Having your new German Shepherd puppy for the first night at home can be both exciting, and a little bit scary.
It can be exciting for everyone in the house – because who doesn’t like a cute little fluff ball running around that you can hug and give lots of kisses to.
On the other hand, the responsibility can take some getting used to – with training, health checks, cleaning up, making sure anything that can be chewed on doesn’t get destroyed, and so on.
We wanted to make sure you are as prepared as you can be for your new German Shepherd puppy’s first night home with a quick checklist of things you might find useful.
Let’s look at the list now…
German Shepherd Puppy Checklist For First Night Home: 20 Things To Have Prepared
**NOTE – this checklist is not a substitute for a vet’s advice, or the advice of an animal professional. Please see a vet particularly for guidelines around health and well being of your puppy.
Summary – Things To Have Prepared, & Things To Expect For Your Puppy’s First Night At Home
A list of things to do, have prepared, or to expect for your puppy’s first night at home are:
– Speak to the breeder, or adoption/rescue about the things you should have prepared. They should give you a good list of things specific to the puppy
– For the car ride home when picking up the puppy, make sure you have an old rug or something else available that can absorb pee, and something to clean up any accidents that may happen
– Make sure that if you have other pets, such as other dogs and cats, that you observe the interaction between them and your new puppy. Ideally, you want to make sure before you get a new puppy that there will be no aggression issues
– Make sure that children know how to behave around the puppy if you have children
– The first few weeks and months you have a puppy is when habits and patterns are set. Make sure you know where you want your puppy to sleep, what times to let your puppy out, where they are and aren’t allowed to go in the house and yard, what time exercise time is, what time food time is, and so on. Puppies are usually fed 3 to 4 times a day, and twice a day as an adult – so be aware in differences between adult dogs and puppies as well
– Expect a puppy to whine and yelp the first few night or few weeks away from their parents and litter mates. You have to have patience whilst your puppy gets used to you and it’s new surroundings
– You might want to put your puppy somewhere safe, but somewhere where their whining and yelping won’t disturb you or your neighbors as much (if you have a spare room available for example). Put your puppy somewhere as well that is comfortable, and out of the weather
– Speaking of putting your puppy somewhere safe – make sure you ‘puppy proof’ your house before getting your puppy. Anything that you puppy can jump on, come into contact with, chew on, etc that might harm them – make sure you put it away or hide it from your puppy.
– Ideally, in the first few weeks, you want someone to be present with the puppy as much as possible. So, have a plan if you or your family members have to be out during the day for work
– New puppies won’t be potty trained. Expect that your puppy will pee and poop in the area you have them in the first few weeks you have them. Have newspaper, paper towels, and cleaning product on hand
– Try to establish a potty routine for your puppy. Getting your puppy used to going outside for example first thing in the morning when you get up, and at night just before you go to bed can be good. Reward your puppy with a treat to reinforce potty training. Some owners choose to make an outdoor potty area for their puppy prior to getting their puppy so that they can start training their puppy immediately when they get them and bring them home
– New puppies may want to scratch at and chew on things in their vicinity. A crate can help minimize this in the first few weeks
– Have the essentials such as a bed, toys, food, treats and a water bowl (make sure to fill it up regularly) set up for your puppy
– Make sure you yourself have time available to spend with your puppy in the first few weeks and months especially to help them feel comfortable, and to ease their nerves
– You may want to get photos and videos of your puppy in the first few weeks/months. Make sure to have your camera phone on hand
– Speak to a vet prior to getting your puppy about what to expect from your puppy, and keep an eye out for signs of any health problems. Know when vet check ups, vaccinations and other important dates are
– Joining a ‘new puppy/dog owners’ social media group can be very helpful. You can problem solve and share experiences with other experienced or first time dog owners
Onto the full list …
1. Dog Bed (with removable/washable covers)
You’ll want to make sure you have a good dog bed available for your puppy to sleep on.
Being comfortable, feeling safe and feeling like they have a space or bed that they can call their own is important mentally for any dog.
Old pillows are good for extra comfort, but your puppy may also decide they want to chew on the pillow (if this happens take the pillow away, and give them a chew toy or something else to chew on)
There’s also the the fact puppies may have an accident if they aren’t potty trained – peeing on the bed.
So, removable and washable covers are good in this instance.
Your puppy might whine and howl a bit when you first get them as they get used to their new surroundings, so you may want to put the dog bed in a location where the puppy is safe, but, also where the potential whining won’t be a problem for you or your neighbors.
2. Puppy’s favorite toy or blanket
Maybe the breeder or previous owner you picked the puppy up from gave you their favorite toy, blanket or item.
Make sure you keep this item with your puppy with them, as it may ease their anxiety about being in a new environment with new people, and being away from their parents and siblings.
3. Puppy toys and tennis balls
There are various dog toys for German Shepherds you can choose from such as balls, ropes, interactive toys, chew toys, treat toys and more.
Toys and tennis balls may or may not keep your puppy entertained, depending on whether they take an interest in them.
If they do, not only will they give your puppy something to do, but they will prevent your dog from going and finding other things to chew on.
4. Uncooked bones and plenty of things to chew on
You’ll certainly want to give your puppy plenty of things to chew on.
Uncooked raw meaty bones can be great for this – it can keep a puppy entertained for hours.
Do check with your vet as to whether it is safe for your particular dog though.
Some puppies might find them unsuitable due to health conditions, fragile teeth, the bones being a choking hazard, and even the marrow in the bone causing diarrhoea.
5. Puppy Food
Usually the previous owner/breeder/rescue centre will give you some of the leftover puppy food they were feeding your puppy – so make sure you grab this off them.
It’s important to see your vet about the best feeding schedule and puppy food for your German Shepherd puppy – they’ll be able to advise you what to feed your puppy and when.
Puppies are growing, so need nutrition to support that growth and development.
But, getting good puppy food for your German Shepherd is pretty important as puppies usually need to be fed more frequently than adults.
You can get some ideas for good puppy foods, puppy feeding stages and weaning your puppy from different foods in this guide.
6. Puppy treats
Good puppy treats should be healthy and generally not take up more than 10% of the overall feeding amount.
Similar to puppy food, check with your vet that the treats you are looking at getting are OK for your particular dog’s health and stage of development.
You can use treats to incentivise your puppy to go outside to go potty, and lay down on their bed or in the crate.
They are also obviously good for basic training.
If you have no idea where to start, here is a guide identifying some healthy puppy treats for German Shepherd puppies.
7. Food bowl
You’ll need somewhere to put your puppy’s food.
Most people choose a stainless steel dog food bowl because they are easy to clean and stainless steel tends to be a better surface for most environments and foods.
8. Water bowl
You can use a big bucket for a water bowl (German Shepherds drink a lot).
Just make sure you clean it regularly so your puppy’s drinking water isn’t dirty.
Make sure to refill it too
An essential training and walking tool.
Get a good nylon or leather leash and it will last you several years.
10. Collar with ID/Registration
Getting your puppy registered is essential.
You may also choose to get a microchip, but getting a collar to put an ID tag on is required by law in most areas.
Collars are also good training tools along with leashes and harnesses.
You can find a collar guide here.
A harness will be good for training and walking.
We personally prefer a harness to a collar because they spread the pulling load out through the chest and torso as opposed to the neck.
They are also good for dogs that pull – you can get a front attached harness that allows you better control of the dog if they pull.
Nylon harnesses usually do the trick for most dogs.
If it interests you, you can read more about harnesses for German Shepherds here.
12. Dog Poop Bags
Every responsible dog owner carries poop bags.
You might want to start taking your puppy out for walks or socialisation, and for this you’ll need poop bags.
Make sure you check with your dog’s vet though as to when they are allowed outside after getting injections.
If you want to try something different from the regular plastic poop bags, you might give biodegradable better for the environment than plastic bags) or mutt mitt type poop bags (prevent any poop spillage through the bag) a try.
My Alpha Pet Poop Bags (on Amazon) are good for the environment and are made of biodegradable cornstarch
13. Pooper Scooper or shovel
If you don’t want to be picking up poop with paper towels all the time, a pooper scooper, shovel or poop dust pan can be handy.
14. Dog Stain and Odor Remover, and paper towels
Your puppy might not be toilet trained when you get them.
If they aren’t, cleaning up pee and poop will be a regular occurrence until they are.
For this, when you are cleaning up your carpet, floorboards, furniture etc. – it’s good to have a dog stain and odour remover spray/liquid and a sponge, or paper towels.
You’ll get rid of the smell, and remove the stain from the surface.
Some people just use vinegar and water as a remover, but some find it doesn’t work for them, so a natural stain and odour remover (that is safe to use around your dog and children) can be a good way to go.
You can check out natural dog stain and odour removers in this guide
15. Dog Shampoo and old towel
As long as your puppy smells ok when you pick them up, you probably won’t have to give your puppy a bath for the first few weeks when you get them (German Shepherds have natural oils in their coat – if you wash them too regularly you can erode this oil which helps protect them).
But, sometimes your puppy might roll in something smelly or pee or poop in their bed, and you might need to wash them anyway.
A good dog shampoo and old towel to dry them will help here.
16. Your phone (to get lots of photos and videos)
Not really something you’ll need to get, as most people have smartphones these days.
It helps to have your phone fully charged for when you go to pick up your puppy and bring them home the first night – you can take some cute photos and videos you can look back on when they are all grown up!
17. Dog Crate (Optional)
A dog crate is optional, although unless you have a room where you can leave your puppy and they won’t destroy the place with their chewing, a crate can be a good option.
Crates are also good for the potty training stage as the good dog crates have pans which are easily removable and cleaned.
You can also place your puppy’s bed inside most crates if it is a mattress type bed or fits the dimensions of the crate.
You can check out this dog crate guide if you don’t have a crate and you want to know things to look for in a good crate.
18. Pet Carrier (Optional)
This is completely optional and really is only required if it is needed by law in your area and if you are driving to pick up your puppy.
If you don’t have a carrier and you are picking them up by car, make sure you know the laws in your area for transporting a dog and securing them properly.
19. Contact details of Your Local Vet
Pretty self explanatory.
If you haven’t already, seek out a local vet for your puppy.
Whether you have an emergency, or you’ve just got to take them in for a scheduled vet visit, you’ll want to have contact details handy.
20. Contact details of the previous owner (breeder, private owner, or rescue)
The previous owner might have information or tips/advice that you forgot to get from them.
Always keep their number or email in case something comes up that your need to speak to them about.
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