I’m Getting a Puppy! Now What?

Congratulations! You debated, you questioned, and now finally you (and maybe your loved ones) have made the big decision to get your very own puppy! If you’re anything like me, this is a long-time coming and you can barely believe it’s actually happening!

Growing up, my family always had golden retrievers. From the moment my parents brought me back from the hospital I have had a loving dog in my home! It was not until I went to college that I had to experience daily life without my furry friend!

After moving to Nashville it took almost 2 years to convince my fiancé to get a dog together. As a child, he never had dogs–so this “crazy dog lady” world was completely new to him. Ironically though, it was pretty new to me too because I realized that I never had to “care” for a dog, my mom always did that! My sister and I were the ones playing, walking, and goofing off with our dogs.


So, when it came time for us to get our new puppy, Riggins (yes, I got his name from Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights!) it was on us to learn how to tend to this helpless puppy. We looked to other dog owners, my parents, books, and the internet to answer our questions and prepare us for what was to come. Though we are still learning, we feel we have a good hold on “puppy parenting.”

If you or anyone you know is planning on getting a puppy, check out my tips & suggestions on becoming the best dog owner possible.


You found your dream dog, great! But have you asked the breeder these questions?

  • Have health tests been performed on the dog’s parents? You want to make sure they are healthy and have no genetic diseases.
  • Can I meet the parents? How big are they? It gives you a better idea of what your puppy will look like.
  • Have you bred dogs before? How many times have these two dogs been bred? If this is the first time for either question that may be a red flag.
  • Are the puppies up-to-date on their vaccinations?
  • When was this litter born? When are they available to take home?
  • What are your requirements for taking home one of your puppies?
  • Are the puppies AKC registered? The answer should be yes.
  • Have you been socializing the puppies? How?
  • What are the current living conditions of the puppy?
  • How much are you asking for 1 puppy? Cash or check?

Before picking your puppy up you will want to make sure you have:

  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Crate
  • Dog bed and/or blankets
  • Food and water bowls
  • Puppy food
  • Puppy treats
  • Dog brush
  • Puppy shampoo
  • Dog tag to hang on their collar
  • Toys
  • Bag or bin to keep everything in one place
  • Training pads


It’s pick-up day!

  • Verify that the dog owner knows you are coming and when.
  • Puppy-proof your home. New dogs are curious and will want to chew on anything they can reach. (i.e. cords, shoes, etc.)
  • Arrive on time.
  • Be sure to have your payment–if they requested cash make sure you have the exact amount.
  • Don’t forget to take the leash, collar, traveling crate (if desired), and blanket.
  • Pack a bottle of water, travel bowl, and 1 cup of food for your drive home.
  • Stock up on bags for potty breaks.
  • When you arrive, ask any final questions you forgot to ask beforehand.
  • Don’t forget to get a good look at the parents before taking your puppy home.
  • Be sure to get all of the paper work for the puppy. Verify which shots they have received.
  • Often times, the breeder will give you a sample of the dog food they have been feeding the puppies to take home. If they don’t offer, you can always ask to help the puppy transition to their new food you purchased for them.

Welcome home!

  • Give the puppy a bath. I recommend giving the puppy a flea treatment right away, especially if they were living outside. Be sure to get puppy flea treatment (shampoo) not dog.
  • Show them around their new home.
  • Play with their new toys and show them their crate.
  • Do not leave them alone their first day/night.


What else should I know?

  • The puppy will cry the first night away from their litter and parents. They will most likely cry for the first whole week. This is normal, and as much as it is going to stink, you need to be patient with them–they are just scared.
  • I recommend putting a towel in the crate and a blanket overtop of the crate (3/4 of the top). The towel will allow the puppy to not overheat and the blanket lets them feel secure in their new home.
  • Be consistent in which door you take them out to go potty. Use the same one every time.
  • It is important that you come up with a word that you will use each time you take them outside. We use “potty” to indicate it is time to go to the bathroom. It can become annoying, but the more repetitive you are the faster they will associate the word with what they need to do.
  • They are going to have accidents in the house. Anytime this happens, we reprimand Riggins and then take him outside immediately. Even if you know they are all done with their “business” it is important you show them where is the right place to go.
  • Puppies need lots of exercise, so be sure to get them out and running. But, you can’t forget that they are puppies and they need more sleep than dogs would. Let them rest.
  • Even if you don’t think your puppy has to go to the bathroom, take them outside. You should make sure you take them out at least every 2-3 hours.
  • Puppies should be fed 3 times a day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner-1 cup of food for each serving (typically). After about 6 months it is recommended you gradually take them down to 2 times a day.
  • Make a vet appointment within the first few days of getting your puppy. Take your paperwork from the breeder with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions once you are there.
  • Ask your vet what flea, tick, and worm medicines you need to get for your puppy. Do not buy it without consulting first. Medicine dosages are dependent on the weight of your puppy.
  • If you are traveling long distances in the car, make sure you stop at least every 2 hours to let them move around and go potty.
  • Puppies need and want lots of water. Be sure to keep them hydrated.
  • Socialize your puppy with other dogs and people at a young age.
  • If you have a male dog, they recommend you get him fixed by age 6 months.
  • Puppies do lose their teeth. Don’t be concerned if you see a little blood or if your puppy swallows their own tooth–it is normal.
  • Do not take your puppy to public parks or places other dogs have been. Even with their shots, puppies are very susceptible to picking up diseases in their first few months.

I have decided I want to crate train my dog. 

  • The most important thing about crate training is making sure the dog feels safe and comfortable in their crate. You need to treat their crate as their home.
  • Do not put the puppy in the crate when they do something wrong. They will then associate the crate with a negative experience.
  • Do not let the puppy out of the create if they start crying (unless you think it is because they need to go to the bathroom). They will learn that all they have to do is cry to get out.
  • Puppies need to work their way up to staying in a crate for a long time. We began with 30 minutes and worked our way up in small increments.
  • If they run in their crate after you yell at them, let them stay there. That means they feel safe and protected.
  • Do not let any food or water sitting outside their crate when you leave them in there. It is tempting if they are able to see it.
  • Once you feel you are at a point where you can trust your dog, you no longer have to lock the crate at night and when you leave. It is suggested that you keep the crate in your home even after they are trained since they treat it as their home.
  • It may help to feed the dog 1 or 2 meals a day in the crate. Put the food at the back of the crate and lock the door behind them. It allows them to associate a positive experience with the crate.


Riggins has been a blast to take care of, but he has also been a handful! We learn something new all the time on how to be better puppy parents and we would love to learn any tips or suggestions that you have from your dog experiences! Feel free to share them in the comments below.

With love,




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