Getting a New Dog - Our Top-to-Tail Guide

Are you about to collect your new puppy, or to adopt an older dog? Why not check out Jackie’s top-to-tail summary guide on what to expect, what you’ll need and what to consider?

Whilst certain advice within our Top-to-Tail Guide relates to puppies specifically, much of the guidance could equally apply to introducing a rescue or older dog into your home

Your new dog needs to feel safe. When you bring home your new puppy or rescue dog, create a safe, secure, gated area in your house; this can be a room, such as the kitchen, with a bedding area or it could be a crate or a pen. Your dog’s area needs to be warm and dry and away from items they shouldn’t have – your Sky TV remote or Jimmy Choos for example!

It is essential to have a toy box with a few toys that everybody in the house handles. Dogs use their mouths as their hands, so when you give your dog a new toy, play with them and make it interesting. Your scent on the toy will also make it very appealing.

For puppies particularly, at night time, either leave your puppy in their safe area or bring their bed or crate to your bedroom. Puppies will cry for the first night or two. Try not to rush to your puppy when this happens as they quickly learn this trick – they cry, you run. If you do bring your puppy into your bedroom at night, subsequently you will need to embark upon a desensitisation programme.

Toilet training

Puppy pads are essential. Put a clean one down when your puppy isn’t looking – if they see you they will think that this is a great game and may want to tear it up. To get your puppy to relieve itself in the right place, cut a lightly soiled piece out of a used pad and place it underneath the clean one. This will encourage your pup to relieve itself here. Make sure you clean any other areas that may have been soiled with an odour neutraliser, rather than a household cleaner.

Biting and mouthing

Your puppy will try to ‘mouth’ you. Distract them with a non-fluffy, tear-proof toy and avoid snatching your fingers away. Their adult teeth start to come through at around 14 weeks. This is very painful and they need something to relieve their tender gums. A rawhide chew will be helpful but this needs to be large enough to ensure that your puppy does not choke. There are many other alternatives on the market.

Socialising and training

It is very important to socialise your pup. This is more about getting your puppy used to the sights and sounds of everyday life and is very different to training. You should try to take your puppy out before they have had their immunisations by simply carrying them. The important subject of socialising is covered in greater detail. On our Training and Socialising Explained page


Collar with tag – a tag is essential as it is a legal requirement to tag and microchip your dog. Before selecting a collar you need to measure your dog’s neck and get advice from your local retailer on the right size.

Harness – we recommend using a harness, with a lead clip at the front, for walks as this is more comfortable for your dog than having the lead clipped to the collar, and offers you more control.

Lead – we suggest a fixed lead (not an extendable one) for training purposes.

Neutraliser – this is very important because, of course, accidents do happen with puppies particularly, and simply spraying with a regular cleaning product will not work.

Poo bags – by law it is your responsibility to clean up after your dog – using ordinary public bins is fine. You can be fined if you don’t ‘scoop the poop’.

Crate – we recommend using a front and side opening crate to help with the training of your puppy, especially if you have children.

Toys and treats – always have a box of toys for your dog to play with and plenty of treats to hand. The toys should be readily accessible to your dog at all times and you should get your dog very used to playing with their own toys. For treats, it is more about the smell and less about the taste for dogs, and do break your treats into miniscule pieces. Cooked chicken is a great favourite.

Health and safety

Before you bring your puppy or rescue dog home it is worth considering all aspects of health and safety:

Dog tagging, microchipping and identification – it is a legal requirement for your dog to wear a tag with your name, address (including postcode) and telephone number. Dogs also need to be microchipped.

Pet insurance – paying for unexpected vet bills can be very expensive, so it is wise to have insurance in place.

Ticks – can cause disease when they bite dogs or humans, therefore it is important to check yourself and your dog when you return home from a walk, particularly if you have been in woodland or long grass. If a tick is found, it should be removed quickly. You can buy a tick remover or consult your vet. If you try to remove the tick yourself please ensure you remove all of the tick.

Fleas – are very common and so your dog needs to be treated regularly to repel them. We recommend monthly ‘spot on’ treatments, which also work against other nasties your dog might catch.

Worming – your dog also needs to be treated regularly against worms as this is a very unpleasant parasite that lives in your dog’s body. Treatment is available through your vet.

Grooming – it is important your dog is regularly handled and groomed. This can be done at a grooming parlour.

Jackie, Dog Behaviourist, Happy Dogs Training.

For further information, advice and support, please contact Jackie on 07947 305359 or email: