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Puppy Checklist

The Definitive Guide to Puppy Essentials in one ‘Puppy Checklist’

What do Puppies Need?

You’ve decided on a new puppy. You have a rough idea of what date your new family member should be coming home. Now you’re asking yourself, what do puppies need, what are the puppy essentials and where do I start? Speaking from experience with Barney, I’m hoping this new puppy checklist will prove helpful.

Step One // Home Preparation

Is your home prepared for the new addition? A little like bringing home a newborn baby, there’s a lot to think about when you bring home a new puppy.


Currently the top priority on everyone’s list should be security. Making sure your property is secured both in terms of dog theft and the puppy making its own ‘great escape’ should be the first task on your list.

Is your garden secure? Check all your walls and fencing to ensure there are no holes or gaps where the puppy could escape.

Are your gates secure? Check all your gates are secure. If you have top bolts that can be accessed from the outside, consider putting additional lower-level bolts that can only be opened from the inside.

Puppy Proofing

In the case of Barney (and most breeds), puppies should not be allowed up or down stairs until they are at least 12-months old. If you do allow your puppy to go up and down the stairs regularly at a young age, this can affect their legs in later life. We recommend getting a pet gate to stop your dog making their own way upstairs (and also prevent any miss haps when out of sight).

We’ll touch on teething shortly, however a “keep off” spray is also handy to spray on anything you don’t wish for them to chew. This could be furniture legs, skirting boards and even the dog gate if you’re buying a wooden one.

Sleeping Arrangements

From our personal experience, we found it helpful to have Barney in a crate in the evening. We’ve started off with a medium sized crate, which is still just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. Once this is getting a little hard for him to achieve, we will upgrade to the large crate which should be suitable for him during his early adult years.

When choosing a crate, don’t purchase one too big as you want them to feel cosy when inside and see it as their safe place. Consider your puppies dimensions and ensure they can stand up and turn around with ease. Too much bigger than this and you could end up with toilet issues inside the crate.

Using training and treats, Barney now sees his crate as his safe place and will happily take himself in there when he’s ready for bed in an evening.

Lets re-cap on this first section:

  • Have you secured your garden from theft and escape?
  • Purchased a stair gate to secure your stairs?
  • Protected anything that could be tasty to chew?
  • Purchased a suitable sized crate for your dogs breed?

Now the core tasks have been completed, we can move on to the nicer task of purchasing puppy toys, puppy treats and gifts for your new puppy.

Step Two // Puppy Essentials

There are so many new puppy gifts out there, but it’s important that first you buy the essentials. Here’s what we bought for Barney that we’ve found to be extremely useful:

  • Comfy Bed – key to a goodnights sleep is a comfy bed. Try and find a bed that is cozy and fits well inside the crate you’ve purchased.
  • Cozy Blankets – a snuggle blanket is always a winner. Ideally your breeder should send you home with one that has a smell of their mum. This will help with first night anxiety.
  • Little Buddy Heartbeat Sheep – this plush toy is perfect to relieve first night anxiety and aid sleep. We personally took the heartbeat inner out of ours as we were conscious he may get it out in the night. The toy itself however has worked really well and he still uses it to this day.
  • Pet Remedy Plug-in Diffuser – a natural de-stress and calming plug-in diffuser. This is a new and natural way of tacking stress and anxiety using slow-release technology. Featuring a unique treatment of Valerian oil, blended with Vetivert, Basil sweet and Sage, the potent de-stressing properties are slow released into the surrounding area. Slight word of warning here, the word “potent” is very relevant!
  • LickiMat - a great way to keep them entertained. You’ll see on our Instagram that we blend lots of healthy stuff for Barney and then freeze it. These are great when you need to leave your puppy alone for a short time and want a good distraction.

All of the above did the trick for us, as Barney has slept through every night without fail since his first night at home!

Let’s re-cap on this second section and check you have all the puppy essentials:

  • Food & water bowls?
  • Comfy bed?
  • Have you purchased a cosy blanket or confirmed this will be coming from your breeder?
  • Explored the options for a comforting soft toy?
  • Purchased a LickiMat, Kong or Similar?
  • Have you considered using a pet friendly diffuser?

Step Three // Puppy Teething

Puppies explore the world with their mouths. This is extremely cute, but it’s important to be prepared, both to protect your furniture and yourself.

These three teething toys have been Barneys favourites and so far minimized bitten hands and other items he shouldn’t be chewing:

  • Antos Natural Antler Dog Chew - Antler’s are a healthy chew, full of minerals and calcium. Naturally shed, these antlers are a long lasting chew. Unprocessed, they should not splinter and leave a minimum of mess. The Antos Antler satisfies a dog’s natural urge to chew, whilst also helping to strengthen and clean teeth.
  • Origins Olive Branch Dog Chew – these Olive Wood chews are hand crafted, eco-sustainable, gently harvested, air dried for many months and finally cleaned and cut to size. Another long lasting chew, these are suitable for all dogs including puppies and satisfy a dog’s natural urge to chew. Origins won’t splinter, are low in fat and contain no artificial additives or preservatives.

Let’s re-cap on this third section:

Step Four // Puppy Toys

Now on to the fun bit. The puppy toys! We all have a real urge to go out and buy a box full of super cute puppy toys when you see them in the store, but it’s important to think before you buy. Dependent on your breed, most puppies will shred soft toys in a matter of hours (or minutes in some cases). If you’re following Barney on Instagram @PetHamperBarney you will have seen his favourite toys. Here’s a summary:

  • Natural Pet Rope Cow Toy – this is without a doubt his favorite toy. Incorporating a rope element for fun tug of war time, the squeaker to keep him amused and a soft body this toy has it all. It’s also constructed using high quality, environmentally friendly natural and biodegradable materials with 100% natural cotton rope.
  • Smug Mutts Knot Twice Natural Hemp Rope Toy – along with the chews, Barney loves these Natural Hemp Rope toys. He also loves pulling all the strands out! The toughness of the rope allows for this toy to double up as both a toy for fun and teething.
  • Wainwright's Tuff Squirrel Dog Toy – this toy was our other dog Ted’s, however it’s turned in to one of Barneys favourites too. I think the mixture of the toughness, squeaker and crinkle effect make for hours of playtime fun.

Let’s re-cap on this final section:

  • Have you got enough puppy toys but not bought too many?

In Conclusion

I hope this post has provided you with a personal insight in to our journey with Barney and acts as a helpful checklist for your new puppy, allowing you to tick off all those puppy essentials.

Over the next few weeks we will be teaming up with the Innocent Pet to provide you with an insight in to their puppy food. This will include weaning off the food your puppy has been fed by the breeder and the benefits of wet, semi-moist and dry food. Barney loves his Wild Salmon Fishcakes and super tasty lamb with split pea training treats. Stay Tuned for the next edition.

Pet Insurance for Your Puppy

Guiding you Through Pet Insurance

You’ve put the deposit down on your new puppy. Now you’re thinking about how to keep this new member of the family safe and protected. Well the first thing to consider for both them and your future bank balance is Pet Insurance. So where do you start?

Why Purchase Pet Insurance?

Let’s start with why you might need Pet Insurance. Most of us know that like private healthcare for us humans, vet fees do not come cheap. If your dog is unfortunate enough to develop a condition that cannot be cured, it could last it’s lifetime. This could mean a great deal of stress both mentally and on the pocket. This is where pet insurance comes in to lend a hand. For those lengthy or one-off expensive treatments, you’ll be glad you took out insurance right at the start.

What's the Average Cost of Insurance for a Puppy?

Based on stats from Animal Friends between January 2020 and January 2021, an average cost of insurance for puppies between the ages of four weeks and 12 months was £17.52 a month. And according to Associated British Insurers 2019, the average pet insurance claim for pets of all ages, amounts to around £793, suggesting pet insurance could help protect you from unexpected veterinary bills.

Cover you May Not Expect

Pet insurance doesn’t just cover you for unexpected illness. Here’s a three things you may not have thought about:

Accident Cover - If your dog is involved in an accident, your insurance will cover their vet bills to hopefully bring them back to full health. If your dog is the cause of the accident however and luckily doesn’t injure themselves, your insurance will kick in and cover that too. The public liability aspect of any pet insurance is something that is often overlooked. Should your pet be off the lead and cause a car accident for instance, this could run in to 10’s if not 100’s of thousands of pounds worth of compensation for the other people, vehicles and objects involved.

Theft or Straying – If your dog is stolen or stays, your insurance can contribute to the cost to advertise for your pets safe recovery as well as a reward for anyone who finds it.

Protecting you – As well as your pet, the insurance can help protect you too. Should you need to be in hospital for 4 or more consecutive days, your policy may contribute towards professional dog walkers or kennels where required.

Where to Look for a Policy

Like most insurance products, pet insurance can be compared on the various insurance comparison sites on the internet. These include the likes of and You can also go direct to insurance providers such as Animal Friends, Pet Plan and Bought By Many.

Lets Get Started With Your Quote

I’m used to shopping for insurance. From life cover to home and contents and the various levels of cover required to run a business. When shopping for pet insurance however, a few new terms and phrases where used that in some cases I wasn’t 100% sure of their meaning. For this reason, we’re teaming up with our friends over at Animal Friends Pet Insurance to clear a few things up.

Key Insurance Terms Explained

The Legal Bit from Animal Friends Insurance - before we start, it’s worth knowing that as part of our governing body’s regulations, the FCA, we can only provide guidance on the insurance products available, we’re not able to advise anyone thinking of joining Animal Friends on which product they should buy. This is to ensure that our customers can get the right product that best suits their needs and the needs of their pet.

What would you like the cover for? Accidents | Accidents & illness

Accident Only policies are the most basic levels of insurance, offering cover for only injuries and complications arising from accidents.

Other levels of cover can offer you protection for your pet in the event of an accident or if they were to fall ill. There are still various options at this point that cater for individual needs.   

  • 365 days, or Time Limited policies, provide covers for accidents, illnesses and other conditions for a maximum of 365 days before they are no longer covered.
  • Vet fee limit, or Max Benefit policies, allow you to claim for each injury or illness up to a specified financial cap  
  • Lifetime policies provide ongoing cover for vet fees from accidents and illnesses, up until the policy’s specific limits are reached. This policy limit is reset each year after renewal.

Now we’ve covered the main questions. Here's one I personally had when selecting the correct insurance product that you may be asking too:

Q: Your annual condition limit is £6k per year on a Prestige plan, but what does it mean when it says the lifetime condition limit is unlimited?

A: A Lifetime Condition Limit is the set amount that you’re able to claim for any one condition during your pet’s lifetime. This isn’t applicable on our Prestige policy as it has an Annual Condition Limit, meaning we’ll pay the vet’s fees for each condition but once the limit is reached, that condition will not be covered until the policy renews.

For example, if you chose the Prestige policy which has a condition limit of £6,000 and your dog was to develop a skin condition and suffered gastroenteritis, we would cover the cost of treatment for the skin condition up to £6,000 and also the treatment for the gastroenteritis case, up to £6,000 (subject to any applicable excess, co-payment or exclusions relating to any pre-existing conditions). When you renew your policy the annual condition limit is reset and you'll be covered for up to £6,000 again for each condition should you need it.

Additional Extras Included in your Plan

Q: I notice that when taking out an Animal Friends policy you get free access to Joii. Please could you explain to us what this platform is and how it works?

A: We’ve partnered up with Joii Pet Care to bring our customers a free alternative to traditional vet appointments. This service allows our customers to have access to expert advice, whenever and wherever they need it as well as unlimited video calls with qualified vets from the comfort of their own homes.

Q: What are common things you could use this platform for?

A: The Joii app offers online nurse clinics, video consultations with qualified vets and a comprehensive symptom checker while helping to prevent future health issues for your pet all of which are free with an Animal Friends cat or dog policy.  

Joii’s face-to-face calls allows you to ask questions or share any concerns, providing priceless peace of mind in times of need and uncertainty. As part of our PupStart programme, customers can also use the app to access free 1-2-1 puppy clinics and training advice.

Reasons to Choose Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Creating better lives for animals has always been our ethos, that’s why we were founded in 1998 with a sole aim of providing affordable pet insurance as a means to help support animal welfare charities around the world.

Since then, we have donated over £5.6million to animal welfare and conservation charities worldwide and are now trusted to protect over one million of the nation’s pets.

We are utilising our voice to help our customers, and the general public understand the importance and benefits of responsible pet ownership and preventative health care. That is why we created a bespoke program for puppies under 12 months old called PupStart.

Puppy owners who take out an Animal Friends policy will have access to the free programme, designed to give essential advice, support and care to help during the first 12 months of a puppy’s growth and development.

Why Wait!

Now you’ve got all the information you need, why wait? You can schedule your insurance up to 30-days in advance. This means that even if the pups not arrived yet you can still get a quote. It’s also worth noting that some policies don’t cover claims in the first 5 – 14 days. Why not start your policy a few weeks ahead of bringing you pup home to avoid any unaccepted circumstances?

Get Your Quote Now

Follow this link to get your pet insurance quote from Animal Friends and in addition to a great policy you'll also get a £10 voucher back as you have been referred from this article >

Looking to stock up on treats & toys for the new arrival? Pop over to our puppy section before you leave and use code "PUP10" for 10% off.

The Puppy Diaries – The Journey Begins

Today we have some exciting news… *drum roll please* we’re getting a puppy!

Although you may have seen our family dog Ted the Labradoodle pop up on many a photoshoot and Instagram post, my partner Emily and I share Ted with Emily’s mum and her partner. Meaning this will be our first puppy together in our new home. We sadly lost Holly, Emily’s childhood cat of 21 years in the latter part of 2020.

When getting a puppy there is so much to think about. So much to consider, and so many sources of information flooding the internet. As we embark on this journey together as a couple, I thought it may be helpful to share what we learn along the way from a personal perspective.

Everyone’s journey to making that big decision and committing to a puppy has differing factors. Emily and I have grown up with very different childhoods from a pet perspective. I personally had never had a cat or dog until I ‘adopted’ Mr Ted when Emily and I got together in 2017. Emily however has grown up with Holly from the age of 5, and at one point had 5 cats! After loosing Holly and only having Ted living with us occasionally, it’s true what people say when they refer to a house not being a home without a pet. So where do you go next?

Things to consider...

What three things should I consider when thinking about purchasing a puppy?

  • Can we commit the time? We can all say ‘we don’t have the time’. However as Emily keeps reminding me, we can all make time for something like a pet which enriches our lives. For us, we feel when we have Ted we make more of an effort to get out of the house. Move away from the laptop, and off on a long walk. Exercising and taking in the beautiful countryside on our doorstep. We are also lucky to have our own rural offices, as well as being well supported by family and friends to take care of the dog when the business demands our attention. This is however an extremely important decision to make. Although at the time of writing this we are currently in lockdown 3.0, with many of us working from home, you do need to keep in mind that this new puppy (dependent on breed) could be with you for 12 years or more. As the saying goes “a puppy is not just for Christmas” or COVID in this case.
  • Can we commit financially? In an earlier post on our blog. I documented that in a PDSA report, out of the 10,000 people surveyed, 75% of pet owners estimated a lower amount than the minimum monthly cost for their type of pet. Statistics show on average the minimum cost to keep a cat or a dog are both around £70 per month. So it’s important to make sure this financial commitment is carefully considered before taking on pet ownership.
  • Are you ready? You see all the adorable Instagram pictures of puppies curled up on the sofa, running around like little bundles of joy, and blissfully sleeping. However as we all know, Instagram does not mirror reality. As Emily knows from Ted, there are many sleepless nights and hours of training ahead before you get the obedient, well trained dog you dream of.

Reading on...

If you’re reading on from here, you’ve made the decision to get a puppy (or maybe you’re just enjoying our story so far). Either way the next step is where to look for a puppy and most importantly what to look out for when buying.

One of the most popular sites for purchasing a new puppy is On here you can search by Pet Type, Pet Breed and of course your postcode to see who’s breeding locally to you.

At this stage I could go on about the puppy being KC (Kennel Club) registered, hip scores, the price of various different breeds, etc. However what we have found most important is that you connect with the breeder. As soon as you talk to that breeder for the first time, you’ll know whether it’s a match for you or not.

When we first started looking, Emily scoured pet4homes for months. She sent me countless links and adorable puppy pictures, then one day, one advert just stood out. The lady's name was Heidi and she only lived around 40-minutes from our base here in Preston. A quick call to enquire about the reservation list ended in over an hours phone call. I know I can talk, but Heidi was just as bad! Heidi talked about her home situation, the two adorable Labradors they have as family pets, and the history behind both the mum and dad.

Who's Heidi & how did the process work ?

As if by chance, that first call to Heidi was made the day before Piper (the mum to be) was to have a scan to check she was pregnant. Within 48-hours the news came back that she was! There were at least 5 pups and we were fourth on the list. From this point forward Heidi set up a WhatsApp group so we can follow Piper and the pups journey. From pregnancy to birth, and today the pups finding their feet for the very first time, the journey continues.

Along with everything that’s happening now, we have also seen the history of both the parents. Piper and Arthur's family tree can be traced back 5 generations. It’s an interesting read and gives you a good understanding of the breeding lines and the dogs backgrounds.

For Heidi, breeding Piper was an experience rather than a job and this has shone through. She has enabled us to experience the journey with her every step of the way. For us, this is allowing us to connect with not only the pups, but Piper and Heidi too. We are developing a bond and friendship I hope will continue on for many years as the pups grow.

It’s important to point out at this stage that this is only our personal experience and choice. There are many highly experienced and talented dog breeders who will provide you with excellent service and a pedigree pup. But we personally could not wish to do anything differently. All that's left to do now is show you some puppy pictures!