Ask the Trainer | Planning for a puppy |

Ask the Trainer | Planning for a puppy

Carla Brown
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Dear Carla,

We are getting a puppy the end of May and want to be ready. What do we need to buy, where should she sleep and are there changes we need to make to our house? As you can tell we are planners!


The Sinclairs

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Dear Sinclairs,

Advance planning is very important. People plan for months before a baby arrives and puppies can have an equally big impact on your life and home. There are vital supplies you should get, but you also need to look into veterinarians, doggie daycares and pet sitters. Thinking through routines and house rules in advance will minimize conflict once the puppy arrives.

There are so many supplies available it can become overwhelming. The basic list I recommend includes the following:

A crate: This is an important house-training tool. You can start with a small one and then trade up as your puppy grows or you can get a wire one with a divider that can be moved. Start with a crate large enough for the puppy to stand, turn around and lie down, but not so big that she can pee or poop and get away from it.

A collar, ID tag, leash and harness: I prefer regular leashes (not flexi-leads) and front clip harnesses.

A long line (15-20 feet): This is a safety tool. You want to give your puppy some freedom to play away from you, but still be able to maintain control if she decides to run. I also use them for recall games.

Kongs: A frozen Kong stuffed with soaked kibble is an excellent way to feed meals, re-direct her need to chew and exercise her brain while she eats.

Grooming tools: Get your puppy used to being brushed or combed early.

Selecting a veterinarian is one of the most important decisions you will make. I recommend interviewing several and selecting one you feel comfortable with. There are an increasing number of vets who practice holistic veterinary care and these practitioners tend to have a more conservative approach for vaccinations, which help prevent health problems later in life.

You will likely need help at times, so find a pet sitter or doggie daycare you like and can trust. Very young puppies shouldn’t be in a doggie daycare, so initially you will need a pet sitter who will come to your house if you need to be gone for several hours. Look for a professional who is insured and bonded and has good references. When your puppy is 6 months or older, doggie daycare might be an option, but be sure to observe their operation when lots of dogs are there. Playgroups should be organized by size, age and temperament.

Think about routines before your puppy comes home. Decide where your puppy will sleep, whether she will be allowed on the furniture and where will she stay when you are away. If there are multiple people in the house, develop a schedule for feeding and walking.

During potty training, she will need to go out every hour during the day. Splitting up responsibilities will make tasks seem less overwhelming. And of course you need to enroll in a well run puppy socialization class! Have the whole family attend because consistent communication both for rewards and correcting mistakes will pay big dividends.

Carla Brown, CPDT is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of The Savvy Dog in Truckee. If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the Ask the Trainer column, please email her at


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