Preparing for life as a Labrador owner is always exciting, but knowing what to buy for a new puppy can sometimes feel overwhelming. From beds and blankets to toys and treats, the choice available to new owners is endless.
Preparing a checklist is always a good place to start, condensing everything into a list you can tick off as you go. We've put together a selection of the essentials, along with tips and techniques to help your new friend settle in.
Here are 15 items you'll need to buy before bringing your puppy home with you.
Food and water bowls
This is a good place to start when preparing to bring your puppy home. Stainless steel bowls are recommended, as they're easy to clean and can't be chewed up in cheeky moments (and Labrador pups have lots of those)!
Puppy food should be nutritious and well balanced, to help your companion grow into a healthy adult dog. Before your Labrador puppy comes home, it's a good idea to speak with the breeder or your veterinarian about diets. When deciding what food you buy for your new puppy, consider their age and size. Check the nutritional content for high quality and easily digestable options.
Offering little but often is best when your puppy first comes home, leaving time for the food to settle in between. A consistent feeding schedule can help with potty training as well, so bear this in mind when planning your dog's meal times.
Training your puppy can be incredibly rewarding, as you watch them explore and learn about the world around them. From basic manners at home to walking in the park, everything will be new to your four-legged friend. It's always best to use positive reinforcement when training, to keep interactions happy and fun. That's why you need to have plenty of training treats on hand. Labradors are VERY food motivated, and will happily do anything for a treat! Make sure the treats are well-adapted to puppies, and that you balance out their meal sizes with how many treats they had!
Puppy training app
There's lots of support available to new pet parents, from local training classes, to online training guides, and even an app fully dedicated to supporting you and your Labrador through puppyhood. Zigzag - which is free to download and provides 24 hour support from experts - offers new owners bitesize lessons to help with training, specifically tailored to your pup's age and breed.
Keep training sessions short and allow lots of rest time in between. This will help your puppy engage and retain what they learn.
An ID tag is a legal requirement in the UK, and must contain your address and contact details. A lightweight option is a good idea while your Labrador puppy is growing, as a heavy tag could cause discomfort.
Lead and collar
Much like with the ID tag, your puppy's collar and lead should be light and soft. Always choose a collar with a flat buckle to fasten, to ensure it's as comfortable as possible while they practice their lead training.
A lightweight training line is a great addition to your Labrador puppy's accessory checklist, as you can practice recall training without any risk of your new friend taking themselves off for a walk.
Toys, toys and more toys
Toys are an essential for any puppy, and having a variety of options will be particularly helpful if your new canine companion happens to be a Labrador!
Labradors are high energy, intelligent dogs who need to use their brain as much as their body. This can be a challenge in the first weeks, while you wait for the vaccination course to be complete. Luckily there are plenty of ways you can prepare before bringing your puppy home.
Interactive toys and puzzle games are great for young dogs. They help stimulate the brain, and can keep your dog entertained while you wait to be able to take them on walks outdoors. Chew toys are also a great idea for teething Labrador puppies, who may take it out on your furniture if they aren't offered another option. And you don't want puppy teeth sinking into your new sofa! Test out various chews and games to find the ones your pup loves most. Offering a range of different materials and types of toys will help build your puppy's confidence around new things.
As they get older and are able to exercise more, you can opt for toys like balls or frisbees, which can stimulate their innate retrieving instincts.
Puppy pads for housetraining
When it comes to house training, puppy pads will be your new best friend. Labradors are very quick learners and they typically love the outdoors, so establishing a routine from the beginning is a great idea. Set up a potty training schedule and offer plenty of praise and encouragement.
As soon as you've got the housetraining underway, you'll be in need of some poop bags. With a choice of design and even colours, make sure they're high quality and biodegradable where possible.
Dog bed and blankets
What bed you buy for your new puppy will depend very much on personal choice. Some owners prefer a soft bed that's easy to move around, while others opt for blankets in the first weeks. The most important thing is to make sure that the bed is large enough for your puppy to stretch out in.
Do bear in mind the likelihood of your puppy chewing the bed, and that they will be in the housetraining stage when they first arrive. You might not want to opt for the most expensive options right away!
Dog shampoo has your pet's health in mind, and is designed to be gentle on the skin. When visiting your local pet shop or veterinarian, ask for a shampoo that is specifically designed for puppies. It will be more delicate and better suited than other options out there.
The type of dog brush you choose will depend on your pup's coat type. A short, single coat requires completely different maintenance to that of a long, double-coat, for example. Select the brush you use by breed category.
You should also purchase other practical accessories, such as nail clippers, a toothbrush, and ear cleaning wipes. Trust us, your puppy will need them!
Start handling exercises from a young age, to accostum your Labrador puppy to being brushed. Zigzag, the #1 puppy training app, can teach you how to do this in a few simple lessons!
Labradors are highly social and affectionate, and the breeder will already have put work into teaching your puppy that attention is a good thing. But however friendly and playful your pup may seem, it's important to offer a routine and a calm, relaxing environment during their first weeks at home.
When it comes to what you should buy for a new puppy, it may be worth considering a crate. These don't have to be scary and confining, as there are steps you can take to help your dog love the crate and enjoy it as a safe space.
If you do decide to crate train your puppy, you'll need to build positive associations from the beginning. The time your puppy spends around the crate should be built up gradually, ensuring your puppy is happy and comfortable.
Your dog needs to be kept safe at home, and a curious puppy may try to get out into hazardous spaces. That's why you need to puppy proof your home. Scan the room for cables and wires and restrict access to high surfaces. A puppy gate can help with this!
Buying pet insurance can be a good financial decision for you and your four-legged friend. While Labradors are generally healthy dogs, they often suffer from hip dysplasia as they get older. Labradors are also very prone to obesity, which can make any other medical conditions worse. Arranging to get pet insurance while your puppy is young and has no pre-existing medical conditions, will ensure you get the best deal possible.
While it may seem there's a lot to buy before bringing your new puppy home, it's all about setting your pup up for success once they arrive with you. Taking a bit of time to plan out what you need will contribute to a wonderful first few weeks with your canine companion. Once everything's set up and in place, you'll be ready to enjoy every precious second with your Labrador puppy at your side.