“I’m a strong advocate of the puppy crate,” he says. “Our dog sees it as her private bedroom. It’s where she goes for peace. It’s not a punishment, quite the opposite. Giving a puppy a base is a really healthy thing.”
Your dog should be able to stand up and lie down comfortably inside his crate, with extra space for bedding and a water bowl. Put it in a quiet part of the house, and gradually build up the time he spends inside it, which can help prevent separation anxiety.
Caroline Wilkinson, animal behaviourist and founder of digital pet coaching service Barket Place, agrees. She suggests you “try to create a daily structure similar to the one you have at work – for example, a morning walk followed by a few hours with you working in a different room, a lunchtime walk, then an after-work play session.”
To do list for new dog owners
The Telegraph’s resident vet, Pete Wedderburn, says: Vets are far more than “accident and emergency departments” for dogs. A close ongoing relationship will help your pet achieve optimal health and longevity. Here’s my essential “to do” list for new dog owners.
Take your new pet to the vet as soon as possible. A thorough physical examination can identify hidden health issues (like hernias and heart murmurs). The sooner you discover these, the better, so that prompt help can be given.
Your vet will review any vaccines that have already been given, advising you on what needs to be done to protect your dog from serious viral and bacterial infections, both as a puppy, and later, as an adult.
From fleas to lungworms, a complex assortment of parasites can affect your pet, with the added risk of passing on problems to humans in your household. Your vet is the best source of advice and preventive medication to ensure your dog is kept healthily parasite-free.
There is no single ideal way to feed every dog, but there are many possibilities, from traditional kibble, to heavily marketed but non-science based grain-free products to raw meat diets. All vets are trained in nutrition. They’ll give you good common sense advice on what your pet needsl.
Veterinary science can do so much more now than in the past, but this can come with a hefty price tag. Decision making is much easier if you budget for pet insurance at the start, ensuring that the costs of any necessary complex procedures is covered for you.
Frequently asked questions about getting a new dog
‘How much do puppies cost – is £3,000 reasonable?’
Pete Wedderburn gives his advice: “There is an expression for people selling pups at such grossly inflated prices: “greeders”. Responsible breeders are continuing to sell puppies at reasonable prices but increased demand means these puppies are snapped up, so you’ll have to be prepared to wait for months.
Visit the Dog Breeding Reform Group website, a charity focused on improving the breeding of dogs in the UK. They’ll point you towards breed clubs with a puppy coordinator who’ll know which pups are in the pipeline. Get your name put on a waiting list.
Local gamekeepers can be a good source, offering friendly, trainable dogs that may be unregistered pedigrees.
If you’re also checking noticeboards and Facebook groups, remember to use the British Veterinary Association/ RSPCA puppy contract and tick all its boxes to ensure you are getting a well-socialised, healthy and ethically bred puppy.
Improve your chances of being considered for a rescue dog by stressing that you grew up with gundogs and the open spaces on your doorstep; that you have already lined up a trainer to help; that the family has read Gwen Bailey’s The Perfect Puppy and researched the best ways to introduce your cat to a dog; that you are not wedded to a pedigree and would consider an older dog.”
‘How can we curb our dog’s separation anxiety?’
Oli Juste, dog trainer and behaviourist, replies: “To help with separation issues, try to give your puppy some set periods of time during the day when no-one is paying him attention, gradually increasing the time and distance between you. Go into another room, and eventually leave the house. Having access to a food-dispensing toy you’ve previously played with together will allow him to remain cognitively engaged with something else.”
Oli’s podcast is A Dog’s Best Friend.
This guide is kept updated with the latest advice.