Assess Your Puppy Readiness

Puppies are great. They spread joy, provide endless entertainment, and most could win cuteness contests all day long just by existing. But puppies are also fast-growing, potentially havoc-wreaking little learning machines. Nature packs in as much information intake as possible in those first few months and if you’re not prepared? Your puppy may learn all the wrong things and you could spend months—or years—playing catch-up or trying to recover from early mistakes.

Are you equipped? Food, bowls, a leash, and a few toys won’t be enough. At a minimum, you will need: A puppy crate. An X-pen or baby gate. Kongs and treat balls. An ID tag, a flat collar, and a harness for walks. Long and short leashes. A canine toothbrush and toothpaste, nail clippers, dog shampoo, brushes, and a variety of toys.

Is your home puppy-proof? Set up a confinement area (despite the name this is a cozy den for your puppy) for alone time and potty training. The area should be easy to clean and easy to close off with a baby gate. Think kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom. Furnish the area with a bed or crate, a water bowl, and several toys.

Are the house rules clear? Decide on set routines and procedures for consistency before you bring your puppy home. If more than one person is responsible for puppy raising, who will be in charge of the house-training routine? Where will the puppy be allowed—on the bed? The couch? Who will walk the puppy? Take the puppy to classes? Practice homework?

Do you have good dog professionals lined up? E.g. veterinarian, groomer, daycare facility, dog walker, pet sitter, and, of course, a top-notch dog trainer and puppy class. Click here to see the classes and packages we offer for puppies, or we can help you with your puppy or refer you to other certified, positive-reinforcement trainers, depending on your situation and location. The key is to plan well ahead for your puppy’s first year of socialization and learning. Beyond the wonderful Instagram fodder, puppy time is a one-off opportunity to shape the dog you will live with for many years to come.