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Preparing for your new dog: new puppy checklist

There’s little things that are as exciting as getting a new puppy. While you’re tingling with excitement at the thought of taking home your bundle of joy, now’s the time to get organised with a new puppy checklist.

Provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc

We’re here to help

If you’re thinking about buying a dog or getting ready to bring your new puppy home to meet the family, we’re here to help.

From puppy-proofing the furniture to buying the right toys and food to keep them happy, there’s a lot to think about.

This guide will take you through what you need to buy for a new puppy, so you can focus on your new best friend.

Are you ready to get a dog?

Owning a dog right through puppyhood can be a rewarding experience. You’ll enjoy companionship and, with daily walks, potentially a healthier lifestyle. 

It’s important that you’re ready for the responsibility that comes with it – there are lots of things you need for a puppy. Puppies may be adorable, but they’re a lot of work too.

One look into those puppy-dog eyes and it’s all worth it – but it helps to be prepared for a little (or a lot) of chaos.

Before you get a new puppy, consider the following questions:

  • Can you afford a dog? This includes everyday expenses such as food, vet bills, pet care and pet insurance.
  • Do you have any experience raising a puppy?
  • Do you have the time, patience, and flexibility to deal with an untrained puppy?
  • Can you make a long-term commitment? Bear in mind that the average dog lives for around 12 years.
  • Is your home big enough or do you have any outdoor space? 
  • Do you have time for walks every day?
  • Will someone be home to keep your dog company?
  • Do you have time to train, groom and care for your new pet?

Find the perfect pooch

If you’re ready to get a dog – and the responsibility that comes with it – it’s time to find the right one for you.

Choose a breed

Each dog breed has its own characteristics and temperament, so it’s a good idea to do some digging. Find the perfect breed that matches your personality, lifestyle and family circumstances.

If you or a family member suffer from allergies, a hypoallergenic breed may be best for you.

While there is no 100% hypoallergenic breed, there are some breeds more tolerable to allergy sufferers. Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs may be best for you as they can cause less of a reaction because they tend not to shed.

Where to find your new puppy

You have two options when it comes to buying a new puppy. Either collect your puppy from a responsible breeder or rehome a puppy from an animal shelter. 

It’s your responsibility to buy from a reputable breeder. The Kennel Club runs assurance schemes for registered breeders and they must follow strict guidelines. It’s very important to only support reputable breeders and make sure that you’re not buying from unsafe or undercover puppy farms.

Rehoming a rescue puppy is a decision that should not be rushed but is equally rewarding. 

Welcoming your new puppy

When it comes to bringing your puppy home, you’ll need to have your house puppy-proofed so it’s safe enough for a mischievous new arrival.

 Now for the best bit – introducing your new furry friend to the family.

Setting a clear structure and preparing a new puppy checklist can help make sure this transition is as smooth as possible.

What do I need for a puppy?

Before you pick up your new puppy, there are some essential items for your new puppy checklist. Add these to your shopping list for a puppy:

  • Lead, collar or harness

  • Puppy crate

  • Bedding

  • Dog food and treats

  • Food and water bowls

  • Grooming equipment

  • Identity disc

  • Dog waste bags

  • Toys

  • Products to help with toilet training, like puppy pads

Puppy-proof your home

Puppy-proofing your home might not only protect your possessions, but it can also keep an inquisitive pooch safe from danger.

Here are some suggestions to help create a safe and dog-friendly home:

  • Hide electrical cables behind furniture or tape them to your skirting board
  • Remove all breakable objects that your puppy might reach – you’ll be surprised how resourceful they are
  • Place any household chemicals out of reach 
  • Remove poisonous or toxic houseplants– your puppy won’t know these are bad for them 
  • Hide shoes in cupboards – otherwise prepare for these to become your puppy’s favourite chew toy

Collecting your puppy

When you collect your new puppy from the breeder or rescue shelter, check what diet they’re used to and when they get fed.

Try sticking to that schedule for the first few days to avoid stomach problems. If you’re switching to a different brand of food, it’s best to do this gradually over a week or so.

Some pups find car trips stressful, so having them safely secured in a crate could make that first journey home easier.

Once you get home, take your puppy somewhere where they can go to the toilet straight away. Spend some time with them there so they can relieve themselves and get used to the area.

Introducing your puppy to the family

Once your new puppy is home and settled, it’s time to introduce them to their new household members and other pets.

Carefully handled introductions are likely to set the scene for future interactions as well as helping your dog settle into family life.


It’s important to include children in a puppy’s upbringing, regardless of whether there are kids in your home or not.

This will get the puppy used to being around children and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed.

Other dogs

Dogs are social animals by nature. But the hierarchy between your new puppy and other pets will be established during the first few weeks, so disagreements are likely during this time.

To keep those disagreements to a minimum, here’s how to help your new puppy settle in:

  • Introduce dogs on neutral territory, such as out on a walk

  • Separate them if they start to fight

  • Feed the dogs apart at first

  • Don’t leave them alone together until they’re friendly


It’s important to carefully introduce your pup to any cats in your home. Choose a room where the cat has an upward escape route. And, after five minutes or so, take your puppy away and let your cat go wherever they feel most comfortable.

Feeding your new puppy

When it comes to feeding your new puppy, you should continue with the food they’ve been weaned onto in their previous home. If you want to change their food, you should do so gradually.

Your puppy food should contain everything your pup needs to be healthy, so we recommend a complete, commercial puppy food. There are lots of dog food options out there, including raw food diets, but your vet should be able to give their advice.

Puppy food has a certain level of nutrients that puppies need to grow and develop, so it’s important to choose this over an adult option. Weigh your pup regularly to check the speed they’re growing and the amount they should be fed.

Exercising your new puppy

While you may be excited to show everyone at the park your new puppy, remember that puppies have different exercise needs to adult dogs.

Each puppy will have different requirements, depending on their age and breed. Typically you should aim to exercise your puppy twice a day, for five minutes per month of your puppy's age. 

So if your puppy is three months old, you could try and give them 15 minutes of exercise, twice a day. Keep an eye on how your pup finds this, as you may need to cut back if it’s too much for them.

Training your new puppy

It’s a good idea to make training a high priority – ideally as soon as you get your new puppy home. Get started with training classes as soon as you can. You’ll be able to find puppy classes for every age and ability.

Crate training

If you’re planning on crate training, be sure to have a crate set up and ready to go when you bring your puppy home.

Your new puppy will see the crate as their ‘den’ and will be happy to spend time there when they want to sleep or be alone.

Toilet training

Toilet training your puppy should be fairly simple, as long as you take the time to establish a good routine.

Puppies should be able to relieve themselves at least every two hours, so try to take them out as regularly as possible.

If your puppy isn’t ready to go outside yet, it can be toilet trained on newspapers or in a crate.

Protecting and looking after your puppy

There’s no one ‘perfect’ way to care for all puppies – every pet and situation is unique. But you should try your best to take the necessary steps to meet all of their needs.


Before taking your puppy home, make a plan for when you can get them microchipped. It’s a simple procedure that may help you find your pup if they go wandering off – or are stolen. 

In the UK, all puppies over eight weeks old need to be microchipped. You may face a fine of up to £500 if you do not get your puppy microchipped.

Check-ups and vaccinations

Take your new puppy for a check-up at the vet as soon as you can. Regular visits to the vet will give you the chance to keep vaccinations up to date. In these visits you can, accurately weigh your dog and find out more about any issues that may be worrying you.


Your vet can offer advice on neutering your puppy and the health benefits of the procedure.

Our guide to neutering your pet has more details about spaying and castration, including when it should be done and the advantages of having your puppy neutered.

Choosing the right insurance

Helpful guides for your dog

Pet insurance jargon got you barking mad? Learn more about welcoming a dog into your home with our helpful pet guides.

Pet guides

Guide to dog breeds

Get to know each breed to find the best dog for you

Pet guides

Make your home a dog-friendly place

Top tips to help create the perfect pad for your pooch

Pet guides

How to decide what dog is for you

Find the perfect dog breed for you

Frequently asked questions

Where should a puppy sleep on the first night?

Choose a room where you’d like them to sleep and then make them a bed in a crate or small playpen, so you know they’re safe and secure. Your puppy will need some time to adjust to being away from their mum. Try and sleep in the same room as them if you can for the first few nights. 

Should I ignore the puppy crying at night?

No, you should not ignore your puppy if they cry during the night. Pups can cry during the night for lots of reasons – they could be scared without their mum, or they may need the toilet. If your puppy has been to the toilet and is still crying, do your best to comfort them. Don’t make too much fuss though, as you want them to settle.

What do puppies need at eight weeks?

At eight weeks you can start introducing your new pup to your other vaccinated pets. You can also show them new sights, sounds, and smells by taking them on adventures outside – but they must stay in your arms until they’re vaccinated. You can also show them the car and start getting them used to being handled and groomed.

Any other questions?

Got a question about pet insurance or caring for your pet? We’ve got the answers to some of the most common questions we hear from pet owners.

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Sainsbury's Bank plc, Registered Office, 33 Holborn, London EC1N 2HT (registered in England and Wales, no. 3279730) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (register no. 184514). Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd is an appointed representative of Sainsbury's Bank plc.

Sainsbury's Bank plc, Registered Office, 33 Holborn, London EC1N 2HT (registered in England and Wales, no. 3279730) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (register no. 184514). Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd is an appointed representative of Sainsbury's Bank plc.
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