With dry dog food to stock up on, puppy training classes to arrange and vaccinations to book, sometimes it can seem like you have a million things to do when you bring home your pet pooch for the first time.

And not least of these is organising a time to get your pup microchipped. Indeed, taking the time to ensure your new dog undergoes this quick and painless procedure will give you the peace of mind to know that should your pet go missing you have the best chance possible of being reunited.

In fact, so important is it that our canine companions are microchipped that now the government has made it compulsory for all dogs in England to undergo this procedure.

Under the new laws, from 2016 police officers and local authorities will have the power to check to see whether dogs have been microchipped and to issue a fine of up to £500 if not.

"It's ludicrous that in a nation of dog-lovers, thousands of dogs are roaming the streets or stuck in kennels because the owner cannot be tracked down," said environment secretary Owen Paterson.

"Microchipping is a simple solution that gives peace of mind to owners. It makes it easier to get their pet back if it strays and easier to trace if it's stolen."

The procedure usually costs about £20 to £30 at a private veterinary clinic, although some animal charities such as the Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and Battersea Dogs and Cats home offer a free microchipping service to owners.

Speaking to the BBC's Radio 4 programme, Clarissa Baldwin, chief executive of the Dogs Trust, said most of the 16,000 dogs looked after by the charity each year had not been microchipped.

"We could get those dogs back to their worried owners if they have a microchip and are identifiable," she added.

"With a register, kept up to date, people will be able to get their dogs back far more easily."

Written by: Hannah