But the big day will roll around more quickly than you think
And can even catch you unawares!
We’ve made a few checklists to help you make sure you are completely prepared for your new arrival, with nothing left to chance.
Four weeks to go: health checks and visits
- Visit your puppy
- View copies of certificates
Many breeders will encourage their new puppy owners to make their first visit at around the four week mark.
The pups are now up on their feet, Mum is less protective of them, and the little ones are starting to develop their own characters.
Don’t worry if you live too far away to make a visit to your puppy at this time. Your relationship with your puppy won’t suffer because you did not have any contact with the puppy at this young age.
Your breeder will be able to email you photos and keep you up to date with the puppy’s progress. She might even be able to put some videos up on Youtube for you to watch. It’s worth asking.
One thing you must be certain of by this stage, is your puppy’s health credentials. Don’t be embarrassed to ask to see your puppy’s health credentials.
Both parents must have certificates, and you must ask to see them. Any good breeder will expect this.
Don’t wait until you have formed an attachment to the puppy. Your puppy’s parents must have been tested for hip and elbow dysplasia, crippling conditions that affect many Labradors, and you need to see the certificates to prove it.
Good hips and elbow scores are not a guarantee of freedom from these conditions, but they stack the odds in your favour.
Every good breeder will be happy to send you scanned copies or pop copies in the post. You need to see the stud dog’s results as well as the results for Mum
Your puppy’s parents must also have clear eye certificates issued within the last year. The eye certificates show that your puppy’s parents have passed an examination which looks at the eye for signs of a disease that causes blindness. This is a test repeated annually.
There is also a DNA test for inherited blindness, it’s called an Optigen test and if your puppy’s parents have had this test, at least one of them must be Optigen Clear
You can check out these articles
to find out more about these and other tests that might apply to your puppy
Three weeks to go: secure the garden
- Secure your garden
- Purchase or build play pens
You need to thoroughly check that your garden is secure, make sure that there are no holes under fence, or places where a puppy could wriggle under gates or through a hedge.
Fencing is expensive, and if your garden is too big for you to fence securely, you will need a ‘run’ or play area within it, that is dog proof.
Puppy play pens
If you cannot secure the perimeter of your garden and have opted instead for a puppy play pen, now is the time to make or order one.
The lightweight, link together panel type pens are easy to put up and take down, and fine for placing a puppy in under supervision.
They can be used to confine the puppy to a toilet area or to pop him in whilst you hang out the washing or weed the vegetable patch. They are not suitable for long term confinement.
Never be tempted to leave a puppy in your garden unsupervised. Whilst you run down to the corner shop for example. Dog theft is a serious problem in the UK and puppies are particularly vulnerable.
If you want your puppy to spend a substantial amount of time outdoors without you, you need to think about building a properly equipped and lockable outdoor kennel and run.
Two weeks to go: indoor barriers
- Baby gates
- Puppy pens
- Cleaning equipment
Now is the time to think about which room your puppy will live in for the first few weeks, and to buy the equipment you will need to keep him safe and your home in one piece.
If you are intending to crate train your puppy, you’ll need a suitable small puppy crate (or a larger crate with a divider) You can read all about crates here: Crates and puppy pens
Whether or not you use a crate, it is best not to give a new puppy access to your entire home. If you do, it will be impossible to supervise him effectively and he will almost certainly find places to wee and poo when people are not watching him.
Bear in mind that puppies usually like to wee on soft surfaces, that includes your carpet.
It is almost impossible to completely remove all traces of urine from a carpet and once a puppy has wee’d under your dining room table, he’ll be attracted there to repeat the experience.
The best way to restrict him to one or two rooms with washable floors is usually with one or more baby gates. Check out Labrador Puppies and Baby Gates for more information
You’ll also need an indoor playpen (and some puppy pads to place in it, for him to wee on) if you will be leaving your puppy alone in the house for more than an hour or so each day.
Puppies can’t be crated for long periods of time. They have a small bladder capacity, and will get up to all kinds of mischief if left unattended with the free run of an entire room.
If you are going to leave your puppy in an indoor playpen unsupervised, you need a heavy duty one.
If you are planning on going back to work after settling your new puppy in, do check out our article on doggy day care for more information and advice. Labrador puppies need companionship and should not be left alone for long periods of time.
Now is a good time to purchase some cleaning fluid designed for clearing up puppy wee, these are especially designed to deter the puppy from being tempted to wee in the same place again.
You’ll need plenty of disposable cloths, and if you are not using puppy pads, lots of newspaper! Now is the time to put in ‘an order’ from friends and relatives.
You can find cleaning products and puppy pads on this page: Cleaning and hygiene
One week to go: let’s go fun shopping!
Just one week to go, and you are nearly there. Now is the time to have fun shopping for toys, bedding, kongs, puppy leads, ID tags etc. The links take you to lots of great ideas in our products pages.
We have an article dedicated to choosing puppy bedding, which you may find helpful: Labrador puppy beds and bedding – tips and advice for keeping your puppy cosy
I strongly recommend you consider buying your puppy a body harness with a front chest attachment for the lead, rather than a collar to begin with. They are safer and more comfortable for puppies to wear, and avoid teaching a puppy to ‘pull’ into a collar.
I also recommend you buy three puppy kongs, and some vet bed to line your crate. Everything else is really an optional luxury
You can buy pretty food bowls and cuddly toys, but there is no need to if you don’t want to. Most puppies will rip up soft toys (but you’ll probably want to get one or two) and you can use an old plate or bowl for dog food if necessary.
You’ll also need to make your final arrangements for the big day and days to follow.
- Make an appointment with your vet to get the puppy checked within 48 hours of bringing him home
- Find out what food the breeder is giving you and order more of the same
- Confirm collection day and time with the breeder, make a list of any questions you want to ask her on the day.
- Post payment to your breeder if paying by cheque – she won’t part with the puppy until your payment has cleared
- Join the forum for help and support from other new puppy owners
- Order your copy of The Happy Puppy Handbook
You should be all set now, and ready for your big day! Don’t forget to join us in the forum and share your lovely puppy photos! We look forward to meeting you there.
If you can think of anything we have missed out, just drop your suggestions in the comments box below