New Puppy Owner Guide & Tips

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.

From rescue to home your survival checklist contents

Rescue Dogs 101's
From Rescue to Home, Your Survival Checklist

  • Adoption Questionnaire
  • New Dog Shopping Checklist
  • Puppy Proofing Your Home Checklist
  • Bringing Your Adopted Dog Home
  • The 3 Days, 3 Weeks, 3 Month Rule 
  • Dogs Body Language Quick Cheat Sheet
  • 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.

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    About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

    Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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