the puppy files: getting our home ready for a puppy


This is the weekend we go to pick up our new puppy! It seems like we have been thinking about and preparing for its arrival for ages now. I am excited and also nervous. Here are a few of the things we have done to get our home ready for the incoming bundle of energy. Are we ready?

Fenced in our yard. We have a small backyard, that already had border fences along the back and to one side. Luckily our neighbors didn’t mind that we wanted to finished it off on the other side and add a gate to the driveway. I thought the gate would make the yard feel smaller, but it actually does the opposite.

Bought a couple of baby gates. We’re not big believers in hanging on to things we don’t we need, so we mistakenly gave away our baby gates once our kid mastered the stairs in the house. We were able to replace them with a cheap ($15), portable version that we picked up at Babys R Us (rather than at a pet store). This will help us close off the house and keep an eye on the puppy. Hopefully they’ll do the trick!

Got a crate for training. It’s the one thing we’ve heard over and over again: Crate train! I’ve never done this before but I am trusting all I have heard and read that it will work. I love the idea of also using it create a safe place for the puppy to hang out when things in the house get overwhelming (like when we have screaming kids running around — it happens, though not everyday). We picked one that the puppy would grow into that has an adjustable section.

Read a few books. The first thing I read, to get myself psyched up about the dog, was Jill Abramson’s wonderful The Puppy Diaries. First, I am fascinated by the author because she is the new editor and first woman to run to The New York Times. Secondly, it’s an honest, emotional account of ups and downs of puppy-ownership.

Another book I picked up, at the insistence of Pam at EdenValleyDoodles, was Raising Puppies and Kids Together. It offers some great practical advice on how to teach your kids not to abuse or frighten the dog, and how to make sure your dog doesn’t pick up bad habits like biting and jumping. It even has some fun suggestions for games, like hide-n-seek, that I can’t wait to try with Isadora and pup.

Started instituting new “pick up all your toys” rule. If you have ever visited a home with young children, you know how often there are little things scattered about the floor. All those tiny plastic dollhouse pieces are gonna look mighty tempting to a young dog. We got some new sturdy bins from Ikea and organized their contents in big Ziploc bags. We also did a purge. Always healthy!

Began saving all our plastic bags. I know we can buy doggy poop bags (and some are even flushable!) but it doesn’t take long to gather a stash of plastic bags (even if you try your darnedest to always bring your reusable tote with you to the grocery store). I hear the ones that our newspaper comes wrapped in are especially good. Got ’em!

Bought some things we’ll need: Such as sturdy food and water bowls, a mini Kong toy, rawhides, leash, collar, dog brushes, etc.

Bought some things ’cause they’re cute: Toys (thank you Martha Stewart, again), basket to put them, a jingle bell collar for Christmas morning, a puppy stocking to hang on the mantle with ours, and Poochie Bells, which you hang on your door frame for your dog to ring when he has to go out. (I’ll let you know if they work!)

We haven’t seriously invested in a dog bed yet — just a simple washable one for the crate. There are so many to choose from and they seem so pricey. We’re gonna wait. Also, I haven’t gotten any dog sweaters — though I know it will be cold out and puppy is just getting used to going outside. It’ll have a nice curly fleece coat of its own — will an extra layer be needed?

Dog owners, what am I forgetting? Your advice as always is appreciated and extremely welcome! — Angela M.

Previously on the Puppy Files
After Losing Our Dear Cat, We Ask: Is It Time For a Dog?

Chosing the Perfect Breed

What to Look For In A Breeder

From our partners

Consider Costco for beds. Around $25 for a ginormous one! Removable/washable cover, too.


Buy a REALLY BIG bottle of Bitter Apple and spray down edges of rugs (check for color safe first), wooden furniture and electrical cords. Puppies LOVE these things and, as soon as you look away, will start chewing.

Sarah L.

Police your yard! Our neighbor buys corn cobs for the squirrels. The squirrels then carry to our yard and drop the hard cob pieces under the trees. When our pup was under a year, he swallowed one and it blocked his intestine. Luckily, I was working from home that day and noticed when he became distressed. Saved the dog but had a whopper of a vet bill and two scared kids.

One other thing. When the pup’s old enough for rawhides, make sure they are marked Made in the U.S.A. Rawhide from other countries are treated with chemicals.

Can’t say enough about crate and small kids. The dog needs the break! Our pup is two and prefers the crate when the house gets kid crazy.

Crate train… it can make the difference between a neurotic dog and a well-adjusted one.

Also, let me say that Martha’s toys are FANTASTIC. My dog destroys all toys, tuggies, and even black Kongs, but for some reason, she treasures the Martha toys. We have a crinkle & squeak skunk that she has been hauling around for weeks. Never before has she kept a toy around this long.


I second the bitter apple, that and natures miracle for accident cleanup.
Also, my dog does use a bell (mounted ship’s bell near the door) it works.


Buy a bottle of Nature’s miracle or another stain & odor remover. Hopefully your puppy won’t have many accidents in the house, but it’s imperative that you take care of the odor as soon as possible.

I’d also get an ear cleaner, my vet likes Epi Otic. Hairy, floppy eared dogs are prone to ear infections and it will be much easier to teach your puppy to “put up with” an occasional ear cleaning if you start when they are little.


Don’t ever flush a “flushable” bag; or, a “flushable” wipe for that matter. A recent plumbing terribleness led me to an informative chat with my plumber and he told me that nothing extra should go into the toilet besides tp and that supposedly flushable items kept him in business.


Our puppy ate 3 or 4 crate beds before I gave up and started buying yards of fleece from the fabric store. He likes to make a nest in it and when he is able to tear off a small piece it passes through easily. It’s also usually on sale not it isn’t very expensive.

Our vet also told us to avoid puppy pads and to just let him outside way more often than we thought was necessary. We always let him out right after eating and several other times a day and he caught on pretty quickly!