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Preparing for Puppy: How to Prepare When You Are Puppy Expecting?

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Since it's National Puppy Day in the United States, thought it was time to bark about preparing for a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (Toller) puppy, or how to prep when you are puppy expecting?

Us Tollers are pretty much like all puppies, although my humans say I was the cutest but they're my pawparents, what do you expect? Any way thought I would interview my humans about how they prepped for me! So here it goes...

Henry Toller Tails at 9 weeks old

Henry Toller Tails (HTT): When you were expecting me, what did you do to get puppy ready?

Henry’s Humans (HHs): Preparing for a Toller puppy is just like preparing for any puppy. For example, we knew that we would need a safe puppy zone inside the house for you to run free, play and explore.

So, we looked at all the rooms and selected your puppy zone based on:

  • How easy cleaning the flooring was after any accidents? We ruled out any carpeted areas or rooms.

  • Whether or not there were electrical sockets in the puppy zone? We bought electrical outlet covers used for baby proofing to cover any electrical sockets. Also, we removed anything with electrical cords from your puppy zone.

  • Was this puppy zone visible to most of the house? Basically, we chose a puppy safe zone location where we could monitor you easily from most of the house.

HTT: That’s it? Is that all you did for puppy preparation?

HHs: No. Picking your puppy safe zone was the first step. After that, we made a list of everything we needed. Puppies can get expensive quickly. To manage the costs and take advantage of all sales at our local pet stores, we made a list of items we needed to have ready when we picked you up from the breeder on your “Gotcha Day”.

So, the second step was making a list of items we needed for you and to puppy proof our home, and then prioritizing them.

HTT: What was on your puppy prep list?

HHs: Oh, lots of basic things.

  • Pet gates to secure your puppy safe area.

  • A dog crate that you could grow with and that also took in to account your needs.

  • Puppy sized food and water bowls.

  • Puppy food and puppy treats.

  • Collar with identification tags and a short leash. ( 4-foot leash was more than enough for your first couple of months.)

  • A selection of non-toxic safe toys. Toller puppies are physically and mentally active. We bought some toys, but since getting a variety of puppy toys gets pricey. Some toys we made using old socks and tennis balls.

  • Chew toys! We knew that puppies chew things and we wanted to make sure you had non-toxic puppy chew toys for those times. Having chew toys around ensured we could re-direct any puppy furniture chewing behaviour on to the appropriate puppy chew toys.

  • Brushes, combs and puppy safe shampoo for your grooming.

  • Non-toxic dog stain and odor eliminator and disinfectant.

HTT: Was there anything else you did?

HHs: Yes, we read a few dog training books with a focus on positive reinforcement methods and teaching. We watched a lot of YouTube videos posted by Humane Societies and also reputable certified dog trainers, who use a positive reinforcement training method.

In particular we read up and watched videos on puppy potty training. It gave us a sense of what to expect and also how to ensure our puppy was successful and confident during the potty-training process.

We also researched puppy socialization and puppy obedience training classes. Locating a dog trainer who uses humane positive reinforcement methods ahead of time makes it easier to schedule puppy obedience classes alongside your puppy vaccination schedule.

HTT: Any advice for humans, who are getting their first puppy?

HHs: Yeah sure. In the excitement of getting a new puppy it's easy to forget or get overwhelmed by preparing for puppy.

  • Preparing one or two months before the puppy comes home for the first time is worth it. Having everything ready allowed us to really enjoy welcoming you home and also ensured that we could help you ease into and blend into our family.

  • On tile, linoleum, laminate and sealed hardwood floors vinegar and water is a good environmental and low cost way to clean up dog urine and odor. Vinegar is an good disinfectant. You can Google how to remove dog urine with vinegar for links and videos.

  • You definitely want to clean up any puppy accidents right away, so your puppy doesn’t keep returning to the scene of their accident and creating a new accident.

  • If you are going to buy a non-toxic disinfectant, stain and odor eliminator to clean up puppy accidents, then buy the gallon sized jug. It’s a better buy in the long run. For carpet, we found that professional non-toxic dog specific disinfectant worked best. We used Nature’s Miracle. It even worked on throw rugs that we tossed in the washing machine after treating. If you have carpeting and can afford it, Bissell’s Little Green Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner is a life saver.

  • Whether you are adopting from a shelter or a breeder, confirm your “Gotcha Day” date (a.k.a. your official puppy pick up date) at least 2 weeks before. It’s easier to work backwards from the pick-up date to ensure you have everything you need, book appointments and schedule time off or vacation time from work if possible.

  • Schedule your first veterinarian visit immediately when you have your "Gotcha Day" pick-up date. Also, make sure to allow enough time for your puppy’s first veterinarian visit. The first appointment will take longer than a regular appointment because the veterinarian is meeting your puppy for the first time. They will do a thorough examination, especially if you are getting pet insurance.

  • Set up a household puppy schedule. For you, we followed the breeder’s feeding schedule. We also included a potty schedule as well as a puppy play and exercise schedule. It really helps. Also, sticking to a schedule is one reason you accepted potty training pretty rapidly.

  • Frozen face cloths are great for teething. In addition to having puppy chewing and teething toys around, we froze wet face cloths for teething. We would wet or dampen a face cloth and freeze it. When it was frozen, we would then take it out and let it slightly thaw for about 1 or 2 minutes so that it wasn’t too tough and give it to you to chew on. We found you liked the cooling on your gums during your teething.

HTT: Are there any Toller puppy specific preparations you did?

HHs: We spoke with our breeder. An ethical breeder will always provide new Toller puppy parents with a full listing of the puppy’s vaccinations to date, a puppy schedule as well as diet guidelines.

We did ensure that we had the exact same food as our Toller breeder was using so your transition and welcome into a new home would be easier.

Since Tollers are very intelligent, we did make sure to create and have puppy puzzles on hand to mentally entertain you when you first arrived. We included food puzzles during your feeding time to help slow your eating and ensure proper digestion.

Meeting Toller owners and joining online Toller specific communities can be very helpful. Like all dogs, Tollers and Toller mixes have their own specific characteristics. Being part of a Toller community can offer support when you are faced with a Toller puppy dilemma you just can’t figure out.

HTT: Any final tips?

HHs: Yes, it’s never too early to start basic training with your puppy using a positive reinforcement and humane training approach. All puppies are smart, especially Toller puppies, but often people think puppies are too young to learn basic commands. We started working on puppy basics the minute you got home. In fact, it became a favourite puppy game for you.

Finally, enjoy your puppy time. It seems like the potty training and teething will never end, but it really goes by quickly. So, take the time to enjoy your new puppy and also take a lot of pictures.

Photos: ©Charlotte Wolters &

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