Preparing for a New Puppy

So, you have decided that you are ready to add a new member to your family and adopt a puppy. You have researched the breeds, and chosen a breed that will fit your lifestyle. You have also done your research on the breeder or rescue that you are planning to get your puppy from, to ensure it is a reputable place to adopt a puppy from. You have talked to them, and arranged to adopt a puppy from them. What is the next step?
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Bringing a new puppy home, is real similar to bringing a new baby home. You want to be prepared. Here are some suggestions to ready yourself and your home for the new arrival.
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Puppy proof your home
Take a walk around your home and yard. Puppies are like babies, and want to put everything in their mouth and chew on it, and/or eat it. Inspect the floors and yards, for anything that could be within the reach of a puppy. Put house plants up high, where they can not get to them. Many house plants are poisonous, and can kill a puppy. Look around the yard, for any poisonous plants there, and barricade them to keep the puppy out of them. Make sure that there are no over the counter or prescription medicines within their reach. Make sure that they cannot get to any drop cords. The less things that you have laying around for the puppy to get ahold of and get into, the easier it will be to keep them safe and out of trouble. Anything that you don't want a baby getting into, you probably don't want the puppy to get into or ahold of either. 
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Purchase a Pet Crate
Dogs are den animals. Used correctly, the crate keeps the puppy safe while you can not supervise it, and it is a great training tool. It is very important to familiarize your puppy with the crate and get him/her comfortable with it at a young age. At some time in your puppy/dogs life, it most likely will HAVE to be crated, such as during a visit to the groomer or a visit to the vet. You will want to have the puppy/dog used to it, so it does not panic when the day comes that it HAS to be crated. I recommend avoiding the fabric type crates, and getting either the wire type, or the hard plastic type of crate. I like and have both types. The plastic types are handy to put in your vehicle, if your dog needs to be crated during transporting. The wire are nice, because they have a pull out tray to make cleaning easier. The wire types also can come with a divider, to grow along with your puppy. You want to know what size your puppy is going to get as an adult, so that you can buy the right size.
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Baby gates and exercise pens
One of the best ways to make puppy training easier, is to confine them to a small space while indoors. Keeping them where you can see them, makes it much easier to keep them out of trouble, and from developing bad habits. Also, starting their training on a hard floor, versus carpets or rugs, makes life a little easier as well. Hard floors are much easier to clean up any accidents that they may have. Doors, baby gates, and exercise pens, will make life much less frustrating while training a puppy. If you keep your puppy within eye shot, you will be better able to tell, when the puppy needs to go outside. You will learn their cues, such as sniffing around, circling around, or trying to find a private corner.
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Food and water bowls
My personal favorite are the stainless steel, non-tipping type. Puppies like to tip their bowls over and make messes. They also like to chew plastic bowls. The stainless steel non-tipping type bowls, have lasted me for many years, and always clean up nice.
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Collar and Leash
You will need a collar and leash. I like the durable nylon webbing types. They clean up nice in the washing machine and they last. Puppies grow very fast, so I like to get the type of collar that is adjustable, so I don't have to replace it with a new collar every week.
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Brushes, Combs, and De-shedders
My favorite brush is a slicker brush. I always start out with that, and then after going over the puppy/dog with that, combing is very important. The slicker basically gets the top coat, the comb gets the bottom coat. The de-shedding tool is awesome, if you have a dog that has a shedding type coat. They are not necessary for non-shedding breeds. It is very important to get your puppy used to being brushed and combed at a very young age.
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Dog nail trimmers
It is important to get the puppy used to having its paws handled, held, and touched at a very young age. It will make trimming the nails so much easier than if they hate having their feet handled. Keeping the nails trimmed, will keep the quick in the nail from growing too long and causing problems. Too long of nails can be harmful to the dog's foot, it can be harmful to your floors and furniture, and it can be harmful to you.
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Chew toys
Puppies need toys. It is a natural tendency for them to put something in their mouths and chew it, especially while teething, so you want to provide them something safe to do that with. Not only will it help distract them from chewing things that you don't want them to chew on, but it gives them something to entertain themselves with. My favorites are Kong type toys, Nyla-bones, and Rope toys. Rawhide toys are to be avoided, they can be a dangerous choking hazard. Look for durability in the toys. If you give them a toy that they can chew apart, it can cause death by choking on it, or ending up being an obstruction in the digestive system. Retrieving type dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, Goldendoodles, Labradors, etc., love to retrieve. I keep tennis ball on hand for that. It is a good way to give the dog exercise and something fun to do. However, do not allow the dog to be unsupervised with the tennis ball. They can easily chew them apart and that could end up being deadly.  
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Food and treats
You want to be prepared with food and treats before you bring the puppy home, so you don't have to leave the puppy to go hunt some down as soon as you get home with it. Always discuss ahead of time with the breeder, to find out what kind of food and treats the puppy is already on. You will want to find that type, and keep them on it for at least two weeks, to help avoid stomach upsets during the transition into their new home. If you then want to change to a different type of food, just remember to do it gradually over a several day period, but adding a little more of the new food, and reducing the amount of the previous food. Do your research on dog foods and treats, before choosing a brand, when you decide to switch. They are not all made equally. I feel treats are an awesome training tool for a puppy. I always start introducing the obedience training commands, with treats as rewards to young puppies.
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Puppy Shampoo
It's pretty likely, that your puppy is going to get a little stinky and dirty from time to time. Nothing is nicer than having a clean, fluffy, fresh smelling puppy to snuggle with. It is best for the puppy to use an actual puppy shampoo, versus human type shampoo's or soaps. The puppy shampoo's are formulated specially for the puppies coat and skin. Make sure to get the tearless kind. You don't want to burn the puppies eyes, if soap accidently gets into the eyes while bathing it.
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Find a Reputable Veterinarian
Before you bring your puppy home, you will want to make sure to find a reputable veterinarian and establish yourself with them. You want to make an appointment ahead of time, so that you can get your new puppy in to be seen by them, as soon as you get them home. You want to know that you brought a healthy puppy home, and to be able to set up a vaccination schedule with the vet. The clinics are often times very busy, and hard to get into right away, so you want the appointment set up in advance. Make sure to get health records from the breeder that you got the puppy from. A puppy should have already been dewormed at least twice and have their first vaccinations, before leaving the breeder. The vet will also want to know the puppy's birthdate, so make sure to have that handy as well.
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Read and Research some more
While you are waiting to bring your puppy home, is an awesome time to get online, or find books to learn or refresh your memory on house training, crate training, obedience training, puppy/dog care, etc. The more you are prepared, the more enjoyable your experience will prove to be.
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Well, I think that is a pretty good list to get started with. It is always so fun and exciting to shop and buy the puppy new cute things, while waiting for the exciting day to bring the little cutie home! Being prepared ahead of time, means you can just relax and enjoy the puppy when you finally get it home.
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Kim Eastabrooks