Preparing for your dog's arrival

By Jodi Lee. Opinions expressed here are her own.

April 5, 2018

Are you a first time dog owner and preparing to bring your dog home? Here we try to prepare you for this huge responsibility with a list of things you have to prepare and others for you to consider.

Buying stuff

I noticed she like going to the tub while at OSCAS, so when I brought her home, I got her a similar tub with cushions, which she immediately knew was her bed.

I noticed she like going to the tub while at OSCAS, so when I brought her home, I got her a similar tub with cushions, which she immediately knew was her bed.

These are the must haves:

  • Dog bowls - 1 for water and 1 for food. They should ideally be stainless steel or ceramic. Use a separate sponge to wash these bowls. Water bowls should also be washed once a week, even if you’re only refreshing the bowl daily.

  • Dog bed - Yes, they probably will sleep anywhere they want, but it’s also important to provide a bed, with either blanket type bedding or cushions. Most dogs like a soft place to rest. It should be placed in a corner of a room you choose. Corners represent safety for them, so that they can’t be surprised from the back while they are resting.

  • Collar / harness - Depending on the temperament of your dog, some trainers recommend collars instead of harnesses while you’re in training mode.

  • Leash - I prefer a retractable leash, but for someone starting out, it’s probably a good idea to get a standard leash, at least until you understand how to control your dog.

  • Poo bags

  • Hair brush - If your dog needs to be groomed

  • Toys - Rope toys are good for dogs still in the chewing phase and for playing tug of war. Toys for throwing and fetch are good for play. Other toys such as Kong allows you to put treats inside to challenge your dog and keep them occupied.

  • Shampoo and conditioner - Shampoos can dry out the skin, so it’s recommended that you also use a conditioner. How often you wash your dog depends on how dirty its coat gets. Their bodies produce natural oils that help protect their skin, so washing too often can strip away this natural defense. Regular brushing will suffice until the next wash.

Mei Mei playing with her rope toy

Mei Mei playing with her rope toy

Food and treats

  • Meals - If you have ample time or have help, it’s a good idea to cook for your dog. You will be in complete control over what your dog eats. However, if you’re like me, you’re working all day with limited time in the evenings and can’t afford to cook. I give my dog a mix of can and kibble. Always look at the ingredient list, for things you don’t want your dog to eat. Personally I go for brands which are grain-free and have values in sync with mine. You should google a brand and read about them and what they believe in before purchasing.

  • Treats - It might take some trial and error before you find out what your dog likes; some are more fussy than others. If you’re training your dog, be aware that during the training period, you might only want to give treats as part of training.

Dogs are masters at “begging”. They have evolved into man’s best friend by eating human’s scraps. Monitor your dog’s food and treats intake to make sure they don’t get obese.


Even if you only have a small space, it’s important to demarcate areas for different activities. If you have a designated toilet area, it should be a distance away from the food and water bowls. The dog bed should obviously be in another area, which is a quiet corner.


Mei Mei with her squeaky ball and doughnut

Mei Mei with her squeaky ball and doughnut

As a new dog owner, training is mandatory, not only to teach the dog basic commands, but also to forge a bond with your dog and set you up as the leader. There are many schools of thought in dog training such as positive reinforcement treat based training, clicker training and other more controversial training methods, such as choke chain training. Most dog lovers will prefer punishment free training methods. Do your research before you sign up.

Where to walk and play

Are there routes around your neighbourhood for walks? It would be better to have a few routes, so your dog can smell different things everyday. Ideally walk your dog twice a day, especially if your dog is high energy, otherwise behavioural problems will crop up at home. A tired dog is a happy dog.

If you are able to, bring your dog to a dog run once a week, so they can run leash free, socialise and learn how to behave around other dogs.

Health checks and vaccinations

Bring your dog to the vet immediately if you can for a general health check, get vaccinations and microchip if necessary. Vets also do teeth cleaning these days.

It’s a good idea to visit the vet once a year at the very least, even if your dog doesn’t have any problems, to make sure they are in tip top shape.

Comply with legal requirements

Depending on where you live, you might have to get a license for owning a dog and microchipping your dog. It’s also a good idea to put a dog tag on your dog’s collar in case they go missing.

Educate yourself

Living happily with your dog is a lifelong journey. Some dogs are more demanding of our time and resources, and some are easy to get along with. Different breeds have different temperaments. Dogs age, and during their senior years, might come with challenges such medical problems. Read widely and watch youtube videos to learn and understand their behaviour and needs. Some resources are: