Buying a dog? What you need to know first

Having a pet is such a rewarding experience – the sense of pride you feel when they first learn to sit or shake your hand, the way they know how to cheer you up when you’ve had a hard day, and the immense joy they will bring into your life is like no other.

If you’ve decided to buy a dog for you or your loved ones, there are a few things you need to be aware before you make your decision, so we’ve put together a list of tips to help you out!

Being Prepared

  1. To dog or puppy dog? That is the question! -Puppies are super cute and it’s so much fun to watch them grow up, but they’re a lot of work! Between puppy school, toilet training and general puppy behaviour, you will need to spend a great amount of time teaching them their manners. And just like with any toddler, this ain’t easy!Consider bringing a dog into your loving home instead – they will often already be toilet trained and have received basic obedience training, making it easier everyone to get along and settle into life together.
  2. The ‘W’ word – Walkies! You must make the time to feed, walk, and play with your puppy or dog everyday to ensure they remain both physically and mentally happy. An unhappy or bored dog is likely to develop unwanted behaviours which can be destructive to your household.
  3. Doing the maths -The average age for a dog is fifteen, with some even living into their twenties, so bringing a puppy or dog into your home is a big commitment. Costs to consider include food, yearly registration, vet checks and possible veterinary bills, yearly vaccinations, regular worming and flea treatments, shelter (including ‘dog-proofing’ certain areas of the house and yard), grooming, bedding, and toys. Most of these costs are not a once-off, so you need to be prepared to budget for these costs all year round for the entire life of your pooch.
  4. A quick question – If you rent, you will need to ask your landlord for permission to to bring your new fur-friend home. If you live in an apartment that you own, you may need to check with a body corporate, or other relevant group, to make sure your apartment is pet-friendly.
  5. If you’ve got the travel bug -If you’re thinking about travelling overseas for a long period of time, where will your pet live? If you take your pet with you have you checked the custom/quarantine information? Animal’s brought back into Australia need to be quarantined for months before you can bring them home again. This is very distressing for both dogs and their owners.Too often we have animals surrendered to the RSPCA because a new landlord won’t allow pets or the owners wanted to travel overseas. It’s really not fair on your dog, who will love and miss you.
  6. All the shapes and sizes – Your puppy won’t stay small forever – depending on the breed they could grow to be very big. Does this suit your lifestyle? If so, fantastic! If not, a smaller breed or greyhound, who are surprisingly quiet and relaxed despite their size, might be better for you. There are type of dogs for everyone, but just be sure to do some research so you know what the future holds.
  7. What you need to know about Pugs (and other breeds too!) –
    We know everyone’s all about that #puglyf lately, but try not to get swept up into breeds that are “fashionable” at the moment, as many of them suffer painful and very costly health problems.
  8. The RSPCA always has plenty of beautiful, loving pooches – The RSPCA has new dogs (as well as cats, kittens and rabbits!) coming into our Adoption Centres daily through no fault of their own, each needing loving homes and a second chance at life. Our website is updated daily, so keep checking to find a suitable dog for your home.
  9. No match? No worries! – If you can’t find the dog that’s right for you at the RSPCA, there are other wonderful shelters across the state who may be able to help you out. Many of them list their adoptees at
  10. Say no to puppy factories -Intensive breeding facilities, otherwise known as puppy factories, puppy farms, and puppy mills, do not have the puppies’ (or kittens), or their parents, welfare interests at heart. These operators will try and trick you into buying them by selling them in pet stores, online, or in the local or trading paper.The above photo was taken at a convicted puppy factory. The owners of this factory were charged with 240 counts of animal cruelty.
  11. Meet Mum and Dad -An ethical breeder will have no problems with you meeting the mother and seeing how they live as they have nothing to hide. If they tell you no, walk away.The above photo was taken at a convicted puppy factory. The owners of this factory were charged with 240 counts of animal cruelty.
  12. Make sure you’re happy with Mum and Dad’s living conditions -In puppy factories, puppy and kitten parents are kept in cages or small pens their whole life, not knowing what if feels like to be free and run in the sun with the grass under their feet. We have found puppies and their parents in shocking states – living in their own faeces with contaminated water and little to no vet care.The above photo was taken at a convicted puppy factory. The owners of this factory were charged with 240 counts of animal cruelty.
  13. Have the puppies been treated by a veterinarian? -An ethical breeder will make sure all of their puppies are healthy, regardless of cost. Their pups will be vet checked, vaccinated, microchipped and treated for worms and fleas. An intensive breeder won’t provide their puppies with the same care. We once found a puppy whose tail was only being held to her body by her own faeces. Many puppies don’t make it out of these facilities alive.All animals available for adoption at the RSPCA will come vaccinated, desexed, microchipped, treated for worms and fleas, and will be a portion of the cost.
  14. Pedigree is not always best – Depending on the ethics of the breeder, pedigree dogs are often rife with painful and costly conditions due to being inbred to try and achieve a particular look. Problems can include difficulty breathing, difficulty giving birth (which is a welfare issue for your puppy’s mother), difficulty walking, and serious eye and skin problems. Read more about pedigree dogs’ common health problems. Please consider buying a dog that has not been bred to have the exaggerated features and instead opt for a breeder who is trying to eradicate common health issues, or consider adoption.
  15. Insist on ongoing support, information after purchase, and a guarantee – An ethical breeder will provide this. An intensive breeder will not, so you will be left on your own to look after the costly behavioral and health issues that may arise.
  16. Check that your home is dog friendly – All dogs need a safe, clean and secure home. You will need to make sure you home and yard are secure, in case you find yourself with a little escape artist in your hands! Also take some time to research household items (including some foods and flowers) that are poisonous to your pet.
  17. Leads and bowls and beds, oh my! – Whether your dog is predominantly indoors or outdoors, very active or somewhat active, you will need all of these things to ensure your beloved pet is happy and healthy.
  18. Get your pooch an A+ education – Reward-based training for all dogs is so important and will lead to a happier and healthier pet (and a more relaxed you!).
  19. Find your local vet before you need one – Before you bring your puppy or dog home, find out where your nearest vet is, along with a vet that’s open after hours. That way, in the event of a puppy-emergency, you will know exactly where to go and who to call. This will help relieve your anxiety in this stressful situation and also ensures your pooch receives treatment as quick as possible.
  20. Lets talk desexing and preventative health care -Desexing your puppy or dog not only reduced the number of unwanted litters, but can actually make your pooch happier and healthier too! Read more about it here.You will also need to take preventative healthcare measures including flea and worming treatment. An outbreak of either of these is no fun for anyone and can also affect the health of your human family and visitors as well as your pet.
  21. Registration matters – You will need to also register your puppy or dog with your local council for a yearly fee (which is cheaper if your pet is desexed). Not doing so can be costly in the long-term, so make sure you contact them as soon as possible after purchasing your new family member.


The fact that you’ve made it this far shows that you’re willing to put in the hard yards and become a responsible pet buyer and owner! Woo-hoo!

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