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What Do I Need to Do Before My Puppy Comes Home?

WAHOO... there are only three weeks left until I get to pick up my adorable 8-week-old Sheepadoodle Scarlet - it's like canine Christmas in July!

Like most soon-to-be puppy owners, I’m both over the moon and overwhelmed. What do I need to do before my puppy comes home?

With the help of BAXTER & Bella, here are some of the most important things I’m doing to get ready for our puppy! Depending on your puppy and needs your list may be a little different but hopefully this gives you some things to think about as you begin to prepare for your puppy!


As a new puppy owner, I was starting from scratch when it came to all of the things they need to be safe and comfortable. After doing some research and using BAXTER & Bella’s free Puppy Parent Survival Guide, I was able to get a properly-sized crate, an array of engaging and useful toys, grooming tools and safety tools. In fact, BAXTER & Bella has a PUPPY PRODUCTS page with quick links to many of their favorites, which made it so easy for me to order and get set up.

I set everything up in a few different places around my house to figure out where they will fit best in our day-to-day life providing both a comfortable area for the dog where she can smell, see and hear us and have consistency in her routine.


While we do have a toddler in the house, I’m realizing that our house is far from puppy-proofed! There are things all over our house from iPhone chargers to stray socks and LEGOs that would be tempting and unsafe for the puppy. Similarly, we have special family heirlooms and expensive furniture that we need to make safe from the puppy. I don’t want to set our puppy up for failure by not planning ahead.

Some of the things you might not think about are:

Wooden piano legs of a family heirloom piano

Photo books on a low bookshelf

China cabinets that can be bumped into

Cleaning products in all bathrooms, laundry rooms and closets

Arts and craft supplies that might look like fun toys

We have also started having our kids take a few minutes throughout the day to look for and pick up stray toys and clothes to make sure we can keep things safe for the puppy. With the pandemic and three boys in the house, we have developed some bad clutter habits that we are working to kick before the puppy comes home!


Goal Sheet
Download PDF • 1.18MB

One of the things that Amy teaches that has really resonated with me, is focusing more on what we want our dog to do than what we want our dog not to do so we can set them up for success. This definitely comes into play with training, but I think it also helps when considering socialization.

As we await our puppy, I have been pondering what goals I have for her and how we can start right away to get her ready to do those things!

We live in Colorado, so one of my biggest goals for our puppy is to have her go hiking with us. I am also a runner and would love for her to be able to run on our local path without getting too distracted. We also take lots of road trips so I want her to be comfortable in various settings she could find on the road.

All of these goals will help me plan our socialization needs. We won’t be hiking with her right away, of course, but we can drive her to a trailhead so she can get familiar with the sights, sounds and smells. I might also get my hiking poles out and get her comfortable with them before she sees someone using them for the first time out on a trail.

We might also take her to a local dog-friendly hotel where she can see and hear the luggage trolleys, suitcases and elevators while we carry her through the hotel (Probably best to check with the front desk first).

Neither of these things are necessarily on a normal socialization list, but by thinking ahead of what we want our dog to be able to handle we can expose her to those things early on in her golden socialization period.

There are lots of ideas for socialization on the BAXTER & Bella blog - and socialization activities and mini checklists are included throughout the BAXTER & Bella STEP-BY-STEP Program.


Another thing that is totally new to us, is dog rules in the house! I know it’s going to be best to decide on these rules upfront, rather than confusing Scarlet a few weeks down the road with new rules.

Rules will look different in every house, but for example, I know that my husband will never be ok with a dog sleeping in our bed like my dogs did growing up. So we will have a rule from the day we bring her home that she isn't allowed on any beds. We also want a rule that she can’t go in our home office, because it just is never going to be very puppy-friendly with all of our electronics in there.

In fact, BAXTER & Bella strongly encourages sitting down as a family for a pre-puppy family meeting, which you can download a free copy of their suggested agenda here - it also includes a fun activity for the kids and is likely well worth the time it takes to help you all be on the same page.


As a first-time puppy owner there are so many things I had no idea about! I really didn’t know where to start, and specifically what to do. Getting into puppy school a month before we are scheduled to bring our puppy home has been so helpful! The PREPARING FOR MY PUPPY and THE FIRST WEEK TOGETHER learning modules were so incredibly helpful; not only in planning for the puppy, but also easing my anxiety over whether or not I will know what to do! I love that I can watch the videos over and over to make sure I am well-prepared for her to come home and the timing is perfect as we don’t have our puppy yet, but we are super motivated to start doing puppy things!

LEARN MORE about everything included with the BAXTER & Bella Online Puppy School here:



Molly Callister is a mom of three-rambunctious kids in Colorado. She loves adventure and writes about family, life and travel. Molly hopes to be hiking, traveling and exploring with her new dog in tow very soon!

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