Published: April 2, 2018  

Last updated: February 7, 2024  

First-time dog owner requires some careful planning, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences you will have in your life.

There is so much puppy information for new owners, it can get overwhelming. But you’ve come to the right place… the Rescue Dogs 101 website is here for you on your entire journey, from adopting, to loving and keeping your puppy happy and healthy.

Below you will find a Puppy Essentials Checklist and 8 First-Time New Puppy Owner Tips.

first time puppy owner checklist

As a foster dog mom, we’ve had a few puppies come and go. Having the essentials on hand always makes it easier to handle the ups and downs of puppyhood.

If you plan on adopting a puppy under 4 months old, be prepared to not get much sleep. Getting a puppy is a lot like having a baby, they wake you up all hours of the night and you will be constantly cleaning up pee and poop.

Our youngest foster puppies were a pair of 12 week old lab mixes. The first week was the hardest, no sleep, loads of potty accidents, and lots of chewing. We had these puppies for only a short time, but it was a very stressful few weeks.

New Puppy Advice

Our adoption must-read list will serve as a first-time dog owner guide, so take the time to read each article listed below.

Each one of these articles will guide you in adopting the perfect dog for you and your family and learn what to expect as a first-time dog owner.

New Puppy Essentials Checklist

Shopping for a new puppy is fun, but also can get expensive very quick. To keep the stress level down for your new puppy, go shopping BEFORE you bring home your new puppy.

Keep to our basic shopping list at first, then you can add more items as you get to know your dog and what he will really need.

I shop online for most of our dog food, toys and supplies. My two recommendations are and Amazon. makes it easy to find everything you need for your puppy quickly. Plus they offer free shipping and 30% off your first auto-ship order.

  1. Food and Water Bowl
  2. Food and Treats
  3. Crate and/or Puppy Play Pin
  4. Baby Gate
  5. Leash, Collar, and ID Tag
  6. Toys and Chew Toys
  7. Dog Bed
  8. Dog Shampoo
  9. Brush
  10. Nail Clippers
  11. Dog Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  12. Pooper Scooper
  13. Poop Bags
  14. Enzyme Cleaners
  15. Mini Carpet Cleaner
  16. Natural indoor puppy potty

Here is my Amazon shopping list for my recommendation dog products.

First-time Dog Owner Shopping online

8 First-Time New Puppy Owner Tips

1. Keep life low-key the first week with your new puppy. 

So now you’ve done your shopping and you are all ready to bring home your new puppy. Wondering what to expect those first few days? Well honestly, it’s going to be a little chaotic, but try to keep things low-key with your new dog.

Your dog will be stressed for at least the first 3 days, please read the Bringing Your New Dog Home and the 3-3-3 Rule. Your dog needs time to decompress in his new environment, so it’s important to keep the visits to see the new puppy down to a minimum.

2. Training begins the moment you bring your new puppy home.

I’m not talking about sit, stay and down… I’m talking about rules and boundaries. You need to set the house rules from day one.

Decide now if your dog will be allowed on the furniture? Do not allow jumping on you for attention, your puppy is small and cute now, but he will grow quickly and before you know it, you’ll have a big dog that is out of control.

3. Be consistent and set a routine

Gather the entire family, spouse, kids, and anyone else that will have daily interaction with your dog… talk about the rules and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Dogs, just like human kids, thrive on consistency and routine. Setting a feeding schedule will help with potty training.

If you live in an apartment or work long hours, check out DoggieLawn. It could be a huge life-safer for you and your puppy!

4. Puppy proof your house

Puppies are curious, they get into trouble, it’s part of life. Making sure you go around your house and find anything that can be harmful to your puppy is very important. Read the Top 10 Puppy Proofing Basics You Must Do Today.

5. Take your puppy to the vet

Even if your puppy is up to date with all of his vaccinations, it’s important to establish a good relationship with your vet right away. It will give you an opportunity to give the vet copies of all of your dogs health records you received when adopting him. makes it easy to find everything you need for your puppy quickly. Plus they offer free shipping and 30% off your first auto-ship order.

6. Avoid the dog park, for now

We love taking our dogs to the dog park, but not all dog parks are created equal. It’s important to establish a relationship with your dog before taking him to a public park that you have no control over. And if your puppy doesn’t have all of his immunization shots, you need to wait until he does.

7. Socialize your puppy

After the first few days and your new puppy has had time to settle into your home, you can start inviting friends and family over to meet your new bundle of joy!

It’s important for your puppy to experience many new things early on. Car rides, kids playing, loud noises, vacuum cleaner, mop, trucks driving by, bicycles, expose your puppy to anything and everything you can think of. This will create a confident dog that is not afraid of simple daily occurrences.

We’ve had foster dogs come to us afraid of bushes and rocks! Our dog Ginger is afraid of the vacuum cleaner, while our dog Bear wants to be vacuumed. As much as you expose your dog to new things, there is never a guarantee, but at least you know you’ve done everything you can for your pup.

8. This first year with your new puppy is the toughest

Raising a puppy is very rewarding but also so much work. From potty training to puppy nipping to teenage rebellion (6-10 months old), as a first-time dog owner, you may want to give up. But please don’t give up on him, if you can get past the first year, and you’ve spent the time to train your dog, you will have your dream dog… it doesn’t happen overnight.

Recommended for you to read next: 

About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. I'm glad you said that visits to your dog should be kept at a minimum for the first week. My cousin was at my house yesterday afternoon for lunch, and she talked about how she and her boyfriend want to get a puppy before the end of the month. I'll pass this information along to her so she can know some tips on how to take care of a new puppy!

  2. It helped when you said to get dog shampoo and nail clippers. My husband and I plan on getting a puppy for our family in a couple of weeks, so I wanted to make sure that we know all of the supplies we need to get. I appreciate you helping me learn more about what supplies you should get when getting a new puppy.

  3. Thank you for assuring me that it is perfectly normal for a dog to feel nervous and stressed around an unfamiliar environment. We just got our golden retriever yesterday and there are times when she feels too frantic around the house, but I guess it will take time for her to get used to us.

  4. Thank you for this extensive guide on becoming a first-time dog owner! My sister is about to give me one of her beagle puppies and I wanted to research how to take care of them as early as I can. The idea of puppy-proofing my home is brilliant! Since they do tend to get curious a lot, doing this can avoid any accidents that might happen. I should bookmark this article and refer to it if ever I have any questions again.

  5. It’s good to know that you should wait until your puppy has all of their immunizations before going to the dog park. I want to get a puppy sometime this year. I appreciate all of the helpful advice about how to successfully bring a new dog into your home.

  6. Adopting rescue dogs can be a major decision, whether you are living on your own or if you have a family. This blog certainly provided excellent content on what every person needs to know prior to adopting a rescue dog and properly training them. Although no one method is perfect, it is crucial to be aware of the best ways to care for and love your new best friend!

  7. I really liked the way you managed my expectations by saying that the dog will be stressed out for the first three days, so it is good to give them time to adjust. I am planning to get myself an Australian shepherd soon, so I decided to research. For someone who likes to be in order like me, seeing this article helped me as I learned that I need to adjust to my new puppy. Thanks.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}