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puppy essentials new owners guide

Puppy Essentials: A New Owner's Guide to Preparing for Your Furry Friend

Written by Steph McCulloch


Being prepared for a new furry addition is not only important but exciting. Having all the essential items will help to make things a tad easier and also mean that you’re prepared for everything in store.
Puppy in bushes


Congratulations on deciding to bring a puppy into your home! Preparing to welcome home your furry friend can be a very exciting and rewarding experience. This means making sure you have everything you need, including the essentials. 

To help you out, we’ve created a new puppy guide so you can feel as prepared as possible. This basically acts like a puppy checklist and includes everything you need to know about:

  • Feeding essentials

  • Grooming supplies

  • Bedding and comfort 

  • Training and enrichment 

  • Safety and puppy-proofing

  • Health and wellness

  • Socialisation and exercise 

Feeding essentials

puppy stood next to food bowl

It's super important to feed puppies puppy-specific foods and treats (whether that be raw or grain-free, for example) because they have nutritional requirements that differ from adult dogs. 

During the puppy stage, puppies are in a critical stage of growth and development and, therefore, require more protein, calories, vitamins and minerals to support their growth and immune system. Puppy-specific food is easily digestible and specially formulated to meet these unique nutritional needs - with the right balance of essential nutrients that support bone and muscle development, brain function, and a healthy immune system.

Attempting to feed adult dog food or adult treats to puppies can result in nutrient deficiencies or imbalances that can lead to concerning health problems in the future. When it comes to puppy-specific food, it's important to note that different breeds and sizes of puppies may have slightly different nutritional needs, so it's best to choose a food that is appropriate for your puppy's breed and size. 

There are also lots of puppy-specific food bowls and water bowls available that come in smaller sizes and are raised to help support neck functions. These include heavy-duty, stainless-steel bowls which are easy to clean and maintain and won't turn into a chew toy. A quick online search will provide a plethora of suitable feeding options.

Always consult with a veterinarian for guidance on the best diet and feeding practices for your puppy. If you’re a Waggel member, you can talk to an online vet at any time by using Joii. 

Grooming supplies

Puppy being brushed

Getting a puppy means committing to their grooming needs, whether they’re long or short-haired - it’s all part of the ownership journey!

Using a special gentle puppy shampoo and conditioner is important because they are specifically designed to be gentle on your puppy’s sensitive skin and coat which are a lot more delicate than an adult dog’s. Puppy shampoo and conditioner are also formulated to maintain the correct pH balance of your pup’s skin to prevent itchiness and dryness while keeping your puppy fresh and clean. 

Regularly brushing your dog with small puppy brushes and combs is also a super important part of the grooming process and helps to maintain good hygiene standards. Brushing and combing help to detangle and remove dirt and debris from your puppy’s coat. Creating a routine of brushing also helps to distribute the natural oils that are found in your puppy’s skin resulting in a shiny, matt-free coat.

Purchasing puppy nail clippers and nail files is also a good idea and will help your pup become used to being regularly groomed. Puppy nail clippers are important and help to maintain nail health whilst preventing injury and discomfort. Long nails can cause pain during walking and, if left untreated, can curl into the pads of the feet. Trimming and filing nails regularly will help to keep your pup in tip-top shape.

Maintaining oral hygiene is another important part of the grooming process that can also influence the wider health of your dog. Did you know that poor oral hygiene in dogs can lead to heart problems? Regular brushing can significantly reduce the risk of gum and dental disease as well as extend your puppy’s lifespan. Read more about the importance of brushing here.

Bedding and comfort

Puppy sleeping in blanket

As a new puppy owner, it’s also crucial to consider where your puppy is going to sleep. This will either be in an open bed or in a crate. Both have their benefits so it is up to you to consider both options and choose the best one for your puppy and your situation. Crates provide a safe and secure place for your puppy to sleep and also help with toilet training as your pup will be less likely to go potty where they sleep.

Whatever you choose, it’s also important to provide blankets and toys for your new furry addition. Toys help to provide both physical and mental stimulation whilst also preventing boredom and destructive behaviour. Providing toys and playing with your puppy can also strengthen your bond meaning you’ll be on your way to becoming best friends in little to no time at all.

As always, be sure not to leave your puppy unattended with toys as this can cause a choking hazard. 

Providing soft blankets for your pup will help them to feel safe and provide them with warmth, familiarity, and security whether used in their bed or a crate. It also prevents them from chewing on important things such as your favourite vintage, mid-century chair. For more tips on stopping chewing and destructive behaviour, click here.

If you are interested in crate training, it can be done by following the steps below.

  • Introduce the crate as a positive space by placing toys or treats inside.

  • Gradually increase the amount of time your puppy spends in the crate and place them in with the door open when they nap so they know it is a safe space.

  • Reward your puppy for calm and quiet behaviour when in their crate.

  • Finally, begin to use the crate for longer periods of time such as overnight - this will help you to achieve the goal of making the crate a comfortable and safe place for your puppy to rest.

If you do commit to crate training remember that it should be introduced slowly and never as punishment. Doing so can cause your puppy to feel scared and also damage the bond you share.

Training and enrichment

puppy jumping up to person's hands

Puppy pads or puppy litter boxes are a great way to introduce toilet training into your routine. They help your puppy understand where to go potty and can be gradually decreased over time. To read more about puppy training pads and how to toilet train a puppy check out our other articles here. 

Training a puppy is important because it establishes and reinforces good habits and behaviour from early on in your pet’s life. Using training tools like collars, leads, and harnesses can help your puppy to learn how to walk correctly and without pulling. Positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training are widely used to help puppies learn and remember certain commands. 

Consistent training with these tools can result in an obedient and happy four-legged friend. Incorporating interactive toys and puzzle feeders is also important and provides both mental stimulation and enrichment. They also promote independent problem-solving skills as well as reduce anxiety.

Safety and puppy-proofing

Puppy playing with toy

Puppy-proofing your home is of the utmost importance for new owners and can prevent your new addition from accessing potentially dangerous areas of the home such as stairs and electrical cords. Purchasing baby gates, puppy gates and playpens means you can keep an eye on your puppy at all times and interact with them without fear of them running off!

You can also find purposely designed electrical cord protectors that prevent puppies from causing mayhem. During the puppy teething phase, your puppy will most likely want to bite everything in sight so making sure things are puppy proof is a puppy parents full time job in the first few months. Chewing on objects such as wires can cause electrical shocks, burns, and even death. Using cord protectors will help to reduce the risk of any accidents.

Bringing home a puppy also means taking care of any toilet training accidents that happen. However, you may have to rethink how you clean these up. Investing in pet-safe cleaning supplies is important because traditional cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals that can be toxic and even fatal to pets.

Using pet-safe cleaning products means you can continue to ensure the safety and well-being of your pet at all times whilst also maintaining a hygienic and clean home. 

Puppies are naturally curious creatures and want to explore their new homes by licking, chewing, and eating whatever they can get their paws on. This means you’ll have to take stock and remove any potential hazards such as small objects, toxic plants, and anything sharp that could harm your pet. Think of it like baby-proofing your home - if you’re unsure about an object, just remove it anyway to be safe.

Health and wellness

puppy being held in a persons arms

As a pet owner, we know you want the best for your puppy at all times. This means protecting them from serious and life-threatening diseases by vaccinating them at a young age. Vaccinations are a super important part of puppy ownership as your puppy won’t yet have a fully developed immune system.

Making regular trips to the vet with your puppy will ensure they receive proper medical care and will also help to prevent health issues by keeping them up to date with vaccinations. Taking them as puppies may also help them to feel less anxious about visiting the vet for yearly boosters as they get older.

Fleaing and worming is another important part of the health and wellness chapter and prevents infestations and serious health problems caused by pesky parasites such as ticks, fleas, tapeworms, and roundworms. Treating parasite infestations early can significantly reduce the spread to other pets and humans and keeps everything under control.

This is another thing your veterinarian will be able to help you with. They’ll accurately weigh your puppy to determine the correct dosage of medication. Keeping up to date with flea and worm treatments will ensure your puppy stays healthy and happy.

Purchasing pet insurance is also another important aspect of puppy ownership. Though you may think your puppy is so small and young that nothing will happen to them, sadly no one can predict the future. However, taking out a Lifetime pet insurance policy with Waggel is the best thing you can do to protect your furry friend!

By choosing Waggel, you can rest assured that your puppy will be covered for accident and illness meaning you can forget about paying hefty vet bills should the worst happen.

We want to make everything as simple as possible for new and experienced owners alike - including our instant quote process which can be found here.

Socialisation and exercise

Puppy socialisation is another important (and fun) part of owning a puppy. It helps your pup to develop social skills and learn how to behave around other dogs and people. Socialisation also reduces anxiety and aggression in dog adulthood. Proper socialisation will help your puppy to feel more comfortable with new people, new environments, and new dogs ultimately reducing fear and stress.

As mentioned above, correct lead/harness training will help your pup understand how to behave around other people and dogs. Taking the time to teach them how to walk properly will stop them from pulling. When taking your puppy outside, always make sure they’re wearing an ID tag. If they were to run away, an ID tag can help you both to be reunited as soon as possible.

If you’re a first-time pet parent, you may also want to invest in a pooper scooper to help you when you’re out and about with your dog. It makes cleaning up messes super simple and easy.

As puppies have oodles of energy, they must be entertained and stimulated through age-appropriate toys. Distraction toys that can be filled with treats are great options for your pup along with rope and fetch toys that can’t be easily destroyed by puppy teeth.


Being prepared for a new furry addition is not only important but exciting. Having all the essential items will help to make things a tad easier and also mean that you’re prepared for everything in store.

This means taking the time to find the right food and feeding equipment as well as purchasing a puppy bed or crate. In addition to this, it’s also helpful to stock up on puppy essentials such as specialist shampoo and conditioner and other grooming supplies such as nail clippers and toothpaste!

Preparing beforehand is the best way to ensure a happy and healthy life for your new best friend. Congratulations on your new addition, we hope this guide has provided you with everything you need so you can feel confident and calm when welcoming your new perfect puppy home.

If you’re on the hunt for more puppy advice, why not take advantage of our blog and check out our other puppy posts? We cover important topics such as why you need puppy insurance and how to stop puppy biting once and for all.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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