Getting a new puppy is life-changing. And the first month after bringing them home will be filled with so many sweet moments you’ll cherish forever.
But the experience can also be overwhelming—especially if it’s your first time as a pet parent. To flatten the learning curve, here’s a checklist of tasks to focus on during the first 30 days.
Recommended reading: How to choose the best breed for your lifestyle →
1. Start a training regimen (and stick to it).
Building a strong training foundation is one of the best investments you can make as a new dog owner. Why? A well-trained pup will be not only easier to live with but also happier, as dogs thrive with structure. When it comes to training a new puppy, the following areas deserve your attention.
Prevent accidents with potty training.
Teaching your pup to do their business outside should be one of your top priorities. Depending on your approach, it can be a long and laborious process or a piece of cake. To help make it the latter, we broke potty training down into seven reasonable steps. See how to potty-train your puppy →
Create safe spaces with crate training.
While potty training, it can be useful to simultaneously crate-train your pup. This is because dogs tend to avoid soiling their sleeping area. So, putting yours in a crate when you can’t watch them is an effective way to prevent accidents. But that’s just where the benefits of crate training begin. Learn more in our detailed guide on crate training a puppy →
Teach the basics with puppy training classes.
If you’ve never had a dog before, you may not realize how complex teaching your pup fundamental commands (e.g., “come,” “sit,” “leave it”) can be. Puppy training classes simplify things by showing you how to approach training—while priming your pup to obey. They also facilitate socialization, which we’ll cover in a bit. Review puppy school FAQs →
Consider breed when it comes to obedience training.
Your dog’s ancestry influences how they respond to training. If they’re a Lab mix, they may be easy to motivate with treats, for example. Or, if Border Collie is in their ancestry, they might be quick to lose interest in repetitive training programs. Understanding your dog’s breed make-up is critical if you want your obedience training efforts to succeed. Explore how ancestry impacts dog training →
2. Establish veterinary care and at-home health routines.
Another key step of new pet parenthood is making sure your pup stays healthy. And that starts with a few visits to the veterinarian. These initial appointments typically include overall health checks to determine your dog’s baseline, vaccinations (e.g., distemper, parvovirus), dewormings, discussions about flea and tick prevention, and more.
Note: If you adopted your dog, they might have already received essential vaccinations or even be neutered/spayed. But as you can see above, there are still many important reasons to establish care with your pup’s primary veterinarian.
In addition to professional care, there’s a lot you can do to support your pup’s wellbeing at home. Of note, grooming (e.g., baths, brushing, trimming nails, cleaning ears) and dental care—including teeth brushing—should be a part of your pet care routine.
Since many diseases and health conditions are breed-specific, you might also consider DNA testing your dog with Wisdom Panel™ Premium. With more than 200 health tests for genetic disorders and drug sensitivities, you’ll gain insights that could help you prevent or plan for future health problems. (Plus, you’ll also learn other fun details about your pup, such as their ancestry.)
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Finally, pet health insurance could be a smart investment. It may seem like an unnecessary expense. But if those veterinary bills start to stack up, you’ll be glad you have it. Keep in mind, it works a little differently than human health insurance. For example, you prepay for expenses and then submit claims to get reimbursed. For help weighing the pros and cons, check out this pet insurance review from Consumer Reports.
3. Nurture good behavior through socialization.
Though training and healthcare are incredibly important, nothing will impact your pup’s quality of life (and yours) like socialization—the process of exposing your dog to a wide range of people, places, and experiences to create positive associations.
Socialization helps puppies grow into confident, well-adjusted dogs. Conversely, under-socialized dogs are sometimes excessively fearful or reactive to seemingly random things, such as people in hats or vacuum cleaners.
You should start socializing your puppy as early as possible because dogs are most receptive to new experiences when young. In fact, by the time they’re three months old, they’ve often already developed notions of what’s “normal”—and therefore may be uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations.
So, if you wait too long, socialization may take more time or also require some desensitization. Also, be prepared to revisit socialization and training basics as your pup hits early adulthood, as dogs tend to change a lot at this time (much as human teens do).
The basic premise of socialization is relatively straightforward. But we created a comprehensive guide to make it easy to get started. Learn the basics of puppy socialization (with checklist) →
You’ll likely encounter a few challenges during the first 30 days with your puppy. But we hope this guide helps you overcome them so you can spend more time bonding together.
To learn more about your new furry friend, check out: 5 Fun Facts Everyone Should Know About Puppies →