Those little balls of fluff are adorable, but life can become miserable without accomplishing at least these five tasks first:

  1. Buy a crate. A crate is an indispensable tool for house training, as well as keeping your belongings and your puppy safe while you are gone. Crate-training takes a few days if your breeder hasn’t already started it with your new puppy, but most puppies take to it quickly if you are diligent.
  2. Choose your vet. If you don’t already have a veterinarian for other pets, ask your friends, co-workers or breeder who they recommend. If possible, schedule a “well puppy” visit with your veterinarian for the day after you bring your puppy home. (Most breeders will require the puppy be examined by a vet within 48 to 72 hours of purchase for the health guarantee to be honored.) When shopping for a vet, don’t hesitate to ask about recommended vaccination schedules, costs, restraint methods, and whether the clinic offers any “extras,” such as boarding or microchipping.
  3. Enroll in a puppy kindergarten class. A training class for puppies aged 8 to 18 weeks is a vital component of your new puppy’s life. These classes will not only get you started on the basics of obedience training and house manners, but should also allow your puppy the opportunity to play with other puppies. This is a must if you plan for your puppy to interact with other dogs throughout its life. Again, ask friends, your vet and breeder for recommendations, and visit the class in advance of enrolling, when possible.
  4. Prepare the menu. Decide before you bring your puppy home what food you will feed. Kibble, raw, home cooked or frozen — the variety of choices at the moment is astounding, so take some time to research options before selecting a food or feeding method. The solution is to choose an option that meets your puppy’s nutrient requirements, and that you feel good about preparing and feeding.
  5. Get some toys. What’s life with a puppy without dog toys strewn about the house? Choose sturdy, easy-to-wash toys that appeal to your puppy’s desire to chew. Rope tug toys and “puppy” chew bones are fine, so long as your puppy is only playing with them while supervised. Do not allow a puppy to chew any toy not specifically labeled for chewing (especially rope or cloth toys). Buy enough toys that you can rotate a couple sets in and out of your puppy’s life — they’ll be like new again!

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