A new puppy! 

But now what?

It’s okay, no need to look so worried at the pet shop, we’ve got your back. But yes, it’s going to take more than treats and a lead. 

In this article, you’ll be well prepared to welcome your new puppy home by giving you a list of all of our favourite and essential puppy products 

After you browse through, you can be ready to face your new life happily and stress-free. Until they pee on the carpet. But you get the idea. 

Checklist of 16 Essential Things Before Getting a Puppy

  • Crate – As much as it looks like one, it’s not a prison we promise. In fact, it’s one of the most useful tools for training a puppy. You’ll love it for toilet training, and for giving your puppy a safe place to rest. 
    Ellie-Bo has quite good ones. 
  • Puppy Playpen – These help give your puppy a contained area to play and relax. Kind of applies for you as well; as long they’re here, you know they’re not getting up to any mischief.
    We like these by Yaheetech because they’re nice and sturdy.  But don’t forget you can probably find some good second-hand ones on eBay and on your local Facebook Marketplace. Baby playpens work well too
  • Comfortable bedding – Vet bed is probably the best example we can give you for them. Vet bed is what you see in kennels and crates at the vets. They’re washable, soft and rather snuggly, so your puppy will be a big fan. Oh also, it’s good value – we know money doesn’t grow on trees.
    Buy Vetbed here.
  • A heat pad- There’s a cute reason why you’ll need one. It will keep your puppy warm and comforted as it replicates the cosy, warm feeling they got from their mother and littermates. Snuggle safe is very promising – it does just what its name says.  
  • Food and water bowls – Your puppy should always have access to fresh water. It’s a basic right, really. These road refresher water bowls are fab, and they won’t get tipped up easily – take a look here
  • Enzyme Cleaner – For cleaning up those accidents. Yes, they will happen. And yes, they will be stinky. Here’s a good example of an enzyme cleaner we like to use.  
  • Puppy Pads: Before they’re safe to go outside, puppy pads are a good idea. There are way too many great puppy pads in the market, so here’s our latest review of Zigzag approved puppy pads.  
  • Adjustable collar: Get a soft and light one so your puppy gets used to wearing one. No chokers please, let those stay in the 90s. Personally, we like something like this. Non-animal print versions are available, but where’s the fun in that?
  • ID Tags – Not being funny here – the UK law demands all dogs wear an ID tag. Trust us, you wouldn’t want to get in trouble with them. 
    We like Flexitags because they won’t jangle or irritate your puppy’s neck, and you can get all the essential information engraved on them like your name, phone number and address.  And their name, of course. 
  • Narrow training lead (2 meter long) – Nothing too heavy. Training leads are adjustable in length, so you can probably reuse them to go mountain climbing later on. Just kidding, please don’t do that. 
  • Here’s a good one you can look at. 
  • Puppy Food – Before you go out and buy puppy food on your own, ask your breeder what they are feeding them and if they can give you a couple of days’ worth. When they make it home, feed them some of their old food so we don’t get any upset tummies. No poopy business today!
  • Chew toys – There’s so many to choose from. But the Nylabone ranges for puppies hold a special space in our heart.
  • Puzzle toys – They make mealtimes much more fun and lengthy to avoid bloating, and to give you some peace and quiet. The West Paw Toppl is great for stuffing with food, and to help your puppy learn to problem solve. It’s also dishwasher safe – no need to get your hands dirty!
  • Commercial Training Treats – Again, there are simply too many options to handle. But if we had to choose only one, we’d pick the dehydrated meat treats  for sure. They will make your puppy hang off your every word when training. But if you want more good recommendations, check our puppy treat review article – they’re all la creme de la creme. 
  • Treat pouch – Nobody likes sticky, meaty pockets. You’ll also find them super useful when you’re in the middle of training sessions, so your treats are always at hand. The Mikki treat pouch is a great budget-friendly and low-key option; but if you want to go more extra, here’s a slightly more stylish option for your dashing sense of fashion.   
Getting a new puppy owner guide

Tips on training a new puppy

Training your puppy should be fun! And led by positive reinforcement.

Well, you might want to start by envisioning what you’d like your puppy to look like as a grown-up adult dog. 

After you’ve done that, it’s probably clear that you want your puppy training to at least include:  

  • Responding to their name
  • Coming back when we call them (recall)
  • Walking nicely on a lead
  • Leaving items
  • Dropping items
  • Settling on a mat or blanket

Socialisation and habituation are other things you’ll want to think about implementing for seeing your puppy grow into a smart, confident adult. They’ll learn how to adapt to different scenarios and situations without being worried or stressed.

Above all, there’s one thing you should always keep in mind…

Most important part of puppy training: Positive Reinforcement?

You know when your school teacher would get you gold stars for not eating glue? Same logic. 

Essentially, positive reinforcement is based on the idea that if you pay for what you want to see, you’re gonna get more of it. In puppy terms, if we can reward our puppy for doing things we want them to, our puppy will be much more likely to do that thing again – whether it’s coming towards us when we call them, responding to their name, or peeing and pooing in the right place.

What should I reward my new puppy with?

Food. Plain and simple. An animal’s primary reinforcer is something they depend on for survival so using food makes perfect sense. 

Food rewards are generally separated into three groups:

  • High Value: the ones that taste real good –  chicken, hot dog, cheese (in moderation)
  • Medium Value: commercial dog treats
  • Low Value: your puppy’s regular food

We like using medium and low value treats to reward them for when they do something we want to see. High value treats however, we like to save them for when we’re trying to get them to do slightly harder things like:

  • Training new behaviours,
  • Working in distracting environments
  • On socialisation outings

Keep in mind that different puppies will have different interests when it comes to treats. For example, Labradors will delight in eating their kibble for doing all sorts of tasks, while Poodles not so much.

Game: How will I know what treats my puppy likes?

Just like lunging for your favourite scotch egg flavour at the farmer’s market, you’ll know what training treats your puppy likes best due to how quickly they finish gobbling them down, or how keen they are to get to them!

Here’s how to test them out: 

  1. While you prepare, put your puppy out of the room.
  2. Put three different treats on three different saucers or plates (make sure they’re made of plastic so it doesn’t turn into a disaster) and place them on the floor.
  3. Let your puppy back in, and see which treat they go for first! The chosen one must be it.

You can also try experimenting with different training treats such as small pieces of carrot or broccoli. Lots of puppies tend to have a sweet tooth for cooked sweet potato, (but no actual sugary sweets please!), so you might want to think of that one as a special treat too.

To give the game a bit of  a spicy upgrade (not literally), you can add a toy to see if they prefer it to a food reward.  

Getting a puppy … with an older dog 

So your adult dog is no longer an only child.  They now have a puppy sibling. 

There’s so much excitement that goes into introducing your new puppy to your resident adult dog, but it’s important to remember it should be done with care and planning. If you do, you can always use the footage of their meeting for social media, get viral, and go on the news. Dream big. 

Here’s our tips on how to make things go smoothly:

  • Swap scents – Bring a blanket home from the breeders before you bring your puppy home. This is a good way to have your dog learn about the puppy in advance, and feel more comfortable when you finally bring them home.
  • Meet in a neutral area – Use a friend’s garden for your puppy and your adult dog to meet on neutral territory for the first time. That way, your dog won’t feel so territorial.
  • Keep it light and positive – There’s no need to panic or tell the older dog off. You want to stay clear of making your dog think that having the puppy there is a bad thing – like you’ll get cross with them or bad things will happen. 
  • Spend quality time with your older dog: We know you’ll love both your dogs the same – but maybe your older one will need a bit more reassurance. Make sure you spend some good quality time with them so they don’t feel left out. 
  • Train both of them together: It’s a good way for them to learn how to do things together, and to teach your older dog that when the puppy is around, nice things happen like treats! 
  • Let’s not share toys for now: Remove toys in shared spaces for a few days so that there won’t be any squabbling over whose is whose!
  • Protect your older dog from the puppy:  Some puppies can be a bit overzealous in biting and annoying older dogs. They’re lovely, but sometimes your older dog might need you to step in and give them a break. Other older dogs can tolerate it quite well, and put their paw down when they’ve had enough. 
  • Have a separate area for your puppy: Baby gated playpens are brilliant for this as both dogs get a break from the other, and have their own space to relax. 
Getting a new puppy owner guide

Getting a puppy … with a cat

 Don’t believe everything you see at the movies – there’s no reason cats and dogs should fight like they do in Hanna and Barbera cartoons. 

Here’s our tips to ensure your cat and new puppy introductions go well – we don’t want them to end up like Tom and Spike the Bulldog. 

  • Scent swapping: Before you bring your puppy home, ask your breeder for a piece of blanket to bring home for your cat to investigate. It will teach them about the new arrival and what they will smell like.
  • Separate rooms: If possible, have a separate room set up for your puppy away from the cat to begin with. Keep scent swapping between the puppy and the cat with towels or blankets – they work quite well for this. 

PRO TIP: You can also take your puppy in a room to smell where the cat has been and vice versa to start getting them acquainted with the smell. No meeting just yet, just smelling.

  • Pheromone therapy: Pheromone therapy helps calm anxiety and feel more relaxed by releasing smells that are familiar to them into a certain area. Adaptil and Feliway are great options to help your puppy and your cat feel more comfortable at the changes going on.
  • Hiding places for the cat: It’s no secret that cats can be more introverted than dogs. Especially puppies. Have plenty of places for them to get some space away from the puppy like cat trees, cat shelves, on top of sofas, or upstairs. 
  • Use a playpen: These are great to let the cat wander freely without the puppy chasing them around. Disaster, avoided. 
  • Never let the puppy chase the cat! Puppies love to chase, but cats won’t think it’s so fun. They’ll likely run away frightened, and it will probably be hard for them to think positively about their new sibling after that. Better not!
  • Train them together: Pop your puppy on the floor, and reward them for being calm.  Have your cat sit on a higher surface at the same time – this will help build positive associations between the two of them. Happy days ahead. 
  • Give both of them lots of separate attention: Ah yes, can’t forget about this one. You don’t want your cat to feel rejected about the new guy in town.
  • Be patient and consistent: Introducing cats and dogs won’t be so straightforward at first – but you can always rely on your amazing patience skills  – it can honestly take a while!

In case you need more tips for introducing your cat to your new puppy, we recommend taking a look at International Cat Care . They also have great advice about all things cats – including how to train them!  

Getting a puppy … while having a baby or pregnant

It’s actually quite common for people to get a new puppy while having a baby on the way. Some people can handle just about anything it seems! 

Here’s a set of tips we’d like to bring to the table to make sure everything goes as smooth as your (new) baby’s bum before and after you have your puppy. 

Before you have the baby – prepare your puppy for what’s coming

  • Train them to LOVE their playpen and crate – Crates and playpens will end up being incredibly useful for when the baby arrives as it will give your dog a safe place to retreat to away from the loud cries and poopy diapers, as well as somewhere safe for you to leave them when you have your hands full with the baby.
  • Your puppy  isn’t your ‘first’ baby: It can be easy for a dog to feel pushed out of the picture when they aren’t the centre of attention anymore. Unlike babies though, puppies don’t need to be constantly picked up and cuddled, especially when the baby comes. They’ll need it a lot more than the puppy.
  • Do lots of handling exercises: As your baby grows into a toddler, it’s likely they’ll look at your dog as the greatest source of entertainment and play. You want your puppy to be used to being handled for when this time comes! We’re not saying that it’s okay for this to happen, but we do want you to keep in mind that these things happen!
  • Sounds: Baby noises, such as loud cries and screams can be worrying for a dog (as well as for you). To prepare them for what’s coming, play sounds of babies to your puppy so it’s not such a shock when the ‘noisy’ one arrives! Start off at a low volume, and gradually raise it – you want your dog to remain calm and settled around these noises.
  • Training: Training your puppy before the baby comes is essential – you won’t have a great deal of time to do this after the baby arrives. 
  • Pay particular attention to:
    • Lead walking – A pulling dog while trying to negotiate pushing a pushchair is a recipe for a circus performance at the park. 
    • Recall – When you’re carrying a baby, nappy bags, bottles and toys, you’ll need a reliable recall so that you can trust your dog not to run off.
    • Food Manners – Teach them to gently take treats from your hand, and discourage any kind of begging behavior by not feeding them from your plate. We know those puppy eyes are tempting, but better not give in.  
  • Dedicate an area for your dog and their own toys: Baby toys and dog toys are remarkably similar, so setting up clear boundaries for your puppy will make distinguishing them a lot easier. Don’t want your baby chewing on your dog’s Kong.   

After you’ve had the baby

Once you’ve had the baby, your puppy will need to adjust to the new family member. This is non-negotiable, the baby won’t be going anywhere. 

Here’s some tips to make this as stress free as possible: 

  • Smell the baby: Take a spare clean human blanket to the hospital and pop some of your baby’s scent on it. Before you come home, give it to your puppy so he can get a sneak whiff. 
  • Better to meet them when relaxed: When you get home, it’s likely your dog will be delighted to see you; they’ve probably missed you a lot. Seeing that you’re bringing an extra human in this time, they’ll be extra excited and curious to meet them, make sure they’ve had plenty of exercise so that they’re tired and relaxed when you arrive. Maybe ask a friend or family member if they can do this for you to make things easier?

PRO TIP: Your puppy has missed you (you as well)! Let them say hello to you  without the baby first so that they get to show you their love properly. Then, when they meet the baby, try to do the introduction in a neutral room where your dog doesn’t generally eat and sleep so they’ll feel less threatened.

  • Remain positive: You want your puppy to think nicely of the baby, so better equip yourself with treats when they’re around them. 
  • Praise them for being relaxed: Your dog will likely be very interested in the baby. When they meet them, stay calm and gently praise them for being relaxed around the baby. They may want to sniff them; do this safely by simply holding the baby in your arms and allowing them to sniff. Keep talking to your dog nicely and stay relaxed. They will likely lose interest shortly after so reward this with treats.
  • Clear all the dirty nappies: As we’ve said plenty times before, still can’t figure out why dogs like others’ poo so much. But to avoid a new poopy wallpaper in your house, make sure dirty nappies are swiftly cleared away!
  • Remember to wash your hands: When having a new baby in the house, you’ll need to wash your hands after playing, grooming, feeding or cleaning your dog.
  • Safety First – Always supervise your dog and your baby, don’t leave them alone on the floor together. It doesn’t matter how much you trust them or how wonderful with kids they are, you want to keep in mind that dogs are animals first and foremost and the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.
  • Use the playpen or baby gates: It makes getting a break from each other positive, and easy for both puppy and baby.  

Apologies for sounding so serious in the points above, but overall, the good news is that children and dogs do generally have a wonderful relationship together. Prepare to flood your relatives’ social media feed with adorable pictures of them together. 

For more information about preparing your dog for a new baby, see The Dog Trust

Getting a new puppy owner guide

Getting a puppy … when working full time

Whilst working full time isn’t ideal for being a new puppy parent – there are ways of making it work.

Sorry for bursting your bubble of hope – but you can’t expect your puppy to be fine on their own while you go to work all day. Dogs thrive on company and social interaction, and also depend on regular feeding and toilet breaks.

A good way to make your daily schedule and puppy minding activities fit together, you might want to consider hiring a pet professional for when you’re at work. This might be:

  • A dog sitter who pops in and out for puppy visits or stays with your puppy all day
  • A doggy day-care centre
  • A dog walker who takes your puppy on walks

But before you start thinking about getting help, you want to start teaching your puppy to be alone from the start. 

  • Alone training: Doing lots of crate or playpen work as well as alone work at home can help your puppy cope with being on their own.
  • Activity feeders: Activity feeders  encourage confidence and problem solving skills. They’re also great a mentally tiring your puppy out before you go to work.
  • Exercise them enough: A tired and resting puppy will be much happier at being left than one who is wound up. A professional can help you do this when you’re at work.
  • Install a puppy cam: Not just to spy on them for when you’re away, but it’s also great to treat your own attachment and separation issues – being away from your new puppy is hard!

What are the biggest differences between breeds?

Dog Breeds are generally separated into groups.In our ZigZag app, we separate them into the following breed groups shown below

P.S.  We have also listed crossbreeds that are ‘most like’ one particular group, as they carry most of that group’s breed traits. 

Breed GroupExample Breeds and crossbreedsBred for:
GundogsSpaniels, Setters, and Pointers  – also Cockapoos, Cavapoos, Labradoodles, Goldendoodles.  Hunting – flushing and pointing
RetrieversLabradors, Golden Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retriever – also Goldadors.Hunting – retrieving birds and game
PastoralSheepdogs, German and Belgian Shepherds, Corgis, Standard poodlesHerding
WorkingAlaskan Malamutes, Dalmatians, Great Danes, Leonbergers.Working (!) including  guarding, pulling, assisting men with jobs
TerriersBorder Terriers, Boston Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Dachshunds, French Bulldogs, Jack Russell Terriers, West Highland White Terriers.Vermin Control – typically ratters.
SighthoundsGreyhounds, lurchers, Salukis, WhippetsHunting – activated by sight
ScenthoundsBloodhounds, Basset Hounds, Beagles, Foxhounds.Hunting – activated by scent
ToyChihuahuas, Maltese Terriers,  Pugs, Toy Poodles – also Cavachons, cavapoos, and Malshis.Vermin Control, Companionship
GuardianAnatolian Shepherd, Maremma Sheepdog, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Turkish Kanagal. Livestock Guarding/Herding
Bull BreedsStaffordshire Bull Terriers, English Bull Terriers.Animal sports, vermin control
Difference between breeds before getting a puppy

But to sum it up in a sentence, different breeds mostly vary in different amounts of grooming, physical exercise and levels of mental stimulation. 

What they consider most fun will also differ between breeds. For example, Gundogs prefer sniffing and retrieving, whereas Sighthounds like to chase, and Terriers like to dig and tug at things.

However, no matter what their breed is, all dogs learn best with positive reinforcement based training. All we have to do is tailor rewards to what that breed typically likes best.

What is the right age to get a puppy?

There is good evidence that the age you bring your puppy home makes a difference on how they will be later on in life.  

Legally, a puppy should not be sold before they are 8 weeks old. This law came into effect in April 2020 with the implementation of ‘Lucy’s law’

We say it’s usually best to get a puppy around 8 -10 weeks old, so you can be sure that:

  • The puppy is ready to leave their mother – both physically and emotionally
  • You have time to integrate them into your family
  • You have time to socialise and habituate them to your lifestyle and needs before the socialisation window closes at around 16 weeks.

Some breeders like to keep their puppies until they are 12 weeks old (particularly toy dog breeders). This is fine if the breeder is actively socialising them and teaching them the ropes of life. Don’t be afraid to ask the breeder why they want to keep them longer, it’s always good to know!

How to train a puppy?

With rewards of course!

Puppies do best on positive reinforcement training. In fact, studies show that dogs trained with positive reinforcement show more optimism too, and who doesn’t need a bit of that in their lives?

See here for the full article

Besides positive reinforcement training, you should know that training a puppy takes:

  • Practice
  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • And heaps of love – which we know you have

These skills can also be quite handy in your personal life too, in all honesty.

Should I go to puppy training classes?

Good question. And yes, if you feel like it’s necessary. 

A well run puppy training class can be brilliant for owners:

  • You learn how to train and handle your puppy
  • You get access to a professional trainer for real-time feedback
  • You meet other puppy owners and can build a support network
  • You get to practice with your puppy in a distracting environment

Your puppy will also benefit quite a lot from attending Puppy Training classes:

  • They get to go to school and learn amazing things
  • They get lots of treats and enjoy working with you – it’s also a great way to bond.
  • They get to meet other puppies and new people – great for their socialisation
  • They learn to focus on you when there are other dogs around

Picking a puppy class is often as tricky as picking a school for your child, so click here to see our full article on how to choose a puppy class.