What you need to do to get ready for a new dog will really depend on what kind of household you have, the breed & size of the dog, and the age of your dog. We have brought home two different beagle puppies now, so I'll tell you what worked for us when we brought them home.
1. Start small. Don't worry about dog-proofing your entire home at first. :-) We started with the kitchen, since it was linoleum flooring.
2. Use baby gates. We have two, and we use them to keep our puppy within our sight no matter what room we are in. We also have a barrier rigged up with boxes and a trunk, because the space between the living and dining room was impossible to block off with a baby gate. We got some extra-tall ones because I had read that beagles jump, but I wish we had gotten regular height ones now. They are so annoying to get over!
3. Remove rugs & other soft things (if you can). Puppies seek out soft things to "do their business" - which is why they are more likely to go on the grass than on cement. And for now, don't get your puppy a pillow. We've had to throw away the pillow every time the puppy eliminates on it (because our dogs continued to return to the pillow to eliminate).
4. Watch electrical cords. Puppies love to chew on electrical cords. If you aren't using them, make sure they are out of your puppy's reach. Dangling cords are especially tantalizing. If you have to have them plugged in, see if you can pull the cord part up high. We've found our dog mostly goes for ones that are laying on the ground or dangling.
5. Remove any plants that would be poisonous to your dog. A list can be found here.
6. Clear off coffee tables and other things that are in reach of the dog. Just for now, until your puppy has calmed down. :-)
7. Remove or keep empty trash cans, especially bathroom, trash cans. This might be more of a phase thing, but our dog has recently been getting into the trash a lot.
8. Don't leave clothes or shoes lying around. Puppies love stuff with strong human scent. Examples: shoes, socks, underwear, shirts (especially sweaty ones).
9. Provide lots of fun chew toys for your puppy. Keep in mind that they are teething, and chewing helps reduce the pain they feel in their mouths. If you provide lots of alternatives to your furniture, they will be more likely to leave your stuff alone. Zoey has a kong, a couple plush toys with squeakers, two ropes, a rawhide, and a few other miscellaneous toys that she loves.
10. Don't let your puppy chew on household things. For example: socks, cardboard, plastic kitchen utensils. Even if you don't care that your puppy has it, it might confuse him later on about what is allowed and what isn't. We do give our dog empty 1/2 liter coke bottles, but that's it - all the other toys are hers only.
11. Don't forget to dog proof outside, too. Your puppy might find your teak outdoor furniture especially appealing when he has nothing else to chew!
12. Above all else: WATCH YOUR PUPPY! You will learn what he goes for by watching him, and that will be the best way to know how exactly you should dog proof. We never let our puppy run around the house when we're not able to watch her. If we have to do something - eat dinner, take a shower, sleep - then she goes in her crate. Between the two of us, she's out of her crate most of the time we're home.
You can also get a bitter apple spray that's supposed to keep puppies from wanting to chew, but we haven't been very successful with that. I hope that helps all you new puppy owners. :-) Check out Rocks In My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas!