First Time Dog Owners Checklist (Essential Guide & Tips)


Having your first dog is one of the most exciting experiences in life. As a first-time dog owner your lifestyle and home organization will go through lots of changes. Thinking about all you need to prepare and all your new dog is going to need can be overwhelming.

In this article, we rounded up for you the ultimate first-time dog owners checklist. It shall prepare you for any challenges or unexpected incidents that may occur after bringing home your new pet.

The Life of Your Dog Inside His New Home

In-advance preparations are the best way to welcome a new dog to your house. It’s likely that your pet will start discovering the place it’s going to share with you.

Some dogs are aloof or afraid at first and some are curious. Yet, your dog can get hyperactive once it gets used to the place.

During their discoveries, dogs can accidentally damage your belongings and furniture. There’s a number of ways to prevent that from happening.

Dog Gates

Just like baby gates, dog gates can be used to protect your dog, not only your belongings. They’re used to keep dogs off places where there are breakable items or stuff that may harm your dog.

They let you control how gradually your dog discovers area after another in your place. They also don’t isolate the dog completely and make it feel involved.

Regalo Gate is one of the steel extra-wide and walk-through gates. It fits opening between 29-34 and 35-38 inches. The gate can stand 30 inches tall. It also has a 6-inch extension kit to allow you to adjust it for larger spaces.

Regalo gate comes with a 4 pack pressure mount kit as well as 4 pack wall cups to add to its security. It has safety lock features to prevent your dog from opening the door easily.


  • Easy to set up
  • Adjustable


  • The latch isn’t smooth moving

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Dog Exercise Pens

An exercise pen is also another efficient option to limit your dog’s moves in the house. It keeps your puppyin a restricted area with an ability to still reach it and enjoy time together. Pens are available in different types including metal, plastic, and soft-sided.

Parkland Pet Exercise Pen is one of the foldable soft-sided pens. This pen can be used both indoors and outdoors like in your yard for instance.

The pen comes with a removable mesh cover. You can use it regarding the place and weather. It also has a zipped front door and top. It’s available in small, medium, and large sizes to fit all dogs’ sizes.


  • Easy to set up
  • Safer than metal pens


  • Not suitable for highly-active dogs

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Similarly, applying a fence for your garden and yard will keep your dog safe inside. It will also prevent any early escaping attempts.

Anti-chew Spray

An extra step to protect your furniture and stuff is using an anti-chew spray. Using these bitter sprays prevent your puppy from getting near any sprayed item.

Rocco & Roxie No Chew Spray is among the extremely bitter sprays. It’s also alcohol-free which means that it lasts longer than products with evaporating alcohol.

The spray’s repellent formula prevents dogs from licking and chewing anything. It can be used with the dog’s own wounds and bandages as well as furniture, shoes, and electrical cords.


  • Alcohol-free
  • Affordable


  • Not effective with all dogs

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For additional protection to keep your place clean you can use a stain cleaner and odor spray. You can also use bed and sofa covers as well as hair and fur remover.

Feeding Your New Puppy

Dogs are fed 3 meals a day and more in case of puppies. It’s crucial to carefully consider what you’re feeding your puppy and how.

Dog Food and Water Bowls

Your dog will need food and water bowls of a suitable size that fits its age. They should be cleaned regularly not to stain or have unpleasant odors.

It’s advisable to have a tray or a water-absorbing mat to keep your floor clean from any leftovers and water splashes.

Neater Feeder Express is a set designed to reduce the dog food and water mess. It elevates your dog’s bowls from the grounds. The feeder has non-sliding rubber feet and any spilled water gets drained into the below basin.

All the parts can be washed in the dishwasher easily. The feeder is available in gunmetal and cappuccino colors. It’s also available in different sizes for small dogs and medium to large dogs.


  • Saves time cleaning
  • Doesn’t slide on the floor


  • Doesn’t fit more than one pet

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Food and Water

Dogs should always have constant access to fresh water. You will need to change the water two or three times a day.

What you feed your dog can vary between raw food, dry food, and canned food.Raw food is a better source for protein, vitamins, and minerals. Yet, you need to make sure you’re providing your dog a balanced diet. Your vet can help you have a balanced nutrition plan.

You can also make your dog extra happy by giving them treats every now and then.

Hygiene and Grooming Supplies

When it comes to dogs’ hygiene you will need to bath and groom your dog. This includes trimming its nails, cleaning its ears, and washing its teeth with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste.


When bathing your dog, using effective shampoos and conditioners is essential. They aren’t only for keeping your dog clean but also to keep its skin and coat healthy.

However, when bathing puppies a tearless puppy shampoo is a suitable choice. They’re mostly made to be gentle on puppies’ sensitive skin and coat.

Isle of Dogs Puppy Tearless Shampoo is one of the shampoos made for puppies only. Just like babies, it’s meant not to irritate your puppy’s eyes while bathing.

The shampoo is free of paraben and sulfate and has a natural odor neutralizer. It leaves your pup’s skin clean and its coat shiny and good-smelling.


  • Tearless
  • Suitable for different dogs


  • The smell doesn’t last for long

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Moreover, to apply the dog shampoo and conditioner evenly while bathing your pet make sure you use a sponge, scrubber, or a shampoo brush.


Your grooming supplies will include having a suitable brush or comb for your dog. You need to put the length and texture of your dog’s coat in consideration. Look for or ask your vet about what kind fits your dog’s needs.

Hertzko Slicker Brush is a gentle brush suitable for double-coated dogs. It removes loose undercoat, mats, and tangled hair. The brush is versatile and suitable for many hair types and sizes.

The brush has a one-click clean button and a thumb rest to give you control while grooming. It massages your dog’s coat and increases its blood circulation.


  • Easy to clean
  • Suitable for different kinds of dogs


  • Can be harsh on dogs with thin coats

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Nail Clippers

Another needed tool to keep your dog’s paws clean and healthy-looking are nail clippers. You need them to cut your dog’s nails regularly to protect your pet.

Long nails can prevent dogs from walking properly and comfortably. They can also get accidentally torn off and harm your dog.

All you need is a dog nail clipper and to learn how to safely trim your dog’s nail. You can also use small scissors to cut extra hair on the paws area.

Your Dog’s Sleeping Area

Dog Bed

Your new furry friend will need to have its own sleeping area in the house. To provide such an area, you will need a comfortable dog bed and blankets.

Dog Crates

If you’re planning on keeping your puppy in a crate in order to train it then you’ll need preferably washable bedding, a blanket, and a heating pad during cold weather.

Crate training is essential for dogs. It ensures their safety when you aren’t at home and later it serves as a place of security and rest for dogs.

Crates are available in different types. There are plastic, metal, and soft-sided crates. The type you choose depends on your dog’s size and character.

Metal crates such as AmazonBasics Carte are among the most famous types. It’s a folding crate with two slide-bolt latches. It has a divider panel to adjust the space you use as your puppy grows. it’s recommended for medium-sized breeds that weigh from 26 to 75 lbs.


  • Easy to set-up
  • Available in different heights from 22 to 48 inches


  • Folding crates aren’t the most sturdy

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Going Outdoors With Your Dog

Outdoor walks are an essential part of the dog-owning experience. The time you spend outdoors with your pet makes you bond and give your dog the amount of exercise and mental stimulation it needs.

Going For Walks

Dogs like exploring and going out. Furthermore, an extra energetic dog may need to stay and play for longer hours to spend its energy.

When you take your dog outside, you’d need to keep your dog hydrated and clean. There is some basic equipment you may need to add to your checklist:

  • A loose-enough collar
  • A long and sturdy leash
  • A harness
  • A dog ID tag with your name, phone number, and your dog’s name
  • A bowl and a water bottle
  • Wet wipes
  • First-aid kit
  • Poop bags
  • Poop bags pouch
  • Fetching toys
  • Treats
  • Car-seat covers (in the car)
  • Seat-belt restraint (in the car)

Related Article: When Can I Take My Puppy Outside Safely?

The Physical and Mental Well Being of Your Puppy

Ensuring your dog’s physical and mental health requires real effort from your side. It’s your job as a responsible first-time dog owner to always be aware of your dog’s state.

Finding a Vet

One of the most important things on your checklist is that you need find a trusted vet for your dog’s well being as well as for extra guidance and education. The regular visits and check-ups of the vet are part of your routine from now on.

From a trusted clinic, you can get core vaccinations for your new puppy. You also get to access a professional vet in case of emergencies or to simply learn more about your dog’s diet.

Exercise and Training

Dogs’ exercises are part of their characters. Whether your dog requires daily or occasional exercise, a dog still likes to be challenged physically and mentally.

Exercises keep them from getting bored and let them spend their energy in a useful activity. They also help you bond with your companion more.

Training on the other hand is essential for your dog’s character. All dogs need to go through some kinds of training such as obedience and socializing training.

Lack of training can lead your dog to develop troubling behavior such as excessive barking or destructive chewing. It can also make it aggressive or aloof towards other people and animals.

A professional training program is another optional step some owners take. It lets you nourish the best of your dog’s skills and potential. It also creates another level of bonding with your new pet.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of your new canine companion can be fun once you get on track. Hopefully, this article gave you a good start in knowing the essentials of owning a dog.

Keep in mind to always make sure that you’re providing your pet a comfortable home and safe food. It’s also your job as a responsible as a first-time dog owner to be aware of your pet’s physical and mental health.

Still, don’t forget to enjoy your time and have fun together!