided him with a safe territory while he acclimated to our living space and worked on his potty training. He was leashed to one of us or placed in his safe area to limit wandering. When not in this area, which was in our kitchen and in close proximity to a door that led outside, he would nap in his crate. Though leashing indoors seems inhumane, it helps to keep your pet within arm’s length and maintains consistency during the housebreaking process.


Our puppy came to us at 11 weeks old and was already used to being in a crate. Whether you plan on crate training or not, having a crate is a must for a pet’s safety, especially for puppies.

We received a gently-used crate from friends whose pet had recently passed, and some hand-me-downs, since they help conserve costs. If you’re cost conscious, do a quick search on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to track down some good deals. Just make sure the size is suitable for your pet.

A good rule of thumb is that the crate should be small enough so that a puppy doesn’t have space to go to the bathroom, but roomy enough for them to turn around to reposition themselves. We call our crate “The Nest,” since Bari makes himself incredibly cozy inside. Here are some good tips on shopping for a crate.

Training Pad

The joy of a new puppy inevitably also brings housebreaking challenges. You have to keep your eyes on them at all times and monitor physical signs like sniffing, walking in circles, and sneaking off into corners. Within a few days, if carefully observed, you will notice your new puppy’s subtle signals when they need to go potty. Keep in mind, young dogs cannot “hold it” like their older counterparts. Since they haven’t mastered this skill yet, we’ve found that it’s most helpful to designate a “puppy area” in the home, limit your puppy’s activity to that allotted space, and line the floor with training pads for potential accidents. Some smaller dogs will always do their business on a training pad, but if you intend to house train, I say do it as soon as you bring your pet home. This will likely mean bringing them outside every half hour or so, depending on water intake and activity level. It took two full days of convincing to get our puppy to eliminate on grass, and it required gentle praise and rewarding with a special treat.

If you need more help, here is an excellent article on house training your puppy.


Typically, your new puppy will be sent home with a bit of the food they’d already been eating. If you and your dog liked that choice, there’s no reason to make a change. If, for whatever reason, you’re not happy with their puppy food, try transitioning to a new diet in small measures and over the course of a few days, which can prevent any stomach issues. Start out with ¼ new food and ¾ old food for a couple of days, then increase to ½ : ½ and then ¾ : ¼ progressively, and so on. Puppies typically eat three meals a day, so you will know how well they’re tolerating the new food rather quickly. Here is a vet’s recommendation on switching your pet’s food.

Wet vs. dry food? What is best for your puppy? I will leave that discussion to you and your veterinarian. Bari gets a combination of dry and wet food mixed together. Of the hundreds of puppy food choices out there, pinpoint a few options and discuss them with your veterinarian to make sure that they are the best choice for your puppy.

Bowls for Food and Water

We started out with sturdy stoneware food and water bowls, assuming that we’d done everything right. Though it may seem like a simple choice out of all the items listed above, choosing how to feed your puppy is a serious topic of discussion. Let me explain.

We quickly discovered our puppy, and I’m sure most puppies, LOVE to eat, and absolutely inhale their meals very quickly. Often, our pup will even gag and vomit because he’d swallowed too much or forgot to chew! Due to his ravenous appetite, we switched him to a slow feeder. Mind you, he still eats rather quickly, but timing has gone from gulping down everything in one minute or less to a leisurely pace of 5+ minutes.

As for the water bowl, we stuck with the cute stoneware one. Other options could be a plastic, stainless steel, or metal bowl, as puppies can be clumsy and break a stoneware or ceramic one.

Chew Toys

Just like human babies, puppies have baby teeth that fall out as early as 6 weeks of age! Your delightful fur baby will suddenly turn into a “Land Shark,” which is what our family affectionately nicknamed our little chomper. The best method for survival during this stage is hiding your shoes for a few months and hoping that this phase will pass as your pet develops new teeth. During the teething stage, be sure to provide your new puppy with a few different chewy options to satisfy their itchy and achy gums.

What did we give Bari White to get him through this teething period? In all honesty, his favorite thing to nibble was our fingers and socks. However, with a firm “No!” each time he attempted it, we taught him to chew on his own things exclusively.

Recommendations for teething puppies:

Training Treats

It’s never too early to start training your puppy. Using treats ensures that your puppy will do anything to get a tasty reward and positive praise from you. From the first week in his new home, Bari worked hard on “come,” “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and going outside for bathroom breaks. Training didn’t work overnight, but by maintaining a consistent command and reward system, we managed to nurture a very obedient puppy. Of course, he still makes mistakes, but he always works hard to do better and get those reward treats!

You don’t necessarily have to buy a pet treat to use as a reward. For most dogs, a piece of carrot, a sliver of string cheese, or a bite of apple can all be really great training tools. However, it’s best not to sample a variety of treats in a short period of time. Try a small quantity of each item over a couple of days to see if your pet has a reaction. For example, we found out that Bari could not tolerate peanut butter. Our vet said that foods like peanut butter have a high fat content and that can bother some puppies. Instead, he eats frozen blueberries, carrots, apples, and cucumber sticks, and always knows to sit by my feet patiently when I’m packing my daughter’s lunch for school.

Here’s a helpful list of human foods that are safe for dogs. Of course, carrying human food when you’re away from home is not always convenient, so make sure to keep dog treats on hand.

Brush, Lint Roller, and Pet Shampoo

What makes a puppy so irresistible? It’s probably those eyes gazing up at you and the feel of a soft furry coat. Depending on the breed and coat type, you will need a brush or comb and lint roller to keep your fur baby’s coat soft and shiny. Even non-shedding dogs may shed a bit during seasonal changes. Also, having your puppy get used to brushing daily will help keep their coat clean and prevent matting. Your puppy won’t need grooming for a few months, but they will need to be bathed every few weeks. Our breeder uses dish soap (like Dawn) to do the job, but we opted for gentle dog shampoo, since Westies are known to have sensitive skin.

Stain Remover Spray

Alas, accidents are in your future with a young puppy. Remember: be patient and consistent and your pet will eventually get the picture. In the meanwhile, we found this spray to be a worthy investment and very effective at removing odor and stains from rugs and other fabric materials. We’ve had our bottle for over 6 months and still have plenty left, since we’ve been using it less and less. So don’t despair, there is hope for a stain-free home!


Perhaps one of the most important must-have items for your puppy is a veterinarian. We are lucky enough to have several vets in close proximity to our home. Based on word-of-mouth recommendations, we narrowed down our choices to three vets. We then went to each website to preview their facilities and specialties, and ultimately selected the closest office with a boarding facility. The latter is a nice option in a pinch, especially when you need somewhere for your puppy to stay overnight during a family emergency. As a vital final step, I went in person to make our first appointment. The reception area was warm and the vet techs at the front desk seemed very friendly. While we knew from the breeder that our puppy was perfectly healthy, we were still anxious to have a full checkup and discuss vaccinations, so that Bari could finally socialize with other dogs in the neighborhood.

Here are some tips for choosing a new vet.

We hope that our new puppy checklist is helpful in settling into a new routine with your latest addition.

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Amazon disclosure: All products featured in this article were independently selected by our editorial team. As an Amazon Associate, PetPlace will earn if you click on the provided links and/or purchase a qualifying product from Amazon.

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