We’re here to help

If you’re thinking about buying a dog or getting ready to bring your new puppy home to meet the family, we’re here to help.

From tips on how to dog-proof your house to advice on where to find the perfect pooch, this guide will help make sure you’re ready to bring your new dog home.

Are you ready to get a dog?

Owning a dog can be a rewarding experience with a sense of companionship and a healthier lifestyle. But it’s important that you’re ready for the responsibility that comes with it.

Before you get a new dog, consider the following questions:

  • Can you afford a dog (everyday expenses such as food, vet bills, pet care and pet insurance
  • Can you make a long-term commitment (the average dog lives for around 12 years)?
  • Is your home big enough or do you have any outdoor space?
  • Do you have time for walks every day?
  • Will someone be home to keep your dog company?
  • Do you have time to train, groom and care for your new pet?

Find the perfect pooch

If you’re ready to get a dog – and the responsibility that comes with it – it’s time to find the right one for you.

Each dog breed has its own characteristics and temperament, so it’s a good idea to do some digging. Find the perfect breed that matches your personality, lifestyle and family circumstances.

If you or a family member suffer from allergies, a hypoallergenic breed may be best for you.

While there is no 100% hypoallergenic breed, there are some breeds more tolerable to allergy sufferers. Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs may be best for you as they can cause less of a reaction because they tend not to shed.

Whether you’re buying a dog from a breeder or adopting one from an animal shelter or rescue centre, you’ll have to decide what’s best for you – a playful puppy or a wise old dog.

Before you decide, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have any experience raising a puppy?
  • Do you have the time, patience and flexibility to deal with an untrained puppy?
  • Would an older, more emotionally developed dog be a better fit?
  • What can you afford (costs vary hugely between puppies and adult dogs)?

Two of the most popular ways of buying a new dog are to buy from a responsible breeder or rehome a dog from an animal shelter.

Dog buyers have a responsibility to buy from a reputable breeder. The Kennel Club runs assurance schemes for registered breeders, who follow strict guidelines when it comes to how they breed their dogs and keep them healthy.

Rehoming a rescue dog can be a rewarding experience, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Our guide to dog rehoming has in-depth information on best practices for rehoming.



Welcoming your new dog

When you’ve chosen your dog, it’s time to dog-proof your home and introduce your new furry friend to the family.

Setting a clear structure for your new dog is important to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible.

Before you pick up your new dog, here are the essential items you’ll need to have ready at home:

  • Lead, collar or harness
  • Puppy crate
  • Bedding
  • Dog food and treats
  • Food and water bowls
  • Grooming equipment
  • Identity disc
  • Dog waste bags
  • Toys
  • Toilet training?

Dog-proofing your home might not only protect your possessions, it can also keep your dog safe from danger.

Here are some suggestions to help create a safe and dog-friendly home:

  • Hide electrical cables behind furniture or tape them to your skirting board
  • Remove all breakable objects that your dog might reach
  • Place any household chemicals out of reach
  • Remove poisonous or toxic houseplants
  • Hide shoes in cupboards – unless you want them chewed

When you collect your new dog from the breeder or animal shelter, check what diet they’re used to and when they get fed.

Try sticking to that schedule for the first few days to avoid stomach problems. If you’re switching to a different brand of food, it’s best to do this gradually over a week or so.

Some dogs find car trips stressful, so having them safely secured in a crate could make that first journey home easier.

If you’re bringing home a puppy, take them where they will go to toilet straight away. Spend some time there with them so they can relieve themselves and get used to the area.



Introducing your dog to the family

Once your new dog is home and settled, it’s time to introduce them to their new household members and other pets.

Carefully handled introductions are likely to set the scene for future interactions as well as helping your dog settle into family life.

It’s important to include children in a puppy’s upbringing, regardless of whether there are kids in your home or not.

This will get the puppy used to being around children and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed.

If you’ve got a new adult dog, they’ll need time to get to know the children in their new home too – even if they’re already used to children.

Dogs are social animals by nature. But the hierarchy between your dogs will be established during the first few weeks, so disagreements are likely during this time.

To keep those disagreements to a minimum, here’s how to help your dogs get along:

  • Introduce dogs on neutral territory, such as out on a walk
  • Separate them if they start to fight
  • Feed the dogs apart at first
  • Don’t leave them alone together until they’re friendly

No matter whether your new dog is a puppy or an adult, it’s important to carefully introduce them to any cats in your home.

Choose a room where the cat has an upward escape route. And, after five minutes or so, take the dog away and let your cat go wherever they feel most comfortable.



Training your new dog

It’s a good idea to make training a high priority – ideally as soon as you get your new dog home. No dog is too old to learn, and training classes are available for every age and ability.

If you’re planning on crate training, be sure to have a crate set up and ready to go when you bring your dog home.

Your new dog will see the crate as their ‘den’ and will be happy to spend time there when they want to sleep or be alone.

Toilet training your puppy should be fairly simple, as long as you take the time to establish a good routine.

Puppies should be able to relieve themselves at least every two hours, so try to take them out as regularly as possible.

If your puppy isn’t ready to go outside yet, it can be toilet trained on newspapers or in a crate.



Protecting and looking after your dog

There’s no one ‘perfect’ way to care for all dogs – every pet and situation is unique. But you should try your best to take the necessary steps to meet all your dog’s needs.

Getting your dog microchipped is a safe and simple procedure that can increase the chances of helping to bring your four-legged friend back if they’re ever lost or stolen. And it’s the law too.

All dogs over eight weeks old in the UK are required by law to be microchipped. If you don’t microchip your dog by the time it’s eight weeks old, you could face a fine of up to £500.

Take your new dog for a check-up at the vet as soon as you can. Regular visits to the vet will give you the chance to keep vaccinations up to date. In these visits you can, accurately weigh your dog and find out more about any issues that may be worrying you.

If you have a puppy or an adult dog that hasn’t been neutered yet, your vet can offer advice on the procedure and the health benefits of neutering.

Our guide to neutering your pet has more details about spaying and castration, including when it should be done and the advantages of having the procedure carried out.

There are a number of things to consider when taking out pet insurance, including what type of cover you need and the age of your dog. Make sure you do your research and find a policy that works for you and your new dog.



Helpful guides for your dog

Pet insurance jargon got you barking mad? Wondering if it’s really worth getting insurance for your dog? Learn more with our helpful pet guides.

Guide to dog breeds

Get to know each breed to find the best dog for you.

Take a look
Make your home a dog-friendly place

Top tips to help create the perfect pad for your pooch

Get started
How to decide what dog is for you

Find the perfect dog breed for you

Find out more

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Sainsbury's Bank plc, Registered Office, 33 Holborn, London EC1N 2HT (registered in England and Wales, no. 3279730) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (register no. 184514). Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd is an appointed representative of Sainsbury's Bank plc.
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