safe haven banner

Newsletter Signup!

Safe Haven
New RSPCA Shop
"Bringing back fox hunting is tantamount to abuse of power"

Puppy advice



Adopting a Rescue Puppy is an enormous responsibility and should be a commitment that has had a lot of time and thought gone in to it, this commitment can last to up to at least 14 years depending on the breed of your puppy.

Firstly you must take in to consideration the costs involved in owning a dog, including the cost of feeding, preventative treatments i.e. vaccinations, flea and worming and vet bills. Have you the time to dedicate to your puppy so they receive the exercise, training and socialisation they require. Who will look after them whilst you are away on holiday? Is this the right time to be taking on a puppy? Maybe if you have some big life changes coming up in the very near future i.e. moving house or new baby the decision to have a puppy should wait until home life has settled down.

Having a puppy can be challenging at times but immensely rewarding, they are a blank canvas so ensure you put all your time and effort it to making them a friendly, happy and well socialised dog.



Once you have arrived home from the Rehoming Centre, take your puppy into your garden first of all to allow them the opportunity to toilet before taking them into the house. Remember to praise them well to let them know they have performed the behaviour in the correct place.

If there are other family members in the house when you arrive it is important that they do not rush up to the puppy but to initially ignore him/her and allow the puppy to adapt to his/her new environment.

As exciting as it is to have your new puppy home and you will want to show him/her off to family and friends, it is strongly advised that any introductions are held off for at least a few days. Too much interaction can be too much and stressful for some puppies.

Any interactions by members in the home should be calm and brief, avoid getting your puppy over excited, some puppies may nip playfully when too excited and some may urinate, puppies can’t always control their bladders, this generally stops around six months of age.









Your existing dog would have already met your new puppy at the Rehoming Centre and got on well, but occasionally there may be a few teething problems whilst they establish their relationship with one another. It is common for the adult to tell the puppy off, try not to be alarmed or intervene as this will make matters worse as then they are not able to sort themselves out. Only intervene if you feel it is absolutely necessary to. It is essential for puppies to learn from adult dogs what acceptable behaviours are, they will have started learning this from when they were with their mum and even from their litter mates.




It is important for puppies that there are house-rules and all members of the household agree and adhere to them, consistency is important as puppies will always attempt to push the boundaries and this will not help if one or more persons are not complying with what was agreed, it will also leave the puppy confused and unaware of where they stand.

It is advisable that puppies are not allowed on any furniture as this will help prevent any problems if they were to occur. Generally allowing your puppy on the furniture is not necessarily going to cause problems or lead them to believe they are in charge. However, if you inadvertently reinforce certain behaviours, you will be sending the wrong message. If your puppy shows any reluctance to move when you attempt to sit down they should then be removed safely from the furniture. Any unwillingness to move as you approach, your puppy should again be removed.

Ultimately this is your decision, but we highly advise that whilst your puppy is learning, always ensure you remove them from the sofa using a toy or tasty treat to tempt them off. Moving your puppy off the sofa using their collar should be avoided as eventually they will tolerate this method less and this may lead to negative behaviour.

You may be happy with your puppy on the furniture, by invitation only. This is fine as long as your puppy understands where they stand and there is no issue when you ask your puppy to get off.




Puppies ARE NOT housetrained. They need to be taught where the appropriate place is to toilet. You may be taking on a slightly older puppy that has been in a home before and they will have had some house training but it is advisable that you re visit house training with them so to ensure they learn the routine again in your home.

Take your puppy out regularly to toilet, always stay with them so that when they do toilet you are then able to reinforce this behaviour with plenty of praise.



It is likely that you may have a few accidents in the house whilst your puppy is learning this is only to be expected. If you witness any signs of behaviour that leads you to believe they are going to toilet attempt to interrupt the behaviour, pick them up or encourage them outside and praise when they have toileted.

If you enter the room after your puppy has toileted it is very important that you ignore what they have done.

Telling them off for the behaviour after they have done it, especially if after a period of time will not achieve anything positive as they are unlikely to link the two behaviours, all you will be doing is telling the puppy off when you have entered the room, in time this will compromise the relationship between you and your puppy.

Puppies will generally be more likely to toilet when they have first woken, during play and after they have eaten so be extra aware at these times and take them out to toilet.

Always ensure you clean the area of which they have toileted on with a suitable cleaning product. DO NOT use any products that are pine scented, or has ammonia in its ingredients as this will make the area you have cleaned still attractive as ultimately you are relaying the scent for them to toilet on that area again. Instead use a suitable pet accident cleaning product or alternatively you can use biological washing detergent with warm water to clean the area.

There is no guessing  how long housetraining your puppy will take, this generally depends on the puppy and your training but progress should be made quite quickly and keep continuing to but it is very important to remember that you praise the ‘good’ behaviour and ‘ignore’ the bad behaviour.




The first night you have your new puppy home can sometimes be a tricky one, they have been taken from all that they have known up to this point. Ideally your new puppy should be in a separate room at night, this room particularly initially should be one room where the puppy is less likely to do any damage (i.e. chew furniture), after time once your puppy has settled in and be a bit older you may wish to allow them in your lounge or have the access to the whole of your downstairs but for now use the one room. Having them in a separate room  will help discourage separation problems longer term, your new puppy needs to learn that being on their own for a few hours is okay and not that they are unable to cope without you. Your new puppy maybe stressed, unsure and would rather be with you and not alone in their new environment.

To assist in getting your puppy used to being alone at night you may initially want to leave a radio on quietly for them for some background noise. Leaving an old item of clothing of your own in their bed may be of comfort for some puppies.








Puppies may become bored during the night, to prevent boredom developing provide your puppy with something to do to keep them entertained. This could include a number of ways i.e. using a ‘Kong’ toy, this is hardwearing rubber and is also hollow to allow you to fill or smear the inside

with something tasty, and this could be peanut butter, marmite, or soft cheese or alternatively be filled with part of their daily diet. Your puppy will then spend their time getting the food out.

Other boredom busters are a destruction box (a cardboard box filled with shredded paper with treats hidden amongst it), activity balls (hard plastic ball/cube with holes in that when filled with treats they will drop out as the dog moves the toy around), or chew toys such as ‘nylabones’

It is very common for puppies on the first night, and possibly a few more depending on the puppy, to be vocal if you have left them in a separate room. This can consist of whining, howling and barking. If you have neighbours you may want to warn them prior to that night. You as the owner may want to use ear defenders if you feel you may find it difficult sleeping, especially any children in your home or difficulty

ignoring the noise. You may feel cruel by ignoring your puppy but it is the best thing you can do as their owner in the long term.

Your puppy will learn to settle once they realise you are not coming, some puppies can be persistent but by ignoring the behaviour it will eventually stop. If at any point you feel you want to check on your puppy if they are vocal you will have inadvertently taught them that you will appear if they bark and the problem will continue and progress.

Once morning has arrived and you are ready to return to your puppy, as you enter the room in which they have been left in there is every chance your puppy will be very pleased to see you, as nice as this warm welcome is it is however important to ignore them as you will be reinforcing this type of behaviour and there is a chance that if they haven’t toileted they may do so with sheer excitement. Instead, allow your puppy outside to toilet, stay with them and praise when toileted. Once back in the house again, if your puppy is still excitable, ignore them until you feel they are calm and relaxed and then you may invite them over for calm/brief fuss.

If your puppy has chewed anything during the night do not draw attention to it, if you can remain calm, do not tell your puppy off for it, again it is likely they will not understand what it is you are telling them off for.




There is always a time when you will have to leave your puppy whilst you are out of the house, whether it be for work, shopping or school runs, you need to be sure that you are able to leave your puppy without any problems. A lot of new adopters of rescue puppies may take some time off work to settle their puppies in and spend some time with them. Although this is good in principal it is also important that this time is used to teach your puppy that being alone is okay. What needs to be avoided is spending all your time with your new puppy and then when you are finally due back at work your dog is then suddenly left alone, this



can be distressing for your puppy as it is not the routine that they have been getting used to and will have formed an attachment to you by this point.

Your new puppy may demand a constant stream of attention, if they do try dedicating certain times of the day to play and fuss your puppy and have certain times you will ignore their demands. This is something that people find very hard to do and may consider it to be cruel, but think from the puppies point of view that it will be  easier for them to cope if they realise you are not always available for them and nothing bad happens because of it.

With getting your puppy used to be being left the time needs to be built up gradually until you reach the desired period of time you would like to leave your puppy, your puppy should not be left any longer than four hours in one day. Initially by getting your puppy used to being left you should start with very small amounts of time.

This can be as little as five to ten minutes and from there gradually over days possibly weeks, building it up.

By discouraging your puppy following you from room to room you will help reduce the likelihood of over attachment. Close doors behind you (if possible) or invest in pet gates to prevent the following, when you re-enter the room ignore your puppy until settled, and then you may invite them over for fuss. If your

puppy begins to whine/bark whilst you are out of the room only re-enter once they are quiet so your puppy does not begin to associate you appearing when they are whining etc.

The main thing to remember is to not make a fuss of your puppy before you are due to leave them. Some people feel guilty they are leaving their puppy to go out or try and reassure them that you will be back soon, if your puppy is already a bit unsure you will only be reinforcing their anxiety.

Again, leaving a radio on, an old item of clothing in their bed is all advisable when leaving your puppy and also leaving your puppy with something to do to keep them occupied as mentioned in the section ‘First night’. The item you choose to leave with your puppy should only be available to them when you are not with them. Vary the item you leave with them, this way it will keep them interested and will be less likely to get bored if the item is always the same. 

On return to your home, ignore the initial excitement of your puppy, as nice as it is but any contact should be once your puppy has been out to toilet and is in a calm and relaxed state of mind.

Indoor kennels can be used for certain situations including getting your puppy used to being left or housetraining. Indoor kennels need to be big enough for the dog to stand up in and turn around freely. They should only be used for short periods within the day; generally a maximum of four hours is advisable. You have to introduce your puppy to being in one so they like to be in there, this will take take time depending on the puppy. Depending on the problem, speak to the Rehoming Centre for further advice.







Puppies and children can have a great relationship, but children need to know to be quiet and gentle towards their new puppy and not to surprise or frighten them. You as the owner need to think what you can do in order to maximise the relationship between your children and your puppy? Unfortunately, far too commonly negative incidents occur when children are left unsupervised with puppies, this should never be the case until you are confident of your puppies’ behaviour. Inappropriate interactions may be made by children being around the puppy when they are eating, attempting to take a toy from them either falling on the puppy whilst they are asleep or giving them a cuddle whilst they are asleep or resting in their

Children should never touch a puppy whilst they are asleep, this can shock and frighten the puppy and could provoke a negative reaction.

It is a natural behaviour for puppies to nip both adults and children; this will generally be during play when the puppy is excited. The first step is to stop your puppy from hurting people: to teach him to inhibit the force of his play-bites. It is essential to let your puppy know that bites can hurt. A simple "ow!" is usually sufficient.

When the puppy backs off, take some time out, this will give a clear message that the behaviour was unfavourable. Then call your pup to come to you and resume playing. If your puppy does not respond to your yelp by easing up or backing off, completely remove yourself from the situation by leaving the room, allow the pup a minute or two time-out to reflect on the association between his painful bite and the immediate departure of his favourite human playmate. Once you return, wait till your puppy is calm and then call them over, it is important that you show you still love your puppy, only that his/her painful bites are objectionable.

The way puppies learn to inhibit the force of their bites when playing with each other. If one puppy bites another too hard, the bitee yelps and playing is postponed while he licks his wounds. The biter soon learns that hard bites interrupt an otherwise enjoyable play session. He learns to bite more softly once play resumes.




Training your new puppy can begin straight away from when you get them home at eight weeks old. It is you as their owner to teach them positively the desirable behaviours you want them to know. Basic commands such as sit, down, paw are enough for some owners but others will want further commands to be taught also.

All puppies learn at varying rates, some are quicker learners than others but whichever way be patient, you may need to re-examine the way you are teaching and possibly adapt it if you feel your puppy is not picking up the command as they should be.

Training sessions should always be short, fun, reward based (tasty treats) and positive. Always remember to teach one command at a time to avoid confusion.

Always use tasty treats, maybe something that they wouldn’t normally have i.e. cheese, or puppy training treats to encourage more of a focus on you and to work harder.

Once your puppy is fully vaccinated and ready to go out into the big wide world, do not allow your puppy off the lead initially until you are confident they will return to you. Again, depending on the puppy training re-call may take longer with some. A training line that has some length to it is ideal in teaching your puppy re-call as they will have some ‘freedom’ but still be on the lead. When teaching puppies re-call ensure you make yourself as exciting as possible so the puppy will want to return to you and have tasty treats with you so to reward your puppy when they have come back to you.

Puppies will have a tendency to jump up, this is a behaviour that comes naturally to your puppy but is inappropriate. It may be okay now while your puppy is small and cute but as they get bigger it won’t be as favourable.

Puppies will generally jump up as a greeting towards people and as they get excited. The simplest way of discouraging this behaviour is to turn to your side as your puppy jumps up and use a command you wish to use for this behaviour, i.e. ‘off’ but ensure the command is not one you use for anything else to avoid confusion. Ignore them until they have stopped jumping up, then you could ask them for an alternative behaviour if you wish i.e. sit or at least if all four feet are on the floor before you fuss them, if at any point your puppy breaks the appropriate behaviour repeat the process.

Getting people to initially ignore your puppy as they or you are approaching will encourage a calmer response from them.

If your puppy is on their lead and they go to jump up, move them down using the lead and as you are doing so use the command you have chosen for this behaviour.

You may find there are moments when your puppy has something it shouldn’t have i.e. an item of clothing or remote control. Obviously you will want to get this item back from your puppy as quickly as possible. Refrain from getting into a game of chase with your puppy in an attempt to retrieve it, your puppy will think it as a game and you will have made that item far more desirable because you have suddenly taken

an interest in reclaiming this item. Instead fetch something your puppy can have, whether this be one of their toys and make that seem far more exciting so they will become interested in that and drop what it is they have, if they do this then reward them with what it is you have distracted them with. Food is another alternative, if your puppy is food orientated get one of their treats to use so you can swap your item with for the food.





You may wish to take your puppy along to puppy socialisation classes, this is a good opportunity you’re your puppy to meet other people and meet other puppies. These are generally run by your Veterinary Surgery. Once your puppy is old enough to attend Training Classes don’t rush in to the decision of which class to attend. It is always useful to get recommendations, from friends, vets or from the internet, unfortunately Rehoming Centres cannot recommend a suitable Training Class. It is advisable that you go along to a few classes without your puppy to see how the training class is conducted and if you feel your

puppy would be comfortable in that environment, some training classes are larger than others, and you may feel your puppy will be more comfortable in a smaller class.



Getting your puppy used to strange experiences, places, other animals and people is very important in order to prevent your puppy being scared of them in the future. Socialisation is essential, your puppy needs to be exposed to a number of different experiences, sounds and situations. As their new owner you need to take them to different places and meeting other people and dogs to ensure they stay a happy, friendly dog you can take anywhere.

You may find that your dog is frightened of certain objects or situations i.e. other dogs, certain people or traffic.

The best thing you can do is ignore any fearful behaviour, by reassuring them inadvertently you are telling them that there is something to be worried about and their fears will only worsen. You as their owner need to show them that there is nothing to be scared of by managing the situation effectively. Ensure you give plenty of encouragement and to appear happy and confident yourself in the situation, as your will puppy sense this from you. Remember to praise them highly when they react in the way you want them to. Depending on the problem, if you require further advice please contact the centre.





By law you must keep your dog under control at all times to avoid your dog from being a nuisance to others. It is an offence to let your dog foul in a public place and not clear up after them. Ensure you always carry a poop scoop or a plastic bag to clean up after your dog.



Identification: All dogs must wear a collar and a tag so to be clearly identified. The tag on your dog’s collar should have your name, address and contact number on it. If your dog ever was to stray for whatever reason your dog can quickly be reunited with you.

Your dog will be micro chipped and this aids as another form of identification to help if  your dog were ever to go missing, but by law your dog must be wearing a collar and I.D disc at all times.






There are four types of dogs that are currently classed as ‘banned breeds’, (the one most commonly known is the ‘Pit Bull terrier’) that the act bans as dangerous. Owners of banned breeds must adhere to certain legal requirements, including the dog being registered, micro chipped, insured and neutered.

It is also a criminal offence to allow ANY dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.



The amended Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect in England and Wales on 13 May 2014. This law applies to all dog owners no matter what size or breed, whether your pet is a Chihuahua, a Cockapoo or a Collie cross.

Section 3 of the Act applies to every single dog owner in England and Wales. Under this section, it is a criminal offence for the person in charge, not necessarily the owner of the dog to allow it to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place.


A dog doesn’t have to bite to be deemed dangerous in the eyes of the law.


Generally if a dog bites a person, it will be presumed to have been ‘dangerously out of control’, however even if the dog does not bite, but gives the person grounds to feel the dog may injure them, the law still applies.

Not many owners are aware of this, and it is important to hold that thought when looking at the changes.


The biggest difference from now on is the Act also covers incidents on private property in addition to public spaces. This includes your own house and both front and back gardens.


In addition:


  • It will now be an offence for your dog to attack an assistance dog (Guide Dog, Hearing Dog etc).
  • Prison sentences will be increased for those convicted of some offences.
  • Police or an appointed local authority now have the powers to seize a dangerously out of control dog in a private place. The existing legislation already covers public places.




It is not unusual for a dog to be reactive to any visitor to your door, so you need to decide now how you are going to manage that situation. Probably the easiest option is to shut your dog in another room.

You also need to consider how your dog greets people. What you view as a dog being friendly by jumping up at visitors may be seen as threatening behaviour by a stranger.



It is an offence to abuse or ill-treat any animal, or to allow any unnecessary suffering to be caused to them. Also, it is an offence to be involved in any form of dog fighting including recordings of a fight. An owner can be banned/prosecuted or both if found guilty of any of these abuses.



Under the Protection of Livestock Act 1953 dogs should always be kept on a lead and under close control when in an area with livestock. If you allow your dog to worry livestock you could be fined and prosecuted, ordered to pay compensation and in the worst cases for your dog to be destroyed.

Livestock that are protected under this act are cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses and poultry. Game birds are not included.




This advice sheet was put together to help ensure the choice and commitment made to take on a rescue puppy was the right one by providing information that is commonly sought after by owners taking on a rescue puppy.

If though, you have any problems with your new dog however minor you may feel it is, please contact the centre for advice. The sooner a problem is dealt with the better.




Telephone Number 02476 336616


Alternatively you can email us, please provide a contact telephone number and a brief description of the problem.