This post is contributed by Petplan, our pet insurance partner.

Don’t let the sad eyes, dainty paws, and wagging tail distract you: welcoming a new puppy into your family is a huge decision. It’s a full-time commitment that requires a lot of advance planning to help prevent frustration, disappointment, and regret — for you and your new puppy.

To help get you ready for your new role as a dogfather (or mother), here are 7 things you’ll want to keep in mind before your new fuzzy family member sets paw in your home.

1. Additional purchases required

Puppies need a lot of accessories and they’re all sold separately. The ASPCA estimates that the total cost of owning a puppy in the first year averages $1,471 for small dogs to over $2,000 for larger dogs — so be sure to budget ahead of time. Fortunately, you can find all the toys, crates, collars, treats, and everything else you need online or at your local pet supply store. Don’t spoil your new pup, but be sure to get her what she needs to be comfortable, happy, and healthy in her new home.

2. Food for thought

They love to chew on furniture, but puppies need actual food too. Some puppies can be a bit finicky at first as they adjust to their new surroundings, so be prepared to experiment. If you decide to switch foods, be sure to do it gradually since puppy tummies are sensitive to change. And be sure to feed them puppy food, which is specially fortified for them and usually comes in smaller bits. Need help choosing? Head over to dogfoodadvisor.com for a comprehensive list of dog foods brands, along with reviews.

3. A puppy-proof pad

Puppies are curious (aka naughty), so puppy proofing your home is vital. Make sure small and/or valuable items are out of sight, and remove or hide any electrical wires to prevent shocking experiences. Know which human foods are poisonous to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, and onions (you’ll find more online), and keep them out of reach. Also, a baby gate is a good investment to ensure your puppy doesn’t roam out of his area and do damage to yours.

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4. The poop on numbers 1 and 2

Puppies don’t generally come housetrained, so be sure to add cleaning supplies to your shopping list. Certain dogs can be housetrained faster than others, but it takes time, so be patient — and consistent. Take your puppy outside regularly to do her business, preferably in the same area each time. And be sure to praise her when she does go outside to reinforce good habits. She’ll get it eventually — honest!

5. Play, rest, repeat

Puppies can be endless balls of energy, so be sure to provide a time and place to burn it off. Make sure they have stimulating toys, areas to run and play in, and people (and other dogs, as long as it’s supervised) to play with. Remember, puppies are still youngsters and need lots of rest, so don’t push them too hard: no mountain climbing or marathon walks. Just let them be puppies and do their thing.

6. Make a date with your vet

A trip to the veterinarian is in order to make sure your new puppy is healthy —and to give you a chance to meet his doctor. You’ll also need to get your puppy caught up on all his shots to keep him (and his puppy friends) protected from illness. Your vet will also give you the day-to-day info you need, like feeding information, flea and tick control, and everything else that comes along with being a responsible pet parent.

7. Insure? For sure.

Getting a good pet insurance policy can give you the upper paw when it comes to treating accidents and illnesses. It also makes more sense (and is generally less expensive) to cover a puppy than an older dog.
And here’s something to think about: according to Petplan claims data, pets under the age of 1 are actually 2.5 times more likely to require an unexpected trip to the vet. Why compromise on your new best friend’s care? With pet insurance in your pocket, you won’t have to.

Safe and smart