What to do before you collect your new dog

You’ve done it! You’ve committed yourself to a new dog, and now you’re waiting for the big day when you can collect him from the breeder or the shelter. Instead of twiddling your thumbs while you wait, get your planning sorted out.


The breeder should be able to answer many of your questions, but the shelter might only know a few facts about the dog. Get as much information about him as you can, including:

  • How fast will my puppy grow?
  • Will he be big or small?
  • Are there any specific illnesses associated with his breed?
  • When will he reach maturity?
  • When can you start with exercise?
  • What are his grooming requirements?

If the breeder or person at the shelter can’t tell you, do some research online.


It is crucial that you have a good relationship with a vet. Don’t wait for your dog to get sick before you look for a vet – even before puppy arrives, find a vet you can trust. Ask these questions:

  • Do you know a vet you can trust? Get references from neighbours and friends who live close by.
  • Is the vet close enough in case of an emergency?
  • What are the emergency hours?
  • Can you get references from other patients?
  • Are the vet’s rates reasonable?

Medical insurance

Medical insurance is extremely important and every vet, and pet owner who has had an emergency with their pet, will agree on the benefits. No one plans an emergency, and we don’t always have the financial means to pay for an unplanned illness or accident.

With so many companies and different plans on offer, do some research about what products are available. Get a few quotes and ask the following questions:

  • What is the monthly or annual payment?
  • What will the excess be?
  • What does the plan cover?
  • Which option fits your budget?
  • Which plans do vets prefer, and why?

Shopping time

Create a shopping list in advance and stick to it. Remember that shop assistants are trained to sell you products you don’t necessarily need. Also, with so many cute accessories to choose from, you could easily get caught up in some ‘emotional shopping’ and end up with unnecessary items.

Keep the following in mind when planning your shopping trip:

  • What is your budget?
  • What is more important to you – quality or affordability?
  • Where can you find the best deals?
  • Do you have a colour scheme you want to stick to?
  • Are there second-hand items that you can get for a more reasonable price, like a baby gate, that will be suitable for your needs?


Puppies and their owners need training, especially when it comes to socialising. With some breeds, socialising and behavioural classes are essential. But be aware of ‘fly-by-night’ trainers and behaviourists who are not properly qualified. While researching behaviourists and training schools, ask these questions:

  • What are the going rates?
  • Are the institution’s rates on par with current industry rates?
  • Is the behaviourist qualified and registered?
  • Will they provide contactable references?

Puppy school

Just as you did with the behaviourists, you need to research puppy schools, as there are no regulatory bodies or regulations for these schools. Obviously, you want to use a school that you can trust with your puppy. Keep the following in mind:

  • Ask for references.
  • Are their rates reasonable?
  • Is the school located close by?
  • Ask if you can do a site visit.

Family ready

Everybody needs to understand what is expected of them and what the rules are, before puppy arrives. To do so, take the following into consideration:

  • What are the rules for the new dog?
  • Does everybody know and understand these house rules?
  • Does everybody know what is expected of him or her?
  • Have you explained to the children why they can’t constantly pick up the puppy and carry him around?
  • Have you decided where the pup will sleep?
  • Have you considered first aid training?
  • Have you puppy-proofed your home?

Once everything is in place, you can relax. Use the next few days to finalise the arrangements before you fetch your new dog.


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