New Puppy Checklist

New Puppy Checklist: The Essentials from a Cary Dog Trainer

New Puppy Checklist
By Nora Torrey, All Dogs Allowed

You’ve decided to bring home a new member of the family and you want to be ready and prepared. First off, congratulations! A new dog, young or old, can bring so much joy to your life. Secondly, kudos to you for wanting to be ready for anything! 

There are tons of “essential puppy checklists” already available so how is this one any different? Well, instead of going through the items you may need, I’m going to highlight some of the training that you can start doing the moment you walk through the door with your little fluff ball! Let’s get started…

What’s your name? 

One of the first things most people try to teach their new dog when they get home is to sit, and completely forget about teaching them their name. You want your dog to have a strong positive associate with its name! This is going to help get their attention and come-when-called. Take your pup to a nice quiet room of the house with some yummy treats in hand. Say their name (just once!) and as soon as they turn to look at you say “Yes!” and toss them a treat. Repeat this 5-10 times and then take a break. Do this a few more times over the next few days and you should be getting some good quick reactions from your pup when they hear their name! 

Catch that good behavior! 

This is a 100% MUST and will help develop a calm well-mannered pup. Stash treats or kibble around the house or carry in your pockets at all times. Whenever your little one decides to do something you like, drop a little piece of kibble down in front of them. Puppy goes and picks up a toy to chew on, yes we love that….treat! Puppy is laying calmly near you, yes we love that….treat! Puppy hears the doorbell and doesn’t bark, yes we love that….treat! 

We tend to flood our dogs with attention when we notice them doing something we don’t like and we almost don’t even notice or pay attention when they are being good. So let’s flip that around and double down on loving them when they are being good. This can also help you keep a positive attitude during puppyhood, because let’s face it, it can be hard and is plenty your pup is already doing that you love and let’s highlight that!

Never let your puppy get away with things you don’t want your adult dog to do 

This can be a tricky one! I hear lots of owners say, “it’s ok if they get on the couch now but once they are older then we won’t let them on any more.” It’s better to build strong foundations to the rules of the house now. They will start developing habits and patterns from day one and it can be hard to try and break those as they get bigger. Your pup jumping up right now doesn’t matter because they are small and cute. And while they will always be cute, they will not always be that small! So, decide as a household what is and isn’t ok and make sure that EVERYONE in the home sticks to the rules. 

Mental Enrichment! 

When our pups are little, we should limit the amount of strenuous physical activity they do (please check with your vets on what is acceptable). But, they have crazy puppy energy and need to be worn out somehow right? That’s where mental enrichment comes in. It will not only tire out your dog, but fulfill and make them happy! It doesn’t have to be hard to incorporate this into our busy lives. One of the easiest ways is to give your dog their meals in a food puzzle. Things like Snuffle Mats, Kong Wobblers, Slow-Feeder Bowls, are all great and quick to set up! Another favorite is to take your dog out for a Sniffari! On these walks your dog’s nose is boss and leads the way. I would recommend using a long-line leash (around 15-20 ft). Your puppy sets the pace and gets to sniff and stop and sniff some more while out on these walks. These are a great safe way for your dog to take in the world and even though you may not go very far in physical distance, you’ll be surprised at how tired they are after!

Socialize, Socialize, Socialize! 

This is so important for puppies! A lot of puppies go to their new homes at around 8 weeks old, their prime socialization window. It can be hard right now due to COVID to get your puppy out and experiencing the world but please make an effort to do so in a safe, fun way. It will benefit both of you! Many people think socialization is play time with other dogs but it is so much more than that! It needs to include people, surfaces, noises, objects, places. YouTube and Spotify are great resources for playing all sorts of noises —- just search for puppy socialization noises. I love taking puppies and dogs to places like Lowe’s or Homegoods. Going out and sitting in a park and just watching everything that is going on is wonderful “doggie TV.” 

It’s never too early or too late to start training your new dog! I like to think of training as a long term investment. If you put in the hard work now, it’s going to pay off in the end.

If you are interested in some free socialization activity ideas reach out to us at and we will send you over some handouts!  You can also use the discount code PEAKPUPPY10 for 10% off your first class with us! Happy Training!

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