The 7 step guide to adopting a dog

The 7 step guide to adopting a dog

Too many dogs are cast aside without a home. Adopting a dog can change its world … and yours too.

Australia may be a pet loving nation, but as the numbers show, not all pets are on the receiving end of the love. The RSPCA received 133,495 animals in 2014–2015: 45,000 of them were dogs.1 When itʼs time to get a pet, welcoming a dog that is alone and discarded into your home is a rewarding experience.

And itʼs easy! Hereʼs our 7 step guide to help you through the adoption process.

1. Find a breed that suits your lifestyle

Most of us view dogs as four-legged-fun-furry companions, however they are grouped into pure breed, cross breed and mixed breed.

The Australian National Kennel Council Ltd is the administrative body for pure bred canine issues in Australia. They divide breeds into seven categories: Toys, Terriers, Gundogs, Hounds, Working Dogs, Utility and Non-Sporting. Under each category on their website they list the breeds and provide detailed information on each including characteristics and temperament.

Itʼs not always the case although itʼs highly likely that when you adopt a rescue dog it will be a mixed breed. This can be wonderful because, while it is not guaranteed, mixed breed dogs can often have a moderate temperament and, thanks to genetic diversity, they may avoid some of the health problems pure bred dogs suffer from.2 However, if you are inclined towards a specific breed, there are a number of breed-specific shelters.

Before you visit an animal shelter, do your research and find a few breeds that will suit your lifestyle and home. The Australian Kelpie for example, tends to be energetic and will require a lot of exercise and stimulation. They are a great fit for a farm or a home on acreage, but they are less likely to suit a young professional couple living in the city.

Another thing to consider is space. The popular cream, chocolate or black Labrador Retriever may make an ideal family dog but if you donʼt have a big yard for it to run around in, you will want to consider a smaller dog.

The RSCPA ʻFind a Friendʼ system can help you select a breed that’s suited to your lifestyle and home.

2. Get to know their history

Owning a dog is a big commitment, with some breeds known to live up to 15 years or more.3 Breed characteristics give general traits, however every dog is unique so itʼs important to learn about the individual personality of your potential new family member. Questions to ask include:

  • Under what circumstance did the dog join the shelter?
  • How long has the dog been in the shelter?
  • Whatʼs their medical history?
  • Does the dog have any behavioural issues or concerns?
  • What impact will the dog’s age have on their preferences and temperament?
  • How is the dog with strangers, kids, other dogs and animals?

3. Evaluate your finances

The RSPCA estimates that the first year of owning a dog will cost between $2,350 and $5,220 a year and $910 per year thereafter, although this can vary depending on several factors including breed and size of the dog.3

One of the costs youʼll first incur in dog ownership is the adoption fee which will likely include desexing and microchipping services, vaccinations and veterinary checks. The fee will vary depending on the shelter.

4. Complete the paper work

If your new dog is older than 12 weeks of age it must have a microchip inserted under the skin before it is sold or given to you. A dog with a microchip will be listed on the animal register in the relevant state. Once you take ownership of your new dog you must fill out a change of owner details form to update the state register: in NSW this must be done within 14 days.

You will also need to register your dog with your local council. The registration fees vary and you may be eligible for a lower fee if your animal is desexed or you are a pensioner. In NSW there is a reduced fee for animals sold by an eligible pound or shelter.4

Completing the paper work does not necessarily mean you can take your dog home straight away. The RSPCA for example, implements a 24 hour cooling period to avoid decisions made out of impulse.5

Evaluate whether your financial situation can support owning a dog

5. Pet Insurance

Youʼve welcomed a new addition to your family and want to ensure they receive the best care in the event of injury or illness. Unexpected vet fees and medical bills can leave you out of pocket and cause financial stress. You could consider buying pet insurance to help you afford to protect your dogʼs wellbeing in the event of injury or illness. Terms and conditions may vary with each insurance provider: do your research to find one that suits your needs. You can usually protect your dog with pet insurance once theyʼve reached eight weeks of age.

6. Pet proof your home

First time dog owners will need to set up an area where their dog will be spending most of their time. If your dog isnʼt toilet trained, you may want to consider a space that is easy to clean, such as a room that is tiled. You should also make sure it is free from valuable or fragile objects.

Other measures you may want to put in place can include:

  • Baby gates to limit access to rooms that hold expensive items or furniture
  • Adequate fencing
  • Covers for electrical outlets
  • Covers for your lounges
  • Containers for electrical cords
  • Shelving units to store items away from reach

7. Welcome the new addition to the family

The first few days in a new home can cause stress and anxiety your new dog as they adjust to their new surroundings. Set a routine you can follow as a family to help with this adjustment. Schedule in play, exercise and feeding time so your new pet will know what to expect.

Adopting a dog is a rewarding experience but it comes with many responsibilities. To find out how Pet Insurance can help you be prepared for the unexpected speak to our team at Choosi.

Posted: 04 Oct 2016

This is general information only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the relevant PDS available on this website prior to purchasing any product. Choosi offers insurance products from a range of brands but does not compare all products available in the market.


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