Preparing for a Golden Retriever Puppy: A Step by Step Guide

Getting a new Golden Retriever puppy is a big responsibility. Like any dog, a Golden Retriever will depend on you throughout its life, especially more so when they are puppies. 

When we decided on our Golden Retriever puppy, we had a certain comfort level because he wasn’t our first dog. We had some supplies and knowledge already in place. And yet, we still needed to do some preparation beforehand. 

For first-time dog owners starting from scratch, the process will be even more involved, so preparation is crucial. In any case, it’s important to ask the question; how do you prepare for a Golden Retriever puppy?  

Preparation for a Golden Retriever puppy includes shopping for essential supplies, puppy-proofing your home, and doing some research beforehand. Research considerations include microchipping, finding a good veterinarian, health costs, obedience classes, and available options if you work.

An ounce of preparation will go a long way. It ensures you get off to the right start, it helps avoid getting blindsided by surprises, and it helps to reduce anxiety.

You can take comfort in knowing that by covering all your bases early on, you can enjoy the arrival of your Golden puppy with as little stress as possible. 

Stock up on Essentials

Before your puppy arrives you need to go shopping. Stocking up on essentials is the first, if not most important step.

If you’re getting a puppy from a breeder or you’ve been contemplating a dog for a while, then you should be able to stock up on supplies and spread costs over a good amount of time

Your shopping list will consist of the following:  

Books and Videos

It would be best to prepare by reading and watching videos before your Golden puppy arrives. If you’ve never owned a dog before then, this is especially important.

Many new dog owners are woefully unaware of the challenges that lie ahead. Unpreparedness lays the foundation for future behavioral issues. It almost guarantees you’ll be ill-equipped to resolve any problems when they do occur. 

There are many great resources in terms of videos, streaming, and books that will fit any budget. If you’re interested, you can find my recommendations for training instruction and supplies in the menu under Gold BAR Recommended Products and Gear.

Food and Treats 

When you pick up your pup, ask if the breeder can provide you with some of the food the puppy has been eating.

Abruptly changing your puppy’s diet can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea, so gradually transitioning your Golden puppy to a new food is the best course. 

You’ll also need to think about what food you’ll be using when you transition the puppy to a new brand. Visit your pet stores in the area to determine what high-quality brands are available to you and what’s best for your pups needs.

Your vet can also offer valuable advice on the best food options for transitioning your puppy over the next few weeks and months. 

Treats are a must for training and special occasions when your puppy deserves it for being awesome. Professional dog trainer Zak George recommends boiled chicken broken down into pea-sized pieces, which works very well.

There are also commercial treats available but look for ones that are not calorie intensive to keep your puppy from developing weight issues later in life. 

Cutting commercial treats in half or into thirds helps reduce costs while also cutting calories for your dog.

Water and Food Bowls

You’ll need two bowls—one for food and one for water. Stainless steel is your best bet and can be tossed in a dishwasher, but in a pinch, any bowl will do.

If you can afford it, it’s also a good idea to pick up a spare set so you can conveniently switch out bowls while the others are being washed or if you’re lazy that day and haven’t washed the dishes yet. 

You may also want to consider a mat to place the bowls on. Puppies can be exuberant and messy eaters, and there will be some spills, so a food mat is a great way to contain any messes and protect your floors. 

BAR eating from his stainless steel dish. Notice the cheap throw rug as a dog mat. It does the trick.


Buy a few different toys to see what your puppy likes but don’t go overboard. You can add more as you go along. Make sure the toys are durable and size appropriate for your puppy (not too small so they can swallow it and not too big so it won’t fit in the puppy’s mouth).

Also, get some durable chew toys and ones that you can stuff with peanut butter, kibble, and doggy toothpaste. These will help the puppy during teething. If your Golden puppy is an aggressive chewer, he’ll appreciate something to gnaw on.

Bones and rawhide are a welcome treat, but make sure they’re big enough so your dog can’t choke and avoid any bones that can splinter.

Dog Crate, Gates, and Playpens

A dog crate can be an essential tool for your dog. Crates provide your dog with a go-to place for safety and security and to sleep. They’re also useful when you step out or can’t supervise a puppy, e.g., when running to the grocery store or cooking.

If introduced in a positive, non-threatening way, the crate will be a place your dog will love to go. 

Gates and playpens are containment devices and are essential for limiting your puppy’s environment until it’s old enough to explore more of the house safely.

Gates and playpens prevent access to stairs and avoid entry to rooms you don’t want your puppy to go. If you choose not to crate your dog (or don’t want to), then gates or a playpen are a great alternative.


Your puppy will need a bed and maybe bedding for sleeping. Your pet store will have ample options but be budget-conscious initially because your puppy will have accidents, and it’s no fun throwing out an expensive dog bed after only a couple of weeks.

Old towels and blankets will also do if you are on a budget. You can upgrade the bedding/bed as your Golden gets more mature and is less prone to potty accidents. 

Bailey enjoying a nap in one of his beds (he has four). Yes, he is spoiled.

Collar and Leash

You’ll need a dog collar to affix a leash when walking or training. I’d also suggest a harness. It’s comfortable for your puppy, suitable for training, and offers more control. Your dog’s collar will also hold its identification tags and vaccine confirmation if your vet provides one.

Get two nylon leashes; one that is about six feet long and a second leash that is 24 – 30 ft. The six-foot leash is for walking, and the longer one is for recall training or to let your pup explore in a park without being able to run off. We use the long one when camping.

Potty Essentials

You’ll need poop bags and a scooper if you don’t like picking up poop with a bag. The scooper is also great for picking up after puppies in the backyard (and saves on the cost of using bags). Get a bag dispenser for your poop bags that attaches to the leash; then, you’ll always be prepared. 

Potty pads are optional but can be useful to place around the puppy playpen in case of accidents or when you cannot supervise or get to the puppy fast enough. Or if you happen to live in an apartment or condo.

Just be sure your pup doesn’t eat and swallow them. 

Grooming Tools

Your puppy will need be groomed regularly and you’ll need the following supplies:

  • brush
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • shampoo
  • nail clippers
  • cotton balls
  • ear cleaner

If you’re using a groomer, I’d still recommend having all of these on hand for times when the groomer might not be accessible. 

Puppy Proof Your Home

The day will quickly come when your puppy will sneak away while you’re distracted or you have dropped your guard – yes, that will most likely happen at some point. 

If your puppy is out of sight and quiet, he is probably getting into something that he shouldn’t. Golden Retriever puppies can be quite stealthy and adorably mischievous. 

You need to puppy proof your home to prevent unintentional mishaps and accidents. Puppies love to explore, and just like human toddlers, they will take anything in their mouth.

To ensure your home is safe consider the following areas:


Often stairs are an overlooked hazard for puppies, but it’s one that can cause injuries. Golden puppies early on are uncoordinated and find navigating stairs difficult – especially coming down.

A tumble down a flight of stairs (especially if it’s hardwood or concrete) can cause bone breaks. Best to close doors or use gates to prevent accidents. Supervising your puppy is the easiest and cheapest option.

You can also keep your puppy confined to a playpen or crate when you cannot supervise him.


If you have a cat, you will need to prepare it for the new puppy. The cat should have someplace to escape when needed and its own area to be comfortable and secure.

After the puppy and cat learn to get along (hopefully), then you may be able to allow for more freedoms. Initially, however, give your cat a means to feel safe and getaway if needed.

Keep the cat litter somewhere where the puppy can’t get in it. Many dogs will eat cat feces and cat litter. While I don’t believe cat litter is toxic, it can cause stomach issues and obstructions. And it’s gross.

No dogs allowed! It pays to have a handyman brother. The cat appreciates it too.

Shoes and Clothes

Clothes and shoes have your scent on them, and puppies love to chew, so it’s best to keep these items off the floor and out of reach. Not only will it save your expensive UGS or Italian loafers, but your puppy won’t swallow things like buttons, shoelaces, and certain fabrics.

Some swallowed items have the potential for intestinal and choking issues. Be especially mindful of the laundry room and ensure clothes are in a hamper. 

Floor Food

Puppies are like furry little Dyson vacuum cleaners, and if there is food on the floor, they will pick it up. They’re also very adept at getting into trash cans and seeking out food wherever they can find it.

Many items are toxic to dogs – onions, grapes, chocolate, garlic, macadamia nuts, to name but a few – do some research on the internet for a list of toxic foods and make sure your pup never has access to those. 

It’s best to make sure ALL food is off the floor or secured away as a safeguard. Chicken bones splinter easily and can get caught in a puppy’s throat.

While not a food item, dental floss, if eaten, can also cause intestinal issues and may require surgery if it gets wrapped around or caught somewhere it should not. 


Spilling boiling water or dropping knives while a puppy is underfoot may not only result in an injured puppy, but it may require a visit to the emergency room for you as well. 

Your puppy should not be allowed in the kitchen when you are preparing food.

Put the puppy in a confined space (playpen or crate) while cooking or until you have trained your puppy to lay and wait in a safe spot.


Puppies like to chew. Electrical cords have electricity. Keep them away from each other. In addition to preventing an electric shock to your puppy, it may also save your house from burning down from a frayed electrical cord. 

Cords hanging from blinds can also be an issue. If your puppy gets entangled, he may not be able to free himself and could choke or become injured.

Also, make sure that cords from blinds are well out of jumping reach for your pup. 

Cleaning Products, Chemicals, and Medications 

Don’t assume your puppy can’t get into a cupboard. Golden Retrievers are quite resourceful and intelligent. Combine those traits with puppy curiosity, and you’ll be surprised what their mischievous noses can pry open.

Keep cabinets with chemicals and cleaning supplies latched or up high and out of the way. You can buy plastic baby proof latches that work well or use a very thick elastic band in a pinch to wrap around the handles to secure. Test them to make sure they’re not accessible. 

Laundry detergent, especially pods, and fabric softener sheets should all be up and out of the way where the puppy cannot reach them. 

Be mindful of medications and supplements. Keep them someplace inaccessible, and if you drop one on the floor, it’s time to go into search and recovery mode – make sure you find it.

Pain relievers and even certain supplements (e.g., garlic pills) can be toxic to your dog. 


Toilet water can have toxic chemicals in them or other gross stuff. Toilet bowls can be a drowning hazard if your puppy falls in them. Seriously.

Keep the toilet lids closed to be safe. And gentlemen, any ladies in your home will be happier too. 


If your backyard is fenced, then look for holes or escape routes and plug those. If your backyard is not fenced, then consider enclosing your backyard to not only keep your pup in but other animals out. 

Secure or put away any chemicals such as fertilizer, insecticides, or pesticides. Many flowers, shrubs, and foliage can be harmful to your dog, so be aware and investigate potential risks (again, the internet can be your friend here).

Pick up poop to ensure your pup does not eat it (yes, that can happen). It’s best to keep your dog under supervision at all times when in the backyard.  

Bailey investigating the frozen dirt in the garden boxes. He can’t quite get up there yet, but we’ll have to figure something out for the summer.


I’ve listed these next items as research considerations because they’re often overlooked in the initial puppy preparation phase.

Many of these items can be dealt with after you get your puppy. However, I have found that researching these items ahead of time will ensure you are well prepared and not rushing around after the fact.


You’ll need a vet, and it’s better to have this researched in advance as it’s an important decision. And one you don’t want to make in a rushed manner. Ask other dog owners for recommendations and check to see if there are reviews online.

Drop-in or book a short appointment with the vet candidates for a meet and greet to check out the facilities and ask some questions. 

Once you find a veterinarian that meets your needs, you can book your first appointment to have your puppy checked out and any remaining shots.

Trust your gut. If a veterinarian clinic doesn’t feel like a good fit for you or your dog, then keep looking.  

Health Costs 

Vet bills can be high. When you finally settle on a veterinarian, I suggest talking to your vet and researching different pet insurance coverage options and costs.

If insurance is not affordable, ask your vet for an average amount of expenses to expect for your first year and beyond. Then allocate an amount each month to a designated savings account for ongoing and future pet bills. 

Then set aside that amount in case of emergencies. Once you’ve built up a nest egg, then you can feel comfortable knowing you have some funds put aside for ongoing puppy maintenance and any emergencies. 


Your dog will need tags, and you should consider microchipping your dog. If your puppy or dog ever gets lost or stolen, it makes identification much more straightforward. Your dog tag should have your puppy’s name and some contact information – your phone number at the very least. 

Ensure that your contact information is kept up to date, especially if moving or changing phone numbers. If you have concerns regarding microchipping, talk to your vet about any questions regarding safety and effectiveness. 

Keep in mind that no form of identification is 100% effective against lost or stolen dogs. Still, NO identification is guaranteed to be 100% INEFFECTIVE. 

Obedience Classes

It would be best if you availed yourself of a puppy class and basic training. It allows for socialization with other dogs and people and helps reinforce good basic obedience and manners. Check your area for classes and make sure the trainer only utilizes positive training methods. 

If they use choke chains or other dominant/forceful training methods, then respectfully move on. Science-based trainers avoid dominance-based techniques and rightfully so. However, they still prevail with many trainers, so be mindful of that.

If there are no training classes in the area, you may need to look into online self-instruction. Some recommendations can be found on my site at Gold Bar Products and Gear.

Due to the pandemic, our area has been in lockdown since getting our Golden puppy, so we had to avail ourselves of the best resources at our disposal. It fell upon us to ensure our Golden puppy learned his manners.

Our pup Bailey (Gold BAR) demonstrating his perfect sit.

If You Work

When getting a new Golden puppy, a step that is often not considered is what to do if you have to work and leave your puppy alone. I cannot stress how important it is to think about this in the pre-planning stage.

There is nothing worse than realizing that you now have a new 8-week old puppy at home, and you have not made preparations for someone to be available to watch your pup if you work all day. 

If you have the flexibility in your job, it is good to take some time off work. Leaving an 8-week old puppy alone the next day or so after bringing it home is not ideal. You and your puppy will need time to develop a bond and for the puppy to start trusting you.

Your puppy is similar to a toddler, and it needs lots of attention and supervision. Your Golden puppy needs to adjust to its new home and environment.

Owners should spend their first week getting the puppy used to being away from them and for potty training. Doing so will make going back to work a bit easier.

Plus, this is a crucial time for bonding, and the more time you spend with your Golden puppy early on, the stronger that bond will be. 

If you cannot be at home, then have a family member or friend come in to take your Golden puppy out and to feed it if necessary. Or find a puppy daycare, sitter, or a dog walker. 

If you’re interested in learning how to raise a Golden Retriever puppy while your working, then you may find this article helpful:

Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy While Working: Guilt-Free Solutions

In Conclusion

Getting a new puppy is always an exciting time. But it’s stressful too. You’ll find the heart rate increasing the first moment you walk through the door. But, with some preparation, you’ll find that racing heart is more from excitement and less from stress.

Just remember to stock up on the essentials, puppy-proof your home, and plan for your puppy’s arrival by doing your research. If you cover those three steps, then you and your Golden Retriever puppy will be off to a smooth, stress-free, and enjoyable start.

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