I thought I was prepared when I brought home my first puppy, a Yorkie we call Max. He proved me and the stack of books I read in advance wrong. Caring for Max was like having a highly mobile toddler. My family had dogs when I was growing up, but we adopted them as fully trained adults. They were larger breeds too. Our last one was an 85-pound Airedale. Going from the King of Terriers to the smallest of terriers, a barely 3 pound puppy, was a big change.
Max’s breeder sent us home with a care package that included essential information and she generously made herself available to answer my questions and concerns. I also connected with experienced Yorkie parents online. Dedicated breed forums are invaluable sources of information and support, and they are great places to forge friendships with people who understand your passion for your dog.
Prepare for your new addition with the checklist for new puppy supplies:
To avoid tummy upset while your puppy is adjusting to his or her new home, continue feeding the same food that the breeder fed your puppy for at least a couple of weeks. Then transition slowly to the food of your choice.
If your water source isn’t the best, consider using filtered or bottled water.
Avoid plastic bowls that scratch easily and harbor bacteria.
Give your puppy a soft place to sleep and nap. Many dogs consider their beds their safe place.
Whether you choose wire or plastic, put a bed or crate mat on the bottom for comfort. If using for training, the crate should only be big enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around comfortably. Dogs try not to soil where they sleep. Many wire crates come with a divider that can be adjusted as your puppy grows. I chose not to crate train, but Max enjoyed having an open crate as a safe little hideaway to use as he pleased. I discovered Max had a strong aversion to plastic, so I opted for the wire crate. Dog tents or soft-sided houses, like the Puppia Pinkaholic Snug Dog House, are also great choices for providing a cozy little den.
Ideal for small puppies when they cannot be supervised and for potty training. An alternative is baby gates to contain your puppy in a designated area. Place a bed in one corner and water dish and piddle pad in opposite corners.
Keep your puppy clean, comfortable, and healthy with a few essentials: a small comb or brush depending on the breed, nail clippers, toothbrush, and tearless shampoo. Long-coated dogs such as Yorkies, Maltese, and long-hair Chihuahuas require a small electric trimmer for ears, paws, and belly. I use a Wahl mustache trimmer and the Wahl Peanut. Start training your puppy immediately to accept grooming.
Keep your puppy occupied so that he or she will be less inclined to turn to your shoes or furniture for entertainment. When puppies are teething, they need something to chew. I gave Max plush toys for playing fetch and cuddling in bed, and hard rubber toys for chewing. Our favorites include the Extreme KONG and Planet Dog rubber toys. Check toys often and remove at the first sign of damage.
Harness and leash
Use a harness and save your dog’s neck and trachea (windpipe) from potential damage caused by pulling on a leash attached to a collar.
Puppy proofing supplies
Make your home a safe environment for your puppy. This may include electrical outlet covers (check the baby aisle at most stores), electrical wire covers (try to put wires out of reach), Bitter Apple spray (safe to use on just about anything to discourage chewing).
Nutri-Cal or white Karo syrup
Small puppies are prone to hypoglycemia, low blood sugar. Stress, vigorous activity, or missing a meal can cause this condition. Rub a little Nutri-Cal or Karo on your puppy’s gums and monitor him or her closely. Signs of hypoglycemia include lethargy, staggering, and tremors. These may be signs of other health problems. Contact your vet if they continue or recur frequently.
Vet and emergency contact information
Schedule a wellness check within 48 hours of bringing home your new puppy. Establish a relationship with a vet’s office and ask for the location of the nearest 24-hour emergency vet clinic. Post the phone numbers for vets and a dog poison hotline where you can find them quickly in your home.
List of things toxic to dogs
Review the lists of things poisonous to dogs including certain foods, plants, and medicines. The Pet Poison Helpline is a good source for this information.
First aid kit
Put together a handy kit including tongue depressors, bandages, sterile saline, Bene-Bac for stress induced diarrhea, and Benadryl for bee stings. Check with your vet for proper dosages.
Devote a three-ring binder to all of your puppy’s records. This is a great way to keep track of vaccinations and health care. It can be very helpful in an emergency as well.
Start training the day you bring your puppy home: potty training, obedience and trick training and grooming training. Establish a routine from the start. Structure has a calming and comforting effect on puppies and dogs in general. Knowing when to expect meals, bedtime, and other activities reduces anxiety.
Be prepared to capture all of the puppy adorableness and joy in pictures and videos. They grow up too fast!